Duchess of Cambridge continues 24-hour UK tour with baby sensory class in Cardiff

The Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Cardiff this morning on the latest leg of her project to support the early years development of children.

The mum-of-three visited the Ely and Careau Children’s Centre as part of her 24-hour tour of the UK to launch '5 big questions on the under 5s', where she attended a baby sensory class.

Appearing to be in great spirits, the Duchess looked chic in a classic camel coat which she wore over a black roll neck jumper, leopard print midi-skirt and high heel boots. 

The Limited Edition cashmere and wool coat is believed to be by Spanish brand Massimmo Dutti and is currently on sale for £149.

The Duchess of Cambridge looked classically elegant in a chic camel coat [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: Duchess of Cambridge wears £410 Needle & Thread dress at Buckingham Palace reception - and it's still available to buy

Today’s visit will see the Duchess witness the sensory class and learn more about the support that parents receive at the Centre.

Baby sensory classes are aimed at parents of babies and are designed to enhance early years learning and development through exploratory sensory play.

They also help parents to spend quality time with their babies in a safe and nurturing environment which can help encourage bonding.

There are benefits for toddlers of attending toddler sensory classes too.

According to experts classes can help encourage the development of a wide range of social and physical skills.

These new skills can be anything from building new friendships to climbing, rolling and bouncing and also navigating obstacles, developing creativity and intellect etc.

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Cardiff to attend a baby sensory class [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Bradford for first joint engagement of 2020

Yesterday details were released of the Duchess’ 24-hour tour of the UK, visiting Birmingham, London, Cardiff and Surrey, to launch the '5 big questions on the under 5s' initiative.

The online poll, conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Royal Foundation, is thought to be the biggest survey of its kind and aims to encourage a conversation about the importance of the early childhood years.

The Duchess began her solo tour in Birmingham yesterday, as she began the task of raising awareness of the poll.

Commenting on the initiative at Birmingham's science museum, she said: “As a parent, I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children.

“I want to hear the key issues affecting families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most. My ambition is to provide lasting change for generations to come.”

Speaking about the importance of the early years, the Duchess continued: “Parents, carers and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I really want to listen to them. The early years are more crucial for future health and happiness than any other moment in our lifetime.”

Kate’s scheduled appearance in the Welsh capital came hours after the Duchess of Sussex made a surprise post on social media. 

The Duchess shared some touching pictures of a secret visit she made to a British animal welfare charity.

The mother-of-one visited the London-based organisation earlier this month before the couple announced they would be stepping back from their roles as senior members of the royal family and relocating to Canada.

  • Liberal MPs defer call for immediate blockade debate at committee
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Liberal MPs defer call for immediate blockade debate at committee

    OTTAWA — Liberal MPs temporarily thwarted an attempt by a Bloc Quebecois MP to immediately debate the "Indigenous crisis" involving rail and road blockades across the country at a Commons committee Tuesday as the political fallout of the disruptions continues to dominate Parliament Hill.Bloc MP Sylvie Berube wants to call the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a major natural-gas pipeline on their traditional B.C. territory to testify before the House of Commons's committee on Indigenous and northern affairs.The protests blocking rail and road traffic in Quebec and across the country have caused a state of crisis, Berube said, and she wanted the committee to immediately begin debate on her motion Tuesday calling for a study of the matter."Given the importance of the crisis, we have to discuss this today," Berube said in French Tuesday.NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq of Nunavut and Conservative MP Jamie Schmale of Ontario both agreed the issue is pressing and should be addressed and debated right away.But Liberal MPs would not waive the 48 hours of notice required for a new motion to be debated. They did agree to put it at the top of the agenda for a meeting on Thursday."This is a very important issue and we recognize that, but, frankly we don't even have the text (of the motion) in hand and we would need some time to reflect on it," Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree said.Cabinet ministers tried to convey their recognition of the growing public frustration at the effect the disruptions are having on Canadian jobs and industry in multiple appearances Tuesday..Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Mary Robinson warned farmers are being "severely and harshly impacted" by the blockades despite having nothing to do with the dispute over a B.C. pipeline project, citing shortages of propane for heating barns and feed for animals as among the top concerns, particularly for farmers in eastern Canada.Quebec MPs also raised concerns about layoffs in the forestry sector in Quebec, which are also being blamed on the blockades."We understand the anxiety of people, anxiety of entrepreneurs, of businesspeople, and we need to make sure that we resolve this crisis and that's why we're actually working extremely hard," Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly told reporters.Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett echoed these sentiments, saying she recognizes "the urgency of this crisis and its impact on Canadians from one ocean to another.""We are hopeful that we will be able to peacefully resolve this crisis and that's why I have been in regular communication with hereditary chiefs over the last week and I have communicated that we are available to meet in person any time."The disruptions, which began Feb. 6, have come in response to a move by the RCMP to clear protesters who had been blocking access to a worksite for the Coastal GasLink natural-gas pipeline in British Columbia. Hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation oppose the work on their traditional territory, despite support from elected band councils along the pipeline route.New barricades and roadblocks popped up in Ontario, Quebec and Vancouver Tuesday after RCMP removed a demonstration on the Canadian National Rail main line in northern B.C. Monday evening. Fourteen people were arrested Monday at the blockade outside New Hazelton and three other hereditary chiefs were also taken into custody, according to Gitxsan Nation Hereditary Chief Spookwx, who also goes by the name Norm Stephens.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of inaction and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet called on Trudeau to get on a plane to British Columbia and meet with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs to end the "crisis."Trudeau did not take reporters' questions on the issue Tuesday and did not attend question period but did discuss the issue during a closed-door cabinet meeting Tuesday.Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the federal government is still trying to find a resolution to the hereditary chiefs' demands that the RCMP leave their territory, after closing an outpost on an access road to the pipeline project.There is dispute about whether this move sufficiently meets the chiefs' wishes, as RCMP have indicated patrols in the territory would continue.Communication between government officials and the chiefs has been challenging, since some of the hereditary chiefs have been in B.C. while others travelled to Ontario late last week to visit Mohawk supporters, Miller said. But he was optimistic about recent discussions, including exchanges that went on all weekend and continued Monday.Every level of government is aiming for a peaceful resolution, Miller said. He also noted there are particular, phased protocols necessary when dealing with Indigenous communities and that engagements involving police must be "cautious.""Over the last few days there has been some back and forth that has been modestly positive," Miller said"Given that there is a very important job in this country for all of us, whether we're politicians, to keep the peace, and to push for peaceful resolution, that is precisely what I am doing."Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the government recognizes Canadians' frustrations and the real-life impacts the blockades are having on people's lives and livelihoods, and once again called for those involved to take the barricades down.But he also stressed the importance of allowing negotiations to "proceed at their own pace.""There's also I think underlying issues that need to be addressed, and so it's important that both a strategy of negotiation and discussion continue," Blair said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

  • Manitoba premier hints at possible carbon tax deal with federal government
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Manitoba premier hints at possible carbon tax deal with federal government

    WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister hinted at a potential breakthrough with the federal government on a carbon tax Tuesday, and did not rule out introducing a tax in the upcoming provincial budget."Ottawa and Manitoba officials, at the most senior levels, have been in contact rather constantly in the last number of weeks," Pallister said.Pallister would not reveal what price he is willing to agree to, but said the federal government has been told."I'm willing to have that dialogue and we are having that dialogue. So we'll wait and see where the feds end up on this, hopefully in the not-too-distant future."The federal environment minister, however, said he had not seen any new pitch from the province."We have not yet received a new pollution pricing proposal from the Manitoba government," Jonathan Wilkinson said in an emailed statement Tuesday."When we receive it, we will assess their plan against the federal benchmark, as we do with all provinces and territories' plans on an annual basis."Pallister's Progressive Conservative government originally planned a $25-per-tonne carbon tax in 2017, but the federal government said that was not high enough and implemented its own in Manitoba and three other provinces.The federal levy is to rise each year until it hits $50 per tonne in 2022.Pallister wants a "flat" tax that does not rise and would give Manitoba credit for billions of dollars in debt it has taken on for development of clean hydro electricity.Pallister is fighting the federal tax in court — both as an intervener in the Saskatchewan government's case before the Supreme Court of Canada next month and in Manitoba's own case in Federal Court. There is no date set for the Manitoba case yet. Pallister said his government will file its written arguments with the court on Friday.While the court battles continue, Pallister said he is open to reaching an agreement.In the meantime, he said, Manitoba will proceed with its own strategy to reduce carbon emissions, which includes plans to bolster wetlands and retrofit heavy diesel trucks.Pallister was coy when asked whether Manitobans might see a provincial carbon tax in the budget expected in March."You may. That would be speculative and wrong on my part to speculate about an upcoming budget."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    Provincial investment in oil and gas may be needed in changing investment climate, Kenney says

