Keanu Reeves surprises fans with touching gesture during 'Bill & Ted Face 3' shoot

Tom Beasley
Contributor
Keanu Reeves arrives at a hand and footprint ceremony honoring him at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Keanu Reeves has given some of his fans a moment they will never forget after they left a sign out in their garden ahead of the actor’s arrival to film Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Filming on the nostalgic sequel is currently underway in Louisiana, with Reeves reprising his title role of Thedore Logan, alongside Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston.

Co-writer Ed Solomon tweeted to recount a special surprise Reeves gave to a particular fan, who had left a sign on their lawn welcoming the 54-year-old to their town.

The sign read ‘you’re breathtaking’, in reference to a comment shouted at Reeves by a fan during his recent appearance at the E3 video game expo, which subsequently became a meme.

Read more: Bill & Ted 3 casts daughters

Solomon wrote that Reeves hopped out of the car and signed his autograph on the sign.

Reeves also stopped to chat to Stacey Hunt and her children, as well as posing for a selfie with the delighted family.

Hunt told CNN: “What you read about him being such a great person with a great heart is true.

“At least that's what I think from my few minutes with him."

Read more: Reeves admits to Sandra Bullock crush

She said that it was her 16-year-old son Ethan who suggested they leave the sign out in order to welcome Reeves to the neighbourhood.

This is the latest account of Reeves being most excellent to his devotees, after he was praised for his “respectful” photos with female fans.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves attend the premiere of "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" on July 18, 1991. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Bill & Ted Face the Music is the belated third entry in the cult trilogy, which began in 1989 with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and continued with 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Read more: Reeves embraces Shakespeare conspiracy theory

The new film will see the title characters receiving a visit from the future, warning them to create a song in order to save the universe. Just normal stuff for Keanu.

The poster for 1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (Orion)

Meanwhile, the John Wick star is now so popular his fans want him to be crowned the Time magazine Person of the Year.

Bill & Ted Face the Music is due to be released in August 2020.

  • Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations: NYT
    Health
    Reuters

    Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations: NYT

    The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. Whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled, the scientists said, according to the NYT. "Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence," Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead of infection prevention and control, was quoted as saying by the NYT.

  • Halifax man walks off flight to St. John's over COVID-19 concerns
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    Halifax man walks off flight to St. John's over COVID-19 concerns

    A man walked off a flight from Halifax to St. John's before takeoff on Saturday after realizing almost everyone on the flight would need to self-isolate upon arrival, except him.Brian Power lives in Halifax. He booked a flight to St. John's for July 4, one day after the Atlantic provinces opened their borders to each other.People from all four Atlantic provinces can now travel within the region without self-isolating.He assumed the flight would only have passengers from within the Atlantic region."It was not until I was physically on the plane that I realized I was with a lot of people from all over Canada … [they] were all discussing their isolation strategies," Power said.Everyone wore masks on the plane. Leading up to boarding, Power said all the passengers adhered to physical distancing rules."But once you're on a sold-out Dash 8, you're sitting on each other's laps," he said. "You're not getting around that."When he asked the flight attendants and gate staff about being in close contact with people who would need to self-isolate, he said he was met with an "indifferent shrug."So, he got off the plane.Power said he doubts he was exposed to the virus, but he immediately drove himself to a COVID-19 assessment centre in Dartmouth.When the Atlantic bubble opened Friday, people were excited to fly from Halifax to St. John's and vice versa with no mention of concerns over contracting the virus on the plane.But Power, whose father passed away in St. John's two weeks ago, said there's "no way" he would take the chance of getting infected and carrying the virus to his mother and extended family.If airlines offered flights only for Atlantic passengers, even if just once a week or bi-weekly, Power said he'd "happily" hop on."But I just can't roll the dice like that, not knowing where everyone else came from," he said. "Maybe it's paranoia. Maybe it's prudent. I'll take a bit of both."Each province has different rules of entry, with some conducting health screening while others do not, but all require proof of residency in Atlantic Canada.The rules are the same whether you're crossing the border on the ground or in the air, which Power calls an "obvious flaw" in the system.But experts say there hasn't been widespread transmission in airplanes, and airlines and airports are taking extra safety precautions to reduce the spread of the virus.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Victim remembered, driver charged in fatal Edmonton car crash
    News
    CBC

    Victim remembered, driver charged in fatal Edmonton car crash

    Edmonton police have charged a 25-year old man with dangerous driving causing death in connection to a crash that killed three people on Friday, including 32-year old Faisal Yousef.Edmonton police announced Oscar Benjumea had been charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death on Saturday. Benjumea is also facing three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident and one count of operating a vehicle while disqualified.Benjumea fled the scene of the crash early Friday morning only to be arrested at his southwest Edmonton home around noon later that day, police say. Faisal Yousef was one of three passengers killed when Benjumea's silver two-door Audi slammed into a south Edmonton Starbucks shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Friday. Since the crash, Faisa Yousef says she's been overcome by childhood memories of her brother, who just celebrated his 32nd birthday last weekend. The two were the closest in age, just a year apart, in a family of six children."It was just so sudden, it's tragic and we're at a loss for words. We don't know how to feel," she said in an interview with CBC News on Saturday. "He was my best friend. He was always there for me." 'Keeping his memory alive'The siblings were entering a new chapter in their relationship. Faisal was no longer just an older brother, but also an uncle to her 16-month-old son. "It's just really heartbreaking that my baby won't really get to know his uncle because he was taken away from him. That was all that I could think about. My child never got to see the amazing human being that he was," Faisa said. "I'm just going to have to keep his memory alive for my son." Faisal was selfless, his sister said, always willing to uplift and support his family. When she got married, Faisal was supportive and welcomed her husband into the family. "That was the best moment of my life and I got to share that with my brother," she said. Faisal embraced Edmonton after the family moved from Toronto in 2010, cultivating a bond with his adoptive city he was reluctant to break even for brief trips, his sister said. "He loved Edmonton," she said. "This was his city." Faisa remembers him as an activist who spoke out against injustice and supported the Black Lives Matter movement. "He's leaving behind a legacy . . . he stood for everything that is right," she said. Faisal's family set up an online fundraiser to cover his funeral costs, exceeding their $10,000 goal within a day. They planned to hold a vigil at the site of the crash, the Starbucks on Calgary Trail at 55th Avenue, at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. CBC News has not confirmed the identities of the other two passengers, women aged 20 and 21, who were killed in the crash. Driver to appear before judge MondayBenjumea was still recovering from non-life-threatening injuries in hospital on Saturday afternoon, police said. He is expected to appear in court or by teleconference at his bail hearing scheduled for Monday. Witnesses said they saw a bloodied driver walk away from the crash around 2 a.m. Friday. "He didn't run. He was walking, he was a little bit frantic," said Josh Sahunta, who said he was nearly hit by the car before it crashed into the Starbucks.The car appeared to strike the exterior building head on, shattering the glass entrance doors, smashing bricks from the facade and leaving the vehicle compacted and mangled. Investigators believe excessive speed was a factor in the crash.Documents obtained by CBC News show the Audi is registered to Oscar Benjumea from Stayner, Ont. Bud King CEO Cameron Kane identified Benjumea as a partner in the local cannabis business.

  • Coronavirus: Toronto Zoo reopens grounds to general public
    Science
    Global News

    Coronavirus: Toronto Zoo reopens grounds to general public

    The Toronto Zoo has officially reopened to the public. As of Saturday, you no longer need a car to see the animals, but as Albert Delitala explains, there are a few changes you will have to keep in mind.

