Forecasters see above average 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

FILE PHOTO: NASA handout photo of Hurricane Dorian shown from the International Space Station

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could see a greater than average number of major hurricanes because of warmer seas and favorable weather patterns, forecasters from Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project said on Thursday.

Four major hurricanes packing winds of at least 111 miles per hour (179 km) are possible during the season that begins June 1, they said. There are typically 2.7 major hurricanes during an average season. A total of eight hurricanes are expected before the season ends on Nov. 30.

The Colorado State project, led by research scientist Phil Klotzbach, said as many as 16 tropical storms, four more than the average, are possible in the upcoming season.

The forecast is in line with one issued on March 25 by Accuweather, which said between two and four major hurricanes could be expected among 14 to 18 named tropical storms in the 2020 season.

There is a 69% probability that a major hurricane will strike the continental U.S. coastline during the 2020 season, according to the Colorado State forecasters. The average probability in the 20th century was 52%.

There is a 45% chance of a major hurricane making landfall along the East Coast and a 44% probability along the Gulf Coast. Those averages are 31% and 30% respectively, according to Colorado State.


(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Chris Reese and Daniel Wallis)

  • Northern B.C. lake being considered as site for plastics plant, sparking concern among residents, First Nation
    News
    CBC

    Northern B.C. lake being considered as site for plastics plant, sparking concern among residents, First Nation

    A lake in northern B.C. is being considered as a site for a new petrochemical plant, raising concerns among residents and a First Nation in the rural area.West Coast Olefins initially planned to build a $5.6-billion plastic manufacturing facility in Prince George's industrial area, which the company said would create 1,000 permanent jobs. But the idea was scrapped after backlash from locals concerned about air pollution.Instead, the company has announced plans to relocate the facility to a rural area north of the city.West Coast Olefins is considering five possible sites, including Summit Lake, 50 kilometres north of Prince George.Surrounded by forest and 12 kilometres long, Summit Lake is on the continental divide, and drains into both the Pacific and Arctic oceans.  The fact that it's been earmarked as a site for the plastics plant is alarming for Hilary Crowley, a former Green Party candidate who has lived on the shore of the lake for 45 years. "The very thought of this is horrendous," said Crowley.Crowley and her husband, a pipeline expert, built their own log house by Summit Lake. They grow, gather and hunt almost all their own food. "We have excellent air quality here and we want to keep it that way," she said.West Coast Olefins plans to extract natural gas liquids, such as ethane, propane and butane, from a natural gas pipeline running through the area. Those byproducts would then be used to make materials like plastic and rubber for Asian markets.Company president and CEO Ken James said the project does have support — from investors, construction contractors and the McLeod Lake Indian Band, a community 90 kilometres north of Summit Lake.The company is negotiating a benefits agreement with the First Nation. Chief Harley Chingee told CBC the plan could bring long-term jobs for band members.In an online meeting with McLeod Lake earlier this month, West Coast Olefins assured band members that the Summit Lake location was "a safe distance, if you want to call it that, from the McLeod Lake community itself."But another First Nation with a connection to Summit Lake says it hasn't been notified at all.Chief Roland Wilson of the West Moberly First Nations says he first learned of the plan from a CBC News reporter.Wilson says his community owns 23 acres of land on Summit Lake, right next to a proposed site for the plastics plant. He says his community has also been in talks with the government for 15 years to secure reserve lands at the lake.  "We've always been in that area .... and utilized that area extensively. So that surprises me that we haven't ever been notified," said Wilson, who added that he grew up at Summit Lake."We don't really know what kind of impact this plastics plant has, or what the emissions of a project like this are. Does it create pollutants? We don't know. We have absolutely no clue. Nobody's talked to us about this," said Wilson.But James says his company has done a good job keeping people informed."You can't be too early [with consulting] because people will get worried about something that's not going to happen in their area. Could you imagine if we just thought out loud and every time, that got out to everybody? We would create alarm all over the place," said James.James said if the community doesn't want the plant, it won't be built. But he says that doesn't mean "everybody has a veto."The West Coast Olefins project is still in the environmental assessment process.The Ministry of Environment told CBC News that it's aware of the proposed location change but hasn't received formal notification from the company.The government says West Coast Olefins is legally allowed to move locations, but officials will need to see the extent of changes to determine "the right next steps."James said the site change will likely only require a small change to its application.

  • 'They're mad...it's like a horror movie': 150 people exposed to COVID-19 in New Brunswick after doctor neglects rules
    Health
    Yahoo News Canada

    'They're mad...it's like a horror movie': 150 people exposed to COVID-19 in New Brunswick after doctor neglects rules

    A doctor in New Brunswick didn't self-isolate after a personal trip to Quebec, instead he saw patients and exposed at least 150 people in a province that had no active cases.

  • Ottawa announces $650M in new COVID-19 funding for Indigenous communities
    News
    CBC

    Ottawa announces $650M in new COVID-19 funding for Indigenous communities

    The federal government is making an additional $650 million available for Indigenous communities to deal with current COVID-19 needs and prepare for a potential second wave of the pandemic, said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller on Friday. The new funding will go toward the public health response to the pandemic, the on-reserve income assistance program and the construction of new women's shelters.Miller announced the new funding during a news conference in Ottawa on Friday. He said it would enable Indigenous communities to react to the "evolving needs" caused by the ongoing pandemic. "These funds enable us to live up to our obligation to provide quality care and support them, especially so in times of crisis," said Miller. Indigenous Services Canada has made over $1.3 billion available to Indigenous communities to deal with pandemic-related needs since mid-March. Miller said that as of Friday, 176 of the 214 on-reserve COVID-19 cases had recovered and all 16 cases in Inuit communities in northern Quebec had also recovered.Of the new money announced Friday, $285 million will be earmarked to bolster the health care response in Indigenous communities. The funds will be used to increase the number of nurses on the front lines, obtain more personal protective equipment and for setting up isolation centres, either through temporary structures or to retrofit existing buildings for community medical needs. "I know everyone is concerned about a second wave, and we are acting," said Miller.The funding will be used to bolster the surge health capacity of Inuit organizations should provincial and territorial governments face pressure on their health services in the face of an outbreak in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to Miller.Watch | Miller questioned about Saskatchewan First Nations plans to secure own supply of PPEIncome assistance program gets boostThe on-reserve income assistance program is also getting an additional $270 million boost under the funds announced Friday. "No one should have to choose between clothing their children or electricity for the next week," said Miller. "No one should be faced with the choice with a roof above their heads or food for their families, but too often this is the case."Miller said $139 million of the total is in direct response to COVID-19 and the rest of the funding will go toward bolstering the base funding for the program.Twelve new women's shelters will also be constructed with the funds announced Friday, Miller said. The federal government will spend $44.8 million over five years for 10 new on-reserve shelters and two in the territories, said Miller. The new shelters will also get $40.8 million to support the operation of these new shelters for the first five years, plus $10.2 million a year, ongoing. Miller said $1 million will also be invested yearly, beginning in 2020, for anti-violence projects for Métis women, girls, LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

  • After Dream Wedding, Canadian Newlyweds Discover Deep Family Bonds During Pandemic
    Lifestyle
    HuffPost Canada

    After Dream Wedding, Canadian Newlyweds Discover Deep Family Bonds During Pandemic

    Their pandemic living arrangement with in-laws is a blessing, they say.