    The Alberta government may set up a publicly traded corporation or agency to invest in oil and gas projects, similar to the Alberta Energy Company that helped kickstart the oilsands in the 1970s, Premier Jason Kenney says.A growing number of international investors have been shying away from the oilsands, citing concerns about climate change. On Sunday, Vancouver-based Teck Resources withdrew its application for an oilsands project, citing concerns about the inability of federal and provincial governments to balance concerns about climate change with oil and gas development. At a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday, Kenney said the time may have come for the government to finance such projects on its own.The AEC, announced by former premier Peter Lougheed in 1973, joined with Syncrude to start oilsands development, Kenney said, at a time when it was difficult to access capital."It may be necessary again," the premier said. "This province will not be shut down. We will not leave in the ground assets that represent ten trillion dollars of value on global markets. We will not be the only of the major energy producers in the world to choose poverty over prosperity." The government has been working on what Kenney described as an "essential major project." Details will be released soon, he said. He suggested shares in the new corporation could also be offered to the public."I think public participation is a great idea, and I think Albertans are smart, they're patriotic, they understand that's there's great value in these resources," he said. The Alberta legislature starts its spring session on Tuesday with a speech from the throne. The government will introduce the 2020-21 budget on Thursday.

  • Canadians in Iran ask for consular services in wake of coronavirus outbreak
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Canadians in Iran ask for consular services in wake of coronavirus outbreak

    OTTAWA — Canadians in Iran say they have no way to leave the country now that it is dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus and they are asking Ottawa to help them come home — or at least provide consular services while they are there.The federal government has repatriated more than 500 Canadians and their families from areas affected by the new strain of coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, including Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, and the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.The virus recently spread to Iran, which has confirmed 95 cases and 16 deaths in the last week alone. Even the Iranian deputy health minister has tested positive for the virus.Mashhoud Nasseri, 64, said he rushed to Tehran last week to be with his family after his mother died. He was to fly home to Toronto March 2."Just today I heard that my flight is cancelled," Nasseri said Tuesday by telephone from his family's home in Tehran.The flight itinerary was to take him from Tehran to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, before going on to New York and finally Toronto, but the U.A.E. has halted all flights from Iran for at least a week.Several countries neighbouring Iran closed their land borders to anyone travelling from Iran following the viral outbreak and some others have also restricted air travel to and from the country.Canada has not had a diplomatic presence in Iran since 2012. The federal government advises Canadians travelling to Iran that the Canadian embassy in Ankara, Turkey, is responsible for providing consular assistance for Iran. The Italian embassy in Tehran has also represented Canadian interests in Iran for the past eight years and has provided consular assistance to Canadians there when needed.Nasseri said it's unclear who to approach for help getting back to his wife and children in Canada."Basically there is nowhere to go, no one to ask," he said.The Iranian Canadian Congress has called on the federal government to resume providing consular services in Iran."Unfortunately, this is another example where a lack of diplomatic relations and consular services only harms vulnerable Canadian citizens abroad," Younes Zangiabadi with the Iranian Canadian Congress said in an email Tuesday."We experienced the airplane shot down in January where families of victims had nowhere to go for support after that tragedy and this is, unfortunately, happening again with coronavirus."Nasseri said the mood in Tehran is tense, and some Canadians are desperate to get home. He's looking at all his options, including the possibility of chartering a boat to another country in the Persian Gulf — though he's not sure that will work.Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Canadian repatriation efforts are limited, given the spread of the virus globally."It's difficult at this point to commit to an ongoing repatriation effort. We have to remember that it takes a lot of resources and the resources have to be focused in terms of our domestic response," Hajdu said Tuesday in Ottawa.Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada is monitoring the global coronavirus situation very closely, particularly in South Korea, Italy and Iran, which have all seen sudden spikes in the number of people infected with the virus.He said he's been in touch with foreign ministers from several countries for more information about the situation abroad, and advises anyone thinking about leaving Canada on an international trip to inquire about the status of the coronavirus in the place they are travelling to. While all the Canadians and their families repatriated from Wuhan have been released from quarantine at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, a group of about 50 who are still in China is hoping the federal government can charter another flight to bring them home.Canadians in Hubei, a group advocating for those stuck in Wuhan, sent an open letter to Global Affairs Canada last week asking for help.Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that the government continues to remain available to provide assistance for Canadians in China, to the extent possible.Elaine Cheng, a Canadian citizen, and her husband, who has a visa, are among those looking for help.When she contacted the embassy, she said she was told her husband cannot accompany her and called the decision "incompassionate, unfair, inhumane."Simon Zheng, another Canadian citizen who lives in B.C., said his wife holds a work permit and went to Wuhan to celebrate the holidays and the Chinese New Year.He said he was supposed to meet up with his wife in mid-January but she told him to not to come because of the outbreak, and now he hopes the Canadian government will send another plane."We have the good faith that the government will actually help us, but we don't know in what way."Canada's top health official approved the released of the final 195 Canadians and their families after two weeks of observation.All the Wuhan evacuees were quarantined at CFB Trenton for 14 days — the presumed incubation period of the virus — to be isolated and observed for signs of the disease now called COVID-19.A group of 219 evacuees were allowed to leave the base last week after passing a final round of health screening.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says none of the evacuees from Wuhan showed any signs of the virus, and they do not pose a risk of transmitting the disease when they return to their homes.The government has offered to transport the evacuees to Toronto, where they will make their way to their homes.Tam says the risk of the coronavirus spreading within Canada is still low.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020— With files from Hina Alam in Vancouver and The Associated Press.Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

  • Placido Domingo apology prompts new accuser to step forward
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Placido Domingo apology prompts new accuser to step forward

