Halifax councillor wants transit fleet to use hydrogen energy

A Halifax councillor wants the municipality to look into using hydrogen energy to power transit buses and ferries.

Richard Zurawski called for a report on hydrogen fuel cells at the December meeting of the city's environment committee. His motion was approved.

"I think this is a perfect time for us to start looking at how we can facilitate something that will sustain us for decades to come in a way that will not trash the environment," said Zurawski.

Hydrogen fuel cells convert energy into electricity and run vehicles on a battery system similar to that of electric cars, which use lithium batteries. Hydrogen energy produces water — not carbon — when burned.

Robert Short/CBC

Zurawski said he understands switching to hydrogen could be a long-term strategy.

"We could do hydrogen here, it just takes political will power," said Zurawski. "If we start now, who knows where we will be in 10 or 20 years."

Halifax is not the only place interested in hydrogen fuel cells.

According to Brant Peppley, a professor of chemical engineering at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., bus fleets across Europe are switching to hydrogen.

Peppley said there is also interest in South Korea, Japan and China. In Canada, hydrogen fuel stations are now available in Quebec and British Columbia.

Hydrogen fuel used in Germany

"You can purchase or lease a hydrogen fuel cell car in Vancouver today," said Peppley, "The big advantage of hydrogen fuel cells over lithium batteries is you can basically refuel in three minutes instead of waiting to recharge them."

Peppley believes Nova Scotia could use wind energy to create hydrogen energy, or have it shipped from Quebec where it could be made from hydro power.

He acknowledges that the use of hydrogen has been held back by fears of it being explosive.

"I've always said hydrogen has the worst public relations of any element on the periodic table," said Peppley. "But fossil fuels are also associated with catastrophic events, including Lac-Mégantic."

Peppley also pointed out that hydrogen has been safely used in Germany's steel industry for 50 years.

Municipal staff are already working on a report that will outline ways to reduce the municipality's carbon emissions. The report is expected in early 2020.

Shannon Miedema, manager of energy and environment, said new technologies have been considered as part of the report, but hydrogen fuel cells were not one of them, so a separate report on hydrogen will now be prepared.

MORE TOP STORIES

  • Deputy prime minister asks Opposition not to delay new NAFTA deal
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Deputy prime minister asks Opposition not to delay new NAFTA deal

    OTTAWA — The minority Liberals made another pitch Sunday for cross-partisan co-operation on a key priority for the government in the upcoming sitting of the House of Commons: passing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade deal.Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called passage of the new NAFTA a pivotal moment for Canada in a letter she sent Sunday to leaders of the Opposition parties.She said while no one expects anything other than a "full, frank, and vigorous debate," she urged them not to hold up the deal. "Canadian parliamentarians understand that, politics aside, the interests of Canadians come first, last, and always. I am confident this applies to you and to every member of your caucus, as it does for the Prime Minister, me, and every member of our caucus, too," she wrote in the letter. "Therefore, I ask that we work together, as colleagues, to put Canada and Canadians first, and get this important work done without undue delay."Freeland's letter comes as the House of Commons resumes Monday for its first lengthy sitting since the October election returned the Liberals with a minority government. Legislation to ratify the trade deal is expected within days.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed to his MPs this week that the new mandate is not like their last, and they'll need to work hard to win the support of their opponents to get anything done."Bickering, grandstanding, petty politics — none of these things create jobs. They don't make anyone's retirement safer, or our environment cleaner. Collaboration, dialogue, and constructive debate, however, can," he said. "Common ground does exist in this Parliament, but it's up to us to build on it."On the new NAFTA, the Liberals do have common ground with the ardently pro-trade Conservatives, who control the most Opposition seats.The party's international trade critic said it doesn't intend to play games with the trade deal bill as businesses need it to get ahead.But that doesn't mean it gets a completely free pass, said Randy Hoback. Previous trade deals have left some industries behind, and that shouldn't happen again, he said."We're going to focus on the results of this deal. We can't change it, the reality is we can't make amendments to this type of legislation because they'd have to go back and renegotiate," he said."But what we can do is look at the sectors and industries that are negatively impacted by this deal and not make the same mistakes we've made in the past."Hoback said the Tories want to hear from those groups, and figure out what the Liberal strategy is to mitigate the issue. Whether that work happens before the deal gets signed will be open for negotiation, he said, but it needs to be done.With Conservative support, the bill could sail through, but the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats say they won't make that easy.The Bloc has raised concerns the deal does not provide the same protections for Quebec's aluminum industry as it does for the steel industry and Ontario's auto-manufacturing sector and wants the text fully studied and debated.The New Democrats say the fact that the deal was negotiated behind closed doors means due diligence needs to be done."We're still meeting with industry and workers and talking to Canadians about what this deal will mean for them," said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.While the new NAFTA will headline the legislative calendar, the Liberals' agenda also includes action on a promised ban on military-style assault rifles, strengthening health care, battling climate change, and seeking meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he has appreciated that the Liberals have reached out on major recent developments, like the spread of coronavirus and the deaths of Canadians in Iran following a plane crash.But he's not committing to the same overall tone of co-operation the Liberals are pitching. "The Liberals will try to buy off the support from the other parties," he said, after meeting with his MPs on Saturday."That means a lot of wasteful spending. It means an even bigger government that's more and more involved in the economy and making decisions for people's lives. So we will oppose those types of things."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.— with files from Mike Blanchfield Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

  • Ransomware attack on construction company raises questions about federal contracts
    News
    CBC

    Ransomware attack on construction company raises questions about federal contracts

    A construction company that's won millions of dollars worth of contracts with the military and other federal departments has been hit by a ransomware attack — raising questions about how the federal government does businesses with outside firms open to cyberattacks.Ransomware attacks involve malicious software used to cripple a target's computer system to solicit a cash payment. Last month, a group known as Maze — infamous for publicly shaming victims until they pay up — claimed to have run a successful strike against the Toronto-based company Bird Construction, stealing 60 GBs of data."Bird Construction responded to a cyber incident that resulted in the encryption of company files," wrote a company spokesperson in an email to CBC."Bird continued to function with no business impact, and we worked with leading cyber security experts to restore access to the affected files."The company wouldn't say whether they paid their cyber-assailants — something police forces warn against.A company spokesperson said government officials were notified at the time of the breach.While it doesn't appear that any secure government files were compromised in the hack, the Bird case raises concerns about how secure government contracts are as the number of ransomware incidents multiplies.Between 2006 and 2015, Bird scored 48 contracts with the Department of National Defence totalling more than $406 million. Bird also helped build the RCMP's Surrey detachment headquarters and has done work for Public Services and Procurement Canada.Christyn Cianfarani, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, said Canada could learn from the United States and Britain, countries that have taken steps to ensure the security systems of all government contractors are locked down — even those not dealing with classified information."When we look at the major hacks that have occurred, especially on the defence side, where you know fighter aircraft information was stolen — it wasn't stolen from the prime contractor, it was stolen in a tiny, tiny shop supplying widgets," she said, citing the 2017 theft of sensitive information about Australia's defence programs through a government contractor."Whether they're done by nation states or by criminal organizations or by rogue actors, it's a characteristic of these kinds of attacks to get to governments using businesses as the point of entry, especially ... small businesses that tend to be the most vulnerable."Cianfarani said Canada needs to start working on its own cyber security certification program for vendors.Apart from federal work, Bird also has worked on renovations at multiple Ontario Provincial Police detachments and a wastewater treatment plant in Wood Buffalo, Alta., and helped to build Calgary's new emergency operations control centre. The company also has held contracts with oilpatch and potash companies, including Suncor.A spokesperson for the RCMP said the police service is aware of the hack but would not say whether it's investigating.Little recourse for feds after an attackPublic Services and Procurement Canada, which oversees how the government buys goods and services, has different levels of security clearance depending on whether a contractor has access to classified information."The government of Canada does go a long way to do that when there is sensitive information in play. When there's not sensitive information at play, companies do need to realize that this is a growing [trend]," said Aaron Shull, managing director and general counsel for the Centre for International Governance Innovation.A spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada said the department is working to ensure all companies are properly vetted."Ransomware and the impacts of this type of attack are monitored by Public Services and Procurement Canada in collaboration with other government security agencies," said spokesperson Stéfanie Hamel."Public Services and Procurement Canada is working closely with relevant departmental stakeholders to ensure that, as part of the procurement process, companies it does business with have gone through intensive screening and meet all of our security requirements before any contract is granted."Shull said there's little recourse for government departments once their confidential information is caught up in a cyberattack."The problem, of course, is that once a company has been breached it's a little bit like trying to nail the barn door shut after the horse is already gone," he said."The tools that are available to the federal government to penalize these companies are unsatisfactory. You're going to end up with a lawsuit for breach of contract or negligence, or something like that."The Bird Construction case is just the latest in a series of ransomware attacks hitting Canadian networks — a series that includes attacks on a number of Ontario municipalities, including Woodstock, Stratford and The Nation. 'The tools that are available to the federal government to penalize these companies are unsatisfactory.' \- Aaron Shull, CIGIThe RCMP has reported an uptick in ransomware attacks and a recent survey of Canadian organizations found the vast majority (88 per cent) had experienced a data breach over the last 12 months.Brett Callow, a security analyst with the anti-virus software firm Emsisoft, said any stolen data could be used to perfect a future scam. He said implementing a bolstered audit system could help the government identify information that has been put at risk. "If data has been stolen, there's obviously no way of getting it back. The most you can do is pay the criminals for a pinky-promise that they will not use that data," he said.Vendors need better cyber hygiene: expertsBoth DND and the RCMP said they follow Public Services and Procurement Canada's directions when it comes to contracts for goods, services and construction."The protection of information is a priority for the Department of National Defence," said Jessica Lamirande."We continue to take every precaution to ensure the proper security and privacy measures are in place, including complying with all relevant Government of Canada policies."A RCMP spokesperson said the force also reviews the security requirements for all contracts and may include security clauses that require contractors to safeguard information.Justin Fier, director for cyber intelligence and analytics at the online security firm Darktrace, said companies need better cyber hygiene and more training to prevent human error."The unfortunate and sad truth is no matter how much we educate our workforce, people will get duped into clicking the link in the email or ... doing something that they probably shouldn't be doing just because it gets the job done quicker and more efficiently," he said."It's not going anywhere anytime soon. As long as we pay the ransoms, they're going to keep coming back."