  • Trudeau acknowledges 'anti-black racism' in U.S., with 'work to do in Canada'
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trudeau acknowledges 'anti-black racism' in U.S., with 'work to do in Canada'

    WASHINGTON — America's anger, frustration and discord boiled over in Minnesota's Twin Cities and spread across the country Friday at a remarkable moment in the history of the United States, sparked by the collision of racial injustice, freedom of expression and the worst public health crisis of the last 100 years.After more than two months of pandemic-induced, self-imposed exile, protesters in Minneapolis — some wearing face masks not to conceal their identities, but to ward off COVID-19 — laid waste to city streets after the police killing Monday of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.His torturous eight final minutes of life were spent begging for mercy, a white police officer kneeling on his neck.The rage appeared contagious. As evening gave way to night on the East Coast and an 8 p.m. curfew approached in Minneapolis, multitudes of protesters massed in various cities in a show of solidarity. In Atlanta, violence erupted; protesters set fire to a police cruiser, pelted officers with bottles and smashed patrol car windows with pieces of barricade.In Washington, D.C., people gathered outside the White House to register their anger, while in New York City, demonstrators rained plastic water bottles down on police, who responded with blasts of pepper spray. But the flashpoint was Minneapolis, where a police station was among the structures that went up in flames after staff abandoned the premises of Precinct 3, which was subsequently overrun by protesters. Early Friday, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, who is black, was arrested on live television and led away in handcuffs, as were members of his crew.All of them were released a short time later following an abject apology from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who characterized the arrest as a mistake.By early afternoon, Derek Chauvin, the officer who is seen on cellphone video pressing Floyd's neck to the ground, was himself arrested and facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, prosecutors said. Activists vowed to keep up their fight until all four officers involved were in police custody.All of it prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, unbidden, to do something he rarely does: comment publicly on another country's domestic affairs."Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it's in the United States, but it's also in Canada," Trudeau said Friday as he wrapped up his daily briefing outside his home at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.More than once he used the term "anti-black racism," a specific phrase that black communities have long advocated for in order to distinguish the express injustices black people face in Canada and around the world from other forms of discrimination."We need as a society to stand together, to stand up against discrimination, to be there for each other in respect, but also understand that we have work to do as well in Canada in our systems that we need to work forward on," Trudeau said. "I call on all Canadians — whether it's anti-black racism or anti-Asian racism or racism discrimination of any type, to stand together in solidarity, to be there for each other and know just how deeply people are being affected by what we see on the news these past few days."Racial unrest, often sparked by deadly police action against black Americans, is nothing new in the U.S. But in a polarized country near the end of Donald Trump's fractious and controversial first term, its economy now plumbing Great Depression depths in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, the conflict feels like a new low-water mark.It's not just Minneapolis. Earlier in the week, protesters in New York City defied pandemic-related bans on public gatherings, while demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Denver and downtown Columbus, Ohio. Demonstrators also took to the streets in Los Angeles and Memphis, Tenn.And in Louisville, Ky., police confirmed at least seven people had been shot Thursday night as protesters demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by police in her home in March."This is a moment where we don't feel like we're sort of northern Americans, that we're kind of like the Americans, because this comes from a place that does not compute for us, and that we don't share," said Chris Sands, a Canada-U.S. scholar and head of the Canada Institute at the Washington-based Wilson Center."Moments like this are always profound — and profound for the way in which they set us apart." Trump drove that point home overnight when he promised a hard line against the "thugs" who were wreaking havoc — "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," he tweeted.Twitter responded with the unprecedented step of censoring the president of the United States, blocking — but not deleting — a tweet the social media platform said was "glorifying violence."Later Friday, what was billed as a news conference in the Rose Garden resulted only in the president delivering a statement on China, Hong Kong and the World Health Organization, refusing to answer questions or acknowledge the unfolding crisis in Minnesota.He later explained that the tweet wasn't meant as a threat, but rather that people get killed when looting takes place. And he said he spoke to Floyd's family and offered his sorrow for their loss."That was just a horrible thing to witness and to watch ... It certainly looked like there was no excuse for it," Trump said. "They were grieving."A number of the protesters in Minneapolis were taking action "for the right reason" and "out of sorrow," he added, while those who engaged in wanton violence and destruction of property "did a great disservice" to the country. Walz called his state's response to the violence an "abject failure" and promised to ensure destruction in the streets does not distract from the ultimate goal of those protesting peacefully: swift justice for the officers involved in Floyd's death."Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire is still smouldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard," he said."Generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world — and the world is watching."Canadians could be forgiven for thinking that the election of Barack Obama in 2007 was going to usher in a new period of racial peace in the U.S., Sands said — and for wondering now where it all went wrong."There was a feeling that maybe you're in a new era, in a very positive way. And for a variety of reasons, that didn't seem to coalesce," he said."Now all of a sudden you're like, 'Well, wait a minute, what happened?' So I think that that is also part of it, too. Maybe we should be grateful that Canadians often hope for the best in America. We do have a good side."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.— With files from The Associated Press—Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyleJames McCarten, The Canadian Press

  • Partygoer at Missouri's Lake of Ozarks positive for COVID-19
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Partygoer at Missouri's Lake of Ozarks positive for COVID-19

    OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — Health officials said Friday that they were seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks tested positive for COVID-19.Camden County Health Department said in a release that the resident of Boone County in mid-Missouri tested positive on Sunday after arriving at the lake area a day earlier. Officials said there have been no reported cases of the virus linked to coronavirus in residents of Camden County, where the parties seen in videos and photos posted on social media took place.Because “mass numbers of unknown people” need to be notified, the officials released a brief timeline of the person's whereabouts last weekend, including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators.Backwater Jacks owner Gary Prewitt said previously in a statement that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s state order requiring social distancing.Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot (2-meter) social distancing through at least the end of May.The Associated Press

  • How a man with two wives helped deliver one big loss to Meng Wanzhou
    News
    CBC