  • Cosby citing systemic racism as he fights assault conviction
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Cosby citing systemic racism as he fights assault conviction

    PHILADELPHIA — In a nearly empty Philadelphia courtroom in June 2015, a lawyer for Bill Cosby implored a federal judge to keep the comedian’s testimony in an old sexual battery lawsuit under wraps. It was sensitive. Embarrassing. Private.U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno had another word for it.The conduct Cosby detailed in his deposition was “perhaps criminal,” Robreno wrote five years ago Monday, in a momentous decision that released the case files to The Associated Press, reopened the police investigation, and helped give rise to the MeToo movement.Cosby, the Hollywood paragon of Black family values, was convicted of sexual assault in 2018 as the movement exploded and women across the globe shared personal histories of sexual harassment and abuse. He is serving up to 10 years in prison.And now in the midst of another historic reckoning — this time addressing the treatment of African Americans and other people of colour by police and the criminal justice system — the 82-year-old Cosby has won the right to an appeal.He hopes to use the moment to his advantage.“The false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him — it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of colour in America,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said when the court accepted the appeal late last month.___Cosby, who grew up in public housing in Philadelphia, has a complicated relationship with the Black community. He earned acclaim for his groundbreaking (and intentionally race-blind) performances on television in the 1950s; mingled, but rarely marched, with civil rights leaders and the Black elite in the 1960s; and solidified his wealth and power with his star turn as “America's Dad,” on “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s.All the while, he promoted education and gave millions to historically Black universities.But his increasingly jarring comments on poverty, parenthood and personal responsibility offended younger Blacks in his later years, most famously in his 2004 “Pound Cake” speech — which he gave just months after the sexual encounter that would prove his downfall.As he toured the country, Cosby argued that “the antidote to racism is not rallies, protests, or pleas, but strong families and communities," as the essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates noted.“Cosby’s gospel of discipline, moral reform, and self-reliance offers a way out — a promise that one need not cure America of its original sin in order to succeed,” Coates wrote in his 2008 piece in The Atlantic, "'This Is How We Lost to the White Man': The audacity of Bill Cosby's Black conservatism."___The appeal issues the court accepted don't directly include racial bias, which Cosby’s legal team raised more often on the courthouse steps in Montgomery County than inside the courtroom. His defenders, however, say race permeates the case.Cosby’s celebrity “does not change his status as a Black man," said appellate lawyer Jennifer Bonjean, the latest of more than a dozen criminal lawyers on the case.“It would be naïve to assume that his prosecution was not tainted by the same racial bias that pervades the criminal justice process in both explicit and insidious ways,” she said last week.Cosby's wife of 56 years has been more blunt.In an interview last month with ABC-TV, Camille Cosby said the MeToo movement ignores “the history of particular white women” who have “accused Black males of sexual assault without any proof.”“We know how women can lie,” said Camille Cosby, who made only brief appearances at her husband's trials, for defence closing arguments, and has not visited him in prison. She declined to speak to the AP last week.The appeal hinges on two questions that have shaped the case from the start:— Did Cosby have an ironclad deal with District Attorney Bruce Castor that Cosby could never be charged after Castor declined to arrest Cosby in 2005? Defence lawyers say Cosby relied on such a promise when he gave the 2006 deposition later unsealed in accuser Andrea Constand’s lawsuit — and used against him at trial.Castor agrees they did. But it was never put in writing, and Castor’s top deputy at the time, Risa Ferman, who helped run the initial investigation and reopened it in 2015 when she was district attorney, seemed not to know about it.— And, how many other accusers should be allowed to testify before the scales of justice tip against the accused?Cosby’s trial judge allowed just one other accuser in the first trial when the jury deadlocked, but five at the retrial a year later. The jury convicted Cosby on all three sex assault counts.The state's intermediate appeals court seemed unimpressed by either issue, rejecting Cosby’s first appeal.“The reality of it is, he gives them drugs and then he sexually assaults them,” Superior Court Judge John T. Bender said at the arguments. “That’s the pattern, is it not?”But Cosby appealed again, setting up the state Supreme Court arguments expected sometime next year.___Constand knew Cosby from her job at Temple University, where Cosby was a booster, alumnus and longtime trustee twice her age.Her trial testimony matched his deposition in many respects, the key distinction being her consent to what happened at his suburban Philadelphia estate. Both say that Cosby gave her three pills for stress before Cosby, in his words, engaged in “digital penetration.”Constand, a former professional basketball player, who is white, said she was left semi-conscious and could not fight him off. (She thought she was taking a homeopathic supplement; Cosby later said it was Benadryl, while acknowledging he once gave a 19-year-old Quaaludes before sex.)More than 60 women, mostly white but a few women of colour, have made similar accusations against Cosby.Cosby lawyer Bonjean, though, believes the MeToo movement is fading, and that Cosby, if he wins a new trial, might avoid what she called “the mob-justice standards of a hashtag movement."___Not long after the encounter with Constand, Cosby gave the “Pound Cake” speech to the NAACP, riffing about a scenario in which the Black community complains when someone is shot by police over a stolen piece of cake.“Then we all run out and are outraged, ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?” Cosby asked.A decade later, Black comedian Hannibal Buress took Cosby to task for his scolding.“You rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches," he said onstage in 2014.Former prosecutor Kristen Gibbons Feden, who gave closing arguments at Cosby’s retrial, recognizes the good Cosby did for the Black community. She also believes that racial bias exists in the criminal justice system.“It doesn’t make Cosby innocent,” said Feden, who is Black. “It means we need to fix the criminal justice system.”Wake Forest University Dean Jonathan L. Walton, who teaches about African American social movements, said that Cosby undeniably boosted the representation of Blacks in American culture. Yet Walton said Cosby might not be the best messenger for today's moment.“One should agree with him as it relates to systemic racism and the injustices of the ‘justice system,’" said Walton, the divinity school dean, "while also being suspicious of what seems to be a pattern of his, of only identifying problems when they personally benefit him.”___ This story has been corrected to reflect that the federal court hearing with Judge Eduardo Robreno was in June 2015, not July 2015.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press

  • Israel says 'not necessarily' behind all Iran nuclear site incidents
    News
    Reuters

    Israel says 'not necessarily' behind all Iran nuclear site incidents

    Israel's defence minister said on Sunday it is not "necessarily" behind every mysterious incident in Iran, after a fire at the Natanz nuclear site prompted some Iranian officials to say it was the result of cyber sabotage. Israel, widely believed to be the region's only nuclear power, has pledged never to allow Iran to obtain atomic weapons, saying Tehran advocates its destruction.

  • Kingston café owner enraged by racist anti-mask diatribe
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    Kingston café owner enraged by racist anti-mask diatribe

    The day after health officials in Kingston, Ont., declared masks mandatory in almost all indoor public spaces, an employee at the Kingston Coffee House asked a customer to put one on.What happened next still weighs on owner Vid Banerjee's mind, more than a week later."We had planned for, obviously, the mandatory mask policy the night before. Disposable masks [were] available," Banerjee told CBC Radio's All In A Day on Friday.When his young worker requested one of the café's patrons use one, the customer got upset, waited until the coffee shop was nearly empty, and then launched into a "verbal barrage," Banerjee said."[It started] with things like, 'Your coffee shop sucks. You suck.' And then that quickly [took on] a racial angle," he said."She goes on to say, 'Why are you here? You should go back to your country. You guys are taking our jobs.' And then it just went downhill from there for the next six to seven minutes."'Taken aback'Kingston is one of an increasing number of Ontario municipalities that has made indoor mask use mandatory almost across the board, as it tries to stem a COVID-19 outbreak tied to a local nail salon.Banerjee said he was "taken aback" and "enraged" when his employee — who was working alone at the time, in order to observe physical distancing guidelines — informed him about what had happened.He took to the coffee shop's Facebook page, describing the woman's actions as "inhuman" and urging other café customers to not take out their frustration with COVID-19 restrictions on service industry staff. Banerjee told CBC he felt compelled to point out that those who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour (BIPOC) are increasingly the target of anti-mask invective."I can completely get the perspective that everyone ... all of us, are a little bit stressed. And that somehow translates to higher tempers," he said. "It's not only with our shop. We've been reading reports from the GTA, from Vancouver, from Canada and from south of the border of BIPOC staff, BIPOC owners being targeted more."His post led to an "overwhelming" response from the local community, Banerjee said. Other businesses offered support both online and in-person, he said. One greenhouse even dropped off a planter filled with flowers.The woman was not a regular, Banerjee said, and the coffee shop has no cameras so it would be difficult to identify her.The worker also did not want to press charges, he added."People need to know that acts of micro-aggression do happen. And they [can] have a racial angle to them," Banerjee said. "And this should be brought to light."

