Crown: Adam Picard murdered drug dealer for 8 kilograms of marijuana

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Crown: Adam Picard murdered drug dealer for 8 kilograms of marijuana

Fouad Nayel was murdered over eight kilograms of marijuana, a Crown prosecutor told an Ottawa jury, as the long-delayed trial of Nayel's accused killer got underway on Wednesday.

After six years and several appeals, including a failed challenge last month to the Supreme Court, prosecutors opened their case against Adam Picard, explaining why they believe Nayel was killed in 2012.  

Picard, a former soldier, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of the 28-year-old Nayel.

Nayel's family first reported Nayel missing in June 2012. His remains were found in a wooded-area near Calabogie, Ont., almost six months later in December 2012.

Assistant Crown attorney Louise Tansey told the jury of three women and nine men that Picard and Nayel met to make a drug deal in Bells Corners on June 17, 2012. 

"One man believed it would be a lucrative drug deal and he brought 17 pounds of marijuana. That man was Faoud Nayel," she said. "And one man brought a shot gun. That was Adam Picard." 

Tansey said Nayel was killed at Brydges Road near Calabogie when Picard lured him there and shot him twice —once in the head and once in the torso — and left with Nayel's marijuana.

Financial motive

She said in early June 2012, Picard experienced a "significant" financial loss when his drug contacts in Thunder Bay, where he regularly sold marijuana, failed to pay him $17,000 for a shipment of drugs.

Tansey said witnesses described Picard's reaction over the loss as "shaking and freaking out." 

She told the jury he then made a plan to meet Nayel to obtain a large amount of marijuana.

On June 12, the Crown said Picard bought a pump action shot gun for $580 and practiced shooting it in the woods near his Orléans home.

Picard listened to Tansey's statement in the prisoner box wearing a dark blue suit, his hair in a short, military-style cut. 

Father's Day dinner

According to Tansey, Picard "began to reap the benefits" of the drugs he took from Nayel, selling them to contacts in Thunder Bay.

When Nayel didn't return home on June 17 for a Father's Day dinner, his family worried, because he had a habit of calling to let his parents know when he would be home.

After the police questioned Picard about Nayel's disappearance, the Crown told the court the accused moved Nayel's body to a spot on Norton Road, several kilometres from where he was murdered.

After her opening statement, Tansey called 33-year-old Julia Battisti to testify. She was Nayel's life-long friend and told the court he was also her regular drug dealer.

She told the court she last saw Nayel on Friday, June 15, 2012, two days before the Crown said he was murdered.​

Delays in trial

In the front row of the courtroom, Nicole and Amine Nayel, Fouad's parents, sat alongside other family members.

Picard was first set to stand trial for murder in 2016, but an Ontario Superior Court Judge argued it had taken too long for Picard to get a trial and stayed the proceedings against him.

The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned that decision and ordered the trial to proceed, which led Picard to take his case to the Supreme Court.

Last month, the highest court declined to hear Picard's appeal allowing this trial to go ahead. 

The trial will continue on Thursday and is expected to last six weeks.

  • Not so sweet season for B.C. farmers, cherry pickers due to weather and COVID-19

    Not so sweet season for B.C. farmers, cherry pickers due to weather and COVID-19

    The cherries on Sukhdeep Brar's 100-acre orchard in Summerland, B.C., are just a few weeks out from ripening. But if he doesn't manage to find the workers to pick them, they will spoil."Everything will go bad, real fast," said Brar, a 34-year-old, second-generation tree fruit farmer.Like many growers in the Okanagan Valley, he is desperately searching for pickers. There are fewer available this year because of COVID-19. Some are afraid to travel and others are unable to get to B.C. because of border closures."Usually at this point, I have 80 to 90 people call and ask when cherry picking is starting. I think I've had four people call," said Brar. He is now looking to attract locals for the job. "We are advertising it as make some money in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoons."According to the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association, 4,500 migrant labourers are needed every year to work Okanagan fields and orchards. Watch | Fruit farmer Sukhdeep Brar explains the struggles the industry is facing:Annually, many farm workers head up from Mexico and the Caribbean. While they're currently permitted to come into Canada during the pandemic as they are deemed an essential service, the logistics are challenging. Roughly 1,500 young backpackers from Quebec also make the annual journey, but fewer have come this year. And some 1,500 backpackers from elsewhere come on travel visas; they will not be able to make it at all.The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen estimates that there are 50 per cent fewer farm workers this year overall compared to last year.Jonathan Desy made the trip from Quebec for his eighth season of cherry picking, but said fewer of his friends made the journey."This year there is nobody. Maybe because of COVID or something like that," he said. It's long been a tradition for students and young people from Quebec to travel across the country and come to B.C. to work the summer months as fruit pickers. The piecemeal work allows them to make good money — if they're skilled at it. Watch | Quebec backpackers describe working conditions on B.C. farms:Some experienced pickers say they can make up to $2,000 a week, although most people can expect to earn much less. They go to work before the crack of dawn and are usually done by 11 a.m., giving them the chance to enjoy the summer on the lake. Too much rain"It's really a bad season with the COVID and everything," said cherry picker Eloïse Dendreon. "It's hard for farmers and for us, it's hard because the cherry is not good."It has been a light crop, and above-average rainfall has severely impacted the fragile fruit this season. Farmers have had to spend thousand of dollars to hire helicopters to dry the cherry trees in hopes of saving them from going bad. "Every time it rains and the sun comes out, the cherries split. It causes damage," said Harman Bahniwal of Krazy Cherry Fruit Company in Oliver, B.C.He said the cherries get what are called "nose cracks" and are no longer deemed good enough for market."Any spec of rain, they explode, and all that cherry goes to waste," said Bahniwal, which is why it's so important to have the labour lined up for those few days when the cherries are ready to pick.B.C.'s interior tree fruit industry generates $118 million in wholesale revenue and contributes $776 million in economic activity, according to the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association.The association says the majority of farmers are seeing reduced fruit production and are worried as prices have been depressed for a number of years. It says COVID-19 is only adding more uncertainty and increased costs.New precautionsSome orchards have built campsites for workers and have increased washroom access and general sanitation to keep the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from spreading between workers. But in some cases the backpackers camp on Crown land, which can be difficult to monitor — and it lacks facilities like washrooms and showers.The B.C. government announced on June 25 that it will provide funding for districts to build and maintain campsites to keep fruit pickers safe.In Oliver, B.C., the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen manages a campsite called Loose Bay. It has been given $60,000 to manage safety precautions. Upon entry, all visitors fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire, and the site is overseen by bilingual campground managers."We ensure social distancing, including tents, and there are no campfires allowed this year, as they tend to lead to gatherings," said district chair Karla Kozakevich.She said they've also added more washrooms and hand sanitization stations at the campsite. Additionally, the B.C. government has created a mandatory online course in agriculture safety, as it relates to COVID-19, for workers and producers.There have been worries from some local residents over farm workers coming into the area, especially from Quebec, where coronavirus infection rates are much higher.So far, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 among the fruit pickers."We welcome them but want them to follow the health steps required, to be respectful in communities they are working — and I have found that they are," said Kozakevich.