    SAN FRANCISCO — The words "I am truly sorry" have not been uttered often in the MeToo era. So when soprano Luz del Alba Rubio woke up Tuesday to see an apology from opera superstar Placido Domingo, she was in shock."I felt like we have conquered Goliath. Now we don't have to be scared to speak out," said Rubio, who stepped forward Tuesday to add her voice to the women accusing the legendary tenor of sexual harassment and abuse of power.Domingo's statement came after the U.S. union that represents much of the opera world said its investigators found the opera star and former general director at Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera had behaved inappropriately over the course of two decades."I have taken time over the last several months to reflect on the allegations that various colleagues of mine have made against me,” Domingo said in a statement issued in connection with the findings. “I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I have grown from this experience."The words marked a stunning reversal from the opera superstar’s initial statements, tinged with disbelief at the accusations reported last year by The Associated Press that he sexually harassed multiple women."I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual," he said in August.In September, when the AP reported on more accusations, Domingo called the claims "riddled with inconsistencies and, as with the first story, in many ways, simply incorrect."The full results of the investigation by the American Guild of Musical Artists investigation have not been made public, but people familiar with the findings told the AP that investigators found 27 people who said they were sexually harassed or witnessed inappropriate behaviour by Domingo.As with the accusations made to the AP, the investigation found that the allegations included unsolicited physical touching that ranged from kisses on the mouth to groping, late-night phone calls in which Domingo asked women to come to his residence, and inviting women to go out with him socially with such persistence that some felt they were being stalked, the people familiar with the findings said.The investigation, conducted by lawyers from the firm Cozen O'Conner, found the accusations to be credible and showed a clear pattern of abuse of power by Domingo that spanned the 1990s and 2000s, according to the people familiar with its contents who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the findings.Rubio said Domingo’s apology was deeply appreciated, but also called it clearly the work of lawyers and lacking in conviction."Before, he was a denier. Then, he was a victim. Now, he is looking for redemption," said Rubio, a soprano from Uruguay. "If he means it, if he is really sorry, I would ask him to apologize to us, face to face. There have been women suffering for 20 years. He should ask for our forgiveness."Rubio said she was in her 20s and singing in Rome in 1999 when Domingo heard her and asked her to come to Washington National Opera, where he was artistic director.She was excited to land roles in three operas, but said Domingo began calling her constantly, often late at night, and was uncomfortably affectionate, constantly kissing her too close to her lips and touching her. But he was her childhood idol and the industry's power broker, so when he invited her to his apartment one night to review a video of her singing, she accepted. He began kissing her, she said, and she pushed him away, telling him, "Maestro, I cannot do this. I am not that kind of person." After that, she said she was never again hired to work at Washington National Opera and roles he had promised her never materialized.Singers Patricia Wulf and Angela Turner Wilson, two accusers who related accounts in AP's earlier stories, expressed mixed emotions about Domingo’s new statement."I sincerely appreciate his apology. I really do,” said Wulf, a mezzo-soprano. But she also called on AGMA to stand with his accusers and expel Domingo from its membership.In a joint statement, Wulf and Wilson said, "An expulsion from the union would signal that the industry is learning from its mistakes and that sexual harassment and abuse -- perpetrated by industry complicity -- will not be tolerated in the future."Wulf has described repeated, unwanted propositions by Domingo when she sang with him at Washington National Opera in 1998. Wilson, a soprano, said that after weeks of pursuing her, Domingo forcefully grabbed her bare breast under her robe in a backstage room at Washington National Opera in 1999.Wulf noted that coming a day after the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, Domingo’s apology and admission highlighted the gradations of harassment that can exist in the workplace -- particularly in the entertainment industry.She and others said they were terrified of being blacklisted or killing their careers if they reported him or rebuffed his advances.Domingo, 79, addressed that fear in his statement Tuesday.“I understand now that some women may have feared expressing themselves honestly because of a concern that their careers would be adversely affected if they did so. While that was never my intention, no one should ever be made to feel that way,” he said. "I am committed to affecting positive change in the opera industry so that no one else has to have that same experience. It is my fervent wish that the result will be a safer place to work for all in the opera industry, and I hope that my example in moving forward will encourage others to follow."In a brief statement, the union said the inquiry found Domingo “engaged in inappropriate activity, ranging from flirtation to sexual advances, in and outside of the workplace.” Asked for additional details, spokeswoman Alicia Cook said AGMA did not plan to release the report.An internal email sent Tuesday to AGMA’s Board of Governors that was viewed by the AP said the union had quietly been negotiating a settlement deal of $500,000 with Domingo in exchange for a promise not to disclose details of the investigation, but that the deal fell apart after the findings were leaked to AP.Domingo’s spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer disputed that account. “Our discussions with the union are ongoing. Nothing is off the table.”Sexual harassment attorney Debra Katz, who represents Wilson and Wulf, called on AGMA to make the findings of its investigation public."It is an outrage that they are not issuing this report," she said, adding “he is saying he's learned. What has he learned? Has he learned that hitting on women and groping is not OK? This apology is too little and way too late."Jocelyn Gecker, The Associated Press

  • Panasonic to exit solar production at Tesla's New York plant as partnership frays
    News
    Reuters

    Panasonic to exit solar production at Tesla's New York plant as partnership frays

    TOKYO/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp said it would exit solar cell production at Tesla Inc's New York plant, the latest sign of strain in a partnership where Panasonic's status as the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) maker's exclusive battery supplier is ending. The move increases uncertainty over Tesla's solar business which is already under scrutiny, having been drastically scaled back since the U.S. firm bought it for $2.6 billion in 2016. Tesla has informed New York that Panasonic's withdrawal "has no bearing on Tesla's current operations", the state said in a statement.

  • Peter Nygard steps down from company following sex assault claims
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Peter Nygard steps down from company following sex assault claims

    NEW YORK — Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard is stepping down as chairman of his company following an FBI raid on his Manhattan headquarters over sex assault allegations."Recognizing the priority of the welfare of the thousands of Nygard employees, retail partners, loyal customers, vendors, suppliers and business partners, Peter Nygard has made the decision to step down as Chairman of the Nygard Companies and will divest his ownership interest," Ken Frydman, Nygard's spokesman, said in an email Tuesday night.The FBI searched the designer's Times Square offices Tuesday, less than two weeks after 10 women filed a lawsuit accusing Nygard of enticing young and impoverished women to his estate in the Bahamas with cash and promises of modelling opportunities.Several plaintiffs in the suit said they were 14 or 15 years old when Nygard gave them alcohol or drugs and then raped them.Nygard has denied the sex-trafficking claims through his spokesman."Nygard welcomes the federal investigation and expects his name to be cleared. He has not been charged, is not in custody and is co-operating with the investigation," Frydman said.Nygard International began in Winnipeg as a sportswear manufacturer. The company website says its retail division has more than 170 stores in North America.The class-action lawsuit says Nygard used his company, bribery of Bahamian officials and "considerable influence in the fashion industry" to recruit victims in the Bahamas, United States and Canada.It alleges he plied the young women with drugs and alcohol during "pamper parties" and kept a database on a corporate server containing the names of thousands of potential victims.Nygard's victims would have their passports taken from them when they were flown into the Bahamas, the lawsuit alleges, adding the designer "expected a sex act before he was willing to consider releasing any person" from his estate.Frydman said authorities also executed a "search and seizure" on Nygard's offices in California.He blamed the raids on a "conspiracy" involving Louis Bacon, the billionaire hedge fund manager who owns an estate next door to Nygard's in the Bahamas."After being viciously and maliciously attacked for over a decade by Louis Bacon and his operatives, which has included millions of dollars in payoffs to women and others to make false claims against him, Peter Nygard has decided that his legal battles with Louis Bacon will no longer be a distraction to the Companies," Frydman said. "Peter Nygard thanks his employees for their years of dedicated service."A spokesman for Bacon declined to comment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.— With files from The Associated Press The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    Skookum Music Festival cancelled due to unsustainable costs, says organizers

    The Skookum Music Festival which was set to return to Stanley Park in 2020 has been cancelled. A release from the owners of the festival says they made the difficult decision not to move forward with a second edition of the festival because "cost projections for continuing the event are unsustainable.""Although we're disappointed, we thank the 50,000-plus fans who came out and supported the event, which we believe combined one of the world's most beautiful settings, great music and strong partnerships," said the ownership group.  Headlined by Florence and The Machine and The Killers, the inaugural three day event in 2018 was well received despite noise complaints, traffic congestion and logistical issues, according to a park board report.Organizers later said they would skip the 2019 season and instead return to Brockton Fields in Stanley Park in 2020, a move the Vancouver Park Board unanimously approved in 2019.Change of ownershipThe park board says this year's event was cancelled "due to changes in its ownership and management structure."The event was produced by BrandLive, the company behind the now defunct Squamish Valley Music Festival. The park board says "staff will work with the new ownership and management team should plans emerge for a future festival."While no date had been issued for the 2020 event, Vancouver Park Board commissioner Tricia Barker believed it would have taken place after Labour Day, similar to the 2018 event.

  • Rail blockades escalate, disrupt commutes
    CBC

    Rail blockades escalate, disrupt commutes

    There were multiple arrests as rail blockades escalated across the country and disrupted the commutes for thousands.