  • News
    CBC

    Halifax man dead 5 days after gas station attack

    A man who was attacked at a Halifax gas station on Monday has died and police say his death was a homicide.The victim has been identified as 47-year-old Terrance Thomas Dixon of Halifax.Dixon was attacked on Monday night while parked at the Esso gas station at 6020 Young Street in Halifax. He was approached by a male who then assaulted him with an edged weapon, police said.Police say the male then fled the scene in a vehicle which was later found abandoned within close proximity of the assault.Dixon was taken to the QEII Hospital for treatment, but succumbed to his injuries Saturday morning just after midnight.Police are still looking for more information about what happened.The suspect has been described as a white male who was wearing a grey hoodie, long blue jean shorts, a blue baseball cap, white socks, black sneakers and black gloves.Tips can be shared with police directly by calling them at  902-490-5020. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).MORE TOP STORIES

  • New Zealand's Ardern launches election campaign with promises of jobs, financing
    News
    Reuters

    New Zealand's Ardern launches election campaign with promises of jobs, financing

    Ardern's rise to become New Zealand's most popular prime minister in a century, buoyed by her response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has left the country largely unscathed, has boosted her prospects in the Sept. 19 election. Ardern's Labour Party, governing in a coalition with the Greens and the nationalist New Zealand First party, will face the National Party in what is expected to be a pandemic-dominated campaign.

  • Calgarians call for justice for B.C. student dragged, stepped on by RCMP during wellness check
    News
    CBC

    Calgarians call for justice for B.C. student dragged, stepped on by RCMP during wellness check

    About 100 Calgarians rallied in front of city hall on Saturday to call for an end to police brutality and for justice for Mona Wang."What happened to her is very disturbing for us," said Rebecca Li.Wang, 20, is a student at University of B.C. Okanagan who was dragged and stepped on by an RCMP officer during a wellness check on the Kelowna campus earlier this year.The officer, Cpl. Lacy Browning, has been placed on administrative duties and Abbotsford police are investigating the incident. Browning will also face a code of conduct investigation.Wang has a history of anxiety and was having a panic attack when she stopped responding to her boyfriend's texts, so he grew concerned and called emergency responders to check up on her.A lawsuit filed by Wang against Browning says the officer found the student lying on her apartment's bathroom floor and did not provide medical assistance.Wang alleges Browning used excessive force, kicking her in the stomach, punching her and leaving her with a bruised face while shouting at her to "stop being so dramatic."Part of the incident was captured on video, which Jing Hu said she found hard to watch."I could not sit through the whole thing ... it filled me with rage," Hu said at the rally, which was organized by the Calgary Chinese Union Association.Hu will be attending University of Calgary at the fall, and she said the video made her fear for friends who will be attending UBC.She and other protesters called for an end to police brutality and for Browning to be fired. A petition pushing for Browning to be fired has collected more than 350,000 signatures.Hu said Wang's treatment, and the numerous cases of police violence against Black and Indigenous people in the spotlight right now due to Black Lives Matter protests, point to how ethnicity is a factor in how people are treated by authorities."It fills me with rage because, Canada, we advertise ourselves as a free country for immigrants, for people to join, for welcoming refugees, and it's kind of hard right now since, as [people of] Asian descent we're receiving backlash for the pandemic, there's racism everywhere we go," Hu said."I hope we can use this platform to raise more [voices] and to bring more information for people who are unfamiliar with what's happening right now."Many members of the Black Lives Matter movement have said nurses or other mental health professionals should be called to wellness checks, not police.

  • News
    CBC

    LRT service scaled back after more defective wheels found

    The Confederation light rail line will be down to seven trains for an unspecified period of time following the discovery of more defective train wheels, the head of OC Transpo says.LRT service in Ottawa was disrupted Friday morning when a crack was found in a steel wheel during maintenance the day before.That led to a fleet-wide inspection, and on Saturday the city's general manager of transportation, John Manconi, said three train wheels in total were found to have defects.As a result, each vehicle will now be inspected after every use until the "root cause" of the problem is discovered and addressed, Manconi said in his statement.For those inspections to happen, the number of trains will be reduced to seven active vehicles — plus one spare — and trains will arrive at stations every eight minutes, roughly twice as long as the normal wait."With reduced ridership this can be accommodated at this time," Manconi said.The $2.1-billion light rail line was supposed to have 15 trains in operation during morning and afternoon rush hours, with two vehicles as backups, but a wide range of problems have kept that from happening.Train manufacturer Alstom will replace the defective wheels, Manconi said.His statement did not give any estimate as to when service would be restored.

  • A tale of 2 cities: Venice residents torn between mass tourism and a more harmonious existence
    News
    CBC

    A tale of 2 cities: Venice residents torn between mass tourism and a more harmonious existence

    Francesco Penzo stands straddling a sandolo, a low boat Venetians once used for shooting ducks. He manoeuvres a long paddle deep into the water, steering the vessel around the corner of a canal in the former working-class neighbourhood of Cannaregio, the only sound the creaking of wood and birdsong echoing above.Cannaregio is one of the few areas in Venice that had not been overtaken by tourists and souvenir shops before the devastating "acqua alta" flooding in November, followed by the coronavirus quarantine in March that locked down Italy for more than two months.Yet as we glide past a row of gorgeously crumbling palazzi, Penzo points out a small brick building ahead that he says encapsulates the real crisis his city faces: not COVID-19 but what COVID-19 has made painfully clear."That's where I live," says the housing activist, who works in the insurance business for his day job. "Of the 10 apartments in there, four are Airbnbs, four are second homes and only two have people actually living in them."Without tourists, in other words, there is hardly anyone left in Venice.WATCH | The sights and sounds of a Venice canal:It wasn't always this way.In the 1970s, upwards of 150,000 people resided in the lagoon city. Today, it's home to just over 50,000, with the population shrinking by 1,000 each year — half from older people dying, half from people leaving due to soaring housing costs and lack of job opportunities.A massive flood in 1966 triggered the initial exodus, with Venetians fleeing to the nearby mainland city of Mestre, part of the Venice municipality, and staying. Former residents began converting their Venice homes into short-term rentals and hotels; the advent of low-cost airlines and Airbnb did the rest."When I grew up here, Venice was crowded, but crowded with Venetians," says Aline Cedron, an editor raising two teenagers in Cannaregio. Cedron is one of 3,000 members of Gruppo 25 Aprile, the latest incarnation of various citizens' groups that have been trying for several decades to return Venice from being what they call a 15th-century theme park to the vibrant, lived-in city it once was.'A different way of life'Here in Cannaregio, for a moment, you can almost believe the city is alive and well. We stroll through a lush, walled park with children scrambling up slides, then past a square with elderly residents chatting amiably on benches as kids kick a ball against a wall.It's hard not to feel a pang of envy to see how relaxed urban life can be — not only without tourists, but without the noise, exhaust and danger of cars. Neighbours congregate at the end of the day in local cafés for bright orange spritzes, the Venetian cocktail now popular around the world. Crime throughout the whole lagoon city is practically non-existent."Venice is an example of such a different way of life for the entire world, and in my experience, a high quality of life. Having to walk everywhere, you are constantly meeting people, and the social aspect of this life is very, very precious," Cedron says.Precious, but with a mono-economy of mass tourism that is perilously lacking in resilience, say even those who depend on that economy.Across Venice's once highly trafficked thoroughfare, the Canal Grande, master gondola maker Lorenzo Della Toffola bangs nails along the reddish bottom of a gleaming black boat resting on its side in his squero, one of the few traditional boatyards in Venice that remain. His son Alberto, in his late 20s and the only offspring apprentice in Venice's boatyards, works on another gondola inside a long shed.Business has been slow, with gondolier owners waiting for customers to return before bringing their boats in for annual repairs. Despite his reduced income, though, Della Toffola says the post-quarantine period is a historic occasion for Venice to shift course."Let's hope this time people get it," he says. "That we just can't go on with the old number of tourists. We need local artisans, who make the city healthier, realer and don't have anything to do with all the [tourist] junk ... sold on the streets. We need Venetians to return, bakers and butchers. You just can't have a city based only on tourism."Groups seek diversified economyUpwards of 25 million tourists, mostly day trippers, pour over Venice's walkways, bridges and campi — small squares — each year. Despite efforts by activist groups to ban cruise ships, the mammoth vessels still loomed in the backdrop until the coronavirus lockdown."We want a tourism that is more aware," says Laura Scarpa, president of Venezia da Vivere, a network that promotes Venetian artisans, artists and fashion designers. "We want people to visit with intentionality, to get to know our history and artisanal traditions and not just come to stand in Piazza San Marco and take a selfie."Scarpa's group and most others like it say diversification of the city's economy is the only way forward. Venezia da Vivere has launched a debate asking residents to "rewrite" the future of Venice, posting interviews with residents who have ideas for sustainable alternatives to tourism and incentives for residency.Many would like to see environmental studies become a cornerstone of Venice's Ca' Foscari university, given how vulnerable the city is to rising ocean levels brought on by climate change. They want to improve wireless connectivity to encourage people who work remotely to live here.They're pushing for tax and housing incentives for its craftspeople and artists, who, they say, not only represent a continuum with the city's past of textile, lace-making and glassworks, but who could lead the way in recreating vibrant and mixed urban spaces where people both work and live.It's a vision, they say, that all levels of government have failed to provide. They point out that Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and most city councillors reside in the mainland Mestre, not in Venice proper. As a result, they believe, the administration tends to view the lagoon city as a money-making operation, rather than an actual community.It's a depiction Paola Mar, the energetic city councillor responsible for tourism who also lives in Mestre, refutes. She insists the municipal government does have ideas on how to move away from mass tourism — in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.She cites a program encouraging "slow tourism," charging a fee to day trippers, brochures promoting decorum that urge tourists not to litter and loiter — an issue also championed by past mayors — and the installation earlier this year of sensors at the city's various entrances to count the numbers of visitors and better control the influx."It's beautiful but disturbing," Mar says of the now-empty Venice. "Tourism is the most important industry ... but we need to do more to help young people afford to live here."To that end, post-lockdown, Venice has struck a deal with the university for the vacant Airbnbs to be rented to students. It is also encouraging tourist shops to convert to corner stores, bakeries and fruit stands, now sorely missing, for residents. And it is moving forward with assigning 360 newly renovated subsidized municipal apartments to young families.But critics call the initiatives a drop in the bucket and say that renting to students until tourists return mostly helps Airbnbs — many of which are owned by large companies with no real stake in the city.Venice faces existential questionsWhat is striking, though, when listening to city authorities and citizens wanting change, is how similar their message is: in a nutshell, the need for Venice's tourism to move from "mass to class."But others say even that is cause for caution.In a recent blog post entitled "Which residents?" urban thinker Paola Somma questions both the emphasis on "quality" tourism and attracting a "new creative class" — the kind of people who attend the Venice Biennale, a showcase of cinema, art, architecture, theatre and dance. She suggests the phrases are merely code for attracting millionaires and celebrities at the expense of working people.Venice is not so much an empty tourist city as a "hedge city," Somma argues, its centuries-old structures not vacant but stuffed with investment dollars by the world's wealthy. As Venice's mayor tells residents protesting over tourism or cruise ships to "go live somewhere else," he publicly fetes people like actor Emma Thompson as new "Venetian citizens" after they purchase property here."When we talk about repopulating Venice, are we talking about a mix of activities and class of people that characterized the city 50 years ago, or are we talking about anyone who has money and is willing to register as a resident?" Somma asks.How to save this exquisitely moribund city is hardly a new question. But with the COVID-19 pandemic — along with the chance to move through quiet canals, to hear Venetian accents ring purely through the air and to gaze, unobstructed, upon works by Renaissance masters Tintoretto or Titian — these nagging existential questions have been laid bare as never before.Many citizens say they will do all they can to seize this moment and to stop "La Serenissima" from returning to its "old normal."But they also say the risk has never been greater, either."It's true this is an opportunity for Venice," says Francesco Penzo, steering the sandolo toward the open, uncluttered waters of the Canal Grande."But this crisis could be used to justify not just a return to mass tourism, but to even more mass tourism. Real transformation never comes with a shock but with a plan. And Venice doesn't have one."