  • Reopening the Canada-U.S. border will be a long, piecemeal process

    Reopening the Canada-U.S. border will be a long, piecemeal process

    The Donald Trump era began in 2015 with a promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Five years later, the Trump era may end with citizens in much of the rest of the world — Canadians, in particular — insisting on a virtual wall between themselves and the United States.With the United States adding 40,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day, the European Union is leaving the U.S. off a list of 15 countries whose citizens soon will be allowed to visit its 27 member nations. In Canada, there seems to be no great desire to quickly reverse the unprecedented border restrictions that were imposed in March.The question for Canadians is how much longer the virtual wall will have to be in place — and how much it might hurt to keep it there."My guess is it's going to have to stay closed for more than 12 months," Colin Furness, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, told CBC News this week. "It's hard to imagine what's going to happen in the United States until we have a vaccine or until the population has been sufficiently infected that you have herd immunity."Canadians are in no rush to reopenWhen Leger Marketing asked Canadians in May when they thought Canada should reopen its border with the United States, 47 per cent of respondents said "not before the end of the year." With more than 2.6 million cases now in the United States, it's unlikely Canadians' enthusiasm for welcoming our American neighbours has increased since then.An exemption for "essential" travel significantly reduced the disruption to the Canadian economy. "Canadians continue to get the food, medicine, commercial goods, and other essential supplies they need to live and work, and Canadian exporters for the most part have not suffered disruption," said Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.But the decline in traffic across the border has still been precipitous. According to data obtained by Postmedia, between June 15 and June 21 just 170,998 people entered Canada at a land crossing with the United States — and 104,247 of those people were truck drivers. Over the same period in 2019, more than 1.2 million people traveled through a land crossing from the U.S. into Canada.Based on those numbers, the pandemic is going to leave a deep mark on the Canadian tourism industry and on border towns like Windsor and Sarnia, Ontario. Hyder and the Business Council have called on the federal government to extend its wage subsidy for the tourism sector through the rest of the year.The damage could be lastingBut it can't be assumed that the exemption for essential business travel and widespread use of video conferencing are preventing all damage to the economic relationships between Canadians and Americans."People say, okay, well, the trucks are going, so the supply chains are working. But the supply chains reflect agreements and contracts that were made in the past with a lot of face-to-face interaction," said Bill Anderson, director of the Cross-Border Institute in Windsor. "If those agreements aren't being made now, the question is — what's the supply chain going to look like six months to a year from now?"It also can't be assumed that cross-border travel will quickly return to its pre-COVID-19 normal once the threat of the disease has passed, Anderson added. Traffic between Canada and the United States dropped significantly after 9/11 and had yet to fully return to previous levels when the pandemic hit.Beyond the economic concerns, there are the personal plights — the families still being kept apart by the border restrictions. An exemption introduced in June only applies to "immediate" family members such as spouses, parents, children and guardians.A pandemic running rampant in the U.S.But all complications associated with the current restrictions must be balanced against the significant health risks of reopening the border — and the economic disruption that would occur if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 in Canada.Furness said his suggestion of 12 months was not meant to be perfectly precise. "It's a very, very rough idea," he said. "I just want people to get used to the idea that maybe it's not going to be next week or next month."But his projection is based on a belief that COVID-19 has now spread too far in the United States for it to be contained. "My assumption is that the genie is so far out of the bottle that there isn't even a bottle anymore," he said.In these circumstances, it might be hard for any industry or community to argue that the border should be reopened. But accepting that a return to normal is unlikely in the near future could refocus the discussion on what, if anything, can be done to find a new normal that is even just slightly less restrictive.Baby steps"I don't think the solution is to say, 'Let's pick out a date and say, OK, the border is now open.' In fact, I would say that maybe 'open' is the wrong term to use," said Anderson, who is also thinking of COVID-19 as a long-term problem. "I think what you need to do is try to find rational and safe ways to ease some of the restrictions."Anderson said that expanded testing (likely conducted away from the border crossings themselves) might allow some travellers to cross if they can show that they have recently tested negative. The effectiveness of that approach, of course, would depend on the accuracy of the testing.Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at West Washington University, said the current exemption for family members could be broadened to include extended family like grandparents. Furness also would look at family unification."I really would like us to revisit that with a long view," Furness said of the current policy on family members. "To say, 'This is going to be in place for a long time, now how can we alleviate the worst of the suffering?'"If that meant a lot more people crossing the border, then testing could be a useful policy, Furness said. But he suggests that what is currently a "tiny trickle" of cross-border travellers should only be allowed to become a "slightly bigger trickle" — no tourists or unnecessary business travel. He said international students should still be allowed to enter Canada, but he would like greater clarity on what constitutes "essential" travel.The border restrictions put in place in March have been extended three times and are now set to expire on July 21 — officially, at least. Even if the deal is only extended for another month, it's likely time to accept that a largely closed border between Canada and the United States is, like the disease itself, going to be our reality for the foreseeable future —  and to plan accordingly."Right now I think everyone's responsibility is to figure out how we're going to live with this thing," Anderson says. "Because it might not go away for a long time."

  • 'Living in limbo': Canadians with long-lasting symptoms call for COVID-19 research, support

    'Living in limbo': Canadians with long-lasting symptoms call for COVID-19 research, support

    For Elisa Harvey-LaPlante, the symptoms of her months-long illness came on quickly.It was back in February when she first got chills and a dry cough. Then more symptoms kept rolling in for the 52-year-old Toronto resident, including headaches, dry eyes, thrush, weeks of chest pain and, at times, a feeling that she couldn't breathe."I think part of that was all of a sudden realizing, 'I think I have COVID,'" she said.Harvey-LaPlante is now recounting those weeks of anxiety in the backyard of her east-end home, where she's spent much of the past four months recovering with little medical support. Some of her symptoms haven't completely gone away, and she still faces lingering fatigue that ebbs and flows."It was a very frightening couple of months," she said. "And to this day, I have not had a doctor check me out."Harvey-LaPlante is now one of more than 50 Canadians with long-lasting symptoms of possible or confirmed COVID-19, who've all signed an open letter to the country's chief medical officers of health, including Ontario's own Dr. David Williams.The group's plea, amid rising awareness of lengthy recovery times for some people infected with the novel coronavirus virus, was sent on Tuesday.It calls for officials to research long-lasting cases of COVID-19, ensure medical support is provided, and implement standards for diagnosing the illness for patients who don't have positive test results."Without any medical answers or insight into our condition, we are left living in limbo, unable to access treatment and therapies, and filled with uncertainty about our futures," the letter reads.'Doctors don't believe us'In the early days of her illness, Harvey-LaPlante said a physician told her through a teleconference appointment that she likely had COVID-19 based on her symptoms. But one supposed telltale sign she never had was a fever — so at that time, she didn't meet the criteria to get tested.Months later, in May, Harvey-LaPlante finally did get a COVID-19 test once the criteria were broadened, but by that point it came back negative."Doctors don't believe us, family members or employers don't believe us," said Ottawa resident Chandra Pasma, who had a similar experience with a strange, long-lasting set of symptoms this year, and no positive test results to explain it."Often we're the only person doctors are seeing with this condition, so they don't have the research to go on yet because it's so new."Pasma, who helped organize the open letter, believes her whole family wound up infected with COVID-19, and previously shared her experience with CBC News. Her group's letter stresses how health guidance in Canada has directed many people to manage their symptoms at home to ease the burden on the medical system, which wound up having unintended consequences on people with milder cases."As a result, many Canadians have not contacted their doctors despite experiencing ongoing symptoms," the open letter reads."Others have tried to seek medical care and have been dismissed, either for not having a positive test or because they are told COVID-19 does not last beyond two weeks. It is therefore impossible to say how many Canadians are experiencing a lingering COVID-19 illness or longer-term, possibly permanent, disability as a result of the illness."Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a Toronto family physician and researcher, said the medical community needs to gain an accurate sense of how many people are experiencing prolonged symptoms to understand the full spectrum of the illness.She also stressed it's crucial for physicians to rule out other possible illnesses before settling on a diagnosis, despite many patients' focus on COVID-19."We have no confirmatory test for the long-haulers, making it more difficult to know, is that necessarily what we're dealing with?" Gorfinkel said. "To be safe, all patients have to have other diagnoses excluded."But diagnosing COVID-19 remains challenging, since much remains unclear about how it affects the body. Ontario's chief medical officer reviewing letterAs the pandemic progresses, the medical community is growing increasingly aware of multi-organ impacts and symptoms beyond the respiratory system — with various theories emerging that it's largely an illness of the blood vessels, or one that can prompt a potentially-dangerous overreaction from the immune system.As for how long symptoms can last, many medical professionals now acknowledge some people may be ill for long stretches of time.The COVID-19 symptom tracking app developed at King's College London, which has been downloaded by roughly four million people globally, has reported that 10 per cent of people had symptoms at 25 days and five per cent were still ill one month later, noted several authors of a recent column in the British Medical Journal."We hear anecdotal reports of people who have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath," said Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director of infectious diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in a media briefing on June 25."So, how long that will last is hard to say."Research unpacking the full nature of how the virus operates, and why it may cause long-lasting health issues, will take time.In the meantime, there's no word if Ontario's officials will take new action on the recommendations from patients who say their wellbeing has suffered amid months of fear and sickness."Ontario, along with the other Chief Medical Officer's of Health across Canada, has received the letter and is reviewing it in detail," a spokesperson for the health ministry said in a statement.Harvey-LaPlante said until there's more research and support, the focus will remain only on the most dire cases where people wind up hospitalized or dying, but not on the untold number of Canadians who are struggling with symptoms behind closed doors."A mild case isn't always mild," she said.