    How a man with two wives helped deliver one big loss to Meng Wanzhou

    More than a century before Meng Wanzhou's arrest at Vancouver Airport, another alleged fugitive from U.S. justice slipped across the border into British Columbia — one whose crimes would lay the groundwork for a judge to deliver the Huawei executive a stunning loss this week.George Collins had apparently made enough money as a lawyer in San Francisco to take up rooms at Victoria's elegant Driard Hotel with his new wife in the summer of 1905. Only problem: He was supposed to be on trial for bigamy in California in relation to his other wife back home. And the United States wanted Collins extradited.At first blush, it's hard to imagine two fates less likely to be intertwined than those of an American lothario born a decade before the invention of the telephone and Meng, the chief financial officer of a global telecommunications giant.But in the decision she released Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes drew a straight line between the cases.She relied, in part, on precedent established by Collins 115 years ago to justify a decision to continue extradition proceedings against Meng, despite the 48-year-old's claim that the offence U.S. prosecutors have accused her of would not be considered a crime in Canada.A marriage is announcedAccording to what was then the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper, Collins was arrested on July 12, 1905, at the hotel where he and his wife had checked in as "Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberry" in the weeks before.His troubles had begun a few months earlier, when a notice of Collins' marriage to Miss Clarice McCurdy, the daughter of a wealthy widow, appeared in the San Francisco newspapers.That came as a surprise to those who had watched Collins marry Charlotta Newman in May 1889. Collins was charged with bigamy after Charlotta's brother told a grand jury he had witnessed the wedding.A trial was set to begin in June 1905 when Collins fled north.The shrewd lawyer had ascertained that bigamy was not an extraditable offence under the treaty the U.S. had with Canada at the time. But perjury was. And so U.S. prosecutors charged Collins with lying about his marital status in a civil suit Charlotta Collins filed in the wake of his betrayal, seeking support for herself and their three children.And they asked Canada to arrest the two-timer.'Trumped-up' chargeLike Meng, Collins caught the attention of the headline writers of his day.They speculated on his wealth and rumours of an expensive mahogany desk and book collection, estimating that he had made "at least a quarter of a million dollars" but that "like many of his kind … he spent his money freely and it was eaten up as fast as it came in."Collins told the Daily Colonist the charge was a "trumped-up one" and that "he was the victim of a conspiracy which resulted from the fact that he had made many powerful enemies."And like Meng, one of the key battles in his fight against extradition was over so-called double criminality  — the idea that the offence a person is accused of would have to be considered a crime in both countries to warrant sending an accused across the border to face justice.In Meng's case, the charge is fraud. The Huawei CFO is accused of lying to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong about Huawei's control of a company that violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.Prosecutors claim the banks relied on those lies to continue handling Huawei's finances, meaning they risked loss and prosecution by violating the same regulations.Meng's lawyers argued that because Canada didn't have economic sanctions against Iran when the case was given the authority to proceed, there could be no loss if the offence had happened here — and so there would be no charge of fraud.Collins, on the other hand, claimed the lie about his marriage happened in a pleading given to a notary in a civil suit in a way that wouldn't have made it an oath given in evidence had it been done in Canada — and so there would be no charge of perjury.A hypothetical puzzleB.C. Supreme Court Justice Lyman Duff wrestled in 1905 with the same hypothetical puzzle Holmes, the judge in Meng's case, confronted this week. Exactly what does it mean to transpose the facts of an alleged crime to Canada?Is a judge limited to pretending that no sanctions exist, or that Canadian technicalities wouldn't make a lie an oath?Or can judges also consider the context around the alleged offence — in effect, making foreign legal considerations part of the Canadian equation?When it came to Collins, Duff — who went on the become the eighth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada — found they could."If you are to conceive the accused pursuing the conduct in question in this country, then along with him you are to transplant his environment," he wrote.And that meant thinking about the legal environment in which Collins swore he wasn't married to two women."Treating the matter in that way, then what have we here?" Duff asked."You have an oath taken in a judicial proceeding before a court of competent jurisdiction after a manner in which it was authorized by law. These facts make up the substance and 'essence' of the 'criminality' charged against the accused."Citing Duff's words, Holmes concluded that she could consider context to find Meng's alleged lie would amount to a crime in Canada — even without economic sanctions against Iran."The essence of the alleged wrongful conduct in this case is the making of intentionally false statements in the banker-client relationship that put HSBC at risk," she wrote."The U.S. sanctions are part of the state of affairs necessary to explain how HSBC was at risk, but they are not themselves an intrinsic part of the conduct."'Well, George, we're off at last'Meng's loss this week is not the end of her battle. She still has several chances to fight extradition through hearings to determine whether her rights were violated when she was arrested and whether there is sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution.She has denied the charges.Collins was extradited back to California in October 1905, placed on a steamer out of Victoria with only 20 minutes' notice.A Daily Colonist reporter watched as a detective sent to accompany the fugitive said, "Well, George, we're off at last.""Collins laughed. 'It does look like it,' he said," according to the newspaper. When he got back to San Francisco, Collins was convicted of perjury. He was sent to San Quentin to begin a 14-year prison sentence.He's long dead. And 100 years from now — barring really drawn out proceedings — the question of Meng Wanzhou's extradition will be settled.But her name and that of George Collins will forever be a part of Canadian extradition law.

  • Canadian airlines could 'fail' if forced to refund passengers, says transport minister
    Business
    CBC

    Canadian airlines could 'fail' if forced to refund passengers, says transport minister

    Transport Minister Marc Garneau says that Canadian airlines could go bankrupt if the ailing industry is compelled to refund passengers billions of dollars for flights cancelled due to the pandemic."I have said many times that I have enormous sympathy for those who would have preferred to have a cash refund in these difficult circumstances. It is far from being an ideal situation," Garneau told a press conference earlier today."At the same time, if airlines had to immediately reimburse all cancelled tickets, it would have a devastating effect on the air sector, which has been reeling since the COVID 19 pandemic started."Garneau was doubling down on a message he delivered to the House of Commons' pandemic committee on Thursday, when he warned MPs that if airlines "had to reimburse at this time, some of them could fail."The minister said today it's his responsibility to help Canada's airlines survive the pandemic."It is so essential for this country," he said. "This is the second largest country on Earth, with its distances and remote areas, and we expect and need an airline industry in this country."Watch | Reporters question Marc Garneau about airline ticket refundsBut his response isn't sitting well with Canadians struggling financially during the pandemic who argue it's their right as consumers to get their money back for flights they never took."It's very disappointing and frustrating," said Tammie Fang, a health care essential worker in B.C. "My rights as a consumer have been put aside to help balance the airline industry."Fang works at a New Westminster hospital assisting with open-heart surgeries. She said she spends much of her spare time calling and emailing Air Transat seeking a refund of roughly $500 for a flight to Toronto she never took. She describes it as an extra burden during an already stressful and financially challenging time."It's disheartening," she said. "It's unbelievable how much effort we have to put in."Airlines' survival versus consumers' rightsCanada's airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and most of the country's airline fleet is sitting idle at airports across the country. Airlines are losing 90 per cent of their normal revenue streams and some have put their operations completely on pause.At the same time, pressure is mounting on the federal government to step in and force airlines to pay back passengers who also are struggling financially. Two petitions with more than 30,000 signatures combined have been submitted to Parliament in recent weeks calling on the government to demand that airlines tapping into taxpayer-funded government supports reimburse grounded passengers.Billions tied up in refundsFor the most part, Canadian airlines are offering those passengers travel vouchers redeemable for two years. Air Canada also announced last week that it's allowing people to transfer their tickets to others, which could permit ticket holders to sell them. The Canadian Transportation Agency has said offering vouchers could be a reasonable measure in the current circumstances.Garneau's office said it would cost airlines billions of dollars to refund customers. When CBC asked Transport Canada for specific numbers, it was told the figures the government receives from airlines amount to proprietary information that it isn't authorized to release.Air Canada's books are open, since it's a publicly traded company. It has about $2.6 billion tied up in ticket sales for future travel over the next year.On March 16, the airline said its current liquidity level was $6.3 billion — a record level — and its balance sheet was solid. Since then, Air Canada has said it's burning $22 million a day in operating costs and plans to reduce its workforce by 50 to 60 per cent. The company said a dramatic drop in demand during the pandemic caused the airline to slash its flight capacity by 95 per cent. Government in talks with airlines and consumersOutside Rideau Cottage today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated a message he's delivered in the past — that the government has to strike the right balance between keeping airlines afloat and preserving consumers' rights. "I hear clearly the concerns that Canadians have around their air tickets," said Trudeau. "We will continue to work with the industry and with concerned groups of Canadians to ensure that we find a fair way through this. "But I know Canadians at the same time want to make sure we continue to have an airline industry after this very difficult pandemic."The government is in talks with airlines and is looking to see what other countries have done with travel refunds. It's expected to deliver an update on the file in the coming weeks.