  • News
    CBC

    Latvia-bound military plane turned back after Canadian troops possibly exposed to COVID-19

    A military plane carrying Canadian troops to Latvia as part of a NATO mission in that country turned around mid-flight Thursday, after someone who might have come in contact with the aircraft tested positive for COVID-19.The Department of National Defence told CBC News Saturday that the individual, who was not on board the flight, may have interacted with passengers before the plane took off from CFB Trenton. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) learned the news while the flight was in the air."As such, the decision was made to return the aircraft en route, rather than land in Latvia, to avoid the possible risk of spreading the disease," a spokesperson for the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) wrote in an email.The department said approximately 70 passengers and aircrew members were on board the aircraft but said it believes the risk of exposure is low."These members will now undergo a second isolation period of 14 days in Trenton, prior to continuing on with their deployment," the spokesperson said.Troop rotation scheduled for this monthCanada has been leading a multinational NATO battle group in Latvia since 2017, where 540 Canadian troops are currently stationed. The mission has continued operations despite the COVID-19 pandemic, although the crisis has forced the CAF to suspend others.The military's mission to train local forces in Ukraine was initially paused in April, but a CAF spokesperson told The Canadian Press in June that it has become safe enough to deploy 90 members to restart the mission.A rotation of new troops from Canada into Latvia was set to get underway this month.Col. Eric Laforest, commander of Task Force Latvia, previously told CBC News that all incoming troops would be required to isolate for two weeks prior to deployment. CJOC said the plane was meant to come back to Canada with around 70 returning soldiers who had completed their tour. The military is now considering other options to bring those members home.

  • Schools urged to ensure students' security and privacy when conducting classes online
    Technology
    CBC

    Schools urged to ensure students' security and privacy when conducting classes online

    As most parts of Canada are gradually reopening their economies following months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some provinces — including Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick — have released plans on how they aim to allow students to return to the classroom in September.But those school boards continuing with partial or fully virtual learning need to ensure measures are in place to protect students' privacy and safety when using video-conferencing platforms for online classes, a cybersecurity expert says."It's understandable that people want to get classes up and going during a pandemic," said Rebecca Herold, a data security and privacy expert based in Des Moines, Iowa. "But they need to think it through first and establish the guardrails around how those online classes are going to actually occur."School boards across the country have been using a variety of software programs for online learning during the pandemic.Schools in Surrey, B.C., and Alberta, for example, use Microsoft Teams, while those in Toronto have been using Google Classroom and Brightspace, which is available through an agreement with Ontario's Ministry of Education. The school board in Peel Region, northwest of Toronto, offers both Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, said Luke Mahoney, the board's co-ordinating principal of modern learning.Meanwhile, British Columbia's Ministry of Education offers a province-wide Zoom licence for school boards.Some of the programs were already in place in most school boards before the pandemic hit. But their use became more widespread after schools shut down and offered online learning to ensure physical distancing.Regardless of the software that school boards decide to use, Herold said, schools should invest some time and effort to ensure that every student is set up with the appropriate program or app.A grab bag of choices for schoolsSchools within the Winnipeg School Division, for example, use GoGuardian, a software that allows schools to easily manage students' devices.Radean Carter, a spokesperson for the school division, said the software helps filter and monitor students' online activity. GoGuardian uses security technologies such as HTTPS and allows school administrations to block some websites.Winnipeg schools also use Google's G Suite for Education — which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Meet and Google Classroom — for most tasks, as well as Microsoft Teams for some meetings, Carter said.She said the board has provided more than 3,000 Chromebooks and iPads to students, while for those who own their own devices, the software is automatically downloaded when they log into the school division's program."We actually took a bit longer than other school divisions to get our devices out to students," she said. "We didn't want to just put them out there without making sure we have [the software] loaded into them."English Montreal School Board spokesperson Michael Cohen said while the board initially used video-conferencing app Zoom, it switched to Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams because it already had a licence for the programs.He cited security and privacy concerns over Zoom that have been reported but said no breaches have occurred at the school board."We feel confident in these platforms," Cohen said. "We haven't had any issues. We've been using them now for a couple of months."A string of "Zoom-bombings," in which outside users hijack screens to disrupt meeting participants, have been reported.In April, Russ Klein, the head of a Jewish high school in Vancouver, told CBC News that a community gathering the school was hosting through Zoom was infiltrated.'We're living in this new online reality'Aside from including additional security features on devices and configuring privacy settings, some teachers take extra steps to keep students safe online.Janette Hughes, a professor and Canada research chair in technology and pedagogy with the education faculty at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ont., advises teachers to instruct students to mute their microphones and turn their cameras off as they enter the virtual meeting space. They should enable them when needed, such as when they're engaging in a group discussion she said."We're living in this new online reality, which means we have unprecedented access to students' homes," said Hughes, who has been conducting sessions with teachers and their classes since March to help with their transition to virtual learning."I am concerned about the privacy of not just the students but their families."Herold said she also thinks privacy is at risk during live streaming. "You can see a person's environment. So that gives people a lot of information about their home," she said.Hayley Werbeski, who is going into Grade 7 in the fall, said she's been concerned about privacy since classes shifted online in March.The 12-year-old from Caledonia, Ont., near Hamilton, said she found it hard to get help and ask questions during live Zoom classes because she felt uncomfortable with her classmates seeing her in her home.Hayley said chatboxes during Zoom calls tended to be "just gossipy" instead of helping students with their schoolwork."Each day, the teacher would have an online Zoom class where you could ask questions, but I never went on because it felt weird having people see inside my house, and I didn't want to have people staring at me," she said.Her mother, Laurel, said her family put no pressure on Hayley to attend the online discussions."She did not like people who were not her friends 'virtually' coming into her home space," she said of Hayley. "It was a serious breach of privacy for her, so we did not force her to attend."Herold, who has been providing information security and privacy consultation to schools, also advises participants of virtual meetings to make sure they don't have IoT devices, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo (Alexa), turned on in the same room while attending a virtual meeting.Those devices "are always listening, and even if you don't say the trigger [or command] word explicitly, they're still there," she said.Herold said students should also limit screen sharing to prevent others from seeing private information on their computers.As well, limiting file sharing can help prevent the spread of viruses or malware on computers, she said."You don't want to get ransomware demanding you pay $500,000 to get all of your files back."Deciding on which platform to useAlthough some platforms, like Zoom, are easy to navigate, Herold recommends that school boards use well-tested platforms that provide documented information about how to use the security features."Even with the schools I provide advice to, I recommend to them that they not use a tool that's just making changes on the fly to address bad publicity, which it seems Zoom is doing," she said.After facing a backlash when it announced it would only provide end-to-end encryption for its paying users, Zoom said in June it decided to enable such encryption, which enhances security, for all of its users this month.Herold said Zoom is easy for schools to use, but what makes the platform easy to implement is what makes it insecure."There are so many other tools out there that have been available for quite a while and can certainly meet security and privacy requirements in ways that I have not seen Zoom address," she said.She said GoToMeeting, Cisco's Webex and Zoho Meeting, as well as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, are alternatives to Zoom for video conferencing."Spend a little bit of time up front to get it done right to begin with," she said. "And after that, it's going to be just as easy."