  • B.C. Lottery Corp. finally reveals secret behind $700K fine for money laundering fumbles

    B.C. Lottery Corp. finally reveals secret behind $700K fine for money laundering fumbles

    The B.C. Lottery Corporation has finally given up a decade-long fight to keep a secret.In 2010, BCLC was hit with a $700,000 fine by FINTRAC, the country's money laundering watchdog, for undisclosed violations of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.It was the largest penalty ever levelled against a provincial gaming corporation — until FINTRAC eventually withdrew its case after a long and complicated legal battle. But BCLC still fought to keep the facts of the case from the public.Now the lottery corporation has voluntarily released documents that detail its past failings, relenting after a nine year freedom of information battle with CBC News.The move comes after B.C. Attorney General David Eby spoke with BCLC's new board of directors earlier this year."I think the release of these long overdue," Eby said in February.Mike Larsen, president of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, agrees."Access delayed is access denied," says Larsen. "And it is about time that we have this information."7 major deficienciesThe documents show FINTRAC found BCLC's oversight of the province's casinos to be deficient in seven major "high risk" areas between 2009 and 2010.FINTRAC required the lottery corporation to report on large and suspicious cash transactions — possible proceeds of crime being laundered through casinos.But after a major audit, it found casino staff were conducting "little to no verification" of high risk client betting, that BCLC had failed to adequately report large cash transactions over $10,000, and that casinos were allowing high rollers to simply identify themselves as "self-employed" or "business owners."Recent investigations have shown criminals were able to launder up to $1 billion in dirty money through the province's casinos for over a decade — often bringing in bags and suitcases packed with bundles of $20 bills, the currency of street drugs.The CBC reported extensively on the flow of suspected "dirty money" as far back as 2008.BCLC insisted it was making changesInternal letters between BCLC and FINTRAC reveal the lottery corporation insisted it was making changes to its "high risk measures," and blamed some of the deficiencies on technical glitches and human error.The lottery corporation begged FINTRAC to drop the $700,000 fine and keep its deficiencies secret from the public— arguing disclosure of its failings would tip off money launderers to its weaknesses."Publication ... would indicate to the patrons of casinos that it is possible to avoid the necessary identification, recording and reporting [of large and suspicious cash transactions], which is a message BCLC does not wish to have made," wrote former BCLC president and CEO Michael Graydon in a fax to FINTRAC dated June 30, 2010."The public notice will detract from the very considerable efforts BCLC is making to appropriately comply," insisted Graydon. "It will encourage inappropriate behaviour." But Larsen says that argument never made any sense."There were no trade secrets about how to money launder that could have really been gleaned from the information that has been finally released," says the freedom of information advocate."So I find that argument hard to believe."News of $700K fine leaked, source soughtIn a subsequent fax one month later in August 2010, BCLC's CEO appeared angry that news of the $700,000 fine had been leaked to the press — and the search was on to find the whistleblower."Active inquiries have been made at BCLC and it has not been possible to identify the source," wrote Graydon. "Damage has been caused as a consequence of the premature public disclosure of the ... notice of violation."Despite the leak and Graydon's departure in 2014, the lottery corporation continued to fight CBC's request for details of its deficiencies — in battles before the courts and B.C.'s information and privacy commission.BCLC also appealed the $700,000 fine, and the Federal Court issued confidentiality orders barring the release of the records.In 2017, FINTRAC withdrew its case against BCLC and the penalty was set aside by the court.In 2018, the CBC refiled a request for the 2010 records — to BCLC and the Ministry of the Attorney General. The ministry released some documents, but key information was redacted. When Eby was asked in February about his own ministry blocking full release, the attorney general said "British Columbians deserve to see this information." Secrecy 'erodes trust'The B.C. Lottery Corporation says it began the process to release the long-secret information around the time of Eby's statement in February — as part of its participation in the current provincial inquiry into money laundering in B.C..In mid-June, the court loosened the confidentiality order and BCLC finally gave the records to the CBC.The lottery corporation says in FINTRAC's last examination in 2018, the watchdog agency acknowledged the lottery corporation "had made significant progress in improving its anti-money laundering program."But Larsen says BCLC should have come clean about its shortcomings back in 2010."You end up in the end looking like you're being unnecessarily and perhaps conspiratorially secretive," says Larsen."That absolutely erodes trust, for sure."  CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email

  • 24 shot to death in attack on drug rehab centre in Mexico
    The Canadian Press

    24 shot to death in attack on drug rehab centre in Mexico

    MEXICO CITY — Gunmen burst into an unregistered drug rehabilitation centre in central Mexico and opened fire Wednesday, killing 24 people and wounding seven, authorities said.Police in the north-central state of Guanajuato said the attack occurred in the city of Irapuato. Three of the seven wounded were reported in serious condition.Apparently the attackers shot everyone at the rehab centre. State police said nobody was abducted. Photos purporting to show the scene suggest those at the centre were lying down when they were sprayed with bullets.Guanajuato is the scene of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco cartel and a local gang, and the state has become the most violent in Mexico.No motive was given in the attack, but Gov. Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo said drug gangs appeared to have been involved.“I deeply regret and condemn the events in Irapuato this afternoon,” the governor wrote. “The violence generated by organized crime not only takes the lives of the young, but it takes the peace from families in Guanajuato.”Mexican drug gangs have killed suspected street-level dealers from rival gangs sheltering at such facilities in the past. It was one of the deadliest attacks on a rehab centre since 19 people were killed in 2010 in Chihuahua city in northern Mexico. More than a dozen attacks on such facilities have occurred since then.Mexico has long had problems with rehab centres because most are privately run, underfunded and often commit abuses against recovering addicts. The government spends relatively little money on rehabilitation, often making the unregistered centres the only option available for poor families.In addition, addicts and dealers who face attacks from rivals on the streets sometimes take refuge at the rehab clinics, making the clinics themselves targets for attack. Still other gangs have been accused of forcibly recruiting recovering addicts at the centres as dealers, and killing them if they refused.The Associated Press

  • Woman who found engagement ring 9 years after losing it gets offer from marriage commissioner

    Woman who found engagement ring 9 years after losing it gets offer from marriage commissioner

    A Charlottetown woman who found her engagement ring on a dish drying mat after losing it nine years ago says it's a sign she and her fiancé should finally get married.Katrina Durdle said after the story appeared on CBC, marriage commissioner Diana Lariviere reached out and offered to perform the wedding for free. The date has been set for Sept. 25."Just through the fact that it's kind of a miracle that we found the engagement ring that we've decided that we will get married this year," Durdle said."It's a perfect time and it happened for a reason."Lariviere, who operates Weddings P.E.I. By Diana, said the story tugged at her heart."I figured if you lost your engagement ring for that length of time it was almost karma and given that we are in this COVID crisis it just seemed like a nice thing to do to offer to do their marriage ceremony."Durdle said her fiancé, Kevin McNeill, often joked that they would not get married until she found the ring. But she said the reason they waited so long was because "life just kind of got in the way." They have two children they always put ahead of themselves, she said."We always joked and called each other husband and wife and everything's already as if we're married so we just never did it."Durdle said she has received lots of reaction from people — including complete strangers — since the story was published June 22. "I had one lady ask me if I would say a prayer for her to find her engagement ring because she had lost hers as well. So it's been really interesting to see all the positive that's come."Durdle is now planning her wedding, which she hopes will be at an outdoor venue overlooking the ocean. While the details are still being worked out, one thing is certain: when MacNeil slips the wedding ring on her finger, she'll be trying extra hard not to lose it.More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Support for anti-government, pro-gun Boogaloo movement growing in Canada