  • Health officials expect more coronavirus cases, but say risk of outbreak in Canada remains low
    News
    CBC

    Health officials expect more coronavirus cases, but say risk of outbreak in Canada remains low

    Federal health officials expect more cases of the coronavirus, but say the risk of an outbreak in Canada remains low.Health Minister Patty Hajdu said officials at all levels of government are working with hospitals and international partners to prevent and respond to potential infections. "We're working actively to limit the spread of the virus," Hajdu said at a news conference in Ottawa Sunday morning after the first "presumptive" case of coronavirus was reported in Toronto.Hospitals have an "incredibly strong" system to prevent and control infections, she said.Hajdu said much has been learned from the SARS virus in 2003. Since the first cases of this novel coronavirus were reported in China in December, the federal government has been in close contact with the provincial health authorities and international players to share information in a "collaborative, responsive" approach.WATCH: Health Minister Patty Hajdu on the federal response to coronavirusHajdu said there is considerable misinformation being spread about the virus which "belies the reality" that the risk to Canadians remains extremely low.CBC News has reported that misinformation and unverified claims about the virus have been circulating on social media.While the government does not expect a chartered plane is necessary to evacuate Canadians from the Wuhan region where the outbreak began, Hajdu said Global Affairs Canada stands ready to provide support services for any Canadian trying to leave China.CBC News has learned that one Canadian will be on board a flight chartered by Washington to fly diplomats and Americans out of Wuhan. A government official said 67 Canadians are registered as being in the affected region, but because registration is voluntary, the figure does not give a complete picture of Canadians in Hubei or in China.Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said despite the fact the number of cases in China is increasing, the export to other countries remains low and the risk remains low in Canada.Tam said the reported case Saturday was "not unexpected."Canada confirmed its first "presumptive" case of coronavirus in Toronto on Saturday after receiving lab results. The patient, a man in his 50s who had recently travelled to Wuhan, China, is isolated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is now in stable condition."The health system is on alert to detect potential cases and to respond promptly when they are confirmed," Tam said. "It shows that our systems are working."The case is "presumptive" until it is formally confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Tam said she expects the formal results of the test to confirm the virus within 24 hours.She said the man experienced symptoms on board China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311, but he apparently did not report those symptoms. Health officials are now tracing fellow passengers who were seated close to the patient — in a two-metre radius — to determine if others are affected.Family members of the patient are also being closely monitored and in self-isolation.WATCH: Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam on the coronavirusAccording to the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others by air through coughing or sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.Coronaviruses are a family of diseases that range from a common cold to more serious diseases such as SARS.The federal health department's website says symptoms of most coronaviruses are usually mild to moderate and can include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and/or fever, as well as a general feeling of being unwell.Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, agreed that the first case in Canada was not unexpected, and that other cases in Canada are likely.He said it's possible that other passengers on board that flight could have transferred to flights to other provinces. The health agency's protocol is to follow up on those persons for possible symptoms over the next 14 days.The number of infections worldwide now exceeds 2,000 cases, most of them in China, which reports 56 deaths.Dr. Jerome Leis, an infectious diseases specialist at Sunnybrook, said people who are acutely ill should go to hospital, but said those with mild symptoms should reach out to public health authorities."We completely understand that there's a lot of anxiety and questions in the general public, and that is very understandable. I want to be absolutely clear that individuals who have questions or anxiety, the first reflex should not be to go to an emergency department," he said."The first point of contact should be with public health if there are questions or concerns."Air Canada announced Sunday it is extending its "goodwill policy" to allow passengers to make alternate travel arrangements during the affected period. People can change their flight free of charge to another date or another destination, or can cancel a flight for a full refund.Risk mitigation measuresRisk mitigation measures now in place include messaging on arrival screens at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports reminding travellers to advise border officials if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.WATCH: Why finding viral cases is easier now:"While the risk of an outbreak of novel coronavirus in Canada remains low, I encourage Canadians to tell your health-care professional if you have travelled to an affected area of China, and develop flu-like symptoms," Hajdu said.Officials said the man took a flight on Jan. 21 from Wuhan to Guangzhou, then from Guangzhou to Toronto, arriving on Jan. 22.He is believed to have travelled "privately" from the airport to his home. Officials do not believe he took public transit. They have not said what part of the city the man lives in.Upon arriving, he told family members he felt ill and called 911. Officials say paramedics took all necessary precautions "right from first contact" until the hand-off to the hospital's emergency department on Jan. 23, officials say.It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which results in 12,200 hospitalizations and about 3,500 deaths in Canada annually.Ontario Premier Doug Ford said provincial health officials are putting full resources to the virus, and will be staying vigilant and informing the public "every step of the way.""It's something I feel we have a good handle [on] and we're ready, but we want to see the extent of this," he said Sunday in Toronto.Avoid non-essential travelForeign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne issued a statement Sunday reminding Canadians to pay attention to travel advisories warning against non-essential travel to Hubei, China, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou.Canadians already in the region should register with consular officials, which will give them access to the latest updates from the government, he said. "We understand the concerns of Canadians in the region and those of their families and loved ones. We are in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground," Champagne said in the statement."Canadian consular officials are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with local authorities and our international partners to gather more information and provide support to the extent possible. Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan."Emergency co-ordination centreTransport Minister Marc Garneau's office said the department has set up a dedicated team to support and respond, and has activated the Emergency Co-ordination Centre.On Friday, Transport Canada officials held a teleconference with the Public Health Agency of Canada and airline representatives, and reminding the carriers they are required, under the terms of the Quarantine Act, to report ill passengers.Transport officials have also been in regular contact with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to discuss contingencies and readiness plans.

  • Unintended consequences and the change to Alberta post-secondary funding
    News
    CBC