  • Parts of West Vancouver property left to district to create a park can be sold, rules B.C. Supreme Court
    News
    CBC

    Parts of West Vancouver property left to district to create a park can be sold, rules B.C. Supreme Court

    A ruling in B.C. Supreme Court gives the green light to the District of West Vancouver to carve up a property left to it in trust in 1990 and use proceeds to expand Ambleside Park.The ruling vindicates the District of West Vancouver after the province's attorney general said it was failing in its duty to protect the verdant property and pushing beyond the limits of what it had promised to do with the land.A West Vancouver couple, Pearley and Clara Brissenden, lived on a 2.4 acre property at 2519 Rosebery Avenue near the Upper Levels Highway, which apart from their house, was largely undeveloped and covered with mature, second-growth forest.Pearley Brissenden died before his wife, but when she passed away in 1990, the property was left to the District of West Vancouver in trust to be developed into a neighbourhood park that would preserve much of the forest.The district did very little with the property, other than rent it out to a caretaker, which brought in nearly half a million dollars in rent until 2018 when the province's attorney general urged it to do more to adhere to the terms of the trust.The AG's criticism of the district included bringing a lawsuit against it which argued it rented out the donated property for profit instead of creating promised park.In July 2018, the district formally dedicated the northern portion of the Brissenden property as a park, then later that year demolished the house and created walking trails.But at the same time, the district was making plans to break parts of the property into lots that could be sold at a profit. That would enable it to purchase two properties it had wanted to buy since the 1970s along Argyle Avenue to expand the popular oceanfront Ambleside Park. The expansion would be called the Brissenden Waterfront Park.The district would also still preserve parts of the Brisseden property as a neighbourhood park.The district argued that although it wanted to alter how the Brissendens' property would be used, the plans still adhered to the couple's intent which was to add park space to the district for the benefit of residents. In his ruling, Justice Peter Edelmann agreed."It is a well-documented plan that has been subject to extensive study and consultation, taking into consideration the other park space available to residents in the various parts of the district," he wrote. "I accept that the proposed plan is in the best interests of the district and its residents."The District of West Vancouver provided letters to the court from five former law partners of Pearley Brissenden who stated they knew the couple well and said that they would have been supportive of the amended plan for their property.Edelmann set out conditions in the ruling to allow the district a variation under a section of the Community Charter.It includes allowing the district to subdivide and dispose of three proposed residential lots on the southern portion of the property as long as the lots have a tree protection covenant. There would also be a covenant over one of the three lots for a walking trail connecting the remaining portion of the Brissenden property to Rosebery Avenue.The district can use the proceeds of the sale of the lots to fund the acquisition of two remaining privately owned lots on Argyle Avenue to be named Brissenden Waterfront Park.

  • First glimpse of Canada's true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    First glimpse of Canada's true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

    OTTAWA — The national immunity task force has started testing thousands of blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies and should be able to produce a more detailed picture of how many Canadians have been infected with the novel coronavirus within a couple of weeks.It will be much longer, however, before we know more about what kind of protection against future infection having the antibodies provides, said Dr. Timothy Evans, executive director of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.Plus, said Evans, most of the people whose blood is being tested will not be informed of the results because of how the blood is being collected for testing."There won't be an opportunity for individuals to find out their status," said Evans, who is also director of the McGill School of Population and Global Health.At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified in January, while many others were sick but couldn't get tested because provinces were limiting who could access the procedure until just a few weeks ago.Evans also said a significant number of people get the infection and show no symptoms and will have no clue they were ever sick. Evans said immunity testing in other countries has suggested the actual infection rate is 10 to 20 times more than the number of confirmed cases.There are multiple prongs to the task force's plan to figure out the true infection rate here, starting with running antibody tests on 40,000 samples collected from people who donated blood to Canadian Blood Services and Hema Quebec since May. Evans said about 1,600 of those samples are being run through the test kits every day now, and analyses are already under way on the results."Hopefully within the next two weeks we will have an initial first number," he said.The first results will reveal how many samples showed antibodies, but include no specifics like whether they are male or female or where they live."By the end of the month of July, we expect to have a more broken down picture of what we call the seroprevalence, the presence of antibodies in the blood, that will look at it by age group and geographic location," Evans said.Evans said Canadian Blood Services can't trace back the samples to the actual patients who gave them, so positive antibody tests will not be reported back for anyone who donated blood outside of Quebec. He said Hema Quebec said it might be possible to identify the patients but hasn't yet decided if it will do so.Another testing program is now beginning on 25,000 blood samples taken from pregnant women, using blood routinely drawn during the first trimester to screen for sexually transmitted infections and check for immunity to other illnesses like rubella. COVID-19 antibody testing will be added to that list for all pregnant women in Canada, going back all the way to December. The women will be informed if they test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, said Evans.Evans said there are also about 30,000 blood samples held in provincial labs that are being tested for antibodies.He said together these projects can provide a piecemeal picture of the infection rate across the country, though it won't be a truly representative sample until a national household survey can be run. That isn't going to happen until the portable antibody tests become reliable, but a plan is being developed with Statistics Canada so it's ready when the tests are."We'd love to have a test that didn't require a formal blood draw, but rather a pin prick but we're not quite there yet," he said. "There's some things on the horizon. We're trying to get those validated quickly but we still haven't got what I would call a good portable test that could be used in the home."The tests the task force is using now require only a small amount of blood — less than 1/20th of a teaspoon, generally — but it is still more than what comes from a finger prick.Evans said understanding how many people got infected can help drive policy decisions about where to vaccinate first, the impact specific public health measures might have had in some settings like long-term care centres, hospitals and schools, or communities that have been hit particularly hard.The task force also has a two-year mandate to try to look at what kind of protection someone has from having antibodies, as well as how long the levels of antibodies last in a person's blood. Evans said those studies are just getting underway and will take time, including looking to see whether people who have the antibodies get infected during a second or third wave of the pandemic.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

  • Swimmer dead in Ottawa's 2nd drowning in 2 days
    News
    CBC

    Swimmer dead in Ottawa's 2nd drowning in 2 days

    Ottawa police are investigating the city's second drowning in two days. A 20-year-old man went missing while a group of people were swimming at Britannia Beach Saturday evening.The group watched the man go underwater, police said, and he never resurfaced. According to a press release, officers and dive crews searched the shorelines and water after responding to the call at approximately 8 p.m. They were assisted by Ottawa firefighters.The man's body was recovered shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday.While three of Ottawa's four municipal beaches officially reopened in late June, Britannia Beach remained closed as the city plans to carry out dredging work that will keep it off-limits until 2021.Meanwhile, a teenage boy is presumed dead after jumping into the water off the Prince of Wales Bridge Friday night.Young people had gathered on the roughly 140-year-old bridge, which is west of the capital's downtown and crosses over the Ottawa River into Quebec, and some were jumping into the river below, police said. At around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Ottawa police told Radio-Canada they had shifted their focus from rescuing him to searching for his body.