    Support for anti-government, pro-gun Boogaloo movement growing in Canada

    An anti-government, pro-gun movement linked to recent violence in the U.S. is gaining supporters in Canada — prompting warnings from experts over their often hateful, violent remarks against protesters, police and Ottawa's new firearms restrictions.In the U.S, Boogaloos have recently been in the spotlight, after some showed up heavily armed at anti-lockdown and Black Lives Matter demonstrations. There are no reports of Boogaloos at Canadian protests. But online, the nascent movement has inspired at least two Facebook pages where followers have recently talked about killing protesters and RCMP officers alike. The Facebook pages identified by CBC News were created in the past six months and in that time grew to around 800 followers each. That kind of support is cause for concern, say experts like Alexander Reid Ross, a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right in Portland, Ore."People need very little to do a whole lot of damage," Ross said.Ross said he started to see more activity by Canadians on sites frequented by Boogaloo supporters in the wake of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, and the resulting tighter restrictions on firearms.While it is impossible to know where all of them come from, many of the people interacting with the Facebook pages list locations in Canada in their profiles. Others list locations in the U.S. or other countries.The administrator of one page, who refused to be identified, told CBC News that nearly half of its followers were located in Canada. The page, which CBC News has decided not to name, has 854 followers and is managed by accounts in Canada, according to Facebook's transparency data.Another page, the K/razy Kanucks Big Kanadian Igloo, had attracted nearly 800 followers before Facebook removed it last week, following an inquiry from CBC News, saying it contravened its community standards against violence and incitement.The unnamed page, however, is still up and includes posts that threaten police and talk about harming protesters.On June 13, one of page's moderators posted that "pink misting" protesters would "really slap," above a meme critical of protestors in Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Pink misting is slang for either killing someone with an explosive or a sniper's bullet.Another post links to a story about a 26-year-old woman killed in a police shooting in Edmundston, N.B., and the line, "This is why we need guns" — a reference to Canadians defending themselves against police.While many of the posts on the pages viewed by CBC News were reshared from American groups, others discuss events in Canada.Several were critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, objecting to the government's tougher gun rules or mocking his criticism of unconscious bias and anti-Black racism.Others are critical of police or the government in general, including one post that jokingly referred to using "claymore Roombas" to blow up an RCMP armoured vehicle.One post opposed the federal government's plan to accept more immigrants after the pandemic is over. Another criticized Chinese investors buying Canadian farmland.Banned by FacebookWhile some American Boogaloo supporters openly advocate for a second civil war in the U.S., the administrator who spoke to CBC said he thinks political change should follow the proper democratic process. He said his page is meant to be about memes and humour.But Facebook says it is taking anything referring to the Boogaloo movement seriously."We continue to remove content using Boogaloo and related terms when accompanied by statements and images depicting armed violence," Facebook Canada spokeswoman Meg Sinclair said in a statement."We are also preventing these Pages and groups from being recommended on Facebook."On Tuesday Facebook said it was banning all Boogaloo content. Facebook recently lost $56 billion in market value as advertisers like Mountain Equipment Co-op, Coca-Cola and Lulemon leave over concerns it isn't doing enough to police hate speech and disinformation.On Reddit and Instragram, Canadian references to the Boogaloo movement are generally found on subreddits or accounts frequented by firearms enthusiasts. Some show photos of users posing with their firearms, and mentioning boogaloo.Reddit spokesperson Sierra Gamelgaard said the platform has been banning Boogaloo-associated communities since spring."Our site-wide policies explicitly prohibit users and communities from posting content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence against groups of people or individuals," Gamelgaard said.The RCMP won't say whether it is monitoring or investigating Boogaloo supporters in Canada."The RCMP does not investigate movements or ideologies, but will investigate the criminal activity of any individuals who threaten the safety and security of Canadians," said RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Caroline Duval in an email to CBC.'Waiting for the boogaloo'While memes and phrases referring to a "boogaloo," or second U.S. civil war, have been online for many years, the movement has gained prominence in the past few months.In April, the Tech Transparency Project, a Washington-based group that studies the influence of technology on society, identified more than 125 Facebook groups tied to the movement, and found that more than 60 per cent of them had been created in the previous three months.The group provided CBC News with examples of Canadian Boogaloo content it had identified, including a Facebook post in April from a Calgary gun store, The Shooting Edge, advertising a shotgun as "your favourite 12ga [gauge] BOOGALOO gun."The store made the same post to Instagram in April, along with another about AK-47-themed T-shirts to wear while "waiting for the boogaloo."Store owner J.R. Cox says the posts are satirical."The thing that we tend to do with our posts is we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We are not preparing for the end of the world and we're not preparing to get people ready to go to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban," he said.The Shooting Edge, along with another Calgary gun shop, has taken the federal government to court over a proposed ban on assault rifles.How the memes evolvedThere's a mix of ideologies among people drawn to Boogaloo content, including some anarchists and left-wingers, but most are far-right or libertarian, according to Barbara Perry, director of Ontario Tech University's Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism"The thing that binds them, regardless of what their orientation may be, is an anti-statist position. So we see in particular a real concern, a real reaction to gun legislation that restricts firearms," Perry said.Perry said some supporters of existing far-right groups in Canada could be attracted to the Boogaloo movement."Some of them might be drifting towards the Boogaloo as they see an alignment there with their narratives."Boogaloo supporters often use phrases that sound similar — like "big igloos" or "big luaus" — to evade social media monitoring. Some supporters have appeared at U.S. protests heavily armed and wearing Hawaiian shirts, a reference to "big luaus."The colourful shirts are in line with the satirical or seemingly innocuous elements sometimes used by extremist groups, according to Kathleen Belew, an associate history professor at the University of Chicago and the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America."It follows a much longer thread of organizing, also used by groups like the white power movement, the militia movement, which have used kind of public facing, sometimes funny and acceptable forms to mask what is an inherently violent ideology," said Belew.Recent violence in the U.S. included the killing of two law enforcement officers in California, allegedly by a man who scrawled phrases related to the Boogaloo movement on a car, according to NBC.  In May, three veterans were arrested in Las Vegas on terrorism and explosives charges. The FBI alleges they intended to disrupt protests over the death of George Floyd, and were all members of a Nevada Boogaloo Facebook group.While Canadian supporters haven't gone that far, Perry says the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, job losses, businesses failing and racial tensions risk increasing Boogaloo support in Canada."You put all those layers together, it's sort of ripe for an acceleration of the movement, an exacerbation of the movement," she said."The fear is that they now take a page from the book of their American counterparts."

  • France freezes role in NATO naval force amid Turkey tensions
    The Canadian Press

    France freezes role in NATO naval force amid Turkey tensions

    PARIS — France announced Wednesday that it is suspending its involvement in a NATO naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea after a standoff with a Turkish warship, amid growing tensions within the military alliance over the conflict in Libya.France’s Defence Ministry said that the government sent a letter Tuesday to NATO saying it is halting its participation in Sea Guardian “temporarily.” It came after NATO investigators submitted their report into the June 10 incident.A ministry official said France wants NATO allies to “solemnly reaffirm their attachment” to the arms embargo on Libya, which is being policed in part by a European Union naval operation. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity under the government’s customary practices.France has accused Turkey of repeated violations of the U.N. arms embargo on Libya and branded the Turkish government as an obstacle to securing a ceasefire in the North African nation, which Turkey firmly denies.France is also calling for a crisis mechanism to prevent a repeat of the incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean.France says its frigate Courbet was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Tanzanian-flagged civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking. The ship was being escorted by three Turkish warships. The Courbet backed off after the confrontation.At the time, the French frigate was part of the Sea Guardian mission, which is helping to provide maritime security in the Mediterranean. France said it was acting based on NATO information and that under the alliance's rules of engagement such conduct is considered a hostile act.Turkey has denied harassing the Courbet. Turkey's ambassador to France was questioned in the French Senate on Wednesday and defended Turkey's actions as peaceful and crucial to restoring stability to Libya.Ambassador Ismail Hakki Musa said he thinks NATO has completed its investigation and that the findings were inconclusive. NATO confirmed only that investigators had submitted their report but said it was “classified” and declined to say what conclusions, if any, had been drawn.German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the incident as a “very serious.”“We should do everything to ensure that such incidents aren’t repeated among NATO allies,” Merkel said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session in the German parliament.Merkel met with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday; Turkey’s foreign minister is expected to visit Berlin on Thursday.Turkey has angered its NATO partners over the last year with its invasion of northern Syria and insistence on buying Russian-made missiles. At least eight NATO allies have backed France over the naval standoff, according to French officials.Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising toppled leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The country has since been split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by armed groups and different foreign governments.The government in Tripoli led by Fayez Sarraj is backed not just by Turkey, which sent troops and mercenaries to protect the capital in January, but also Italy and Qatar. Rival forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter, who launched an offensive on Tripoli last year, are supported by Russia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other key Arab countries. France has helped Hifter in the past.Earlier Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed his country’s support to the Tripoli-based administration in Libya and without naming France, criticized nations who have backed the rival administration led by Hifter.“We are following with concern those who, when it comes to words, champion democracy, human rights and laws, but take putschists under their wings,” Erdogan said, in reference to Hifter. “Turkey won’t abandon the people of Libya to the mercy of putschists and will continue to act within the limits of international legality.”Macron on Monday condemned Turkey's actions in Libya as “unacceptable," and said that Ankara “doesn’t respect any of its commitments.” He denied backing Hifter and said that France is in favour of finding a “political solution.”The French ministry official described the decision to suspend participation in Sea Guardian as “a very clear political gesture” to highlight “ambiguities of an anti-trafficking operation in which there are traffickers involved.”“We have a NATO maritime security operation, one of its activities being to control trafficking” and at the same time “a member who is trafficking,” he said.___Lorne Cook reported from Brussels. Angela Charlton in Paris, Geir Moulson in Berlin, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.Sylvie Corbet And Lorne Cook, The Associated Press

  • Gun-toting restaurateur upsets 5-term Colorado congressman
    The Canadian Press

    Gun-toting restaurateur upsets 5-term Colorado congressman

    DENVER — A pistol-packing restaurant owner who has expressed support for a far-right conspiracy theory has upset five-term U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado's primary elections.Tipton became the fourth House member to lose renomination bids this year. Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Denver Riggleman of Virginia, and Democrat Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, have already been ousted by challengers.He lost Tuesday to Lauren Boebert, the owner of a gun-friendly restaurant in a western Colorado town called Rifle. Earlier this year, Boebert said in an interview that she was “very familiar” with the QAnon conspiracy theory, but she stopped short of saying she was a follower.“Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values,” she told interviewer Ann Vandersteel.QAnon followers believe that Trump is fighting enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. The QAnon name comes from online clues purportedly posted by a high-ranking government official known as “Q.”Boebert won the primary for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District after a campaign in which she accused Tipton of not being sufficiently pro-Donald Trump even though the president had endorsed Tipton. Trump congratulated Boebert on Twitter, saying, “Congratulations on a really great win."She will run in November’s general election against Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state lawmaker who won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday by defeating businessman James Iacino. Tipton defeated Mitsch Bush in the 2018 election to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses a swath of southern and western Colorado.Tipton conceded in an email sent by his longtime campaign consultant Michael Fortney.“(Third) District Republicans have decided who they want to run against the Democrats this November,” Tipton wrote. “I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well.”Boebert made a name for herself after loudly protesting Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ orders to close businesses to fight the coronavirus pandemic. She opened her Shooters Grill restaurant in defiance of closure orders.Boebert confronted then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during a stop last year by in the Denver suburb of Aurora, questioning him on suggestions he’d confiscate guns — a moment that landed her on Fox News.“A sober look at the Tipton Record shows a back-burner representative that has failed to live up to his conservative chops that he touted on his Tea Party-inspired campaign trail,” Boebert wrote in a recent Aspen Times column. “If his record lived up to his campaign rhetoric, I wouldn’t feel so compelled to run.”The Associated Press