    Unintended consequences and the change to Alberta post-secondary funding

    At Mount Royal University in Calgary, there are two courses that regularly appear on the Top 10 list for most fails, withdrawals and poor grades. The micro- and macro-economics courses are required for those wishing to go into business, economics or policy studies. Both are hard. So if the Alberta government ties funding to completion rates, what would MRU do in order to protect its budget?"If you remove those courses, it's going to make it a lot easier to graduate," says Duane Bratt, a political science professor at MRU. "Do we just remove all of the really tough courses to make it easier to graduate? What is the purpose here?"New model for AlbertaOn Jan. 20, Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides stepped up to a podium and announced that starting on April 1, the UCP government would tie funding for the province's universities and colleges to a set of yet-to-be determined performance metrics. It would start with 15 per cent of funding on the table, before ramping up to 40 per cent by 2022-2023.Each school would be able to establish their own priority metrics, conforming to their strengths. But the minister did have a list of what the government would like some of the system-wide measures to be, from completion rates to post-graduate employment to enrolment. If you only achieve 80 per cent of your targets, you only get 80 per cent of your funds. Shape up, or face cuts. Standing on that stage Nicolaides took pains to point out that this wasn't unusual, that 35 U.S. states have implemented some form of performance funding, as have the U.K., Norway, Hong Kong and others. But much like the metrics he was proposing, Nicolaides was measuring the wrong thing, citing quantity as an inherent good.When it comes to the province's places of higher learning, the impact of looking at quantity over quality is, well, immeasurable. The measurablesBratt's fears about the fate of the dreaded first year economics courses is not just idle speculation. Kevin Dougherty, a professor of higher education and education policy at Columbia University in New York City, wrote a book on performance-based funding in the U.S. and says institutions made changes after the funding model comes in.Some reported being more selective of the students they enrolled, typically meaning more advantaged students that are easier to graduate, as well as removing courses that were seen as "impediments" to graduation. "Some of those courses that were being removed had the effect of reducing the academic quality of their programs," he said.Dougherty said the European experience hasn't resulted in improvements in student performance but that the overall impact on research has been positive. And when it comes to saving money? At least in the American experience, the data didn't support the idea of an improved bottom line. In short, there are unintended consequences whenever a government decides post-secondary performance is something that can be distilled on a spreadsheet, or that the value of a university education is in its contribution to the workforce, to the future earnings of its grads.Are social workers less valuable to society than geologists? Should the government get a say in the answer to that question?Lessons from elsewhereIf the government is to have a say, at least it appears to be taking some lessons to heart from other jurisdictions in applying performance-based funding. It has reached out to institutions and student groups and wants them to be part of the process for establishing which metrics to apply. It's allowing different metrics at each university and college. It says it will look at blending metrics to reduce the unintended consequences. It's not making post-secondaries compete with one another. It's allowing time for institutions to grow into the new reality by phasing in the model. And yet, the move is coming fast. April 1 is a tight deadline for proper consultation with all stakeholders and institutions in the province and finding the right mix of metrics will take time, patience and tweaks.Even those supportive of the move, like the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council, want to ensure institutions aren't immediately punished for not meeting targets. The group also stresses the need for meaningful consultations.In the current political context, that could be a challenge. The UCP factorSince being elected last year, the United Conservative Party government has shown an insatiable appetite for enforcing structural change in Alberta. It has cut budgets, gone after public sector unions, slashed corporate taxes, tore up a years-long curriculum review to establish its own and threatened post-secondaries with further cuts, just to name a few initiatives. The government has established panels and inquiries with seemingly pre-determined conclusions and is spending $30 million on a war room to aggressively attack critics of the oil and gas industry. It was elected by pounding home three priorities: jobs, the economy and pipelines. By all accounts it intends on sticking to them.The UCP does not pull any punches and has now set its sights on how to transform post-secondary funding in a system that outspends most other provinces."We do fundamentally want to ensure that we are indeed, as government, building a stronger connection between education and jobs," Nicolaides said while speaking to CBC's Alberta at Noon.If the government wants to cut funding and change the priorities of the universities and colleges in Alberta, the short historical record suggests they'll find a way to make that happen. In a system that is, or should be, more than just a factory for churning out good employees, the impact of that is unquantifiable.The immeasurablesBecause university is not just about the job you land. It's not just about your ability to match up column A with row B. It has an immeasurable quality that, yes, does have an impact on someone's ability to function in the world and the workforce. "There is nothing more valuable for a nation than allowing its citizens to explore their potential," said one caller in to Alberta at Noon last week, as the show discussed the looming funding changes.Another told of how he dropped out of university and would register in the performance metrics as a failure but that his university experience helped him, and continues to help him, become a better tradesperson.Even in the context of the workforce, how do you measure critical thinking and its importance to the modern economy?There is, and ought to be, a complexity to universities. Imposing metrics limits what is possible. Once metrics are in place, they become the focus. The metrics come to define us. We stop looking beyond them. "If we're going to have metrics, how do we build those in a way that really captures the complexity of what we want out of universities?" asks Dougherty.To what end?Marcela Lopes, the chair of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council, doesn't believe schools will cheat. They won't make it easier to graduate in order to meet funding targets. She's hopeful the government will listen and be thoughtful in its approach. She says her organization supports more transparency in how institutions are funded.But is that transparency worth the unintended consequences? And what if the UCP government follows its familiar pattern and uses consultation as cover for imposing its own agenda? Is there a price on academic freedom, including the freedom to fail? How much does it cost society to watch a university or college enter a funding death spiral?"Who's going to hold the hammer in establishing the targets?" asks Bratt about final decisions on the metrics. And what strains of thought will be broken off by those swinging it?

  • Pompeo lashes out at journalist; NPR defends its reporter
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Pompeo lashes out at journalist; NPR defends its reporter

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out in anger Saturday at an NPR reporter who accused him of shouting expletives at her after she asked him in an interview about Ukraine. In a direct and personal attack, America's chief diplomat said the journalist had “lied” to him and he called her conduct “shameful.”NPR said it stood by Mary Louise Kelly's reporting.Pompeo claimed in a statement that the incident was “another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt” President Donald Trump and his administration. Pompeo, a former CIA director and Republican congressman from Kansas who is one of Trump's closest allies in the Cabinet, asserted, "It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.”It is extraordinary for a secretary of state to make such a personal attack on a journalist, but he is following the lead of Trump, who has repeatedly derided what he calls “fake news” and ridiculed individual reporters. In one of the more memorable instances, Trump mocked a New York Times reporter with a physical disability.In Friday’s interview, Pompeo responded testily when Kelly asked him about Ukraine and specifically whether he defended or should have defended Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv whose ouster figured in Trump’s impeachment.“I have defended every State Department official," he said. "We've built a great team. The team that works here is doing amazing work around the world ... I've defended every single person on this team. I've done what's right for every single person on this team.”This has been a sensitive point for Pompeo. As a Trump loyalist, he has been publicly silent as the president and his allies have disparaged the nonpartisan career diplomats, including Yovanovitch, who have testified in the impeachment hearings. Those diplomats told Congress that Trump risked undermining Ukraine, a critical U.S. ally, by pressuring for an investigation of Democrat Joe Biden, a Trump political rival.Yovanovitch, who was seen by Trump allies as a roadblock to those efforts, was told in May to leave Ukraine and return to Washington immediately for her own safety. After documents released this month from an associate of Trump's personal attorney suggested she was being watched and possibly under threat, Pompeo took three days to address the matter and did so only after coming under harsh criticism from lawmakers and current and former diplomats.Pompeo was rebuked Saturday by four Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said his “insulting and contemptuous comments” were beneath the office of the secretary of state.“Instead of calling journalists ‘liars’ and insulting their intelligence when they ask you hard questions you would rather not answer, your oath of office places on you a duty and obligation to engage respectfully and transparently,” the letter to Pompeo said. It was signed by Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the committee, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey.After the NPR interview, Kelly said she was taken to Pompeo’s private living room, where he shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” using the “F-word” repeatedly. She said he was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine.Pompeo, in his statement, did not deny shouting at Kelly and did not apologize. Instead, he accused her of lying to him when setting up the interview, which he apparently expected would be limited to questions about Iran, and for supposedly agreeing not to discuss the post-interview meeting.Kelly said Pompeo asked whether she thought Americans cared about Ukraine and if she could find the country on a map.“I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing,” she said in discussing the encounter on “All Things Considered.” “I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, ‘people will hear about this.’”Pompeo ended Saturday's statement by saying, “It is worth nothing that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice-president of news, said in a statement that "Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.''Lynn Berry, The Associated Press

  • After the apology, Indigenous groups seek firm commitments from Quebec government
    News
    CBC

    After the apology, Indigenous groups seek firm commitments from Quebec government

    There was optimism last fall when Quebec Premier François Legault stood before the National Assembly, turned to First Nations and Inuit leaders in the gallery and apologized for the province's mistreatment of Indigenous people. The apology was the first recommendation in a report prepared by retired Quebec Superior Court justice Jacques Viens.The report — the result of nine months'  testimony about decades of abuse, mistreatment and neglect — concluded that Indigenous people in Quebec are victims of "systemic discrimination" when it comes to accessing public services.It laid out 142 recommendations for the province regarding policing, social services, corrections, justice, youth protection, and health and social services.Legault promised to closely examine those recommendations and act swiftly to improve the relationship between the province and Indigenous communities.Since then, things have not gone as well.Legault a no-showLegault didn't show up to the first meeting with Indigenous leaders last October. His absence prompted questions about the government's level of commitment to a "nation-to-nation" relationship.He isn't planning to attend the follow up, scheduled for Monday, either."It's really disappointing," Lac Simon Chief Adrienne Jérôme said last week.Legault's minister of Indigenous affairs, Sylvie D'Amours, who was on vacation for most of January, will be there in his stead. Legault told reporters he has "full confidence" in D'Amours."Obviously, during the year I will meet the Indigenous communities, but I cannot go to all the meetings," he told reporters.Ghislain Picard, the regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Quebec and Labrador, said Friday he wants Indigenous leaders to "be bold" and "take the lead on matter and, hopefully, get a positive response from Quebec.""As we've said many times before, an apology is something, but it's got to be supported by proper actions by the government."Monday's meeting, to be held behind closed doors, is scheduled to run all day in Montreal. On the agenda are both the Viens commission recommendations and those of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.But other concerns have emerged since. 'Shameful' challenge to child welfare reformThe Coalition Avenir Québec government upset First Nations leaders when it announced, right before the Christmas break, that it would ask the province's Court of Appeal to rule on the constitutionality of a new federal law governing Indigenous child welfare.The federal legislation, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows Indigenous groups to take over their own child welfare systems and prioritizes the placement of Indigenous children in care with members of their own extended families and Indigenous communities.Picard called the decision to challenge the long-awaited federal law "shameful" and "unacceptable.""Defending its so-called jurisdiction is one thing, but doing it on the back of our children is another," he said at the time."The Legault government is well aware that the current child welfare system does not work for First Nations children."The challenge remains before the courts.