  • Experts hope to locate Asian giant hornet nests after insect found in Langley
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Experts hope to locate Asian giant hornet nests after insect found in Langley

    The Asian giant hornet is back in B.C. after first being spotted in the province last year. Experts are now trying to determine how many nests might be in the ground and where they might be. Provincial apiculturist Paul van Westendorp said this year's first confirmed sighting was reported May 15 in Langley, B.C."All that signifies is that this beast has been travelling or been spreading a bit farther than we had anticipated up to this point," he said. "The scenery hasn't really changed very much."Three giant hornets were first spotted last August near Nanaimo, the B.C. agriculture ministry said. The single nest was destroyed. A specimen was found in November in White Rock and two specimens were found last December at Blaine, Wash.Van Westendorp said he has frozen the Langley specimen and will eventually conduct an examination to see if it's a queen. The insect will also be analyzed through DNA sequencing to determine its geographic origin.The province issued an information bulletin in March asking residents near the border to be on the lookout. Hornet traps were placed throughout the area and pest-alert notices were distributed. Further monitoring will continue and experts are asking for the public's participation to report what they see."The hunt is on and the way to find the nest is you're not going to find the nest visibly, you're not going to see it when you're walking along forest paths," said Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of B.C."You're going to see it because you see the Asian giant hornets heading to that hole in the ground ... so being on the alert for the hornets is the first step to finding the nest."Normally found in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia, it remains unclear how the giant hornets arrived in North America."Even under the best of circumstances, there's so few of them around, this is kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack," van Westendorp said from Abbotsford. "And that's why we rely on the reports to come in to get an overall impression as to what the distribution is."If we can find and catch live adults, then we can put on radio tags and follow them to find their nests. But up until this point we have only collected dead ones. Well, dead ones cannot bring us to their nest and that is the problem."The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) can be as big as a man's thumb. It has a large orange head, black eyes and can deliver a nasty sting. "Because of the development cycle of this insect, we anticipate more sightings in the weeks and months to come," van Westendorp said. "All that is now a bit different is that with the latest find in Langley, it is now recognized that it has perhaps a broader distribution here in coastal B.C. than we had anticipated up to this point."The "murder hornet" moniker — a term experts frown upon — was coined in Japan.British Columbia classifies the Asian giant hornet as a "serious honey bee predator.'' Farmers in the southern B.C./northern Washington area depend on honey bees to pollinate crops such as apples, blueberries and cherries."The (hornets) prey on bees, et cetera, and there's nothing that preys on it," Wallin said from Williams Lake, B.C. "You don't want it to establish because it will have a ripple effect to the ecosystem."Area beekeepers are being encouraged to use screens or barriers to protect their hives. The Asian giant hornet is not currently a pest regulated at the federal level, so it falls under the mandate of the province, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said earlier this month. "There isn't any evidence yet that these hornets have become fully established," said Gard Otis, an adjunct professor at the University of Guelph specializing in bee behaviour and forest entomology. "But the fact that a new hornet was found (in a different location) is a concern also because that could be a different source colony or something."So we're all concerned but I don't think we're like screaming out of the room and really upset because things right now, at this particular moment, are not bad.'The hornet's life cycle begins in April when queens emerge from hibernation, feed on sap and fruit, and look for underground dens."I'm not saying it will, but even if this pest can establish itself here on a permanent basis, we are only dealing with very, very few," van Westendorp said. "There is an exceedingly low density, if I can call it that."As an apex predator, there is simply not enough room, if you will, for a lot of them to be proliferating. I think that's the key message here."Asian giant hornets hunt insects and are generally not looking to engage with people, pets or large animals, the B.C. agriculture ministry said."In the eyes of a hornet, (humans) are totally inconsequential ... it is only when a nest is disturbed that they pose a risk or a threat," van Westendorp said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

  • COVID-19 border closures worry Americans who come to Canada to buy insulin
    News
    CBC

    COVID-19 border closures worry Americans who come to Canada to buy insulin

    When Travis Paulson drove from his home in northern Minnesota to the Canadian border last month, he thought he'd have little trouble crossing over to buy his insulin.Paulson, a Type 1 diabetic, has made the trip many times for himself and others as the price of the lifesaving drug has skyrocketed in the United States over the last decade. A vial in Canada costs roughly $25 US, a fraction of the $350 to $400 he would be charged in his home country.Paulson called Canada Border Services ahead of time to see if he'd still be able to come into Canada. Travel between the two countries has been restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Paulson said he was told he could still make the trip if he only went to the pharmacy and came back the same day.But when he arrived at the border near Fort Frances, Ont., he said he was told there had been a policy change that very morning — and he couldn't come into Canada because his trip was not deemed essential."It's devastating because your life depends on it. You're literally being denied the air that you need to breathe," said Paulson, the director of the diabetes organization Northern Minnesota Advocacy Group."Every few hours you need it, every day. And that you might not be able to get it, I would say it's a little terrifying."Many Americans rely on going up north to buy insulin, where it is roughly a tenth of the price. Canada's Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, a federal agency that establishes the maximum price that can be charged for patented drugs, keeps the prices affordable.But the COVID-19 border restrictions have meant that option is no longer available.While some pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. are offering programs for cheaper insulin during the pandemic, advocates say still not enough is being done to make it affordable.A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency said Americans may be allowed to enter the country to purchase medications, but the agency offers little clarity on who will be allowed in and when."Entry to Canada is decided on a case-by-case basis and based on the information made available to the border services officer at the time of entry," spokesperson Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr said in an email.Until at least June 21, there is a temporary restriction on all non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. That could be further prolonged if deemed necessary, Gadbois-St-Cyr said.Quinn Nystrom, a long-time diabetes and affordable health-care advocate in Minnesota, said she's received several calls since the border closures began, including one from a panicked mother."She said her nine-year-old son was on his last insulin pen," Nystrom said, adding that the woman's husband had been planning a trip to Canada in the spring to buy more."They were just completely distraught over it."Nystrom gained international attention last year for organizing and taking part in several Caravans to Canada — trips to show just how easy and affordable it is to buy insulin outside of the U.S.A Type 1 diabetic herself, Nystrom went to her congressman, Pete Stauber, last spring, begging him to protect people with pre-existing conditions and vote to help lower the cost of insulin."He promised me he would do that. And after leaving his office and following up with him over the next couple of months, he unfortunately voted against those things," she said."It was so unfortunate to me that I decided to file and run against him."On Sunday, Nystrom won the Democratic nomination in Minnesota's 8th congressional district and will be up against Stauber on the ballot in November.Access to affordable insulin can be a matter of life and death for Americans.Nicole Smith-Holt's son died in June 2017 at just 26 years old, less than a month after he aged off of his parents' insurance plan. He couldn't afford the cost at a pharmacy in Minnesota and chose instead to ration his insulin.Smith-Holt said the border closures to Canada and Mexico put up "one more barrier" for struggling Americans, especially as many of them have lost their jobs and therefore their insurance during the pandemic."People are going to start rationing and people are going to suffer some very long-term health effects or possibly death," she said."A Type 1 diabetic really should not be lowering their dosage or missing doses. It proved fatal for Alec and countless other people."But Alec Smith's family, friends and supporters worked to make sure his death wasn't in vain.On July 1, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act will come into effect in Minnesota. It will allow people who cannot afford their insulin to access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for just $35. The new law also streamlines the process to access insulin in the long-term and manufacturers can be fined up to $3.6 million for not participating in the program."It means that we're going to have the ability to save lives," Smith-Holt said. "People right now, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, are really struggling. It's going to be a lifeline for people."Pharmaceutical companies making pandemic programsSince the pandemic started, some pharmaceutical companies in the United States have created programs to help struggling diabetics. Eli Lilly, the U.S. manufacturer of fast-acting insulin Humalog, created a program in April to help those without insurance access a month's supply for $35.But these programs are difficult to apply for, advocates say, and often many people don't meet the criteria to be eligible.It's also just a temporary solution, Nystrom said, adding that the issue of insulin affordability won't go away when the pandemic does.With few options due to border restrictions, some Americans, like Paulson, are turning to online Canadian pharmacies. Some Canadian pharmacies will ship insulin to the U.S., but the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities in Ottawa said it's important to verify the legitimacy of an outlet if ordering online by checking with the province's regulating body. One of the most well-known pharmacies to Americans is Mark's Marine Pharmacy in Vancouver, just 40 kilometres from the U.S. border. It ships insulin to people across the U.S., but requires a doctor's prescription to do so — a requirement in America.People also turn to GoFundMe, social media and "underground networks."Lija Greenseid, an insulin advocate in St. Paul, Minn., and mother of a 14-year-old daughter who has Type 1 diabetes, said people in local diabetes Facebook groups will share extra insulin if they switch brands and even give up unused vials if someone has died."That's another strange consequence of our health-care system," said Greenseid, who organized a Caravan to Canada last spring. While some insurance companies have now capped their deductibles at $25 a month, the list price for insulin in the U.S. hasn't been cut.'The ultimate goal is to be like Canada'Greenseid had always been comforted by the knowledge that Canada was a short drive away. It's an option no longer there."What is reassuring is knowing that there is an insulin underground network of people who get insulin and give it to people who need it. That's always there." Greenseid said.Nystrom said Americans don't want to have to rely on outside countries to get affordable medications — and she hopes to make that possible if elected in November."The ultimate goal is to be like Canada, where somebody can just go to a pharmacy and pick up insulin for $30 US. That's our goal," she said."So people don't have to rely on a pharmaceutical company deciding to be charitable."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Quebec schools see spike in COVID-19 cases as Ontario eyes regional reopenings
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    Quebec schools see spike in COVID-19 cases as Ontario eyes regional reopenings