  • Renewed push to remove slur-filled terms from Quebec's maps sparks debate

    Renewed push to remove slur-filled terms from Quebec's maps sparks debate

    The names jump out on a map of Quebec: slur-filled terms used to describe rivers, hills and lakes across the province.But a renewed push to remove offensive names from Quebec's toponymy has sparked a debate about the best way to remember the history of Black people in Quebec. Rekeisha George, who launched a petition last week to change all the province's place names that include the N-word in English and French, says she was enraged to see the offensive words on Google Maps — all while Premier François Legault continues to deny there is systemic racism in Quebec. "It's not a place that I would feel comfortable to go and take a stroll," said George, a Pierrefonds woman who is Black. "It makes my skin crawl."In response to a 2015 petition, Quebec's toponymy commission removed 11 offensive names from all official maps of Quebec. Five years later, only one has been renamed — Lac Honoré-Gélinas in Shawinigan. That means private maps, including Google Maps, can still display the offensive titles. "The commission, which has no legal authority to compel private map publishers, has repeatedly asked Google to remove the names, but without success," said spokesperson Chantal Bouchard.There is no mention of Lac Honoré-Gélinas' former racist name on the toponymy commission's website. The commission says it's working to rename the other 10 locations. George, who joins many around the world calling for statues of racist historical figures and racist names to be removed, says that's not enough."We need to find a way to make whoever is in charge of changing the name to actually finish the job," George said. She acknowledged the importance of preserving the history of these locations, suggesting renaming them based on the people who lived there "and not using a word that's offensive to people."'The only evidence that Black people even existed'Some of these locations, including N---- Rapids near Gatineau, named for a Black couple who drowned there, and a hill 50 kilometres south of Montreal, reflect known places where Black people — including slaves — lived in Quebec. Dr. Dorothy Williams, a historian who specializes in Black Canadian history, says these places were named by white people signalling to other white people that Black people were there at some point in history. Though she acknowledges how offensive the names are, removing them would be an erasure of the already limited amount of tangible Black history in Canada, she said. "Who's going to know that Black people were even there?" Williams said."That is the only evidence that Black people even existed, that they even had an imprint in that part of Quebec." Williams hopes there will be research in those areas to find out more about the histories of the Black people who lived there before the names are changed. "It's still a representation," she said. "Wait [until] we have time to really understand, and help the rest of Quebec say, 'Look, this is your history.' "Gabriel Bazin of the Black Coalition of Quebec echoed Williams' points.His group has, in the past, argued that N---- Rock, a cemetery near the United States border where Black slaves are believed to be buried, should formally be recognized as a historical site. Several Loyalist families leaving the United States brought slaves with them when they settled near Saint-Armand, Que., around 1784, according to the Black Coalition of Quebec.Saint-Armand is about 83 kilometres south of Montreal.Keeping the names prevents erasure of Black history, Bazin said. "It shows that Canada had slaves. It shows the pain of those people — the suffering of those people," Bazin said. He says there are other issues, such as police brutality against Black people, that need to be addressed. "Justice is more important than names," Bazin said.Gaps in Canada's Black history: McGill art historianDr. Charmaine Nelson, a professor of art history at McGill University, believes the names should be stripped — but there should be archival context put in place by the government to remind future generations that racist names were once there.She says Black history in Canada is focused on the 32-year existence of the underground railroad, which brought slaves north to freedom, but the 200-year history of slavery in Canada is rarely acknowledged. "Canadians are very good at saying, 'It never happened here,' meaning imperialism, colonialism, slavery, et cetera," she said. Canada's dismissal of that reality affects Black Canadians to this day, she said."If you just completely remove the names of the sites, that actually contributes to that," Nelson said. "We have to think: Remove and replace with what? Remove and remember how?" Nelson said the places should commemorate the people whose history is reflected in the names, by erecting a monument to people of African descent, for example.

  • Ottawa 'remotely' inspected Ontario farms while COVID-19 infected hundreds of migrant workers

    Ottawa 'remotely' inspected Ontario farms while COVID-19 infected hundreds of migrant workers

    The federal government has conducted mostly remote inspections of Ontario farms that employ migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of physically entering the properties to make sure the labourers' living conditions are safe.Employment and Social Development Canada, the department responsible for the inspections, told CBC News that over the last four months, all the farms it inspected during the initial 14-day mandatory quarantine period complied with the rules as of June 12.But the department admitted in most cast cases, inspectors didn't actually travel to the farms in question."For the safety of everyone involved, the majority of inspections are still being conducted remotely," the department said in a statement. By some accounts, the inspections are done virtually. CBC News has asked for details on how the remote monitoring is conducted, but so far, the department has not provided details.The inspections have been happening as COVID-19 has infected hundreds of migrant farm labourers in Ontario. By last week, three workers had already died. There have been outbreaks in St. Catharines and in Norfolk County, but the majority have been in the Windsor area — forcing the province to expand testing for the novel coronavirus in the region.Ottawa, which is responsible for checking the bunkhouses where the workers stay, confirmed some in-person inspections started up again last week in the Windsor-Essex area. But that was too little, too late, according to Syed Hussan, executive director of an advocacy group called the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change."The fact [the inspections] were cancelled in the beginning was the wrong decision," Hussan told CBC News."Three workers are dead and only now are we seeing some minor changes but none of them to the scale which we need them." 'It's scary'Some labourers from farms in Leamington, Ont., in the Windsor area, say they are nervous the virus is spreading among migrant workers. "It's scary to become infected so we're always nervous," said Israel, a Guatemalan labourer who works on a tomato farm. He would only tell CBC News his first name. However, he said his employer has ensured workers are physically distancing and following safety protocols. "We feel safe on the farm," he said. "There's few people in the houses. We wash our hands before and after work." Unions also raised concerns when a CBC News investigation found the province was doing inspections of long-term care homes by phone before determining no problems existed. So far, about 70 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths have been residents in long-term care, and many say the virus has shed light on a system that  has long failed them. Meanwhile, advocates say the pandemic is doing the same with migrant workers. "COVID-19 has magnified, but also is exacerbating the current crisis," said Syed. The government of Premier Doug Ford is partnering with the federal government to conduct concurrent inspections.In addition to monitoring living conditions for the workers, Ottawa is responsible for making sure farms comply with immigration regulations and rules governing the workers' contracts. Meanwhile, the province checks farms are obeying labour laws, telling CBC News it has conducted 241 in-person and 62 remote inspections since March 11. 'Risking their lives'Under new rules brought in earlier this year, the federal government mandated employers to pay the workers for their two weeks of quarantine and made sure farms allowed labourers to stay in isolation for the entire 14-day period. A farm employer could face penalties of up to a $1 million and be banned from hiring foreign workers, in some cases permanently.The federal government said it launched 1,066 investigations of which 703 have been completed between March 1 and June 24. It did not say how many were found non-compliant. But Syed said the inspection regime is flawed, pointing to the fact the government did not find any employers non-compliant in the initial quarantine period. A report the group released in June documented inadequate housing and said some workers were not being paid during the quarantine period. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change has been pushing Ottawa to grant migrant workers permanent residency so they are able to voice concerns without fear of reprisal. "People are coming halfway around the world, risking their lives, their livelihoods," said Syed.