  • Activists in the U.S. claim partial victory in long battle to reform, defund police departments
    News
    CBC

    Activists in the U.S. claim partial victory in long battle to reform, defund police departments

    For the thousands of protesters who marched through the streets of New York for more than 30 consecutive days demanding changes in policing, the headlines emerging from the city's budget debate should have signalled victory."New York Police Department's budget has been slashed by $1 billion," wrote CNN."De Blasio Agrees to Cut NYPD Funding by $1 Billion," said the Wall Street Journal."NY City Council approves slashing $1B from NYPD budget," said Fox News.It seemed that groups like Communities United for Police Reform had achieved their goal when city council voted earlier this week: a $1 billion US cut from the New York Police Department's almost $6 billion operating budget, with money reinvested in community programs.But a closer look found that the actual number was nowhere close to the billion-dollar mark, and some of the "cuts" were just cosmetic changes, where expenses were shifted from one city department to another."It was a lot of funny math and budget tricks to try to make it seem like it was a billion-dollar cut, but it really wasn't," said Andrea Colon, lead organizer with the Rockaway Youth Task Force and a member of Communities United for Police Reform.The city budget was the latest battle in the fight to reform policing spurred on by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed after a police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest on May 25. The officer is facing a second-degree murder charge in Floyd's death.Overall, activists and supporters of police reform found that while the conversation has shifted in their favour, there are still numerous challenges to defunding the police, even in one of the most liberal cities in the U.S.Devil in the detailsAmong the biggest cuts promised was more than $300 million by shifting school safety officers from the NYPD to the Department of Education.But ultimately that shift didn't happen, and the budget for that unit, still under the auspices of the police, will go up next year."The mayor, the speaker, the city council failed us," Colon said.The waves of protests sparked by Floyd's death led to a number of reforms in New York and across the country. The NYPD disbanded its anti-crime unit, a group of about 600 officers tied to some of the city's most notorious shootings. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday, the day after the budget passed, that while he respects everyone who is protesting, the vast majority of New Yorkers want a safe city."They appreciate that our police are there to keep us safe and they want to see policing get fairer, more respectful," said the mayor, who is often caught between his progressive supporters and a vocal and politically powerful police union.Asked about the cuts, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told a local Fox affiliate, "You're seeing the city council bow to mob rule."The budget did eliminate two incoming classes of new officers, a staff cut of close to 1,200 — a good step that probably wouldn't have come without the pressure of thousands marching daily, said Alex Vitale, author of the book The End of Policing."There was no way that was going to happen a month ago, so that's a very concrete thing, and it's a sign of a shift in momentum," said Vitale, whose book is considered by activists as a blueprint for the Defund the Police movement.'A quantum shift'Vitale, who has been advocating for police reform for three decades, said when you step back and look at the big picture, the progress in the debate since Floyd's death is remarkable. While the budget battle in New York didn't end in victory for reformers, he said, it's a step in the right direction."We did not win the big number that people were going for, but no one even imagined that big number a month ago as being possible," Vitale said.He said across the country, in state assemblies and city council chambers, police budgets that were once untouchable are now fair game for cuts. The conversation has also shifted to rethinking how much responsibility police forces should have, he said. Vitale pointed to cities like Oakland, Calif., which voted to remove police from schools, and Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are considering alternatives to policing on issues like substance abuse, homelessness and mental health.Vitale's book has afforded him the opportunity to travel the country meeting with community organizations. He said he saw a consensus growing around police reform, but he thought it would take years to get to the point the U.S. is at now. "It's a quantum shift. The quantity of change is so great and it's of a different quality," Vitale said. "It's very dramatic, it's exhausting, it's inspiring, but there's just a tremendous amount of work still to be done."Confronting racismPart of the work that still needs to be done, said Alexis Hoag, a lecturer at Columbia Law School in New York, is reconciling the country's history of slavery and the legacy of institutional racism that remains today.Hoag referred to training in Germany, where new officers learn about how policing played a role in the Nazi regime and how it informs their work in the modern era. She said she'd like to see similar training for new officers in how police throughout U.S. history were used to enforce racist policies."I think about how powerful that would be if new law enforcement in this country were educated and trained about law enforcement's participation, compliance in the reign of terror that occurred across this country," Hoag said.She said the mass demonstrations have achieved some victories, particularly at the state-level, and pointed to the repeal of 50-A in New York, a law that shielded officers' personnel records from scrutiny.Another victory came in Colorado last month, when it became one of the first states to end qualified immunity for officers, a law that protects police from civil liability. "The fact that laypeople talk about qualified immunity is amazing to me as a lawyer," Hoag said. A growing conversationHoag said that shows how far the conversation has shifted, noting that concepts like defunding the police weren't even in her vocabulary when she got into law school 15 years ago.Now, she said, the students she sees entering law school come armed with these ideas."They are quite aggressive and clear in what they see as a just society," Hoag said, "It's exciting, it's heartening, and they're going to be in positions where they're setting state and federal policy in 10 or 15 years. Vitale said there is also energy at the community level, where the majority of change needs to happen. Demand for his expertise has grown, and where he used to take part in 40 to 50 events a year with community groups discussing police reform, he can now do that many in the space of two or three weeks, thanks to video conferencing. One day last week, he addressed groups in Houston, Ann Arbor, Mich., and New York City. He said with municipal budget cycles coming to an end, the effort put toward cutting police budgets needs to shift to organizing."We've got some victories and now we need to take stock and plan for the future," Vitale said.

  • Science
    CBC

    Sask.'s $4B irrigation plan must address changing climate, Indigenous rights: professor

    The Saskatchewan government has announced a $4-billion plan to expand irrigation out of the Lake Diefenbaker reservoir. Work is set to begin immediately, and will be completed in three phases over the next decade.CBC reporter Jason Warick spoke Friday with John Pomeroy, a Canada Research chair and director of the University of Saskatchewan's Global Water Futures program. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.What do you think of the government's announcement? The announcement was not a surprise. This has been in the works for some time. But certainly the scope of it is truly remarkable, an incredible event in many ways for water resource management in Saskatchewan.The expansion of irrigation is something that was long planned for Lake Diefenbaker. The original expansion of the project was largely not realized. The reservoir was designed to do this. That's what it was built for.What are some of the issues that need to be considered? It's 2020. We have downstream users. We have rapid climate change occurring, and we have unresolved downstream issues for Indigenous communities. So lots of things need to be sorted out beyond the irrigation expansion itself.Does it seem like a good idea overall? As a scientist, I won't say something's a good idea or not a good idea. There's a will to do it, so I think what's important is that it has a scientific basis to its design, that it's designed for the 21st century, not the 20th. There are trans-boundary and Indigenous issues involved — this water flows into Manitoba. There are lots of other considerations.Like what? One example is if we take water out of Lake Diefenbaker and use it for irrigation, it will mostly evaporate through the growth of crops. That means it won't be able to run [at the same levels] through the turbines to generate hydro electricity at Gardiner Dam. Nor will that stream flow be available to Manitoba to generate electricity.Can you talk about any possible effect on ecosystems? That flow also won't be available for the necessary sediment load and flooding of the Saskatchewan Delta near Cumberland House, which is crucial for that ecosystem and for the lives of Indigenous communities in that area.Are the proposed volumes to be diverted for irrigation sustainable? In the last 20 years, we've had some very low flows in the river that would challenge a large irrigation project. But [it can work] as long as you manage it properly and understand that there are years where we have to hold water back.But we also have to take into account the changes that are occurring in a shifting climate. Saskatchewan in 50 years, 100 years — the life of this project — will be much warmer and somewhat wetter, but much more variable; some flooding, and droughts in between. It could be very useful to have [this project] to manage that.The estimated cost is $4 billion. It will irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres. How significant is it? It's a massive project. It would dramatically expand irrigation from what it is right now.Do you have any other thoughts? Because the Saskatchewan River basin flows from Alberta to Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with Indigenous communities as well, this is certainly a national project. The complexity is immense. The design should really be quarterbacked and spearheaded by a federal agency. It's not just a Saskatchewan project.