  • Singer Duffy says rape, captivity, led to her public retreat
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Singer Duffy says rape, captivity, led to her public retreat

    NEW YORK — Grammy-winning singer Duffy says she’s been out of the public limelight for years to focus on recovering from being “drugged and raped and held captive over some days.”The Welsh performer said in a revealing Instagram post Tuesday that it has taken time to recover and asked her fans to support her. She said she shared more in an interview that will be published soon.“You wonder why I did not choose to use my voice to express my pain? I did not want to show the world the sadness in my eyes. I asked myself, 'How can I sing from the heart if it is broken?' And slowly it unbroke,” she wrote.Duffy’s 2008 debut album, “Rockferry,” won the best pop vocal album Grammy. The song “Mercy” from the album topped the U.K. singles chart. She released her sophomore album, “Endlessly,” in 2010 but has barely released since.She did not reveal more details and asked for respect during her “gentle move” toward revealing more. A representative for Duffy did not immediately return a message seeking comment."If you have any questions I would like to answer them, in the spoken interview, if I can. I have a sacred love and sincere appreciation for your kindness over the years. You have been friends. I want to thank you for that,” she wrote.The Associated Press

  • Flood prevention work to begin on Toronto Islands on Wednesday
    News
    CBC

    Flood prevention work to begin on Toronto Islands on Wednesday

    Work to prevent flooding on the Toronto Islands is set to begin on Wednesday with record high water levels expected again later this year.Already, Lake Ontario water levels are more than 12 centimetres above the levels this time last year, the city said in a news release on Tuesday. The plan is minimize damage and keep the islands open.The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), with help from the city, is expected to start "accelerated flood and erosion control" work at Toronto Island Park and several waterfront locations to mitigate the "impacts of high lake water levels and shoreline flooding in Toronto."Rocks and dirt are being shipped from the city to the islands to build up the shoreline.Matthew Johnston, senior manager of engineering projects for the TRCA, said the work is the first phase of emergency efforts designed to protect the Toronto Islands, the park and ferry terminal. He said the work is intended to be proactive."We're going to be raising up the elevation of the material here. What the intent of that will be is to ensure that, as the lake levels rise, and as the waves start to come in, there won't be as much wave action going on top and flooding the park area and everything behind us," he said.Johnston said details of how much the work will cost are still being worked out. "These are not cheap solutions," he added.The work includes: * Construction of a "beach curb structure" near the ferry terminal on Ward's Island. * Reinforcements of two main roads, Lakeshore Avenue and Cibola Avenue, on Toronto Islands to ensure they do not get washed out.  * Construction of a berm at Algonquin Island to fix a section of the island.Johnston said the city is preparing for Lake Ontario water levels to be higher than normal and said levels could be as high as they were in 2017 and 2019, although he hopes that they will not be.There could be "another high lake season" in 2020, he said.The TRCA is working with Ports Toronto to arrange "barging services" to ensure material for the work can be shuttled to Toronto Island Park, the city said.Brick rubble from demolition projects in Toronto will be repurposed for the berm planned for Algonquin Island. The city said the rubble is an environmentally sensitive alternative to quarrying and to buying material from outside the GTA.Residents will sandbag while crews do erosion control workWhile the work is happening, island residents are going to be tackling other sensitive areas with sandbags.Oliver Fenton, a resident, says: "It's a bit frustrating that year after year we have to redo everything because a lot of stuff gets taken away in the winter. And there's constant upkeep to do, but I think it's all necessary and it's something that we're going to have to do, regardless, until there is a permanent solution, if a permanent solution comes."The hope is to have all the heavy lifting done by May.Past flooding has affected more than 800 residents, six island businesses, 30 waterfront businesses and two schools, and resulted in millions of dollars of damage, the city said.Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Toronto Islands every year. On busy days in the summer, as many as 20,000 people a day ride the ferry. In Toronto, improvements are also planned for drainage at the off-leash dog area shorelines at Cherry Beach and construction of a natural barrier at the eastern beaches, according to the city.

  • News
    Reuters

    Autonomous driving startup Pony.ai raises $462 million in Toyota-led funding

    HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - Autonomous driving firm Pony.ai said on Wednesday it has raised $462 million in its latest funding round, led by an investment by Japan's largest automaker Toyota Motor Corp. Toyota invested around $400 million in the round, Pony.ai said in a statement, marking its biggest investment in an autonomous driving company with a Chinese background. The investment by Toyota comes at a time when global car makers, technology firms, start-ups and investors - including Tesla, Alphabet Inc's Waymo and Uber - are pouring capital into developing self-driving vehicles.

  • News
    CBC

    B.C. Liberals pressure province to help condo owners hit by skyrocketing strata insurance

    The B.C. Liberals want to target the growing problem of soaring strata insurance with proposed new legislation.The opposition housing critic has put forward a private members bill at the B.C. Legislature outlining changes the party claims would trigger relief for condo owners hit with a sudden spike in strata costs."Over the past few months an increasing number of strata corporations in B.C. — particularly those in Metro Vancouver — have seen their insurance costs go through the roof, with skyrocketing increases to premiums, deductibles and monthly fees," said MLA Todd Stone. "It is imperative that we take action to best mitigate the impacts of this growing crisis before it gets any worse." \- MLA Todd Stone, opposition housing critic"These costs are then downloaded onto residents, many of whom are now paying thousands of dollars more a year in fees... It is imperative that we take action to best mitigate the impacts of this growing crisis before it gets any worse."Stone outlined a number of examples from his own riding of Kamloops-South Thompson where some strata premiums shot up 400 per cent in one year. The increases are linked to global risk factors such as wildfires and floods.He put forward the Strata Property Amendment Act, which would include the following legislative changes: * Add a new "standard unit" definition to better clarify the responsibilities of strata building insurers versus individual unit owners. * Require a strata corporation to provide a copy of proof of insurance so that buyers know the terms, premiums, amounts of deductible and coverage limits. * Property and insurance renewal terms be provided at least 30 days in advance to give strata corporations more notice of any impending increases. * Require unit owners to buy liability insurance to make sure individuals are able to cover the costs of a major water leak, for example, since strata insurance only covers common areas.'We will review the bill': NDPThe provincial government agreed to consider the suggestions as holds talks including with strata associations, the insurance industry and the B.C. Financial Services Authority."I'm happy to take a look at [the bill] to see if there are ideas we can incorporate into those discussions we're having," said Finance Minister Carole James during Question Period when Stone asked how the NDP plans to respond.She said the issue is not exclusive to B.C. and is happening in other provinces, too."While these price increases are driven by dynamics in the private insurance industry, we welcome any proposals that might help make life more affordable," James later responded in a statement."On first reading, it isn't clear how the Opposition's proposals would bring down costs in the near term for people, but we will continue to review the bill," she said.Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., supports the proposed amendments, saying it will "help raise the profile on the seriousness of this issue," but didn't elaborate on specifics.If you are being affected by a rise in strata insurance rates, CBC would like to hear your story. Please email impact@cbc.ca

  • Honolulu marathon CEO says he was abused by Michigan doctor
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Honolulu marathon CEO says he was abused by Michigan doctor