  • In a world economy reshaped by a virus, the new North American trade deal takes effect

    In a world economy reshaped by a virus, the new North American trade deal takes effect

    As negotiators shook hands on the revised North American free trade agreement, they couldn't have foreseen the fundamental upheaval their countries would soon be facing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.If the Trudeau government is looking to celebrate something this Canada Day, it may be the relative security of the status quo that was more or less preserved in the talks."Bullet dodged" — that's how Brett House, Scotiabank's deputy chief economist, summed things up for CBC News last weekend."Sometimes," he said, "the biggest victories are the bad things prevented, rather than new things built."Unlike Canada's original trade deals with the U.S. and the other major trade deals the Trudeau government has implemented with European and Pacific Rim partners, the new NAFTA doesn't substantially liberalize more trade. Most North American tariffs had been eliminated already.The new automotive chapter, in contrast, adds more protectionism by requiring manufacturers to use more local components and higher labour standards to avoid tariffs.When Global Affairs released its economic impact study for the new agreement last winter, it was criticized for basing its comparisons not on the terms of the original NAFTA but a hypothetically devastating scenario in which President Donald Trump completely pulled the plug on preferential trade with Canada.How likely was that? Opinions still vary as to whether the Trudeau government had any real alternative to going along with the renegotiation.As last week's threat to reimpose aluminum tariffs suggests, this White House remains unpredictable and, sometimes, unthinkable, even in the face of strong economic arguments about the value of free trade with one's neighbours.'Negative on balance'In attempting to modernize NAFTA for the 21st century, did negotiators meet the standard of "first, do no harm"?In a paper released Tuesday by the C.D. Howe Institute, consultant trade economist Dan Ciuriak revisited the economic modelling done by the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. International Trade Commission and Global Affairs Canada, as well as his own figures, and tried to make sense of how things look now — amid the chaos of a pandemic that's disrupted international supply chains, shut down all but essential cross-border travel and introduced a new public health rationale for constricting trade on national security grounds."There are many sources of uncertainty that at present do not lend themselves to a robust quantification," his summary concludes. "The known knowns promise to be negative on balance; as for the known unknowns, time will tell.""Just as companies were starting to prepare and think about [NAFTA implementation], COVID came," said Brian Kingston, outgoing vice-president responsible for trade issues at the Business Council of Canada."Their focus is turned 100 per cent to survival and making sure that they can get through this pandemic intact."Despite the pandemic (or perhaps to distract from it), Trump demanded a June 1 implementation date. When he couldn't get that, he insisted on a July 1 implementation, to make sure a done deal was ready to campaign on this fall.Rather than risk more punishment and political grief by stalling, Canada and Mexico agreed, paving the way for the Canada Day starting line.For Canada, starting in July instead of August is very expensive for its dairy sector — and perhaps for the taxpayers who ultimately will compensate farmers for it. The dairy fiscal year begins in August, and since NAFTA concessions ramp up at the start of each new dairy year, that ramp is steeper with this timing.One innovation in the original NAFTA now begins to vanish from the corporate toolkit: the investor-state dispute system (ISDS), which let companies bypass regular courts and challenge the regulatory decisions of Canadian governments directly through NAFTA arbitration (ISDS is also referred to by its location in the original text: "Chapter 11").The ability of multinationals to seek millions in damages in such lawsuits "was always something that critics of the original NAFTA deal hated," said cross-border trade lawyer Mark Warner. "So that's a pretty big change."Other changes businesses need to adapt to, like the copyright changes in the intellectual property chapter, are "largely a wash," Warner said.Bumpy road for carmakersThe new NAFTA's uniform regulations for automotive manufacturing have only been out for a couple of weeks — during a time when carmakers have been preoccupied with reviving their supply chains and factories from the relative coma of this spring's lockdown."Without COVID, this would have been the most important issue facing that most important industry, and now this is probably a distant second," said Warner."I don't think anyone in auto … has really had time to concentrate the mind on [the new NAFTA] coming into effect. I think we're going to see a delayed reaction that plays out over time."Will the revised agreement eventually fulfil Trump's pledge of returning more automotive jobs and investment to the U.S. (and Canada)? Or will manufacturers opt to comply by paying Mexican workers more, as some Japanese facilities are already signalling? Could some skip NAFTA compliance altogether?Trade law professor Elizabeth Trujillo from the University of Houston said that while the new labour provisions are consistent with the populist values of Mexico's current president, complete compliance with new labour standards on the Mexican side is "unlikely.""Will that be enforced? If it is, what does that mean? More tariffs?" she said.It's now possible for claims of labour violations to be pursued against Mexico under NAFTA's now-revised state-to-state dispute resolution process."The more likely scenario is that a lot of these manufacturers will just not use the new NAFTA … they'll work outside of it," Trujillo said. "Just pay what they have to pay [in tariffs] and not have to adjust their way of doing things to the new rules."As it reworks its supply chain strategy, Mexico may collaborate with other countries — especially other Latin American countries that also have free trade agreements with the U.S., like Colombia, she said.Trade professor Meredith Lilly of Carleton University, a former adviser to Stephen Harper's government, predicts "real bumps" ahead as this sector transitions to the new rules while trying to remain globally competitive."Over the long term, eventually the price of cars is going to go up," she said, pointing out that North American components and labour will be more expensive.De minimis, dairy changes kick inNot every sector faces as many new rules as the automotive industry. For regular consumers, changes attributable to NAFTA may be almost undetectable."The biggest win is that Canadians won't see a lot of change," Kingston said. "The less that we see is actually a sign that the agreement is working as planned."There are a few small consumer gains.With online shopping and shipping more popular than ever, goods shipped from by U.S. by courier services no longer face customs duties if they're valued under $150, and won't incur sales taxes if they're worth less than $40. If purchases are shipped by mail, however, the previous threshold of $20 will still apply.While the market access conceded to the U.S. for supply-managed agricultural products like dairy, eggs and poultry should, in theory, spur more competitive pricing and add more choice to store shelves, it's not a given that will happen.The pandemic has dramatically disrupted food supplies and prices, which might make any concurrent NAFTA changes hard to spot.The new licences to import American products will also be given mostly to Canadian processors, not retailers — something the Americans have threatened to fight because they don't trust Canada's domestic industry to deliver the market share promised to U.S. farmers.Sour relationsWhile the implementation of the new NAFTA could have been an opportunity to relaunch Canada-U.S. trade relations with a more positive attitude, Lilly said she fears this opportunity has been lost. Instead, the pandemic has left Canadians with a bad taste in their mouths about their neighbours.The Trump administration's attempt to prevent 3M from shipping N95 masks to Canada is an example of how there's "no loyalty and no love lost" between the partners in the North American trading bloc right now, she said."It's caused Canadians to reflect a great deal," she said, adding she worries the Trudeau government's ambitions for diversified trade aren't shared by the general public.Hassan Yussuff, the president of the Canadian Labour Council who also served on Canada's NAFTA advisory council during the negotiations, said he hopes the deal brings positive changes to the lives of working people in Mexico. He said he also hopes the new NAFTA regulations, in turn, will make employers think twice about leaving Canada in the first place — easing the resentment workers felt about the original NAFTA deal.COVID-19 is prompting countries to re-examine how far they have pushed the envelope on international trade, and to revisit the idea of making certain things at home, he said."We cannot be this vulnerable," Yussuff said. And even if there is a new president in the White House after November, he added, domestic political pressures will remain."Americans always act in their own self-interest. We should not think we're special. We have to be vigilant, and get used to this."

  • Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings

    Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump's new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the group questioned the leadership of Michael Pack, Trump’s pick to head the Agency for Global Media, which runs the flagship U.S. broadcaster Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba-focused Radio/TV Marti.