    A cluster of COVID-19 cases in Quebec's elementary schools is shining a light on the cost of reopening Canada's hardest hit provinces, as Ontario announced on Friday that it was eyeing a regional approach to pandemic recovery.At least 41 staff and students tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the first two weeks after elementary schools outside the Montreal area reopened, the province's education department announced."It's normal that by having the daycare, the school being open to the community, there can be cases," said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's director of public health."The advantage in those areas is that they're young children, and we didn't put any personnel who was high-risk (in the classroom)."The numbers came from a survey of school boards conducted May 25, which found that 19 students and 22 staff members were infected. Twelve of the province's 72 school boards did not offer up data.News of the outbreaks came as Quebec reported another 530 cases of the virus on Friday, pushing its total above the 50,000 mark. The death toll climbed by 61, to 4,363.In Ontario, meanwhile, where officials announced the case count had surged to 27,210 and a total of 2,230 people had died, Premier Doug Ford said he was looking at reopening the province region by region."The reality on the ground is different in every part of the province," Ford said.Two-thirds of the province's cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, while some other public health agencies say they have few or no current patients. New Brunswick, which didn't report any new cases of the virus for the two weeks leading up to May 21, continued to experience a setback on Friday.Officials there are now working their way through a web of people who may have been infected by a health-care worker who did not self-isolate upon his return from a trip to Quebec.Health officials announced three additional cases in the region on Thursday, bringing the total of cases in the cluster to six, including the health-care worker at the Campbellton Regional Hospital. One of the new patients also works in health care."Based on the contact tracing and the testing that we are doing, we will see more cases," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health.The province's Vitalite Health Network issued a statement saying the worker had come into contact with dozens of people at the hospital, including 50 employees.The outbreak forced the adjournment of the provincial legislature Thursday and caused officials to delay a new phase of the recovery plan by a week.News from the provinces came as Statistics Canada announced gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 8.2 per cent in the first three months of 2020 — the worst quarterly showing since 2009 — even though efforts to contain the novel coronavirus by shuttering businesses and schools didn't begin in earnest until March.Many of those businesses are now reopening in a bid to re-employ some of the three million people who lost their jobs, putting workers and clients in close proximity and lending new urgency to the testing and tracing process.Ottawa announced new efforts meant to guide the country through the pandemic, including an additional $650 million for First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities. That adds to $305 million the feds had previously promised."Although we've made progress, there are still communities that are not properly equipped to handle a COVID-19 outbreak," Trudeau said. "We need to address that."The new money will go toward hiring nurses and purchasing specialized supplies, enhancing an on-reserve income assistance program and building 12 new shelters for Indigenous women and girls fleeing violence.Remote Indigenous communities are considered among the most vulnerable during the pandemic. Residents often have no ready access to health care, and many live in overcrowded conditions that make it difficult to isolate those who may have been exposed.Transport Minister Marc Garneau also extended a moratorium on the cruise season, saying passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 passengers can't operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.Such ships proved to be Petri dishes in the early days of the epidemic, accounting for thousands of infections.Alberta took a different tack to slowing the viral spread, announcing plans to issue masks to the masses — with a fast-casual caveat.Starting next month, the provincial government will begin handing out 20 million non-medical masks through A&W, McDonald's and Tim Hortons drive-thrus.Countrywide, there are now 89,412 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, and the death toll stands at 6,979.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

  • Saskatchewan First Nations request $120M US to build own PPE stockpile
    News
    CBC

    Saskatchewan First Nations request $120M US to build own PPE stockpile

    Saskatchewan First Nations have made a $120 million US request to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to build up their own personal protective equipment stockpiles in preparation for a second wave of COVID-19, according to the chief of a community which led the development of the plan. James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns said his community, in partnership with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, has lined up a supplier to provide all First Nations in the province with surgical masks, gloves and sanitizer, but said ISC has been noncommittal about the proposal. Burns said First Nations can't rely exclusively on the federal government's personal protective equipment (PPE) supply because it has been beset by a litany of problems, including failed shipments and shortages that have flared throughout the first months of the pandemic."We have to make sure our people are looked after in regards to their wellbeing as a person, and we have to protect those in need," said Burns. "I want to know why Canada can't say they're helping us, buying or partnering with a company to purchase PPE.… It's harmful."According to the proposal, FSIN is seeking $120 million US over six months to build up a stockpile of 19 million surgical masks, 58.4 million gloves, 170,000 face shields, 180,000 gowns and 146,000 litres of hand sanitizer.The supplies would be distributed to communities to prepare for the reopening of provincial economies and the expected second wave of the pandemic.  Burns said a proposal from FSIN was sent to Indigenous Services (ISC) about a week ago. He said time is ticking to line up the supplies before events overtake the communities."Time is of the essence, in regards to the whole pandemic. Time is not going to stand still," said Burns, whose community has recorded one COVID-19 case to date. Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister for ISC's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, said the department has already funded one PPE proposal for about $2.2 million through FSIN and a partner community for PPE purchased through a private supplier.Gideon said the Saskatchewan regional office had requested further "clarity" from the FSIN on the proposal."We are receptive, absolutely, to receiving funding requests from communities in that regard, or First Nations organizations that receive a mandate," said Gideon, during a technical briefing Friday afternoon. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the department works with communities on a "case-by-case" basis when it comes to First Nations seeking to secure their own supply of PPE. "It's a question of financing and support, but that's an ongoing dialogue that we're having internally," said Miller, during a news conference Friday morning. "The question will become even more important ... as provinces open up and PPE starts being used for other uses other than medical frontline work and issues of scarcity obviously will arise."Tom Wong, ISC's chief medical officer, said the department is currently supplying First Nations with PPE for health service related functions and to those who are providing health care to family members.Chief says treaty's medicine chest clause needs to be respected Burns said the federal government has a treaty obligation to provide funding for the proposal under the pestilence and medicine chest clauses in some of the numbered treaties, including Treaty 6 which covers James Smith Cree Nation territory.He appealed directly to Queen Elizabeth in a letter requesting she intervene under the treaties signed by her representatives. The Queen responded in a May 6 letter written by her deputy correspondence co-ordinator, Jennie Vine, that Burns should reach out to Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette and federal ministers with his request. "Nevertheless, the Queen sends her warm good wishes to you and your people during this current situation," said the letter. Burns then followed up with a letter to Payette requesting her office engage with his community on the issue.  "Our peoples have been hit by an unforeseen event that was contemplated at the time of the treaty making," said Burns, in a letter to Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette. Burns said the treaty relationship is a living, breathing commitment requiring Canada to continually hold up its end of the deal. Payette's office did not respond to a request for comment.