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The president and CEO of one of the nation’s largest marathons has joined a chorus of former students who have complained about a late University of Michigan doctor by saying the physician performed a “completely inappropriate” act on him during a medical examination in the 1970s.Dr. James Barahal, who himself is a longtime physician, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Dr. Robert E. Anderson gave him a digital rectal exam when the then-medical student visited the student health centre in 1975 complaining of a sore throat.“I remember leaving, and I can still picture the health centre and walking through the waiting room, getting out on the street and it was like, ‘What was that?’ I knew it was completely inappropriate,” Barahal said Monday.The 67-year-old who lives in Kailua, Hawaii, has headed up the Honolulu Marathon for more than 30 years and has been inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.Barahal was training with Michigan’s cross-country team in 1975 when he was “fast-tracked” in to see Anderson, who was the director of the University Health Service as well as a physician to some of the Ann Arbor school’s athletic teams. Anderson died in 2008.University of Michigan officials were warned more than four decades ago that Anderson had been molesting patients during exams. He was demoted but continued working there and went on to allegedly abuse again as a physician with the athletic department, according to documents from a police investigation the AP obtained through a public-records request.The probe began in October 2018 based on a letter sent by a former wrestler to athletic director Warde Manuel in mid-July. It was not made public until last week.Former Michigan wrestling coach, Bill Johannesen, denied he was told by any of his student-athletes that Anderson touched them inappropriately.“I would've responded to that immediately because I'm their father," Johannesen told the AP Tuesday night. “When I'm the coach for them, I'm their father away from home. If they would have come to me and said, `Hey, Dr. Anderson kind of did something creepy or whatever like that. If they would have come to me and said that, I would have pursued it."Johannesen led the Wolverines' wrestling program from 1974-78.The 2018 letter sent by one of his former wrestlers, whose name was redacted in the records released to AP, detailed abuse that triggered an investigation by university police.The wrestler wrote that in 1975 he had informed Johannesen and then-athletics director Don Canham that he had been fondled and given unnecessary rectal exams by Anderson.“They would laugh and joke about it," Johannesen recalled in a telephone interview Tuesday. “But nobody ever said a thing in a serious manner that would have caused me to respond, you know, to take action.”Johannesen, who also attended U-M, said he interacted with Anderson multiple times as an athlete.“I was a student-athlete at Michigan for three years before I became coach," Johannesen said. "And, I probably had to see Dr. Anderson 100 times, maybe, in four years. He never did anything inappropriately to me."Since the letter was made public last week, a number of men alleging sexual abuse by Anderson, including Barahal, have retained law firms that are representing accusers who sued Michigan State University and Ohio State University in similar cases. The accusations of abuse at the University of Michigan and Ohio State bear striking similarities. The University of Minnesota is also investigating claims accusing a former assistant hockey coach of sexually abusing players.The University of Michigan set up a hotline so that those who have information about Anderson could come forward. As of Monday, 71 calls had been made to the hotline and three email messages were sent regarding Anderson, university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Tuesday.University President Mark Schlissel apologized last week “to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson,” saying in a statement that the “patient-physician relationship involves a solemn commitment and trust.”Schlissel released another statement Tuesday in which he said the university is “offering counselling services at no personal cost to anyone affected by Anderson.” Michigan also “is in the midst of engaging a national counselling firm to co-ordinate this care with local counsellors in communities where these individuals now live,” the statement says.Victims who seek counselling through the university would not be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement nor would receiving counselling foreclose on any litigation rights, Fitzgerald said.Barahal, who called the hotline last week, said he did not speak to anybody about the violation immediately afterward or report it to the university or other authorities, but that he never forgot it.“It was embarrassing and inappropriate. But that’s not something that guys would generally talk about," he said.The memories of that day rushed back, though, when he tuned in to his alma mater’s football games on television.“When they show at the beginning of the game the team running out to touch the ‘M’ Club Go Blue banner, I’d occasionally see him — he was a pretty short guy and not very athletic — jumping up to try to touch the banner, which is a good luck thing for Michigan,” Barahal said. “And it kind of brought that (memory) back. So, I told the story for years to people about how I went in for a sore throat, and he had his finger up my butt. I mean, I told that story for years.”And he’s telling it now, publicly, Barahal said, to try to help fellow victims.“The sooner the university understands that not only was this physician capable of doing this, he did do it, then I think that everybody will be well on the road to whatever recovery, emotional or otherwise, that they seek,” he said.“People really suffered (and) need to be believed. And the only way they’re going to be believed is if other people tell their story.”Mike Householder And Larry Lage, The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    Clot-busting drugs help achieve better outcomes in heart attack patients, study finds

    Serious heart attack patients in northern Alberta are offered a treatment protocol that's not the standard in the rest of the province and new research shows it helps those patients achieve better health outcomes.Dr. Kevin Bainey, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at the Mazankowski Heart Institute, analyzed data from almost 6,000 heart attack patients admitted to Edmonton-area hospitals from northern Alberta.In all of the cases, the patient's coronary artery was completely blocked. The prevailing treatment for such a condition is to rush a patient to a hospital that can perform an angioplasty, where a balloon catheter is inserted into the blocked vessel to expand it.But in northern Alberta, cardiologists often advocate for an approach that sees a patient given clot-busting drugs either in their home community or in the ambulance while en route to a major hospital. The patient still receives an angioplasty, but not under emergency conditions.The study found that, one year out, patients who were given clot-busting drugs and the balloon catheter procedure had improved survival rates and a reduction in heart failure, Bainey said."Our data now provides further and robust support to consider this strategy among not only patients in Alberta but across the country," said Bainey, whose work was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.Bainey noted that Edmonton is one of few regions in the country that advocates for the pharmacological approach and he believes it's one of the reasons Edmonton has the lowest mortality rate for heart attacks in Canada. In northern Alberta, paramedics working in more rural areas can correspond with cardiac experts at the Mazankowski Heart Institute to evaluate whether a patient is a good candidate for the clot-busting drugs, including their risk for bleeding.Paramedics can send an ECG to Edmonton electronically. From there, the heart doctors can make a recommendation on whether to use the drugs or not. Ambulances keep the necessary drugs in stock."They're getting this clot-busting agent early," said Bainey. "And that drug starts to work to open up that blockage, as opposed to taking the time to get these patients transferred for a (balloon catheter) procedure."So because of administering this drug beforehand, it improves the chances of that artery opening up and saving heart muscle." Bainey noted that, in Europe, recent treatment guidelines endorse the pharmaco-invasive approach. So he's hopeful it's starting to catch on.The treatment protocol is in place in Alberta for the region from Red Deer to the north of the province. Bainey said he's advocating for it to be implemented across the province. "When we do, it will be a big milestone"

  • Privacy commissioner says RCMP ignored his investigators in complaint cases
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Privacy commissioner says RCMP ignored his investigators in complaint cases

    OTTAWA — The federal privacy watchdog has accused the RCMP of ignoring his efforts to investigate complaints about the national police force's apparent foot-dragging on information requests from the public.The concerns also prompted a Federal Court judge to say he was troubled by the Mounties' "seeming indifference."Under the Privacy Act, individuals can ask federal departments and agencies, including the RCMP, for records the agency might hold about them.Agencies are supposed to respond within 30 days, though they can take an extension of another 30 days.In March 2018, Dale Cumming filed a Privacy Act request to the RCMP and, after four months passed without a response, he lodged a complaint with privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien, an ombudsman for requesters.Therrien's office upheld the complaint in May of last year and advised Cumming he could pursue the matter further in Federal Court, since he still had not received a response from the Mounties.A newly released court ruling in Cumming's case reveals the privacy watchdog also wrote RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki last May, citing 16 other complaints that alleged the RCMP had failed to respond within the time limit.Like Cumming, those complainants had not yet received a response from the RCMP, and the privacy commissioner concluded the grievances were well-founded.In the letter, the privacy commissioner also pointed out his office "has several other outstanding investigations against the RCMP including several with respect to time limits.""While we have concluded our investigations of the 17 complaints at hand, we are considering next steps with respect to these other complaints," said the privacy commissioner's letter."Of particular concern is that despite repeated attempts to obtain information regarding these files from your (Access to Information and Privacy) officials, our office has not received appropriate responses, and in certain cases has been completely ignored."Federal Court Justice Patrick Gleeson noted there was insufficient evidence to establish why the delay occurred in Cumming's case. "However, it is clear that Mr. Cumming's experience was not unique."The RCMP's "seeming indifference towards its obligations under the Privacy Act is troubling," the judge wrote."The circumstances deserve Commissioner Lucki's attention if she has not previously acted upon the May 2019 letter."Neither the RCMP nor Therrien's office had immediate comment on the court ruling.Gleeson ultimately decided against Cumming, who represented himself in court, since the RCMP did eventually respond to his request last July.The Mounties released some information to him and withheld other material, noting provisions of the law that allow agencies to keep certain records about a person under wraps. Despite receiving some information, Cumming pursued the court application, arguing the RCMP's disclosure was incomplete and that its failure to act more swiftly was a deliberate delay tactic.Gleeson found Cumming's case was moot, since the RCMP did eventually respond. He also pointed out Cumming must first complain to the privacy commissioner about the withheld material before filing a new application in court concerning the redactions.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.—Follow @JimBronskill on TwitterJim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    Malware discovered on P.E.I. government computer network