  • 'Tis the season for alien-like fish to spawn and die in N.B. fresh water

    'Tis the season for alien-like fish to spawn and die in N.B. fresh water

    It could be right out of a Stephen King novel — or maybe just the next chapter of 2020, the one that follows COVID-19 and murder hornets. A fish with a powerful suction cup of a mouth filled with circular rows of horn-shaped teeth and a tongue that burrows into the body of the host so it can feed at will. A sea lamprey might strike fear into anyone who sees pictures of its horror show of a mouth. But this alien-like fish is not the latest in a series of too-strange-to-be-true occurrences in recent months. "I definitely wouldn't say this is a new occurrence," says Kurt Samways, a freshwater ecologist and Parks Canada research chair at the University of New Brunswick."Lamprey have been around for a very, very long time."If people have noticed them more recently, it's probably because it's been spawning season, said Samways, who has been studying lamprey since 2008."Otherwise, I would say that they just happened to stumble upon them when they were, you know, out in the woods, out in the rivers enjoying nature and they just happened to be there at the right place, right time."Starting in June, lamprey return from the Atlantic Ocean to spawn in fresh water. Generally, said Samways, it lasts about a month. Although they resemble eels, they are not related. According to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's website, they "are set apart by their unique mouth: a large oral sucking disk filled with sharp, horn-shaped teeth surrounding a razor sharp rasping tongue."They attach to host fish and then feed at will as the host goes on with life. Samways understands the revulsion that many people feel toward the lamprey."I see that side. I mean you look at them and they do have this menacing mouth and everything. I think they're fascinating creatures. I mean they are this ancient fish, they have a very unique oral disc mouth with many rows of teeth. They do look almost alien-like but they're … a fascinating creature."Quincy Hall doesn't share Samways's affection for sea lamprey. Seven years ago, while swimming with her family in Belleisle Bay, Hall was bitten by one.She didn't get into the water for the rest of that summer — nor the next one. To this day, she's leery about lamprey when she swims."So I had literally just gotten in the water and I must've jumped near it or something and scared it, and it just was this immediate feeling of like, sharpness on my knee because that's where it bit me. And then when I kicked, I felt the slimy, like snake feeling on my other foot. That's all I felt. And that was it."She was left with a semicircle ring of teeth marks on her leg. She suspects that the fish hadn't actually tried to latch onto her. Samways said while bites do occur, they are rare in fresh water and usually occur when lamprey are startled or frightened. Normally, he said, lamprey do not feed in fresh water. For the first few years of their life, they're primarily filter feeders before they undergo a metamorphosis that turns them into a parasitic feeder. At that point, they move to the ocean to feed until they're ready to spawn. That's when they return to fresh water, and as soon as they spawn, they die. And that is one of the reasons they are so ecologically important to marine life in Atlantic Canada, said Samways."When they come back to spawn, they bring a lot of nutrients with them," he explained. "I think many people are familiar with the story of Pacific salmon coming back in really big numbers spawning. After they spawn, they all die, and so it's like truckloads of fertilizer being deposited into the rivers and those nutrients are really important for freshwater productivity on the East Coast."Lamprey are especially beneficial for salmon, said Samways. Not only do they provide nutrients for young salmon to feed on, they create the perfect habitat for salmon to lay their eggs. Great Lakes problemSea lamprey have become a huge problem in the Great Lakes region, where they are killing native species. Samways said East Coast says lamprey don't typically kill their hosts, thanks to evolving alongside other native species. But that hasn't happened in the Great Lakes, so native species haven't learned to co-exist with lamprey and often die — either directly from the attack or from infection or malnutrition after the lamprey have finished with them. "They're native to Atlantic Canada, so all the species of fish here, they evolved with them. And so we don't have the same problems. It's not an invasive species. They don't cause problems. In fact they're beneficial to rivers and other fish species even though they still have this parasitic life history."While bites to humans are rare, Samways said it's important to pull them off before they get a really good hold. Generally, he said, their bites aren't so strong that they can't be pulled off."And you should be fine. Treat it like you would in any other scrape or bite. You want to clean it to make sure there's no bacteria or things like that. He said sea lamprey can be found in any body of water in New Brunswick, as long as it connects to the ocean. While generally found in rivers, brooks and streams, he said they travel through bays and lakes to get to their spawning grounds. As for the belief that they disappear after the first couple of thunderstorms of the summer, Samways says lamprey aren't affected by the storms. Rather, the first two or three storms of the year generally coincide with the end of the annual spawning time and eventual death of the spawning lamprey.

  • Sports
    The Canadian Press

    Canada's Mackenzie Hughes happy to entertain fans and grow the sport of golf

    Mackenzie Hughes doesn't think of himself as an ambassador for golf, but when he has the opportunity to promote the sport he loves he embraces that role. The Canadian became something of an online sensation Sunday after he drained back-to-back putts of more than 43 feet to birdie his final two holes and finish third at the Travelers Championship. A tweet from the PGA Tour of Hughes's impressive putts has had more than 2,500 retweets and nearly 18,000 likes, even drawing casual fans into golf.

  • Politics
    Canadian Press Videos

    AP Top Stories July 1 A

    Here's the latest for Wednesday July 1st: NYC Council votes to shift funds from NYPD; Hickenlooper wins Colorado Democratic Senate primary; Wildfire in southern Arizona; Mississippi Governor signs bill to retire state flag.

  • The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada
    The Canadian Press

    The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

    The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1:43 p.m. on July 1, 2020:There are 104,271 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 55,524 confirmed (including 5,527 deaths, 24,949 resolved)_ Ontario: 35,068 confirmed (including 2,672 deaths, 30,344 resolved)_ Alberta: 8,108 confirmed (including 154 deaths, 7,405 resolved)_ British Columbia: 2,916 confirmed (including 174 deaths, 2,590 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,063 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 785 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 684 resolved)_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 300 resolved), 11 presumptive_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 158 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 104,271 (11 presumptive, 104,260 confirmed including 8,615 deaths, 67,742 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Chief raises concerns over heavily armed RCMP officers on Wet'suwet'en territory

    Chief raises concerns over heavily armed RCMP officers on Wet'suwet'en territory

    A Wet'suwet'en hereditary chief is raising concerns about police intimidation after RCMP officers armed with assault rifles were pictured outside his smokehouse in mid-June.Police said the smokehouse is a newly constructed building near the Morice Forest Service Road, on the right of way for the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline project. Wet'suwet'en demonstrators and their supporters were arrested along the road in early February, sparking solidarity protests and blockades across Canada.An injunction granted to Coastal GasLink on Jan. 7 blocks anyone from stopping the company's work or interfering with its access to the remote forestry road, south of Smithers, B.C.Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chief Woos said the smokehouse was built in early spring and he was shocked to see photographs of RCMP officers at the site. "That was quite a big surprise. We're at the point in our cultural ways, we're going to be harvesting some moose and elk," Chief Woos said.He said the heavily armed RCMP officers are causing concern among Wet'suwet'en families, who want them to stand down."I think what we do out there is basically our culture and our tradition. We always show respect to [police] but I think it is concerning, this sort of show of force. It is not reasonable at all," Chief Woos said.Smokehouse 'in breach' of injunction: RCMPRCMP verified that the officers in the photos are members of the Quick Response Team, a group of specially trained officers who are familiar with injunction law and are assigned to the nearby Houston detachment to conduct regular patrols and daily checks of the area.In a statement, North District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson told CBC News that the structure is "in breach of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction order" and that Coastal GasLink has posted a notice of the breach on the building.The notice left by Coastal GasLink workers suggested the structure would prevent or impede the company's work in the area on its "permitted construction footprint."Coastal GasLink is stepping up construction across northern B.C, with pipe expected to be put in the ground by September along the 670-kilometre route from gas fields in northeastern B.C. to the Pacific.The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry natural gas to a $40-billion LNG terminal under construction in Kitimat, B.C.Accord between chiefs, governmentsConstruction was stalled after conflict erupted over Wet'suwet'en land rights, which resulted in RCMP raids on the pipeline route and, ultimately, demonstrations and rail blockades across the country as Indigenous people and supporters came out in solidarity.The dispute was over part of the pipeline route, which runs through traditional territory claimed by several Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Work moved forward again after an arrangement was reached in March during talks in Smithers, B.C., involving Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and senior ministers of the federal and B.C. governments. The hereditary chiefs and governments signed a memorandum of understanding in May, setting up timelines on negotiating jurisdiction over land use planning, resources, water, wildlife, child and family wellness and other issues.The elected chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nations have said they don't support the memorandum because it was negotiated behind closed doors. The Wet'suwet'en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils.RCMP says it's checking in weeklySaunderson said the officers were using "standard equipment available to all police officers across the country" and are fully aware that they are being monitored and captured on camera."We continue to check in with the local Indigenous leaders on a weekly basis to discuss any issues or concerns," said Saunderson.Chief Woos said the building may be in the right of way but said he doesn't believe that the area is specified in the most recent injunction that he has been reading.He said he has no plans to move the smokehouse.

  • UK extends immigration rights for 3M eligible Hong Kongers
    The Canadian Press

    UK extends immigration rights for 3M eligible Hong Kongers

    LONDON — Britain announced Wednesday that it was extending residency rights to up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for the British National Overseas passport, stressing that it would uphold its historic duty to a former British colony after Beijing imposed a sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong.Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told lawmakers that Britain was changing its immigration rules to allow BNO passport holders a special route to citizenship. Eligible individuals from Hong Kong will have the right to live and work in the U.K. for five years without the current six-month limit. After five years, those who wish to will be allowed to apply for settled status and then again for citizenship 12 months after that.Britain’s government estimates there are around 2.9 million British National Overseas passport-holders currently in Hong Kong. It says its extended residency rules would apply to them and their immediate dependents.No exact date was given for the new rule’s implementation, and Raab said further details will be announced later.The announcement came hours after China imposed a sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong that Britain calls a flagrant breach of China’s international obligations and a “clear and serious violation” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.That treaty paved the way for Hong Kong's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, and was supposed to guarantee at least 50 years of Western-style rule of law and civil liberties for Hong Kong under a “One Country, Two Systems” principle until 2047.Chinese officials have in the past referred to the document as a “historical document,” a claim that Britain strongly rejects.“China’s decision to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong is deeply regrettable. Now China have imposed this law we will launch a new immigration route for British Nationals Overseas and their families," Home Secretary Priti Patel said. “The UK has a historic and moral obligation to British Nationals Overseas in Hong Kong and we will honour our commitment to them.”Raab said Tuesday that Beijing's decision to impose the security law on Hong Kong lay in “direct conflict with China's international obligations.”He said Wednesday that the trust in China's ability to live up to its international responsibilities took "a big step backwards.”“We fought very hard and we negotiated with the Chinese back in the 1980s to have the freedom for peaceful protest and freedom of expression to be respected," Raab said. “China through this national security legislation is not living up to its promises to the people of Hong Kong. We will live up to our promises to them.”Sylvia Hui, The Associated Press

  • British family moving to Africa's smallest island to save its coral reefs
    Yahoo News Canada

    British family moving to Africa's smallest island to save its coral reefs

    The island in the Seychelles, measuring just 400 metres long by 300 metres wide, will play host to the family’s land-based coral farm.