  • N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer
    News
    The Canadian Press

    N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer

    HALIFAX — A newly released document reveals that in May 2011, police were told the Nova Scotia man who would later kill 22 people in a shooting rampage wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable.The officer safety bulletin, submitted by the Truro Police Service, does not include names in the version released to media, but police Chief David MacNeil confirmed Friday the subject in question was Gabriel Wortman.The brief report says a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had "stated he wants to kill a cop.""He believes the police did not do their job in relation to this investigation," the bulletin says.The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some "mental issues" that left him feeling stressed and "a little squirrelly."The document, first obtained by the CBC, says Wortman was also investigated for uttering death threats aimed at his parents less than a year earlier, in June 2010. That probe led police to conclude he may be in possession of several rifles, though it's not clear which force conducted the investigation.The one-page bulletin represents another detailed warning that police received about the killer before the tragic events of April 18-19 in central and northern Nova Scotia.Earlier this month, a former neighbour of Wortman's said she reported his domestic violence and cache of firearms to the RCMP years ago.Brenda Forbes said that in the summer of 2013, she told police about reports that Gabriel Wortman had held down and beaten his common law spouse behind one of the properties he owned.The RCMP have said they are looking for the police record of the incident.MacNeil said the patrol officer who prepared the 2011 bulletin — Cpl. Greg Densmore — submitted it to the Criminal Intelligence Service of Nova Scotia for analysis and distribution to other police forces."Our officer did exactly what was expected of him," MacNeil said in a statement Friday. "He took the information seriously, documented it and submitted this information."MacNeil said it was safe to assume the Amherst Police Department also received the bulletin because it was one of their officers who retrieved it from files on April 18, 2020 — the day Wortman's rampage started — and sent it to those investigating the unfolding tragedy."Since neither of the addresses mentioned in this information were in the jurisdiction of the Truro Police Service, we were not obligated to follow up on this information, as this would fall to the police agencies of jurisdiction," MacNeil said."We can't comment on what those agencies may have done or didn't do with this information."At the time, Wortman had a primary residence above his denture clinic in downtown Dartmouth, N.S., which is an area covered by Halifax Regional Police. As well, he owned properties in Portapique, which is about 40 kilometres west of Truro and part of the RCMP's jurisdiction.MacNeil said this kind of bulletin would normally be sent to all municipal police agencies and the RCMP, which has been leading the investigation into last month's shootings.Const. Dylan Jackman, a spokesman for Halifax Regional Police, said the police force received the original bulletin and assigned an officer to investigate.Jackman said the investigator contacted the Truro Police Service and members of Wortman's family, but the matter was handed over to the RCMP because the information regarding firearms involved the residence in Portapique.An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin in May 2011, but RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded because the follow-up records had been purged long ago, which is in line with existing data retention policies."Preliminary indications are that we were aware and, at minimum, provided assistance to (Halifax police), which aligns with the RCMP's approach for such enquiries," Clarke said in an email.Asked if the bulletin would have been useful for the officers investigating the recent slayings, Clarke said: "I can't speculate on how this information might have affected the outcome of the April 18/19 incidents."The Mounties have confirmed the gunman — disguised as a Mountie and driving a replica RCMP vehicle — was armed with two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles when he killed 13 people in Portapique on April 18 and another nine people the following day in several other communities.His victims included an RCMP officer, two nurses, two correctional officers, a family of three, a teacher and some of his neighbours in Portapique.After Wortman spent the better part of 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't, a Mountie fatally shot the 51-year-old at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 90 kilometres south of Portapique, on the morning of April 19.There have been numerous calls for a public inquiry to investigate how police handled one of the worst mass shootings in Canadian history, including pleas from relatives of victims, politicians and academics.Even though the province has the jurisdiction to hold an inquiry, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said Ottawa should take the lead, given the scope of the tragedy and the many federal issues involved.However, the federal government only said it will do everything it can to ensure lessons are learned from the killings.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

  • Mother and baby humpback whales rise from the depths beside swimmers
    Science
    Rumble

    Mother and baby humpback whales rise from the depths beside swimmers

    Tonga is one of the few places in the world that allows people to get into the water with humpback whales. To witness these majestic and beautiful animals up close is an unforgettable experience. These swimmers had traveled from all around the world to see humpbacks in the wild, in their own habitat, acting naturally. But what they did not expect to see was a large female humpback with a newborn calf. This baby whale is less than two weeks old. His mother came here, as all pregnant humpback whales do, to give birth to their young in an ocean free of predators such as great white sharks. These waters are safe for the mothers. As well as nursing their young until they are old enough to travel to colder feeding grounds on the opposite side of the planet, the females also come here to breed. Humpback whales are one of the most intelligent of all animal species and their communication may be the most complex in existence. To see a pair of whales from only a few metres away is life changing.

  • Crowd protests white mayor's words about black man's death
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Crowd protests white mayor's words about black man's death