  • Young Syrian refugee gives back to Quebec by working at long-term care home
    Lifestyle
    The Canadian Press

    Young Syrian refugee gives back to Quebec by working at long-term care home

    MONTREAL — George Chabo was just a teenager when the Syrian refugee arrived in Montreal in the winter of 2016, met first by Canadian Red Cross volunteers who supplied him and his family with boots and winter jackets to brave the Quebec cold.Chabo never forgot that initial encounter and now he's determined to give back to the humanitarian organization and the province that welcomed and helped his family.Recently, Chabo, 21, sat attentively in a classroom — a converted hotel room where the Red Cross has been training people to do humanitarian work in long-term care homes as support aides and other tasks.These aides are being trained to replace Canadian Armed Forces personnel, most of whom have recently left the homes.The Red Cross is training up to 900 people to fill a variety of tasks while Quebec completes training for more than 10,000 people to work full-time as orderlies by mid-September in long-term care homes.People like Chabo will be pressed into service in the coming weeks to fill that void and give workers some reprieve after a difficult spring on COVID-19's front lines.Chabo is a student, but instead of taking the summer off, he raised his hand to help the most vulnerable.During a break last week during his intensive training session where he's learning to take care of the elderly, Chabo explained why he answered the call."We went through difficult situations in our country, in Syria, we know what crises are," Chabo said. "We understand, we have empathy."He wants to help those most vulnerable during a pandemic."It's a difficult moment for us, but especially for them," said the soft-spoken Chabo.He's convinced the job will be a good experience.“The elderly have a great life experience ... they have a lot to talk about," said Chabo, no stranger to helping out as his own family takes care of his paternal grandparents."It is enriching to help them."He hasn't forgotten the impression the Canadian Red Cross made during his arrival to Canada.He first came to know the organization in Syria, ravaged by war since 2011.It was also the Red Cross that helped his family in Lebanon, providing the medical exams needed ahead of their arrival in Canada in February 2016.Chabo was just 17 when representatives provided them with the winter clothes and helped to fill out their immigration documents. His family — his parents, sister and brother — were sponsored by Quebecers.So when Chabo caught word of the recruitment drive, he jumped at the opportunity.He wasn't even in need of work — he already had a job. But he was determined to give back."In exchange, I feel it's a good idea to help the community like this," he said. "I want to give back to society for its warm welcome."Speaking last week, Chabo said he wasn't worried about contracting COVID-19 in long-term care residences.The novel coronavirus has hit Quebec the hardest of all provinces, with long-term care homes and seniors' homes accounting for more than 80 per cent of deaths.But the situation has stabilized somewhat since the spring, he said. And Chabo is confident the measures in place and his Red Cross training will keep him safe.The first group of trainees — about 150 people — are scheduled to start working Monday in a variety of long-term care residences.The rest are expected to be deployed by July 29.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

  • Making biscuits was serious business in P.E.I.'s Bygone Days
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    Making biscuits was serious business in P.E.I.'s Bygone Days

    It's biscuit-making season on P.E.I. — fluffy handfuls of melt-in-your-mouth goodness to go under P.E.I.'s delicious strawberries, raspberries or peaches, or in a topping for blueberry or rhubarb cobbler.Dutch Thompson has gathered the stories of and been a guest in the homes of many seniors, who had some serious biscuit-making skills. Of course many of them had been brought up growing their own wheat on family farms, and taking it to the local mill to be ground into flour for their baking needs and to trade for other essential goods. Mac Dixon's family ran a flour and grist mill when he was growing up in South Melville, P.E.I.Dixon was 85 when Dutch was visiting with him one day, and who should drop by but JoDee Samuelson, who created a map of all the flour, wool and grist mills and sawmills of P.E.I. — there were once 210 across the Island.Everyone loved a trip to the mill, to catch up with neighbours who were also getting flour milled."It was a pretty good outing for them, because they not only got their grist ground, but they got their horse fed, they got fed themselves — it was a known fact that everyone that came to the mill got a meal, yes!" said Dixon. "My grandmother told me that she fed as high as 14 in one day. That was part of the deal, their horse was fed and they were fed. You'd wonder how they ever made a living out of it." Neighbours willing to 'lend a helping hand'When new equipment called a steel roller mill arrived for Dixon's mill on the train, 20 sleighs driven by local people arrived at the train station in Breadalbane to help carry the equipment to the mill."Every horse was overloaded a bit," Dixon recalls his father telling him. "They wanted this new equipment and it meant so much to the neighbours for miles around, they were all willing to come and lend a helping hand." The old mill used granite mill stones, which can still be seen around P.E.I. as yard ornaments. The best mill stones came from the Marne Valley in northern France, and were called French burr — that's what Dixon's used. Just imagine the thousands of biscuits made on P.E.I. from flour ground using those old millstones! Mac Dixon died in 2011 at age 85. Dutch's grandmother Henderson swore that the secret to making biscuit and bannock dough was stirring with a clockwise motion only — it was bad luck to stir counter-clockwise, she said. Lard was scarce and 'terrible good'Bannock was a favourite of many Scottish settlers on P.E.I. and is made much the same as biscuit dough.Most Islanders used lard for biscuits and bannock, rather than shortening — it was easier to come by, since it came from pigs that many people raised, slaughtering a pig or two in the fall for a winter's supply of salt pork and lard. There wasn't always enough lard for everything, however, as Ada MacKenzie of Beach Point, born Ada Baker, told Dutch."I've seen people grease their pans, that they're going to set their bread in, with a pork rind. That's how scarce that was," she said. She recalled having pork fat mixed with molasses as a condiment. "My land it's terrible good on your bread!" MacKenzie said. She said her recipe for no-fat bannock with flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk always turned out delicious."See, we had the real buttermilk then. We did our churning at home," she said. MacKenzie's mother baked bread twice a day for her family of 10 using about 10 pounds of flour a day, and made her own yeast. Heat up the wood stoveKatheen Jelley, or Kay as she was called, was born in 1913 in Freetown-Lot 11, one of 10 children.She said her mother Annie Henderson cooked bannock using her wood stove. In fact, there was one neighbour who would stop in to their house for a rest on his way to the local store — when her mother saw this man walking down the road toward their house, she'd send her kids scurrying to get some birch bark to get the wood fire burning hot. "'Here comes John R. Bolger — get some birch bark and kindling, lots of good stuff for the fire,'" Jelley recalled her mother telling her. "And she'd run to the pantry and mix up a bannock, something like biscuits."The neighbour asked her mother "'Now Annie, how is it you always have a bannock when I come?' She'd just grin, she'd never tell him she made it for him," Jelley said. Jelley said the wood stove was always going, even during summer, because there was no electricity in rural P.E.I."And if you want to get anybody a cup of tea or anything like that, you had to have the stove on," she said. More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Health
    CBC

    Ontario reports 138 more COVID-19 cases on Sunday, largely in GTA and Windsor-Essex

    Ontario is reporting 138 new cases of COVID-19, marking the sixth straight day the tally is below 200.Most of the other newly-confirmed cases continue to be in the Greater Toronto Area, with 39 reported in Toronto, 28 in Peel and 15 in York. In Windsor-Essex, which has been dealing with outbreaks among temporary workers on farms, there are 27 newly-confirmed cases.The rest of Ontario's 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, as Elliott noted on Twitter, with 16 regions reporting no new cases.Ontario's health ministry reported two more deaths on Sunday, for an official total of 2,689 people dead from COVID-19. However, a CBC News count based on data provided directly by public health units puts the number of dead at 2,733.60 new cases among 20 and 30 year-oldsThe largest number of new cases is among those age 20 to 39, with 60 newly-confirmed infections reported Sunday.There were 45 new infections among the 40 to 59 age range; 17 new infections among those 60 to 79 years old; and four infections among those over age 80.Eleven more young people age 19 and under were confirmed to have COVID-19 as of Sunday.The newly confirmed cases bring Ontario's total to 35,794 since the outbreak began in January, about 87 per cent of which are resolved. Sunday's report marked another 183 cases as resolved.Ontario's network of labs processed 23,792 test samples the previous day, with a cumulative total of more than 1.5 million.There are still 11,651 test samples in line to be completed.Hospitalizations have been declining, with 139 COVID-19 patients currently in Ontario hospitals. Of those patients, 39 are in intensive care with 23 on a ventilator.