    Malware was recently discovered on the P.E.I. government's computer network, officials said in a news release early Tuesday evening.Malware is malicious software designed to be harmful to systems. The programs or code can perform a number of actions including stealing sensitive information or locking users out of their computers until a ransom is paid."Sunday afternoon February 23, government discovered malware on its network," the release said."Extensive efforts continue to be taken to ensure Islanders' personal information is protected." Measures to combat the malware were immediately put in place, it continued.An investigation is underway, and officials said "there is currently no reason to believe that Islanders' personal information has been affected." Expect slower servicesGovernment services are still available including payments from government to clients, the release assured."However, Islanders may experience slower services for a few more days as efforts are ongoing to ensure the elimination of the malware and the continued safety of Islanders' information," it said. The release continued that government felt the public should be made aware of the discovery, "and reassured that security of their information is extremely important to the government."Officials were not immediately available for comment beyond the release. More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Archaeologists create digital blueprints of historic sites on Yukon's Herschel Island
    News
    CBC

    Archaeologists create digital blueprints of historic sites on Yukon's Herschel Island

    The impacts of climate change can be hard to notice on an incremental basis, but when archaeologists Peter Dawson stepped off a Twin Otter aircraft onto Yukon's Herschel Island after a decades-long absence, there was nothing subtle about what he saw. "I think they've lost in some areas ... 20 metres of coastline over the last 20 years."Dawson said seeing the erosion and other changes drove home the importance of creating digital blueprints of the historic sites at Pauline Cove, part of Herschel Island - Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park.Digital backupsDawson was first gripped by the history of Herschel Island, located in the Beaufort Sea five kilometres off Yukon's north coast, when he worked there as a new archaeologists in the 90s. The island has been used by Inuvialuit for thousands of years and more recently by American whalers, Anglican missionaries and the Northwest Mounted Police. "It's just an incredible, incredible place," Dawson said.Now head of the anthropology and archeology departments at the University of Calgary, Dawson specializes in the digital preservation of heritage at risk. Using a drone and a lunchbox-sized device called a terrestrial laser scanner to calculate the exact coordinates of each element of the structure, he created 3D digital replicas of the sites at Pauline Cove. Dawson said the purpose for the project is twofold: to create an online virtual exhibit for people who can't visit the 116 square kilometre island, and to have blueprints of all the buildings in the event they need to be reconstructed. Barbara Hogan, manager of historic sites with Yukon Tourism and Culture, said works crews do restoration and conservation work on the buildings at Pauline Cove every summer, but Dawson's digital plans provide a safeguard. "We thought it was a good idea to get a comprehensive record of the site while we could in case the water levels rise and we're at a point where we can't capture some of the information," she said. "It's giving us a really, really good record of the outside of the buildings and the inside of the buildings and an overview of the historic settlement area." Unprecedented erosion and other threatsResearchers have called the erosion on Herschel Island "unprecedented," but Dawson says that isn't the only threat to the island's heritage structures. Animals have destroyed buildings, and he sees another threat on the horizon: polar tourism."We're starting to see more and more cruise ships arriving in the Arctic and of course they want to visit heritage sites like Herschel Island," explained Dawson. "You can imagine 20 or 30 or 60 disembarking passengers wandering around a site like Pauline Cove. It can cause damage to the buildings it can cause damage to vegetation."  Dawson says it's important to come up with new ways to mitigate these threats. "Digital heritage preservation is, I think, one of the most interesting and potentially one of the most important ways to do this."Virtual learningHerschel Island is an important site for the Inuvialuit, who continue to use it and Yukon's north slope for traditional activities, but it still remains a challenge to get to. Summer access is by boat or air charter from communities in the Beaufort Delta region. Michelle Gruben with the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee said it was exciting for community members to "see" the the sites at Pauline Cove at a presentation Dawson recently gave in the community.  "Not everybody gets to make their way to Herschel Island ... and to see this type of new technology that shows people the area, it's good to see," Gruben said.Dawson said the next stage of the project is to create an online archive of the buildings complete with write ups about their history. He hopes to have that ready for the public in about a month from now. He said people will also be able to print the buildings on a 3D printer to make things like puzzles. "We're really interested in exploring how things like 3D printing can be used to again convey the history of Herschel island to a wider audience."

  • Lionel Desmond's wife raised questions about peace bond same day as slayings
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Lionel Desmond's wife raised questions about peace bond same day as slayings

    GUYSBOROUGH, N.S. — Three hours before Shanna Desmond was killed by her husband, she sought information about how to get a peace bond, a fatality inquiry in Nova Scotia was told Tuesday.The provincial inquiry, which started five weeks ago, is investigating why Lionel Desmond — a mentally ill former soldier — fatally shot his wife, mother, 10-year-old daughter and himself in the family's home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., on Jan. 3, 2017.Nicole Mann, executive director of the Naomi Society in Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry she received a call at 3 p.m. that day from a woman who gave no indication she was at risk."She didn't speak of any domestic violence," Mann said, adding that the call lasted about 20 minutes."She was articulate and straightforward. This person was not in crisis or distraught in any way .... There was nothing alarming about the call."The non-profit group, which offers support to women and children facing intimate partner violence, often provides advice over the phone, but the group's policy is to keep the identity of callers confidential — unless the caller shares that information.In this case, Shanna Desmond did not share her name but Mann could see it on her call display — a feature that has since been disabled at the organization.Reading from a statement she gave police, Mann said she explained various options to the caller, including how to get legal advice and how to apply for a peace bond, a court order against someone who appears likely to commit a criminal offence.Mann said when the woman mentioned her 10-year-old daughter, Mann made a point about asking about their safety and if they were at risk of being harmed."Her response to that was, 'No,'" Mann said. Mann also asked if the RCMP should be notified. Again, the answer was no.As that point, Shanna Desmond mentioned that her partner was a former soldier who suffered from PTSD.Mann said she learned about the triple-murder suicide the next morning when she received a call from a source at a partner organization, who relayed Shanna Desmond's name. Mann confirmed on her phone it was the same woman who had called the previous day, and there was a discussion among staff about privacy concerns before the RCMP were alerted.Among other things, the inquiry is trying to determine whether the Desmond family had access to services to help with mental health and domestic violence, and whether the health-care professionals who dealt with Lionel Desmond were trained to recognize mental health and domestic violence issues.Earlier on Tuesday, a New Brunswick doctor who specializes in treating veterans with PTSD apologized for comments he made about the Department of Veterans Affairs during testimony Monday.Paul Smith offered a harsh assessment of how the federal department deals with those who are leaving the military for medical reasons, which was the case for Lionel Desmond in June 2015.Desmond had been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression in 2011 after he served in Afghanistan in 2007.Smith told the inquiry that soldiers given medical discharges for PTSD are generally treated poorly by the department."Our PTSD soldiers are chastised," he said. "They are treated like lepers. They're cast to the wind. It's all about pills and psychotherapy. It's pathetic."Smith apologized for those comments when challenged by a lawyer representing the federal government.Lori Ward said the inquiry can expect to hear testimony from a Veterans Affairs case manager, who will testify how she tried to bend the rules to ensure the former infantryman received proper "continuity of care."Ward said the woman is also expected to tell the inquiry that she volunteered to drive Desmond to the airport in 2016 when he was scheduled to take part in a residential treatment program at a hospital in Montreal."Does that sound like a lack of warmness to you?" Ward asked Smith.Smith replied: "There's good people in the DVA system, and I apologize for a sweeping statement that may have presented otherwise. (However), it remains the attitude of many vets is that it's a constant struggle to deal with DVA in terms of attitude."Smith's testimony was considered pivotal to the inquiry because he was the one who signed off on a medical form that allowed Desmond to purchase the semi-automatic rifle he used in the killings in 2017.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.— By Michael MacDonald in HalifaxThe Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    The AGO just bought a painting of a mystery woman that challenges what we know about European art