    PETAL, Miss. — At least 200 people protested Friday outside a Mississippi City Hall, calling for the resignation of a white mayor who sparked outrage when he said he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” about the death of an African American man in Minneapolis police custody.Petal Mayor Hal Marx is resisting calls for his resignation, including from his own city's board of aldermen.“Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?” Marx tweeted Tuesday, the day four Minneapolis police officers were fired. George Floyd, 46, was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday.In a follow-up tweet, the Republican directly referenced the Floyd case, saying he “didn't see anything unreasonable”: "If you can say you can't breathe, you're breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn't show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”WDAM-TV carried live coverage of Friday's protest, which drew a racially diverse crowd.“Accountability must come into effect for Hal Marx,” said Bobby Sims Jr., a pastor from the nearby city of Hattiesburg, told the crowd.Sims and other speakers said Petal has long had a problem of police pulling over black drivers for little or no reason.Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Javon Patterson and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford both criticized Marx on social media.“You know as a former resident of Petal ... this is truly disturbing to see,” Patterson tweeted, attaching a screenshot of a Facebook post where Marx again said, “If you can talk you can breathe.”"How could you watch this disturbing video and make such an idiotic comment. But this guy is supposed to be the leader of ‘the friendly city,'” Alford, a Petal High School alumnus, wrote on Facebook. “This is why it's important to vote people. You don't want people like Mayor Hal Marx in charge.”Marx's Twitter account no longer exists.The Petal Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Thursday, voting unanimously to ask for Marx's resignation, the Clarion Ledger reported.“Recently, Mayor Hal Marx has taken to social media and repeatedly made comments that have isolated, enraged and belittled individuals in a way that is unbecoming to our city,” Aldermen Clint Moore read from a statement.Residents also called for his resignation, and protests are planned for the coming days. As Marx addressed the meeting, audience members shouted over him.“You already have your minds made up about me,” he said.Marx, who was first elected mayor in 2009 and entertained a run for governor in 2019, told the Hattiesburg American earlier this week that his remarks were misconstrued as racist, and that he was trying to caution people “to get all the facts before they judge” the police.At Thursday's meeting, he said he and his family had received death threats and called people asking for resignation bullies.“I will never surrender to the mob mentality,” he said. In Mississippi, elected officials can only be removed from office if they've committed felonies.Myla Cox grew up in Petal, a city of a little more than 10,000 people just east of Hattiesburg. She said she's been judged at her college, Brown University, because of her hometown.“Everybody looked down on me because they saw the type of people that run my city, specially you,” the newspaper quoted her as addressing Marx. “For you to come here today and say that we are bullies, and you to not hold accountability for your statements that we clearly do no agree with already shows what type of person you are.”The Associated Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Toronto police chief calls for calm in wake of death of woman who fell from balcony

    TORONTO — The Toronto police chief called for calm Friday and promised to fast-track the use of body-worn cameras after the death of a 29-year-old woman who fell from a 24th-floor balcony while officers were in her home.The death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet on Wednesday has sparked emotional questions and allegations from the woman's family, local politicians, and on social media about the role of police officers in the incident."I request the public and communities wait for all of the facts regarding this case so that we can move forward once we establish exactly what happened that evening," Chief Mark Saunders said at a news conference.The Special Investigations Unit, the province's independent police watchdog, has invoked its mandate and taken over the investigation.Saunders said he is fast-tracking the implementation of body-worn cameras that he said could come to some front-line officers later this year."This is a textbook case as to why I've been advocating for body-worn cameras," he said.Saunders said police received three 9-1-1 calls about an alleged assault involving knives at Korchinski-Paquet's apartment.Officers arrived within four minutes of the call, he said. The family has alleged police were involved in her death.Many others have taken to social media in anger and a protest is planned for Saturday.The torrent of social media posts bothered Saunders."A lot of it is misinformation, a lot of it is lies," he said. "I'm asking people to wait for the truth."On Thursday, Korchinski-Paquet's mother said she wanted answers from police."I asked police yesterday if they could take my daughter to CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), and my daughter ended up dead," her mother, Claudette Beals-Clayton said. "So I don't understand."The SIU said it has interviewed multiple witnesses — including four officers — in their investigation so far.Saunders said paramedics were also at the scene.SIU spokeswoman Monica Hudon said that they've identified a subject officer in the investigation and will interview them later Friday."The scene was examined, and a canvass of the area was completed in an effort to locate witnesses and video footage," Hudon said in a statement. "Investigators have spoken to several civilians who were able to shed some light on what transpired."Toronto police have been examining the use of body-worn cameras for years. The force conducted a year-long pilot project that ended in 2016 with the recommendation to move forward. But rolling it out would be expensive — upwards of $80 million over 10 years, the force said at the time. Police told The Canadian Press then that much of the costs related to data storage fees.Saunders said Friday he'll do as much as he can do to get those cameras out in the field this year.Toronto's police union expressed its concerns Friday about what it called unfounded allegations that officers pushed Korchinski-Paquet off her balcony."The comments posted on social media are opportunistic and sensationalize this tragic event with blatant disregard for evidence or fact," read a statement from the Toronto Police Association."Comments made without facts are a disservice to the community and the police."The association and Toronto's police board have asked that the SIU move as quickly as possible in their investigation and provide updates so that the public can be presented with the facts.However, Toronto Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam has questioned the SIU's ability to investigate the incident."Every time the SIU gets involved, the same concerns always come to mind. How can families and the public be assured accountability and transparency," the councillor said in a Twitter post on Thursday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.Liam Casey and Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario, Alberta unveil new testing plans, PM considers shift in Canada-U.S. border restrictions
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario, Alberta unveil new testing plans, PM considers shift in Canada-U.S. border restrictions

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.

  • Minister says Ottawa must respect choice of First Nations to hold powwows
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Minister says Ottawa must respect choice of First Nations to hold powwows

    OTTAWA — Canada's Indigenous services minister says Ottawa won't dictate terms to First Nations on holding ceremonies and powwows during a pandemic."If you believe in self-determination of Indigenous Peoples you have to respect choices even when you don't agree with them," Marc Miller said during a news briefing Friday.Miller was responding to a question about a Manitoba First Nation organizing a powwow for next month. He said studies have shown that when decisions are made by Indigenous communities the medical results are better.Cornell McLean, chief of the Lake Manitoba First Nation, said earlier this week that after careful consideration it was decided that the community's traditional powwow would go ahead in June. The chief said it would help bring healing to the community, about 160 kilometres north of Winnipeg, where people have been struggling under strict rules put in place by community leadership two months ago due to COVID-19.McLean noted the federal government made it clear that Indigenous ceremonies won't be stopped during the pandemic after RCMP were dispatched to a sun-dance ceremony in Saskatchewan earlier this month.Premier Brian Pallister joined Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in criticizing the federal government for sending mixed messages to First Nations about whether they have to follow provincial public-health orders. Pallister said he would bring up the concern during a call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday."We are not people who believe in two-tiered health," the premier said.Miller countered that Indigenous leaders have told him First Nations people have long lived under a two-tiered health system and "they are the victims of it." Health outcomes on First Nations tend to be poorer than the Canadian average and care offered is significantly limited compared to urban centres."Those are the cards, I think, that Indigenous communities would say that they were dealt going into this pandemic and create that vulnerability that is exacerbated by COVID-19."During its weekly update Friday, The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs pandemic response team said there were no active cases of COVID-19 in self-identified First Nations people.Dr. Marcia Anderson said guidance for ceremonial and spiritual practices was shared with leaders a month ago and is being updated to reflect the most recent information.Anderson encouraged leaders to take precautions if they go ahead with cultural events. She suggested people could use individual hand drums in a line, rather than surrounding one drum singing together. She said all events should be held outside."We don't want to say don't do it at all, but we want to think about how we can be creative."Grand Chief Arlen Dumas added that Indigenous leaders across the province were taking different approaches to holding events and ceremony. Some decided to remain in lockdown and cancel powwows."I'm proud of our community. I am proud of our region. I am proud of those things we are doing," Dumas said. "But I don't want us to get a false sense of confidence."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in WinnipegThe Canadian Press

  • New cruise ship restrictions will mean big hit to B.C. economy, industry says
    Business
    CBC