  • News
    CBC

    Why more Nova Scotians lose power in a storm than you realize

    During severe weather, many Nova Scotians click on Nova Scotia Power's outage map to find out how many customers have lost electricity and where.But the map doesn't tell the whole story.The actual number of customers without electricity during a recent storm was higher than indicated by the outage map, according to information provided to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.And that's a normal occurrence says Paul Casey, Nova Scotia Power's vice-president of transmission, distribution and delivery service.The Utility and Review Board asked the power company for detailed information on the interruptions and restoration times associated with a big windstorm on Dec. 10, 2019.At the time, the company said a maximum of 52,000 customers were without power at the same time during the storm. That's what appeared on the outage map.Casey said about 78,000 households lost power at least once during the storm, while the number of instances of households losing power was about 116,000.He said the peak outage number doesn't include households experiencing a second or subsequent outage, or households temporarily taken off the grid by Nova Scotia Power when the company is carrying out restoration work.It's unclear what the peak number would be if those instances were included in Nova Scotia Power's figures."That would total a larger number [than 52,000]," said Casey.Highest sustained winds on recordIn its submission to the board, Nova Scotia Power released a graph tracking cumulative hours of winds above 80 km/h between 2005 and 2019 at stations in Yarmouth, Greenwood, Halifax, Truro and Sydney. The December windstorm capped a year that saw the most hours of sustained high winds on record.These winds weaken trees and equipment, increasing the probability of outages.Nova Scotia Power spends $100 million a year to maintain and upgrade transmission and distribution equipment, including $25 million for vegetation management.The company said it's investigating battery storage and microgrids as it tries to harden its system as sustained high winds become more frequent.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Toronto sees Canada’s first ‘presumptive’ coronavirus case
    Global News

    Toronto sees Canada’s first ‘presumptive’ coronavirus case

    The province is reassuring Ontarians that precautions are being taken and the risk of an outbreak of coronavirus is low. This comes after the announcement of a confirmed “presumptive” case of the illness at Sunnybrook Hospital. Albert Delitala reports.

  • Dementia caregivers could access 24-hour support through new app created at U of S
    News
    CBC

    Dementia caregivers could access 24-hour support through new app created at U of S

    Almost one in every four people in Canada are caregiving for a family member or friend, and the stress of looking after someone can become overwhelming.But researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are working on a project to alleviate the pressures of what can sometimes be a 24-hour job, especially for caregivers of people living with Alzheimer's or dementia.They've developed the Caregiver Self-Compassion and Support App, a mobile app for caregivers that's now in the testing phase.The app features a series of podcasts that provide support and resources for caregivers, project lead Donna Goodridge told The Morning Edition on Friday."I think that we've begun to show that it is really helpful for people that are dealing with the day-to-day challenges of being a caregiver," said Goodridge. Podcasts aimed at putting caregivers at ease The app is based on the idea of mindful self-compassion. Nathan Reis, a PhD student in kinesiology and researcher on the project, said this idea is a "kind, understanding way of treating yourself."The podcasts, said Reis, use this idea to walk listeners through steps to achieve self-compassion. "It can be ... a coping strategy or even a self-attitude," he said.Goodridge's participation in the project comes from personal experience. She cared for her mother, who had dementia, for almost 10 years. "We never know when ... we might need a break from caregiving," she said. "I was not prepared at all ... for the overwhelming emotions [and] all of the challenges I faced on a day-to-day basis."Candidates needed for app testing Reis said ideal candidates would be primary caregivers of people with dementia. Participants would test out the app and provide feedback afterward. While technology can be daunting for some, Reis said the group has attempted to make the app as user-friendly as possible. There's also support available to users from Reis and other students if needed. Goodridge said she hopes the app will be of use to people who can't get immediate access to in-person resources, as it's available around the clock. She added that it's been developed with Saskatchewan in mind, as all of the resources available on it are Saskatchewan-based.Anyone interested in participating in the group's research can email Reis at nathan.reis@usask.ca.

  • Montreal woman leaves job, hits the road for solo motorcycle trip across Canada
    News
    CBC

    Montreal woman leaves job, hits the road for solo motorcycle trip across Canada

    Suddenly, in her late forties, Wendy McGean started having an unexpected reaction every time she'd spot a motorcycle on the road."My head would just pivot and I'd think: 'I really want to do that!" she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.At the time, she thought it was an odd feeling for a married mother of two teenage daughters with a white collar job."It was a very traditional kind of life," she said.Before she knew it, McGean was leaving all that behind — her home, her job, even her marriage."Some people thought I'd absolutely lost my mind," McGean said. "I just completely turned my life upside down."Just one kick at the canMcGean started to chase her dream of riding a motorcycle at 51 years old, signing herself up for circuit training. She realized that she didn't feel comfortable on only two wheels and bumped up to a three-wheeled bike.She said it was "love at first sight," and suddenly McGean was buying a bike of her own."I think it's the first thing in my life I found that I thought, 'this is mine,'" she said. "It represents complete and utter freedom."Not long after McGean got a taste of that freedom, she was struck by the loss of her father. She said that losing her dad was like an awakening to her."[It] made me realize that if there's something that I want to do in my life, then I better get at it," she said. "So I made the decision to leave my marriage."After 23 years of married life, McGean said she started to feel like a square peg and her life was a round hole. Something just didn't fit anymore."I was lucky enough to have somebody that understood that I needed to explore that," she said.To top it all off, McGean saw that her workplace was offering an early retirement package that she qualified for. She took it, moved out of her apartment and put everything she owned in storage, except for a one-person tent."I got on my bike and headed north without any reservations or anything," she said.Forging connections, old and newWith no plans and no commitments, McGean spent the next five weeks riding west to Tofino, B.C., stopping in different towns and meeting new people.One man she met at a gas station was intrigued by her motorcycle and struck up a conversation about his own cross-country ride on a bike. Before pulling out of the station, he gave her a hug."Just stopping and having conversations with people I met along the way was probably the best part of the whole trip," she said.McGean also took the opportunity to reconnect with people she hadn't spoken to in years, staying over for a night with a friend she hadn't seen since their high school graduation.McGean's cross-country treks are over (for now), but she said she's grateful for the experience."At some point along the way, I finally realized that I had to live my life for me," she said. "I had to do things that made me happy."She's not sure what lies ahead for her, but McGean said she's looking forward to spending time with her daughters, now in their 20s.Looking back, she said her adventures really helped her come into her own."I'm comfortable in my own skin now. Probably for the first time in my life."

  • Khashoggi documentary 'The Dissident' lands at Sundance
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Khashoggi documentary 'The Dissident' lands at Sundance