    In a pale blue silk dress, a double string of pearls around her neck and a delicate orange blossom between her fingers, sits a mystery. An elegant woman, likely of African descent, stares with soft eyes straight out of the portrait, eluding visitors and scholars alike. No one seems to know her story and that of the artist who painted her.Hanging on the wall of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, the painting is believed to depict a black woman in Europe sometime in the 1700s. The AGO found it so striking that even though the origins aren't known, it purchased it at auction for nearly $100,000 about one month ago. "We are so thrilled to have this painting because of the stories that it enables us to tell," Caroline Shields, the gallery's associate curator of European art, told CBC Radio's As It Happens.The painting, titled simply Portrait of a lady holding an orange tree flower, stands out from others in the European collection.Only 2 other people of colour depicted — both as servantsA black woman in a luxurious-looking silk and lace dress, adorned with jewelry, posing outdoors — it's a stark contrast to the people of colour found in much of European art, Shields explained.Only two other paintings in the European collection feature people of colour. Both are in positions of servitude, one from the Renaissance, another from the 1800s. "What's really special about this new acquisition is that this figure has such individuality and confidence, and really can sort of meet our gaze and stare right back into our eyes," Shields said. "If she's in the Atlantic world, that places her at the height of the transatlantic slave trade and that opens up so many possible interpretations of her place within the sphere," she said. "The individuality and the sort of confidence she portrays all suggests that perhaps she's a free woman in this world."The painting offers few obvious hints as to its story. The artist's signature is cut off, leaving only the letters "J. Schul." The rest is obscured.'Really important now to show race'If the gallery can narrow down the country that the artist is from, that could provide some clues, Shields says. Fashion historians may find some signposts in the specificity of her dress and jewelry. And that's one big point of the purchase: soliciting experts to help solve the mystery. The AGO held a Facebook live chat Monday and has already heard from scholars in several countries and hopes to be able to crowdsource for answers. For many visitors, the painting has already given rise to several different theories about the subject: a wealthy woman visiting Europe from Africa, an aristocrat in the tropics somewhere, a woman possibly enslaved in another way.Regardless, it's likely to stop visitors in their tracks."I think it will grab the attention of all visitors here because if they saw a white [person] in this time period, it's something they're used to seeing," said visitor Arwa Bafail.Vistior Ivy Ha agrees."As I was walking around the gallery, I see a lot of white people [being depicted] as superior so the first time I saw this, it's really interesting and different because you don't really see coloured people in galleries. And I feel like it's really important now to show race and colour," said Ha. That's not lost on Shields, who said the gallery made the deliberate decision to acquire the piece, even though its history remains a mystery. "She plays a role in intervening in the narratives that we tell in our galleries," said Shields. "Europe has been a diverse continent for its entire history as it still is today and by including figures of colour on the walls of galleries, we are able to illustrate that much more rich and diverse history than we ever have before."

  • Ottawa at standstill over finding solution to rail blockades, protests
    CBC

    Ottawa at standstill over finding solution to rail blockades, protests

    Discussions between Ottawa and Wet’suwet’en chiefs to end rail blockades across the country appear to be at a standstill.

  • Massive renovation to Centre Block needs to find space for dozens more MPs
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Massive renovation to Centre Block needs to find space for dozens more MPs

    OTTAWA — The experts overseeing the massive restoration of Canada's largest Parliament building have to find out a way to cram more than 100 additional MPs into the House of Commons without compromising its architectural heritage.A House of Commons committee Tuesday heard updates on the ongoing overhaul of Centre Block, which began more than a year ago and could last until well into the 2030s.The building that ordinarily holds the House of Commons and Senate and boasts the iconic Peace Tower, is 93 years old. It's being modernized for 21st-century technology and security needs and requires significant repairs after facing nearly a century of Ottawa weather.It also needs to take into account that by 2060, the number of MPs Canada will require for its population will grow from 338 today to more than 460, if each one is to represent roughly the same number of people.Officials have said the 30 seats added in 2015 filled up the available space, given the desks and seats MPs now get.There are three options for renovating the chamber. Two would keep it in its existing space but use different furniture and configurations; one would require expanding the room inside the historic building.Rob Wright, assistant deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said the current chamber could hold about 420 MPs, but would likely mean the heritage wooden desks that seat MPs in pairs would have to be done away with in exchange for smaller seats, and maybe no desks at all. British MPs sit on long benches with no desks.Expanding the chamber could increase capacity to more than 500 seats, using the existing heritage furniture, but would also cost a lot, he said.Many MPs listening to the report were frustrated by a lack of detail about potential expenses. More than $770 million in contracts have already been awarded for the building, but there is no overall cost estimate yet."I find it kind of bizarre," said Conservative Saskatchewan MP Corey Tochor, comparing it to a homeowner being offered options for fixing their house but not being told what any of them will cost.Wright, said there are a number of things holding back the cost estimates, including the fact that decisions about how Centre Block will be repaired have to be approved by multiple bodies, including both the House of Commons and the Senate.That was not the case for the two dozen projects already completed as part of the overall renovations to the entire parliamentary district, said Wright.About $3 billion has already been spent on Parliament Hill renovations over the last two decades, including $863 million for West Block, $425 million for the Wellington Building, and $269 million to build a temporary Senate chamber in an old railway station.Parliament has approved $4.2 billion thus far for the complete overhaul of the district.Wright also said while all the buildings on Parliament Hill have some heritage components, none of them are to the scale of Centre Block's."The House of Commons chamber is perhaps one of the highest heritage places in Canada," he said.There is also "a tension" between the heritage of the building and its need to be functional and accessible, said Wright.Wright said once the officials have met with the Senate and House of Commons committees and heard what parliamentarians want, it will be easier to come up with better cost estimates for approval.The MPs on the committee received a tour of the construction underway last week. Most of the first year of work involved assessing the building to figure out exactly what work was needed and what kind of updates would be possible.That assessment, which included logging more than 20,000 "heritage assets" like floorboards, chandeliers and plaster frescoes, is now complete. Pulling apart stones and taking down walls and ceilings led workers to find hidden gems like an order paper from April 6, 1920, as well as some old garbage like candy wrappers, trapped inside.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

  • Stock markets sell off again as global economy infected by coronavirus fear
    News
    CBC

    Stock markets sell off again as global economy infected by coronavirus fear

    Stock markets fell for the second day in a row on Tuesday, wiping out gains since the start of the year, as fear over the coronavirus is spreading even faster than the virus itself.The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 879 points or just over three per cent to 27,081. The technology-focused Nasdaq was off by almost as much, 255 points or 2.7 per cent, while in Toronto the TSX/S&P Composite Index was off by 385 points or just over two per cent to 17,177. In terms of points, it was the worst day for the TSX since August 2015.The sell-off came a day after an even worse swoon on Monday, as investors digest the possibility that the virus that causes COVID-19 has the potential to disrupt the global economy by knocking out supply chains and reducing consumer demand for a range of goods and services.On Tuesday, Iran reported 95 new cases and 15 new deaths from the coronavirus that started in China, while Italy is also seeing a growing cluster of new cases. "For the first time in a while we're finally waking up to the fact that this issue could go on for a while, and have a significant impact on Chinese and global economic growth and potentially the United States," said Randy Frederick, vice-president of trading and derivatives for money manager Charles Schwab."When people react to it because they don't travel or go to restaurants or go shopping, that'll have an immediate impact on the economy. It depends how long it goes and how wide the spread."Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management, said each new country's outbreak adds to the fear. "It's the combination of South Korea, Japan, Italy and even Iran" reporting virus cases, Ma said."That really woke up the market, that these four places in different places around the globe can go from low concern to high concern in a matter of days, and that we could potentially wake up a week from now and it could be five to 10 additional places."The two day sell-off on the Dow Jones is the worst two-day performance for the Dow since 2015.After a multi-year bull run, the sell-off has pushed almost every major stock index in the world into negative territory for the year.Just about every sector is down this week. "It's a case of which ones went down more, and which ones that went down less," said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management in Toronto.Companies tied to travel and tourism are especially hard hit. Air Canada, for example, was down six per cent to $36.45 a share on Tuesday and down 27 per cent since the middle of January. The airline announced Tuesday it has cancelled all of its flights to China until April 10.Shares in cruise lines are sharply lower. Norwegian Cruise Lines lost seven per cent of its value on Tuesday and is down by more than a third since the middle of January. Its rival, Carnival Cruise Lines, lost another six per cent on Tuesday and it, too, is down by more than 30 per cent in barely more than a month."With travel slowing down we've seen an impact on the airline sector, on the hotels and casinos, on cruise lines and ... where people would gather in a public place," Cieszynski said.Oil prices have plunged as the virus has prompted fears that the global economy will require less energy to run as it slows down.The benchmark oil price, known as West Texas Intermediate, dipped below $50 US a barrel on Tuesday, a level it hasn't dropped to since late 2018.That hit Toronto's stock exchange hard as the TSX is home to a lot of energy names.Conversely, Canada's main stock index was buoyed by rising prices in gold mining companies. The price of gold has risen to more than $1,600 US an ounce this month, a level it hasn't topped since 2013, because gold is seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty."In Canada we will often see on days when the broader markets are taking a big hit, we'll often see strength in the gold price and gold stocks," Cieszynski said."That often will help to cushion the blow a little bit in Canada relative to the United States." While most industries have been hit hard by virus fears, there are some bright spots moving in the opposite direction because of the flip side of those same fears.Drug companies working on possible vaccines are seeing their share prices rise, including one called Moderna that is up by almost 17 per cent on Tuesday because it has sent a possible coronavirus vaccine to a clinical trial to be tested on humans.The fears of the coronavirus derailing the world's economy come at a time when another closely watched economic indicator — earnings at Canadian banks — suggest that Canada's economy is doing well.Royal Bank of Canada reported strong earnings on Monday, and rivals BMO and Scotiabank followed that up with higher profits of their own on Tuesday. Despite the relatively strong showings, shares in all three banks were lower on Tuesday.