    New cruise ship restrictions will mean big hit to B.C. economy, industry says

    There will be no cruise season in Canada this year, an industry representative says, after the federal transport minister announced new restrictions on vessels' ability to sail in Canadian waters.On Friday, federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced further limits on vessels and extended restrictions until October as a measure to limit the spread of COVID-19."It's obviously disappointing news," said Barry Penner, legal advisor to Cruise Lines International Association — Northwest and Canada. "There won't be a cruise season in Canada, at all.""This announcement will be acutely felt in coastal communities, small towns, bigger centres, everywhere from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,  Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and especially British Columbia."Penner said the cruise ship industry contributed over $4.1 billion to the Canadian economy in 2018 and led to 29,000 jobs. Over $2.3 billion of that economic activity and over 15,000 of those jobs are in B.C. The employment figures include spin-off jobs in businesses like hotels, restaurants and taxis serving cruise ship customers on shore, as well as suppliers producing goods for vessels, Penner said.310 Vancouver port calls cancelledB.C. health officials have already said cruise ships will be allowed to stop for refuelling in the province's ports but passengers will not be permitted to disembark.Dayna Miller, director of global partnerships with Tourism Vancouver, said her organization understands the decision by the federal government."I think we were not entirely surprised," Miller said, especially with large gatherings on hold in B.C.However, she said, 310 cruise ship calls were expected in Vancouver this season, which would have brought about 1.2 million visitors to the city. Each call, she said, generates about $3 million in economic activity."It's a vital industry as a whole," she said.Global problemsThe coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to the cruise industry globally.Experts have said cruise ships, with hundreds or thousands of people in close proximity, present virus transmission risks. There have been reports that even once cruises are given the OK to begin operations again, fewer customers will want to set sail over health fears. Some have speculated the pandemic will mean the end for at least some cruise lines.In February, a high-profile outbreak on the cruise ship Diamond Princess led to hundreds of passengers testing positive for the disease. "I think everybody's been learning, as fast as they can, around the world," Penner said.Penner said the pandemic has been a "vexing" problem for governments and health authorities and the cruise industry is working with both to find best practices to contain viral risks.But cruise lines aren't alone, he said. Airlines and movie theatres face similar issues, for instance.His industry is making some changes to increase consumer confidence, such as making cancellations more flexible for travellers booking in 2021.

  • Take 2 for SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch with more storms
    Science
    The Canadian Press

    Take 2 for SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch with more storms

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX pressed ahead with its second attempt to launch astronauts for NASA — a historic first for a private company — but more stormy weather threatened more delays.Elon Musk’s company came within 17 minutes Wednesday of launching a pair of NASA astronauts for the first time in nearly a decade from the U.S., before the threat of lightning forced a delay.With more storms ahead, managers debated Friday whether to bump the next launch attempt from Saturday to Sunday to take advantage of slightly improved forecast at Kennedy Space Center.NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that no decision was made, and they would reassess the situation Saturday morning.At an earlier outdoor news conference, Bridenstine stressed the need for safety for astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — no matter how many times it takes to launch them in a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.“We cannot forget this is a test flight. This — is — a — test — flight," he repeated. “We will go when everything is as safe as we can possibly make it."Forecasters put the odds of acceptable weather conditions Saturday at 50-50, with the outlook improving to 60% favourable on Sunday. Rain and clouds were the main concerns for both days.Bridenstine said back-to-back tries would be tough on the launch team — and the astronauts — given that this is a test flight.Hurley and Behnken, veterans of two space shuttle flights, have both faced launch delays before. In a tweet Friday, Hurley said his first shuttle flight was scrubbed five times for weather and technical issues.“We’re ready for the next launch opportunity!” Behnken tweeted.While NASA had urged spectators to stay home Wednesday because of the pandemic, prime viewing spots at area parks and beaches were packed. A weekend launch could draw even bigger crowds. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex reopened Thursday, after a 2 1/2-month shutdown, and within a few hours, all 4,000 tickets were snapped up for Saturday’s launch attempt.President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence were planning to return Saturday to watch from inside Kennedy. The number of employees, journalists and guests allowed at the space centre remained extremely limited because of the coronavirus outbreak.Whether an attempt is made Saturday or Sunday, “There will be no pressure. We will launch when we’re ready,” Bridenstine said.Liftoff on Saturday would be 3:22 p.m. EDT.The last time astronauts launched to orbit from the U.S. was in 2011 when Atlantis closed out the 30-year space shuttle program. Hurley was on that mission as well.NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to get the ball rolling again — kicking off a commercial revolution for getting people to low-Earth orbit. In the meantime, NASA has spent billions of dollars to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules for U.S. astronauts, in order to keep the space station staffed.Boeing's first astronaut flight, on the company's Starliner capsule, is not expected until next year.Bridenstine offered high praise for Musk on Friday and all his personal touches: spiffy spacesuits, Tesla rides to the launch pad, a colour-co-ordinated rocket and capsule — and more.Musk has brought “vision and inspiration” to the American space program, Bridenstine said. While there’s occasionally a little tension between NASA and SpaceX, “he gives me a commitment and he delivers on that commitment. That has happened every single time.”The California-based SpaceX is also developing a rocket and spaceship designed to go to the moon and Mars.On Friday, a prototype of its Starship exploded while undergoing a routine engine test at the company’s Texas site. The ship vented large amount of gases and was engulfed in a tremendous fireball.SpaceX did not respond immediately to a request for comment.NASA, which has a contract with SpaceX to develop Starship for its lunar landing program, has no problems going ahead with this weekend’s unrelated launch of astronauts from Cape Canaveral, agency spokesman Bob Jacobs.“That’s a test program. That’s why they test," Jacobs said.___AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this report.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • Racism In Canada Is Ever-Present, But We Have A Long History Of Denial
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Racism In Canada Is Ever-Present, But We Have A Long History Of Denial

    It's tempting for Canadians to fall back on the idea that we're not as racist as Americans.

  • Health
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario says more heath providers can reopen including dentists, optometrists

    TORONTO — Dentists, optometrists and massage therapists are part of a list of health-care providers that the Ontario government says can gradually reopen following a months-long shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians and denturists are also included on the list released Wednesday as part of a new order from the province's chief medical officer of health.A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said while the order takes effect immediately, that does not mean that all health services will be available on May 27."Health regulatory colleges are now in the process of developing guidance to ensure high-quality and safe clinical care that must be met before services can resume," she said. The provincial guidelines say providers must also comply with public health regulations and physical distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. In mid-March, the province ordered all non-essential and elective health services to close or reduce operations as COVID-19 cases increased.Under this new directive, the province is also asking regulatory colleges to provide advice on which services can be provided virtually.The province said the order will also allow hospitals to continue to develop and finalize plans to resume scheduled surgeries.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version, based on a government statement, said midwives could reopen their practices. In fact, they have been operating, with some restrictions, throughout the pandemic.

  • Trudeau Weighs In On Minneapolis Protests: ‘Racism Is Real’ In U.S. And Canada
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Trudeau Weighs In On Minneapolis Protests: ‘Racism Is Real’ In U.S. And Canada

    After a video of police pinning down a handcuffed Black man went public, tensions have erupted in the U.S.

  • George Floyd death: Trudeau says ‘anti-Black racism is real in the U.S. and also in Canada’
    News
    Global News

    George Floyd death: Trudeau says ‘anti-Black racism is real in the U.S. and also in Canada’

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that many Canadians are watching the news from Minneapolis, MN following the death of George Floyd "in shock and horror," and said that "anti-black racism is real in the U.S. but it’s also in Canada and we have work to do in our system as well.”

  • Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario premier says he supports reunification of Canadians with close family across U.S. border
    News
    Global News

    Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario premier says he supports reunification of Canadians with close family across U.S. border

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke about earlier comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looking into reuniting Canadians with close family members living the U.S, saying reunification is “so important” and he supports the idea.