    PARK CITY, Utah — A searing documentary about the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi made its anticipated debut at the Sundance Film Festival, unveiling a detailed investigation into the Saudi Arabia regime and the companies and governments that do business with it.Bryan Fogel’s “The Dissident” was one of the most high-profile documentaries at the Park City festival, and it made headlines even before it premiered Friday. The film, Fogel’s first since his Oscar-winning expose “Icarus” on Russian doping for the Olympics, features the explosive conclusion of United Nations human rights investigators that the phone of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos was hacked into by a malicious file sent from the personal WhatsApp account of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.Hillary Clinton and Alec Baldwin were among those in attendance at the premiere of “The Dissident,” as was Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Khashoggi. Khashoggi was picking up paperwork for their marriage when he was murdered at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. The crown prince ordered the killing, the CIA has said. Mohammed, who initially denied Saudi Arabia was behind Khashoggi’s killing, eventually granted it was carried out by the Saudi government but claimed it was not by his orders.In an interview following the premiere, Fogel said he hopes “The Dissident,” which dramatically details the plot to kill Khashoggi and analyzes Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on free speech, forces a reappraisal of the Middle Eastern country internationally. The film’s end credits include a list of corporations with business ties to Saudi Arabia. The United States, too, is scrutinized for its close alliance with the kingdom, including a 2019 arms deal allowed to go forward after President Donald Trump vetoed a bill intended to block the sale.“I hope that this film will make other countries, their government and business leaders reassess their relationship with Saudi Arabia until they reform,” said Fogel. “As much money as there is, when you have people sitting in prisons for tweeting, when you have women arrested and tortured for driving, it’s very hard to look the other way.”“The Dissident” was greeted with a raucous standing ovation and immediate acclaim. Variety called it “an eye-opening thriller brew of corruption, coverup, and real-world courage.”Independently financed by the Human Rights Foundation, “The Dissident” is for sale at Sundance, the top movie market for documentaries. Speaking on stage after the premiere, Fogel urged distributors to not be scared off by Saudi Arabia and give the film a worldwide release. “In my dream of dreams, distributors will stand up to Saudi Arabia,” said Fogel.Media companies have capitulated to Saudi pressure before. Netflix, which distributed Fogel’s “Icarus,” last year removed an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” dealing with the killing of Khashoggi after a Saudi complaint. Fogel said he would be happy for any studio to pick up the film, including Netflix, HBO and Bezo’s own Amazon. Following the murder, relations between Amazon and Saudi Arabia cooled considerably.Of the possibility of Amazon, Fogel said, “I hope so. I’m open to any global powerful distributor that’s going to take this film seriously.”The premiere of “The Dissident” was especially emotional for Cengiz. Since Khashoggi’s death, she has taken on public role pressing for justice for her former fiancé.“I'm happy because this film will keep alive the story,” Cengiz said in a separate interview. “This film helped me to continue this fighting as a human, as a woman, as a victim.”After the killing of Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist who fled the kingdom to urge for reforms and press freedom in his native country, Cengiz says she can no longer assume her safety. The Guardian on Friday reported that U.S. officials believed Saudi Arabia has previously attempted to monitor Cengiz abroad.“No one knows who is safe because they killed Jamal inside the consulate, the best safety place around the world,” said Cengiz. “So I don't know if I’m safe if I’m sitting in my home.”“The Dissident" includes extensive interviews with Turkish officials who uncovered the killing and also delves into the related story of Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi activist who is living under asylum in Montreal after fleeing the country to launch a web series critical of the Saudi regime.In the film, Abdulaziz says he believes Khashoggi's relationship with him led directly to his murder. Abdulaziz’s phone, too, was hacked, the film alleges, with the powerful spyware program Pegasus believed to be used to target Bezos.For Fogel, bringing such revelations to light has given Khashoggi's death more meaning.“There’s so much pain from this story, but there’s a lot of power that has come from it,” said Fogel. “Look what his murder -- as horrendous as it was -- has done to shine the light on other human rights abuses, to shine the light on what the Saudis were doing in regards to repressing free speech. I hope if Jamal was looking down, he’d be very proud to see he didn’t die in vain.”___The Associated Press' Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.___This story has been corrected to reflect the accurate spelling of Jamal Khashoggi's last name on subsequent references throughout.Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

  • Salma Hayek apologizes for praising controversial new novel
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Salma Hayek apologizes for praising controversial new novel

    NEW YORK — Salma Hayek is apologizing for promoting a controversial new novel, Jeanine Cummins' “American Dirt,” without actually reading it.“American Dirt,” published Tuesday, tells the story of a Mexican woman and her 8-year-old son fleeing to the U.S. border after numerous family members are murdered in drug cartel-related violence. The heavily publicized book has been praised by Stephen King and Ann Patchett among others and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club. On Saturday, it ranked No. 4 on Amazon.com's bestseller list.But numerous Mexican-American writers have called “American Dirt” an ill-informed narrative about Mexico that reinforces stereotypes. Cummins, a non-Mexican, even acknowledged in an author's note that she had reservations about writing the novel. She has said she wanted to personalize the issue of immigration and be a “bridge” between different worlds.Earlier this week, Hayek had posted a picture of herself on Instagram holding the book, and she praised Winfrey for "giving a voice to the voiceless & for loving harder in response to hate.” But after facing criticism online, the Mexican-American actress pulled back Friday, writing that she was unaware of any controversy.“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight, because that means you know me and gave me the benefit of the doubt,” she wrote, "I apologize for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”The Associated Press

  • Canso Seahawks basketball team nets friend from Ohio
    News
    CBC

    Canso Seahawks basketball team nets friend from Ohio

    It's a long drive from Cincinnati, Ohio to Guysborough, N.S., but it was well worth it for retired basketball coach Ernie Wolke.Wolke, 79, drove 26 hours to watch a game at a high school basketball tournament.He owns a cottage in Port Hilford, Guysborough County and spends his summers there.It was at the 2018 Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso when he met the MacLeans, a local family.When Wolke saw there were no mesh nets on an outdoor basketball court used by kids in the community, the former coach said he had to step up.Bought some netsHe bought some nets and gave them to the MacLeans."When I got back to the cottage that day I decided I would drive up to Antigonish and I bought a few nets," Wolke said from his home in Ohio. "I'm a big advocate of kids being outside doing something versus sitting around and being bored."That was just the beginning of the relationship between the retired coach and young basketball players in the remote community more than three hours northeast of Halifax.He delivered more gifts the following summer as Wolke continued to spread goodwill through basketball."This time he had two basketballs and more basketball nets," said Amanda MacLean.MacLean is a teacher at Canso Academy. Her son, Druhan, is a member of the school basketball team and her husband, John, is an assistant coach."It just goes to show you that there really are good people in this world," Amanda said.After Wolke returned to Ohio he stayed in touch with the family. He learned many of the boys who played on those no-net basketball hoops 18 months ago are now playing for the high school team in Canso.Wolke wanted to see the Canso Academy Seahawks in person. Two weeks ago, he and two friends made the drive to watch them play in a tournament in Guysborough, not far from his cottage.'They looked really good'"We actually left a little early because a storm was coming," said Wolke, who saw the Seahawks win a semifinal game and advance to the tournament final. "They played a really good game. They looked really good."Prior to that game, only a few of those players had ever met the man who donated the equipment that many of them had used on their outdoor court.Wolke had a special surprise when he addressed the team in their dressing room."The boys knew he had something with him in a box but they didn't know what it was," said Amanda. "When he opened up the box there were beautiful Canso Academy Seahawks T-shirts for each of the players and coaches."Wolke said he had the shirts made for free by a friend in Cincinnati.But his gesture has had an impact on the boys team."To have somebody who is literally hundreds of miles away take the time and want to share his time and experiences is just tremendous," said Brandon Dort, the team's head coach. "It's all about life lessons and Ernie has really been an amazing model of how you can give back through sport."For many years there was no high school basketball team in Canso. But, three years ago, a young team came together.That group is now having a successful season and hopes to win a regional championship and qualify for provincials."I'll be rooting for the Seahawks from down here in Ohio but I doubt I'll drive back up to watch them," joked Wolke, who says he's already thinking of what he can give the team next year.MORE TOP STORIES

  • R.I.P. Kobe Bryant: NBA legend and daughter Gianna's relationship in photos
    Yahoo News Canada

    R.I.P. Kobe Bryant: NBA legend and daughter Gianna's relationship in photos

    The world is in shock as news of Kobe Bryant’s death spread Sunday morning.The NBA legend and five-time champion was killed in a helicopter crash along with four other passengers, including his daughter Gianna, 13.Gianna was a familiar face courtside and at press conference during her father’s long and esteemed career in the league.Kobe Bryant was 41.

  • Love ritual takes hold in Saint John, but tossed keys a worry to some
    News
    CBC