  • OCDSB calls Blackburn's comments to Black teen an act of anti-Black racism

    OCDSB calls Blackburn's comments to Black teen an act of anti-Black racism

    The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is calling trustee Donna Blackburn's actions toward a Black teen earlier this year "an act of anti-Black racism." On Monday, the board formally disciplined Blackburn for remarks she made to 17-year-old Styles Lepage for not abiding by physical distancing rules and playing basketball at Neill Nesbitt Park in Barrhaven. The Barrhaven/Knoxdale-Merivale trustee posted a photo of the encounter on Facebook after reprimanding the teen. She also admitted to telling Lepage that "people who do not care about the rules end up in Innes Road" meaning the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. "That is clearly racism in action," said Somerset-Kitchissippi trustee Justine Bell. "You can see from the outcome that [the trustees] all agreed that her actions were racist," she said.  A third-party investigation found Blackburn's comments to be "racially insensitive" but Bell said she pushed for Blackburn's behaviour to be characterized as anti-Black in the preamble to Blackburn's sanctions because it more accurately describes her conduct. "I've not seen any training for racially insensitive people," she said. "I have seen anti-racist training. But the term racially insensitive, it's not even a term that's coined within the dictionary right now."As a result of her actions, trustees voted to ban Blackburn from sitting on multiple OCDSB committees for a six-month period and she won't be allowed to attend the board's next budget meeting.Blackburn previously apologized for her comments and said she regrets her Facebook post admonishing the teen.'I think it was totally accurate'Richard Sharpe, a member of the 613-819 Black Hub advocacy group, said the board's decision to call what Blackburn posted anti-Black and racist, was right."I think it was totally accurate," he said."I think it was very brave of the trustees to state it in that way because ... even though Blackburn did not intend to be racist, through her actions and her statements, the impact of her actions were."Sharpe said he's encouraged by the board's stance on the issue and feels their choice of words demonstrate true allyship."I actually think it was a great moment for the school board," he said. "They came together and they made the right decision for the community — the community that cried out against this act."While both community members and trustees have called on Blackburn to resign, she cannot be removed from office."The fact that we do not have the tools in our toolbox to mandate someone to step down, who has who has committed a serious act of racism, is systemic racism in action," said Bell."We have to do better and especially as leaders in our community."Meanwhile, Blackburn's lawyer said a notice of libel was sent to Lepage's father Matthew Kedroe for posts he made on social media including the claim that Blackburn is racist."We served notice that those comments were libelous," said Brenda Hollingsworth. Lawrence Greenspon, who represents Styles and his family, said, "in light of the decision of the school board characterizing and sanctioning the conduct of trustee Blackburn, and the damage done to this young person and his family, I trust that the legal action will be discontinued."

  • Palestinian-Canadians rally in Halifax to protest Israeli annexation

    Palestinian-Canadians rally in Halifax to protest Israeli annexation

    Hundreds of people gathered in Halifax Wednesday to show their support of Palestinians and to voice opposition to an Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel's plan to bring roughly 30 per cent of the territory under Israeli control has drawn condemnation from the United Nations and many of Israel's close allies. The annexation was set to begin Wednesday, but Israeli officials said at the last moment the plan will be put on hold. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he held discussions Wednesday with American diplomats and "additional discussions will be be held in the coming days." Many from the Palestinian-Canadian community in Halifax rallied on the waterfront to speak against the plan. Robin Perry was one of the organizers of the protest, which was designed to send a message to MPs and to the federal government. "I think just really driving home the goal of the demonstration today, which is to show solidarity for Palestinian people and their fight for self-determination and the right to return," she said."Just calling for our government to actively oppose this illegal annexation, which violates international law."Co-organizer Katerina Nikas agreed. "All of our MPs should be signing a pledge and telling PM Justin Trudeau that this is a direct violation of international law," she said. "Annexation is illegal, and in 2020 this is not acceptable."Rana Zaman is a community activist who helped organize the events. She said if Canada is serious about international human rights, it must speak out against the plan. "The Palestinians who live here, who contribute here, consider themselves citizens here. Now every day Canada Day comes, they will have friends, family, countrymen that have been displaced, and they will remember this great atrocity," she said of the proposed annexation. The Palestinian demonstrators were supported by other groups, including Indigenous rights activists and people who support abolishing the police.

  • Celebrity
    The Canadian Press

    Lives Lost: Brazilian toddler was saying her first words

    RIO DE JANEIRO — Vitoria Gabrielle crawled all the time and was starting to walk this year with a little help, hanging on to her 4-year-old brother's arm while exploring her mother's small apartment on a cobblestone street in Rio de Janeiro's working-class Piety neighbourhood.The girl with a constant smile celebrated her first birthday in February, slept and ate well and was enthusiastically saying her first words: “mamãe" and “vovó” (mama and grandma), said her mother, Andréa de Sousa.But after recovering from viral meningitis, Vitoria Gabrielle suffered gastrointestinal problems that sent her from her mother's barely furnished hilltop home back to the hospital several times for treatment. It was during an April hospital stay that de Sousa suspects her daughter was infected with the coronavirus that was just starting to circulate in Rio and Brazil.Vitoria Gabrielle died last month — 1 year, 2 months and 21 days after she was born — as COVID-19 cases surged in Latin America's largest and most populous nation, which is now the hardest-hit country globally after the U.S. for virus cases and deaths.___EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people who have died from the coronavirus around the world.___Only de Sousa and the child's stepfather were allowed to attend Vitoria Gabrielle's funeral in a cemetery where the gravediggers referred to the child and others recently buried there as “little angels" because their lives were cut short long before they could sin. No words were said at the event, kept brief to avoid more infections; the only sounds were de Sousa's sobs.“My heart is destroyed with the loss of my daughter,” de Sousa, 20, said later in an interview. “You are not ready to lose anybody but, a child? I’m not used to being without her. I miss her a lot.”At home these days, de Sousa loses herself as if she were in another world, spending much of her time gazing at a slideshow on her phone of pictures of her daughter set to the song “Law of Life” by Brazilian pop music star Sabrina Lopes.“Everything that is born, dies. Everything that comes, goes. Today a dream died ... On the road of life, we are passengers. But God protects every extra star in the sky,” Lopes sings.It was on April 9 when Victoria Gabrielle was admitted to Jesus Municipal Hospital to undergo tests to determine why she had been vomiting.By April 20, de Sousa said she realized that her daughter was constantly tired and having difficulty breathing, a condition she had never suffered before. The child was put in intensive care on April 24, diagnosed a short time later with the coronavirus and died on May 4.A death certificate that de Sousa showed to The Associated Press said her daughter's causes of death were “Bilateral pneumonia, infected by COVID-19" along with a buildup of fluid in the brain and swelling of the liver and spleen.While de Sousa is convinced her daughter was infected at the hospital, Rio's Municipal Health Secretariat said in a statement said it wasn't possible to identify the origin of infection because the virus had been spreading throughout Brazil when Vitoria Gabrielle was infected. The statement added that the child received proper care while hospitalized.De Sousa said her son, Gabriel, had always been very close to his sister and doesn't understand why he hasn’t seen her for so long. He just wants to play with her.“He asks about her all day. He says, ”Mom, I miss Gabrielle, why is she living with Jesus Christ?"De Sousa added: “And I say to him, ‘God took her, God wanted her close to him.’ Then he says, ‘Wow, but I want to go see my sister.’"“I'm asking God for strength and it's not easy," de Sousa said. “So I'm looking at her photos and I'm really missing her.”____Clendenning reported from Rio de Janeiro. Associated Press senior television producer Yesica Fisch contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.Leo Correa And Alan Clendenning, The Associated Press

  • Indian PM Modi shuts Weibo account after banning Chinese apps

    Indian PM Modi shuts Weibo account after banning Chinese apps

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deleted his account on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, an Indian government source and the company said, as tensions between the two countries continue to simmer over a border skirmish. Since posting on Sina Weibo the first time in 2015 during a visit to China, Modi has been an infrequent user of the Chinese social media platform. Sina Weibo announced the closure of the account late on Wednesday and the removal comes a few days after India banned dozens of Chinese apps, including Sina Weibo and ByteDance's TikTok, following the border clash between the two nations.

  • News
    Canadian Press Videos

    Mississippi gov. retires confederate-themed flag

    Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill that retires the last state flag bearing the Confederate battle emblem. Amid international protests over racial injustice, Mississippi was under pressure to lose a symbol that many see as racist. (July 1)