  • Mayor Valérie Plante pans Royalmount project redesign for lack of social housing
    News
    CBC

    Mayor Valérie Plante pans Royalmount project redesign for lack of social housing

    After the developers behind the controversial Royalmount project proudly announced their plan to incorporate 4,500 residential units into their redesign of the mega-mall, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the project's lack of social housing is unacceptable."There is a housing crisis in Montreal. People have a hard time finding housing," Plante said Tuesday after Carbonleo presented a revamped plan for the project that includes hotels, an aquatic complex, a cinema, offices, restaurants, shopping and public parks."This is unacceptable. We are in the metropolitan area. All real estate developers must contribute in one way or another to social housing."However, Royalmount isn't in Plante's jurisdiction. It will be up to Town of Mount Royal officials to decide if the residential portion of the plan — which would require the site to be rezoned — will get the green light.After months of consultation and listening to public outcry dating back some five years, Carbonleo said it redesigned the complex to "benefit the metropolitan and local communities," as the company strives to build an environmentally friendly site that incorporates greenery and 3.8 kilometres of pedestrian paths."Our vision for Royalmount is completely different than it was five years ago," said Carbonleo president and CEO Andrew Lutfy in a news release."We want to create an inclusive place where everyone's values and aspirations will be shared and explored."The number of non-residential parking spaces has been scaled back by 60 per cent, for a total of 5,000 spots, not including about 2,000 residential parking spaces.Carbonleo has also promised more green space.Lufty said Carbonleo now aims to obtain LEED Gold certification for the commercial component of the project, which would have green and white roofs, a rainwater recovery system, geothermal heating and 148 electrical charging stations for vehicles. If the housing component is approved, Carbonleo will also seek LEED-ND status for the residential development. "ND" stands for "neighbourhood development," integrating principles of sustainability, such as bicycle-friendly design, walkable streets, green buildings and design that incorporates nature.In a presentation Tuesday afternoon, Lufty said the project will transform the site into an "urban forest," in keeping with those principles."We want to bring the rhythm of nature to the city," he said.Overcoming objections over increased trafficCarbonleo is still aiming for a 2022 opening of the project's first phase. With the improvements to the plan and thousands of additional residential units, the total cost of the development is now estimated at $7 billion — up from $1.7 billion when it was first announced five years ago. The project has faced criticism from the start, with residents and Montreal politicians about the potential negative impact of Royalmount on traffic and existing local businesses.It is to be built right next to some of the country's busiest roadways, near the intersection of highways 15 and 40.Carbonleo said it will now integrate several sustainable transportation initiatives, such as a covered foot-and-bicycle bridge to the nearby De la Savane Metro station.The developer also plans to incorporate an electric shuttle to move people in and around the Royalmount site, as well as to Pierre Trudeau Airport in Dorval and connecting to the REM, the light-rail network now under construction.It's also proposing roadwork to improve key access routes, such as modifying traffic lights, adding access ramps to nearby highways and widening Côte-de-Liesse Road.TMR mayor 'happy' about sustainable developmentTMR Mayor Philippe Roy said it's hard to predict how much support there will be on council for the residential development, as there are pros and cons."There will be a public consultation somewhere in March, so we can hear what the residents of TMR think about it," he said.As for other aspects of the project, such as the developer's plans to plant half a million trees, shrubs and plants, Roy was enthusiastic."We feel this project is getting better and better," he said.Roy said he is confident with Quebec's help, Royalmount can be integrated into the region's transportation network successfully.He said it's the ideal time to redesign that network, to meet the growing needs of the community at large.While Montreal now requires developers to pay a stiff penalty if it fails to include social and affordable housing in plans for any new residential development, TMR does not have any regulations dictating the inclusion of social housing.Because of that, Roy said, it would be difficult to "impose it on a developer, but it is something that we could discuss."Mayor Sue Montgomery opposes planCôte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery dismissed the revised plan, saying in a statement that Royalmount is still a 1980s-style, car-oriented development."Our community does not need 5,000 more parking spaces at the Royalmount site," Montgomery said."Congestion is already a big problem in the Namur-De La Savane neighbourhood. Royalmount needs to listen to local residents and make this a 21st-century project."Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been working with Roy, Montgomery and other politicians in the city's west end to ensure Royalmount includes adequate public transportation.He is pushing for the long-delayed extension of Cavendish Boulevard — connecting  Côte Saint-Luc to Saint-Laurent with a roadway and an electric tramway that then links to other modes of public transit.He said he is not against Royalmount, as long as "we have good transit in the area."

  • In an about-face, Sen. Lynn Beyak 'unreservedly' apologizes for posting racist letters
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    CBC

    In an about-face, Sen. Lynn Beyak 'unreservedly' apologizes for posting racist letters

    After insisting for years that she did nothing wrong, Ontario Sen. Lynn Beyak told her colleagues in the upper house today she now accepts that posting racist letters on her Senate website was "ill-considered" — and she regrets the harm she caused by describing the Indian residential school system in positive terms.Speaking in the chamber after question period, Beyak said she was wrong to insist on leaving letters up on her website that describe Indigenous people as lazy and inept and use racial epithets to describe First Nations."I would like to unreservedly apologize for my actions," she said. "Because of my belief in free speech, my initial instincts were to leave the letters on the website. After long and careful consideration, I now regret not insisting on their removal."The apology comes as the Senate is poised to vote on a report that, if adopted, would suspend Beyak for a second time for failing to complete mandatory anti-racism training.The letters were sent to Beyak after CBC News reported on comments she made about the Indian residential school system. Beyak praised the "well-intentioned" instructors at these schools and chastised the Truth and Reconciliation Committee for not "focusing on the good" coming out of these institutions. She also grilled residential school survivors about their time at the schools during a Senate committee meeting.In the months that followed, she posted some of those letters to her official Senate web page and refused to retract her comments. She was suspended and sent to anti-racism training last fall — but she was asked to leave after her first lesson. Instructors at the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres said her "inflexibility and conduct made the learning environment unsafe."The northwestern Ontario senator is again facing suspension because the ethics committee found she did not comply with remedial measures they asked her to complete before she could return to the Senate in good standing. A number of senators have said a second suspension isn't sufficient and outright expulsion would be more appropriate.When initially asked to apologize last year, Beyak issued a one-sentence statement that didn't acknowledge the hurt she caused Indigenous people.Watch: Senator Lynn Beyak's statement in the Senate TuesdayOn Tuesday, Beyak signalled she is ready to concede she was wrong."They were disrespectful, divisive and unacceptable," she said of the letters. "Regretfully, my actions were unhelpful to the national conversation on this issue."While my intent was never to hurt anyone, I see now that my actions did not have their desired effect, which was to promote open and constructive dialogue."Beyak said she is "eager to complete the education and sensitivity training that has been prescribed.""You're never too old to learn and to grow," an emotional Beyak said.The apology comes on the day the city council in her hometown of Dryden, Ont. started debate on a motion to condemn the senator and to call on her to resign as the Senate representative of the region.