    Love ritual takes hold in Saint John, but tossed keys a worry to some

    While walking through a trail in Little River Reservoir Park in east Saint John, photographer Monique Gionet noticed padlocks of all sizes hanging from the railings of a small bridge.Initials were scribbled on most them, along with messages like "Jess + Jon" and "Forever + Always."During the past two years, dozens of locks have been hung on the bridge's railings, according to Gionet. With the growing numbers at the reservoir, people have already begun hanging locks from another bridge, near the city's Lily Lake."I really love the sentiment of love locks," Gionet said. "I always have. But it fights the mini environmentalist in me."During the early 1900s, a common love tale inspired many to hang locks on bridge railings to protect love, or to make it last — even if just for a little longer. But as the practice spread across the world, love locks have provoked environmental and structural concerns. Some locks have had to be ripped from crumbling bridges such as the Pont des Arts in Paris.How does it work?Partners write their initials on locks — some use sharpies while others go for laser technology inscriptions, they hang the locks from bridge railings and throw the keys in the water, while wishing for unbreakable love.Bridges of cities like Paris, Rome and even Canadian cities like Winnipeg have so many that the clusters of locks resemble flower bouquets. Gionet had never considered the environmental or structural impact of hanging locks from bridges and throwing keys until she lived in Bristol in 2015 and friends made her aware of the potential environmental and structural impacts.She also worries about the environmental impact of throwing keys to a body of water."What the keys are doing in the water? I don't think it would be good for the environment or the structures the city has put in place."Love killsIn Saint John, some industries extract water from Silver Falls, one of the two reservoirs at the Little River Reservoir Park, but no water from the park is used for drinking, said Graeme Stewart-Robertson, executive director of the environmental non-profit ACAP Saint John. "As storybook as it is, we are essentially dumping something into water, which is not only potentially an issue, but it is technically a violation of a couple of different laws," he said of the love lock keys.Even though most keys aren't made out of anything particularly damaging like lead or arsenic, Stewart-Robertson said some animals that live in or near Little River, including amphibians, reptiles, fish and birds could try to eat the keys. "It is possible, we have seen this in ducks before, that they will eat a lot of objects that aren't good for them in the process of searching for those that are."A possible solutionGionet thinks the City of Saint John should attach a plaque on both ends of the walking bridge asking people not to hang locks or toss the keys in the water."It's great for photos, I'll tell you as a photographer. But structurally you can see how [the bridge] is already starting to bend in."Lisa Caissie, communications manager for the city, said in an email statement that the city is aware of the love locks and has no plan to remove them, as long as people are not damaging the walking bridge.She said park staff will consider adding a bucket for key disposal or a sign requesting people to pocket their keys.History of love locksThe Pont des Arts bridge in Paris reached more than 700,000 individual locks, weighing about 45 tonnes, or the combined weight of almost 20 elephants, according to CNN. The love locks were removed from the bridge that year, the railings replaced with plexiglass coverings, and clusters of about five to 10 locks were sold to the public to raise money for refugees.But the history of love locks is not Parisian. It is not even French. The most widely accepted account begins just before the First World War in Serbia, when a school teacher met an officer at a bridge in the small town of Vrnjačka Banja called Most Ljubavi, which translates to the Bridge of Love.Shortly after they fell in love, the officer went to war in Greece and married a local woman from Corfu. According to the tale, the Serbian woman died alone of a heartache.Young women from Vrnjačka Banja who heard the tale decided to protect their love by writing their initials and those of their loved ones on padlocks and fixing them to the railings of the bridge where the Serbian school teacher had met her then-lost love.The ritual became popular yet again around 2006 in Rome with the release of the book I Want You by the Italian author Federico Moccia. Leave-no-trace philosophyFor Stewart-Robertson, this ritual shows that, in New Brunswick, water sources are often taken for granted because they're everywhere."When dozens of people do something, it builds and can have a structural impact or an impact on invertebrates and shore birds. We need to think beyond ourselves," he said.He thinks people should learn more about what he calls the "leave no trace philosophy," the idea of leaving nothing behind after you visit a green area. The goal, he says, is to have a net zero impact."Or try to leave [green areas] a little better by picking up garbage."Even if that's not very romantic.

  • Hop to it: Rescue group holds 'bunny blitz' adoption event
    News
    CBC

    Hop to it: Rescue group holds 'bunny blitz' adoption event

    Folks looking for a fluffy new friend will get the chance to meet some adoptable bunnies Sunday afternoon.The first rescue group in the Maritimes focused on the long-eared lagomorphs — 10,000 Carrots Rabbit Rescue — is holding a "bunny blitz" in Halifax. More than a dozen of the twitchy-nosed animals can be scoped out by potential new owners.Denise Halliday, a volunteer with the organization, said they decided to hold the event following their first successful blitz in September."It's quite the day," she said. "It's really interesting to have people come in and go, 'Oh my gosh, this is how many rabbits you guys have!'"Halliday said the rabbit rescue was started nine years ago "basically just because there was nowhere for rabbits to go." Since then, she said the volunteer-run group has rescued and found new homes for more than 700 bunnies.Right now, there's about 17 rabbits up for adoption, but she said the group normally has between 20 and 30 in its care — though it can change suddenly if they take in a pregnant female. The rescue doesn't have an actual shelter, so its volunteers foster the bunnies in their own homes. People can view available rabbits and apply for adoption through the 10,000 Carrots Rabbit Rescue website.Know what you're getting intoHalliday stressed that while the group wants to help the rabbits find homes, anyone looking to adopt needs to be aware of what's involved."They're living, breathing, sentient creatures, and if you're adopting, it needs to be a well-thought-out family decision that everyone is on board [with] and everyone is part of," she said. "The life expectancy is 10 to 14 years. So, you know, it's a long-term commitment."Halliday said the rescue organization isn't just trying to find homes for abandoned bunnies. They're trying to keep bunnies from being abandoned in the first place."Finding them homes, it's really a Band-Aid," she said. She said around 90 per cent of the rabbits they take in are found outside, which means they were likely dumped by someone who got bored or decided they were too much work.But Halliday noted that rabbits aren't native to Nova Scotia — only hares are — and said domestic rabbits can't fend for themselves or find food in the wild."It's the same as dumping a cat or dog. They can't survive outside by themselves," she said.She also said it's a bad idea for parents to get their child a pet rabbit because kids don't have the capacity to care for them properly.Halliday said bunnies are social creatures that like to be kept in pairs and that they shouldn't be cooped up in a cage all day."Having them in your kid's bedroom in a cage on top of the dresser, they're not going to be happy, they're going to miss that social aspect of being part of the main area, part of the family," she said.In fact, the rescue also discourages giving rabbits as gifts in general, so it closes down around Christmas and Easter.But she did say bunnies can make "amazing" family pets if the parents know the responsibility falls on them.The 10,000 Carrots Rabbit Rescue bunny blitz is taking place at the Citadel Community Centre on Trollope Street Sunday afternoon from 3-7 p.m.Halliday said anyone is welcome, even those who aren't in the market for a new pet. She said people can come and find out more about what the rescue does and how to care for a bunny."Or if you just want to come snuggle," she said.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Canadian Survivors Remember 'Absolute Evil' Of Auschwitz 75 Years Later
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Canadian Survivors Remember 'Absolute Evil' Of Auschwitz 75 Years Later

    Now in their 80s and 90s, they’re sharing stories about what they endured in the Holocaust before it’s too late.

  • News
    CBC

    Bus Stop Theatre closer to municipal funding for building purchase

    Halifax's Bus Stop Theatre Co-operative is a step closer to securing funds to buy the space it's leasing.On Tuesday, Halifax regional council will vote on a staff recommendation to provide a one-time contribution of $250,000 that would go toward the non-profit's purchase of 2203 Gottingen Street and 2268 Maitland Street."I'm very pleased, it's great news that city staff is recommending funding," Sebastien Labelle, executive director of the co-op said Saturday."Obviously, I won't feel totally relaxed about it until the vote goes through and it's fully confirmed."The estimated cost of the project is $1.21 million, which includes building and land purchase expenses, construction and development costs, contingency and administration and fundraising support. This is down from an original estimate of nearly $6 million.In June, the co-op got a $250,000 commitment from the municipality that hinged on the group receiving financial assistance from other levels of government.At that time, council supported the project unanimously. LaBelle is hoping for the same outcome on Tuesday."I feel very positive about all this, and this will unlock other avenues for funding and financing partners," he said.LaBelle said the co-op is an important part of the city's north end. He said there are many people who care about the future of the space."More than anything, it's a space, a place of gathering, a place for celebration and expression and coming together to witness talent in our community and talent from elsewhere coming to our community," he said."It's a place where local artists get to flourish and showcase what they've got. And it's a place that is known to be accessible and affordable to so many different people."MORE TOP STORIES

  • We spent a day taking rideshares in Vancouver. Here's what we learned
    News
    CBC

    We spent a day taking rideshares in Vancouver. Here's what we learned

    After years of waiting, James Su didn't get to test out his Uber license the day the service launched in Vancouver. His wife wouldn't let him."It was Chinese New Years Eve," he said, laughing. "[She] stopped me from going out."But on Saturday, he made up for the lost time, taking to the road at 9 a.m. PT and barely finding time for a break for the next six hours.CBC News spent the day taking rideshares across Vancouver, chatting with drivers like Su, who say there is demand from eager passengers. Here's what we learned from taking rides around town.Cab drivers already making the switchIf you can't beat them — join them.That's the attitude of one Uber driver, who asked not to be named fearing repercussions from his employer at a Vancouver-based taxi company."Nobody can fight with technology," he told CBC News, which agreed to protect his identity."We couldn't get Uber here because of politics and power, but the funny thing is, nobody can fight it — there is nothing more powerful than technology. So, I wanted to be ahead of the game."He said the choice was made easier by complaints people have about the taxi industry."I was trying to give very good service to people [as a cab driver]," he said. "But people have a very bad impression of the taxi industry, no matter how good you are.""I believe in the end, most of the taxi drivers are going to switch to this. They have no choice," he said.The Vancouver Taxi Association said Friday its members are extremely upset with the Passenger Transportation Board's (PTB) decision to approve ride-hailing.It says the new service will be devastating to the taxi industry and those who work in it.The association is pursuing a judicial review of the PTB's decision and asking the board to regulate the number of ride-hailing vehicles in the same way it restricts the size of taxi fleets.Wage disappointmentsLyft driver Donald Chang took to the streets shortly after the service officially launched in Vancouver on Friday. He said he worked for about three hours and made just over $100.He was hoping to have earned more."I don't think it's what I expected, the price isn't that high" said Chang, who bought a new vehicle so he could become a rideshare driver.It's a sentiment echoed by James Su, who expects he'll average about $300 per day."I just [drove] a South African couple from Richmond to East Vancouver, and that only gives me $17," he said. "It was a long trip — I think it should have been over $20."Su would like to see a lower commission taken by ridesharing companies. He says Uber takes about 25 per cent of each fare. Lyft's driver fees vary.Ride-hailing services use demand pricing, as opposed to fixed taxi charges.Wait times, wait times, wait timesBoth companies are eager for more drivers and currently offering a $500 bonus for those who sign up.The shortage can be noticeable when hailing a ride, with wait times sometimes exceeding 15 minutes. Despite being available across Metro Vancouver, numerous Uber requests by CBC News expired before the app was able to assign a driver.Lyft has limited its operations to the core of Vancouver to optimize its service.Still, drivers say its early yet for the service and expect there will be more cars on the road day by day — and plenty more passengers, too."I think it's going to get a lot busier in the future," said Chang.