  • 'They get around': Pelicans spotted as far north as Kugluktuk, Nunavut
    Science
    CBC

    'They get around': Pelicans spotted as far north as Kugluktuk, Nunavut

    Pelicans have landed near Kugluktuk, Nunavut, near the coast of the Arctic Ocean, and Lashawna Taipana has the photos to prove it.Taipana said the arrival of pelicans in the northern hamlet of about 1,500 people almost two weeks ago caused quite a stir. It was a first for her or anyone else in the community, as far as she knew.Initially she and others thought the birds — first seen by some youth during a cleanup at the local landfill — might be swans or possibly even flamingoes. But when they got closer to the birds for a look they realized they were neither."There was lots of wonder," Taipana said. "It is a first for us around here."Kugluktuk wasn't the only northern community that had the unexpected visitors. They've also been seen recently in the N.W.T. near Dettah, and near Wrigley, where Lloyd Moses said he spotted a flock of what must have been between 30 and 40 pelicans soaring in the air."You wonder where they're going to go eat!" Moses said.The birds may have travelled far to arrive in Kugluktuk and Wrigley, but Moses probably need not worry about how they'll feed. "The fact that the birds are ranging further north probably means that there's fish up there for them to eat," said John McKinnon, lead survey photographer and analyst with the N.W.T.'s Pelican Advisory Circle. "I'm not sure what brought them all the way up there, but the one thing I do know about pelicans is — where there's fish, there's pelicans, and where there's pelicans, there's fish. So there must be fish up there." Fort Smith colony has grownMcKinnon, who lives in Fort Smith, N.W.T., near the Alberta and N.W.T. border, is a resident expert on the colony of American White Pelicans near the community. He was out with the colony just before he took a call from the CBC's Norbert Poitras who was hosting Trail's End.McKinnon can't say for sure why the birds would have made their way to Kugluktuk, which is almost 900 kilometres north of Fort Smith, but the jet stream — which they travel on when migrating — might have something to do with it."They get around, these birds," McKinnon said."Maybe one or two caught a good gust of wind and took an extra trip and went a little further than the rest of their friends."McKinnon is pleased to hear of pelicans spotted in other parts of the N.W.T. It's a sign of robust pelican colonies, and in particular, of the health of the colony near Fort Smith. He said the pelican population there has grown from just 27 nests in 1974 (when they first began surveying the bird population), to about 700 over the past few years.A nest includes two breeding pairs, so that's between 1,400 and 1,500 birds at the colony, not including 500 or so juveniles, or "pre-breeders."The juvenile birds hang out in their own flock."Those birds are known to kind of roam far and wide," McKinnon said. "Potentially those birds in Wrigley may have been those pre-breeders."> Pelicans will often change where they nest if they get disturbed, especially by humans or other predators. \- John McKinnon, Pelican Advisory CircleMcKinnon said the Fort Smith colony remains the most northern in North America, as far as he knows, but he said the birds do move around. He's heard reports of nesting pelicans near Big Island on the mouth of the Mackenzie River, as well as north of Fort Smith near the Taltson and Rocher Rivers.He said at one time, back around 1907, there was another colony in the N.W.T., "somewhere on Great Slave Lake," but it's no longer around."Pelicans will often change where they nest if they get disturbed, especially by humans or other predators."Anyone should count themselves lucky to see the birds in the wild."They're very majestic when they're in the air," McKinnon said. "They soar with the greatest of ease and it's quite majestic to watch. When they're feeding in the river and the whitewater rapids and battling down and trying to swallow a ten-pound pike … it's just amazing to watch these big birds in action."McKinnon said an added perk to watching pelicans at the Fort Smith colony is that they let observers get relatively close — even as close as just 10 feet away, separated as the birds are from spectators by rushing rapids.But bird watchers should take care not to interfere with the pelicans, no matter where they find them."I think we will be seeing range expansion and it would be great to know where the birds are establishing new nesting sites and to make sure that people respect that they've chosen that spot to live and to not disturb them, and to let them be."

  • Tourist stores rethink idea of souvenirs as summer business boost fails to appear
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    Tourist stores rethink idea of souvenirs as summer business boost fails to appear

    In the three months since the doors to his Robson Street souvenir shop were boarded up, Chris Cheung made one sale: two pairs of plaid onesie pyjamas, emblazoned with the words "bear cheeks" on the button-up rear, to a buyer in Australia.Cheung, who manages Canadian Crafts and Gifts, needs to sell more than just two $50 cotton jumpsuits to pay his bills this summer and it's not looking good. COVID-19 has resulted in an almost complete lack of international tourism in Vancouver, threatening the future of a store that's been in his family for three generations."It's going to be a little bit of a rough year," he said.B.C.'s tourism industry generated more than $20 billion in revenue in 2018. With international travel almost non-existent and large cruise ships banned from Canadian ports, it's expected to take a drastic hit this year. Until now, Cheung's family has only seen growth in the business. His grandfather opened the store in the early 1970s after immigrating to Canada from Hong Kong. Initially, he sold Asian gifts and products. When Cheung's uncle took over several years later, the store began to sell more Canadiana-inspired items and business took off."In 1986 we had Expo. And then the cruises start going in more consistently, and after that [the Olympics] in 2010, and that was huge," Cheung said."When the Canucks would do well, we would do well," he added.Now he's grappling with a store full of unsold stock and wondering how he can sell souvenirs without tourists around to buy them, and during a year most would rather forget.'A representation of who Canadians are'Gabe Garfinkel hopes British Columbians exploring their own province this summer reconsider what a souvenir — by definition a reminder of a person, place or event — can be.Garfinkel is the general manager of Native Northwest, a Vancouver-based business that sells items designed by Indigenous artists to souvenir shops and individuals. He estimates a majority of retailers have had a decline in revenue of at least 90 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic began.Locals might have no use for a Canada flag keychain, a Mountie snow globe or a moose magnet. But, instead, Native Northwest sells items like bags made by Salish weavers, umbrellas with colourful prints of the thunderbird, children's books and mugs printed with images of sasquatch — which is the "master" of physical distancing, according to the store's website. You don't need to be a tourist in the traditional sense to buy items like these, Garfinkel said."It's not necessarily a tourism item, it's a Canadian item, it's a British Columbian item, it's a representation of who Canadians are," Garfinkel said."For businesses in retail and tourism to stay alive, they really need British Columbians now more than ever to book their vacations in the province, to go for drives and to visit local small businesses and buy beautiful British Columbian products."Cheung is thinking a lot more about what local tourists might want from a souvenir shop. He has focused more on having an online presence and is promoting items like Canada flags, reusable masks and Indigenous jewelry.But the future of his storefront shop — the cornerstone of his family's legacy in souvenirs — remains precarious.Cheung plans to reopen his storefront in mid-July, which would usually be the busiest time of the year, and he's in discussion with his landlord to renegotiate the store's rent.Around him, other stores are struggling. OK Gifts, one of his biggest competitors, recently closed three of its stores in Vancouver, Banff, Alta., and Niagara Falls, Ont., after almost 50 years in business.Cheung doesn't know how long he can remain in business unless sales pick up."I'm going to be losing money for the next year," he said."Summer is where we make up for all the rest of the months. So this year is going to be a big hit."

  • Coronavirus: Migrant workers demand immigration status amid COVID-19 outbreak
    News
    Global News

    Coronavirus: Migrant workers demand immigration status amid COVID-19 outbreak

    People have taken to the streets across Canada demanding Ottawa grant migrant workers greater rights and protections. Hundreds of migrant workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Morganne Campbell has more on today’s call to action.