  • Are coyotes getting bigger?  UNB researchers on quest to find out
    News
    CBC

    Are coyotes getting bigger? UNB researchers on quest to find out

    Two researchers at the University of New Brunswick are collecting coyote carcasses this winter to find out if the canines are getting bigger. Graham Forbes, biodiversity and wildlife professor at the University of New Brunswick, is working with graduate student Max Zhong to compare the size of modern coyote carcasses to ones that died 40 years ago. The pair became interested in studying the topic after hearing trappers and other researchers comment on the size of coyotes in the province. "We thought we'd get some data to try to get a handle on that," Forbes said. Forbes and Zhong receive the coyote carcasses from people who are trapping the animals for pelts. They've collected around 100 carcasses so far from across the province, but are looking to pick up about 50 more."We're doing sort of north to south, east to west just to get good coverage for the spatial extent of the province," Forbes said.The researchers have already begun splitting the carcasses into four categories: adult males, adult females, male pups and females pups. They can tell the age of the animal based on the size of its teeth. Forbes and Zhong have also started measuring the weight, length of the body, tail, hind foot, distance from the shoulder blade to the foot and size of the paw. They'll be comparing those measurements to ones recorded by Gary Moore in the 1980s. Forbes said the size of coyotes may be increasing because the coyotes have an ecological advantage on other species by being bigger.The canines in New Brunswick are actually a hybrid of the smaller western coyote from the prairies and wolves from the Great Lake Region. The species moved eastward and was first recorded in New Brunswick in the 1950s."This group of wolf-like animals are quite complicated genetically and so there's a lot of variety in their genes," Forbes said, adding that variety makes it possible for some New Brunswick coyotes to end up larger.The scientists expect the project will be completed this spring.

  • 'It's been tough': Edmonton's job market limps into new year
    News
    CBC

    'It's been tough': Edmonton's job market limps into new year

    Brian Wolfe was so desperate for a job he took to the streets with a sign reading, "Ready to work."For six hours on Jan. 13, the out-of-work welder stood on the corner of a busy Edmonton intersection at -30 C, pleading for someone — anyone — to give him a job.Wolfe, 49, had been without steady work for nine months."I applied to hundreds of places and there was no response," said Wolfe, who had supported his family with a welding torch for 15 years. "My welding tickets ran out, and the way things fell there wasn't any money to renew the tickets. And there wasn't any steady work to get the money to renew the tickets." By nightfall, Wolfe had hundreds of job offers and is set to start a job doing scaffolding work. He said he knows he's one of the lucky ones. Bruised by a recession, Edmonton's job market is limping into the new year.   That's probably been the toughest thing is seeing how little is out there. \- Daniel StamhuisEdmonton ended 2019 with a jobless rate of eight per cent, the highest in the country and the highest monthly rate recorded in the city for the year, an increase from a rate of 6.3 recorded in December 2018. Nearly 69,000 Edmontonians were unemployed in December. Daniel Stamhuis is one of them. When his employer sent out a notice last month that layoffs were imminent, Stamhuis assumed he was living on borrowed time. He has been applying for jobs for weeks but no one has offered him work."I've never been laid off before in my life," said Stamhuis, 32. "I'm beginning to see now that the statistics ring true. So it's been tough." Stamhuis had been a water meter reader for Epcor for four years. Most of that time, he worked full-time hours but was a temporary employee. He had been made permanent in April."At my age, I still have lots left in the tank," he said. "But I want something with stability, and I thought I had that. So I'm very apprehensive about applying for temporary positions."That's probably been the toughest thing, is seeing how little is out there."Bucking the trendLess reliant on the energy sector than other Alberta cities, the provincial capital has been surprisingly resilient during the ongoing downturn. But that seems to be changing.Growth in Edmonton's real gross domestic product (GDP) hovered around 0.5 per cent in 2019, the lowest it's been since 2015, soon after oil prices started to plunge.Full-time employment has been declining year over year since last September, weakening growth in average weekly wages.The figures show Edmonton is lagging behind other parts of Alberta, and elsewhere in Canada.Alberta lost roughly 1,000 positions in December as the provincial unemployment rate ticked down from 7.2 to 7 per cent. In contrast, the Canadian job market bounced back in December to post a gain of 35,200 jobs and reverse some losses posted in the previous month, which saw the biggest monthly loss since the 2008 financial crisis.  We were insulated at that time and now it's our turn to get hit. \- Raja Bajwa"We seem to be bucking the provincial trend and the national trend," said Raja Bajwa, president of the Economics Society of Northern Alberta and a professor of macroeconomics at NorQuest College."Hopefully it doesn't continue into 2020 and we see some bounce-back, but it might be going on for a little while."Edmonton's labour market has been showing signs of stress for some time, Bajwa said.Growth has been stagnant, oil prices remain volatile, but more than anything Edmonton has been hit by the provincial budget, Bajwa said. "It was a pretty quick hit in terms of the impact," Bajwa said. "There is going to be an adjustment. Hopefully we recover quickly."The city's workforce is dominated by government, public sector and non-profit employers who have been spooked by spending cuts introduced by Premier Jason Kenney's government, Bajwa said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the provincial budget that came out in October," he said. "It was a pretty quick hit in terms of the impact, whether municipal governments or some of the non-profits that rely on provincial funding. And as a result, a lot of the places that were looking to hire full time or had full-time positions coming to end, those didn't get extended. We've also seen a lot of major projects come to an end in town, so a lot of those construction jobs have moved on as well."Post-budget, Edmonton has slipped behind Calgary, which ended 2019 with an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent, Bajwa said."Back in 2017, Calgary was three per cent higher than us with their unemployment and now it's sort of flipped," Bajwa said. "We were insulated at that time and now it's our turn to get hit." 'Pretty darn scary'Charlene Stowe said the level of competition in Edmonton's job market has become "insane." Stowe worked in auto body shops for 10 years but was laid off and can't find a job. She most recently applied to work as a labourer in Edmonton. She said the position had more than 3,800 online applicants. "It's hard," she said. "I've never been unemployed this long. Going on five months, it's starting to get pretty darn scary. "My savings are dwindling down to nothing. EI certainly doesn't give you a whole lot, and when you apply for jobs you're competing against not just hundreds but thousands."  You have more young people that are looking for work, and there are not more jobs for them.  \- Bertand LeveilleYoung people, especially young men, have been among the hardest hit by the employment slump, said Bertrand Leveille, an economist with Stats Canada.The unemployment rate for Albertans aged 15 to 24 for the year increased 3.9 percentage points, to 15 per cent. The rate in Edmonton now hovers around 17 per cent, up from 9.2 per cent in December of 2018."We're seeing an increase in employment for young females but it declined for young males, a significant decline, which ends up giving us a pretty flat employment level for young people," Leveille said. "You have more young people that are looking for work, and there are not more jobs for them."Modest growth, reason to hopeIt's not all bad news, according to the latest quarterly report from the city. While labour force growth outpaced the region's employment gains, Edmonton gained 3,100 positions in December, with most of the growth coming from the trades, finance, insurance, real estate and food services.For 2019 as a whole, employment growth in Edmonton increased by 1.1 per cent from the year before, and average weekly wages for 2019 were almost two per cent higher. The city expects employment in Edmonton to grow by a modest one per cent in 2020. "The unemployment rate is forecast to decline, though the rate is unlikely to move much lower than the seven to 7.5 per cent range," according to the latest quarterly outlook from the city.After being out of work for two years, house painter Aaron Deneiko, 39, is feeling more positive about this prospects.Deneiko sought some professional advice and now plans to return to warehouse work. He was a house painter for 15 years before the work dried up. "The economy dropped," he said. "Lots of places were downsizing staff."Four months ago I was feeling pretty down about finding a job. I'm actually pretty positive right now, and feel like I will be able to accomplish this goal soon."With files from Nola Keeler and Travis McEwan

  • New documentary cloaks anonymous sources in 'face doubles'
    News
    The Canadian Press

    New documentary cloaks anonymous sources in 'face doubles'

    PARK CITY, Utah — In documentaries, anonymous sources have often been reduced to a shadowy, voice-distorted figure — or worse, a pixelated blur. But a new documentary premiering Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival has, with the aid of advanced digital technology, gone to greater lengths to preserve the secrecy of its sources while still conveying their humanity.“Welcome to Chechnya,” directed by David France, is about an underground pipeline created to rescue LGBTQ Chechens from the Russian republic where the government has for several years waged a crackdown on gays. In the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia ruled by strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, LGBTQ Chechens have been detained, tortured and killed.France, the filmmaker behind “How to Survive a Plague” and “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” worked in secrecy with the Russian LGBT Network, a group formed to help save gay Chechens and find them asylum abroad. But France had a dilemma. He couldn’t reveal the identities, or the faces, of his main characters. Their lives depended on staying anonymous.Yet France still wanted to faithfully show the trials they were enduring. That meant none of the old methods of cloaking anonymous sources would work.“They were dehumanizing,” France said in an interview. “I believe one of the reasons we haven’t been hearing about this ongoing crime against humanity in the south of Russia is because we haven’t been able to hear from the people and see the people who have suffered this unspeakable torture. When the only testimony of a crime of this magnitude comes from people who are behind a curtain, it lacks the empathy of the public that this story truly deserves.”France didn’t know how he would resolve the issue, but he promised those he shot that he would somehow disguise them. After searching and testing a range of approaches, France settled on a novel one: In “Welcome to Chechnya,” the faces of all the LGBTQ Chechens have been replaced using artificial intelligence. It’s a little like the documentary answer to “The Irishman” or a more altruist version of a “Deepfake.”The faces seen in “Welcome to Chechnya” belong, in fact, to 22 volunteers whose faces were superimposed on the people in the film. Most of them are LGBTQ activists in New York. The “face doubles” were shot on a blue screen stage and converted into algorithms that, with machine learning, could digitally mask the subjects of the film. Different voices were substituted, too.“Nobody had ever really attempted this before,” said France. “And most people said it was impossible. It turned out it was pretty close to impossible but not impossible.”The technology was developed by software architect Ryan Laney. And its implementation was decided through a study organized by Dartmouth College professor Thalia Wheatley, an expert in brain sciences. She showed 109 students different visual effects options of “Welcome to Chechnya” to determine which one conveyed empathy the best and avoided an “uncanny valley” effect. (Another less successful option was using filters to render the film’s individuals cartoon-like caricatures.)Still, adding the face doubles throughout the film was a grueling, months-long process that only concluded a week before the premiere of “Welcome to Chechnya,” which HBO will release in June. "The Irishman,” by comparison, altered its actors' faces in highly planned scenes with carefully orchestrated camera movement. France’s documentary was full of erratic movements of both camera and people.Every step of the way, France and his editors worked on encryption drives, and never let their original footage with real faces touch the internet or even a computer that had previously been connected to the internet. They edited in what France calls a windowless bunker in Los Angeles.“It added a lot of time to our work," said France, "But it reminded us everyday what the stakes were and what it meant to be the people whose lives were shared with us and entrusted us in sharing their lives with a wider audience.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press

  • Woman attacked on York University campus was stabbed and shot, police say
    News
    CBC

    Woman attacked on York University campus was stabbed and shot, police say

    Toronto police say a young woman attacked on the York University campus on Wednesday was stabbed and shot.The woman, 23, remains in hospital in life-threatening condition.In a news release on Saturday, police said they initially believed the woman was beaten and stabbed, but after an investigation, police now say the woman was also wounded by gunfire.Police said the incident began when the woman was walking on a pathway to York University in the area of Leitch Avenue and Assiniboine Road, near Finch Avenue West and Keele Street, on Wednesday night."A man assaulted her, knocking her to the ground and dragged her a short distance," police said.Police were called to the scene at about 10:10 p.m. Paramedics took her in life-threatening condition to hospital.After the incident, police brought a K9 unit to search for the man. The woman's belongings, including a knapsack, could be seen on the pathway, which separates a York University parking lot from a nearby townhouse development.Const. Craig Brister, spokesperson for the Toronto police, said on Sunday that it's too early to say if the attack was random or targeted.In the release, police said the man responsible is still at large and officers have not recovered a firearm.The suspect is described as Asian, early to mid 20s, five foot nine to five foot eleven, between 170 and 190 lbs., with black hair. He was wearing "stylish" sunglasses and a black puffy jacket.Anyone with any information is urged at call police at (416) 808-3100, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

  • Elder teams up with niece-in-law to complete a pair of mukluks after 60 years
    News
    CBC

    Elder teams up with niece-in-law to complete a pair of mukluks after 60 years

    Agnes White made the first stitch on a pair of mukluks for her brother in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., in 1958.More than 60 years later, and with some help from her niece-in-law in Inuvik, N.W.T., they're finally done. "I took a big sigh," said White. For six decades White took the mukluks wherever she went, from Tuktoyaktuk to Herschel Island, various towns in Alaska to the midwestern U.S. — Kansas to be specific — then to Leduc, Alta., where she lives today. "I never let go of it," she said. White drew the design, something that her brother would like. He died before the mukluks were finished. How special to have been given this sewing that is so old, and had so much history. \- Anna Pingo"Sixty years is a long time to finish a pair of mukluks," she said. White said she drew the flowers the way they look, coming up out of the tundra."I just thought of the wind blowing the flowers ... swaying them back and forth," she said. "[It's] showing my love in a certain way. I can't show it with a hug or anything, but I can show it in my sewing, that I loved him."Since the 1950s, White's eyesight has diminished. She still sews, but decided to get the mukluks finished for her brother's son, Fraser Pingo, who married Anna Pingo — the woman who would finally help finish them. Anna and her husband Fraser were visiting White when she passed on the sewing."[Fraser] was his oldest son, and I thought to myself he loved his oldest son. By finishing these mukluks I can do that much for him."Anna said that it was a chance to work on her embroidery skills. She said that when you inherit someone's sewing, you learn from them. She had them for several years, but was leery about starting because of White's perfect stitches."They just sat there. And I was thinking, gee I'm so scared to try. What if they turn out pitiful-looking?" said Anna.'They're complete'After a year and a half, she thought: "I'd better just try."Anna spent hours embroidering seven of the flowers. White put the finishing touches on the mukluks."How special to have been given this sewing that is so old, and had so much history," said Pingo."I'm finally there. They're complete."Anna said she feels blessed to have a relationship with White, to hear her stories and knowledge and share the Inuvialuktun language."When an Elder gives you something, they're giving you their gift," said Anna. "[White] gave me her gift of sewing.""She told me, 'You caught on. I gave you my gift and I want you to keep going and keep sewing and making stuff for your grandkids, because I needed someone to give that to while I'm still here.'"Anna recently finished up the embroidery for a vest to match the mukluks. White and Anna are working on the vest together.

  • Hibernation project could reintroduce endangered snakes to protected areas
    News
    CBC

    Hibernation project could reintroduce endangered snakes to protected areas

    If a new snake hibernation project is successful, endangered species of snakes could be reintroduced to areas where they have died out.Jonathan Choquette, a biologist with Wildlife Preservation Canada, said they are most concerned about the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake because it's the next reptile likely to disappear from southwestern Ontario. "We're conducting a critical preparatory step prior to a trial reintroduction with Massasaugas," said Choquette. "We're down to a handful of these animals left."According to Choquette, the rattlesnake's habitat is protected at Ojibway Park, but the snakes have left after construction projects over the last few years. Reintroducing them safely is difficult. "Translocation — the intentional movement of one animal from one place to the next — it's not successful with reptiles most of the time," said Choquette. "We're using a surrogate species Eastern garter snake to intentionally hibernate in what we think are good hibernation sites. If they survive, we'll use those sites in the future."Since 2015, Choquette's research has looked at groundwater and frost depth to find space underground for the rattlesnakes to live over winter. They've now designed artificial hibernation structures and installed them in release sites. "Essentially it's an artificial burrow that we've installed in the ground so we can allow these animals to access the water table and escape the freezing temperatures," said Choquette, adding that it's too early to tell how successful the project has been with the test garter snakes. Choquette has been monitoring the snakes they've put into these artificial hibernation chambers with borescope cameras. "Everybody is still alive essentially," said Choquette. The snakes they're using as test subjects were found elsewhere in the park. They will be released back at their capture sites in the spring. After hundreds of hours of searching every year since 2013, Choquette estimated the population of the Massasauga snake in southwestern Ontario to be less than 12. "Last year we found one snake, with all of our efforts," said Choquette. "It's really hard to find these animals."Choquette said the information gained through the artificial hibernation and translocation project could improve reintroduction techniques for snakes across North America.