Kenya dismisses athletics doping reports as smear campaign

By Drazen Jorgic

By Drazen Jorgic

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's athletics body said on Sunday that media reports alleging doping among its runners were a smear campaign ahead of world championships in Beijing.

Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD/WDR said they were given access to the results of more than 12,000 blood tests showing more than 800 athletes had given blood samples that were "highly suggestive" of doping or "abnormal". Of the 800, 77 were Kenyan athletes according the reports.

ARD/WDR on Saturday aired a documentary in which a hidden camera purportedly showed athletes being injected with performance enhancing drugs. ARD also alleged corruption among Kenyan officials who wanted to cover up doping by runners.

According to the Sunday Times, 18 of the country's medals won from 2001-2012 were won by athletes with suspicious blood-test results.

Athletics Kenya (AK) said claims of widespread systematic doping among Kenyan runners was "suspect and ill-motivated".

"We cannot fail to point out that the documentary is an attempt to smear our runners with unwarranted suspicion as they prepare to undertake duty for their country in Beijing, China," AK said in a statement.

"The unwarranted claims on the Kenyan athletes are deliberately aimed at derailing the preparations and the participation of the Kenyan team in the World Championships."

The championships run Aug. 22-30.

TRACK RECORD

Kenya boasts some of the world's best middle- and long-distance runners but dozens of its athletes have failed drug tests over the past few years, casting a shadow over the success of Kenyan athletics.

In February, Rita Jeptoo, winner of the Boston and Chicago marathons, was banned for two years after a failed test in the biggest doping scandal to hit Kenya in recent years.

David Rudisha, 800m Olympic champion and Kenya's best known runner, in December told Reuters that AK should have done more to root out drugs cheats as persistent doping claims risk tarnishing reputations of clean Kenyan runners.

Kenyan government officials have blamed the growing number of doping cases on foreign agents and AK's failure to educate its athletes properly.

AK said it has been fighting hard to combat doping and was working closely with IAAF, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Kenyan government to counter the scourge.

The Kenyan sports body also said it had been educating athletes about the dangers posed by doping and was about to conclude an investigation, assisted by police, into the sale, distribution and use of banned substances.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

  • School bus draped with message targets UK's Prince Andrew
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    The Canadian Press

    School bus draped with message targets UK's Prince Andrew

    LONDON — A yellow school bus with a banner depicting the face of Britain's Prince Andrew drove past Buckingham Palace on Friday, urging him to testify in the investigation of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.The stunt organized by American lawyer Gloria Allred sought to pressure Queen Elizabeth II's son to reveal what he might know about the disgraced financier. Allred represents some of Epstein's victims and has demanded that Andrew co-operates.The message, featuring pictures of Andrew, said: "If you see this man please ask him to call the FBI to answer their questions."Andrew has stepped back from royal duties following a catastrophic BBC interview in which he categorically denied having sex with a teenager who says she was trafficked by Epstein. Britain’s newspapers and social media commentators slammed the royal for defending his friendship with Epstein and for failing to show empathy for the convicted sex-offender’s victims.U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters in January that Andrew has provided “zero co-operation” to the FBI and U.S. prosecutors seeking to speak with him about Epstein.The statement by Berman, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, was the first official confirmation that the leading U.S. law enforcement agency had sought — and failed — to obtain evidence from Andrew, third child of the monarch, despite his pledge to co-operate with legitimate law enforcement agencies.Andrew was reported to be "angry and bewildered" at the comments by American authorities, with the Telegraph quoting a source as saying: "The duke is more than happy to talk to the FBI but he hasn't been approached by them yet."The American prosecutors have since stood by their statements.The FBI declined to comment.The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    It shouldn't be a crime to raise funeral money through lotteries, raffles, MLA says

    Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak is asking the government of Nunavut to check itself on how it regulates legal, or illegal, fundraisers done through lotteries and raffles.  Earlier this week the Department of Community and Government Services issued a public service announcement to warn Nunavummiut that lotteries and raffles held without a government- or municipality-issued license are illegal. Under the Nunavut Lotteries Act only charitable organizations, non-profits and religious groups are allowed to run lotteries. That means people who hold 50/50s, bingos or the like without a licence can be prosecuted. "Individuals who wish to fundraise for personal reasons through raffles are not eligible for a lottery licence," the announcement reads. "If you are concerned of possible fraud from an unlicensed lottery, please contact your local RCMP detachment."Angnakak said fraudsters and scammers should be prosecuted, and lotteries shouldn't be used to pay for "Vegas vacations" or "buying a new truck." But, given the high crime rates and serious violence seen in the territory, Angnakak questioned the wisdom of having law enforcement penalize people who are raising money for a good cause. "When it comes to desperate people who are looking to raise a few dollars to help with funeral-related expenses or travelling to be with a dying relative we need to take a more humane approach," she said. "Prosecuting someone in these circumstances is not the best use of our governments time and resources."When Angnakak asked Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak for his opinion on the regulation of unlicensed lottery and raffles in communities, he said, "I believe it's my right not to state an opinion on this issue." Kusugak was also unaware of any prosecuted offences related to unlicensed lotteries within the last year.  Angnakak called the current Lotteries Act out of date, it having been brought in from the Northwest Territories and only updated a few times. She asked to see an overhaul of the act, and for lottery games and fundraisers that are common in Nunavut, like Chase the Ace, to be reflected in those changes.

  • Places for pot: Edmonton to look at options for cannabis cafes
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    CBC

    Places for pot: Edmonton to look at options for cannabis cafes

    Edmonton will take its first real look at licensing cannabis cafes next week, though currently such establishments are not legal in Alberta nor anywhere in Canada. The provincial Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act would have to be revised before municipalities can approve business licences. The city released a report Thursday presenting three models, when or if the rules are relaxed. The first scenario would allow patrons to consume cannabis edibles in a stand-alone facility, another would allow both cannabis edibles and alcohol in the same location and a third option would allow patrons to consume cannabis in the same venue, but in a separate room from alcohol. Smoking or vaping cannabis inside would not be allowed. Edmonton city councillor Mike Nickel asked administration last November to look at other jurisdictions that allow cafes, to outline the economic benefits of such a business and present the regulations needed to put them in place. Nickel sees the potential for new business and jobs in Edmonton.  "There's value-added manufacturing because I'm also interested in people actually making product, you know, to be consumed be it drinks or cakes or whatever — brownies whatever — but they have to have a safe place for them to actually consume."The city report notes that a stand-alone cannabis cafe with no alcohol would likely result in the most economic benefit, as new sites would require construction and specialized service. Several U.S. states have cannabis lounges, including California, Alaska and Michigan. The states listed in the report separate cannabis consumption from alcohol. They have other regulations, such as requiring lounges to be 600 feet from a daycare, school or youth centre. Health Canada said the federal government is required to review the Cannabis Act by Oct. 17, 2021 — three years after went into effect.  A report outlining the results of the review must be tabled in Parliament within 18 months, no later than Apr. 17, 2023.But allowing lounges is really up to the provinces."While a personal chef, restaurant or commercial kitchen could seek a federal licence to produce edible cannabis products for commercial purposes, they would not be able to sell those products to the public without a provincial or territorial licence," Health Canada said. A spokesperson for the Alberta Treasury Board and Finance Ministry, which oversees cannabis legislation, told CBC News that the minister has no plans to review the act. John Carle, executive director of the Alberta Cannabis Council, a non-profit working to raise awareness on the industry, said it's not clear yet if there's strong interest in starting such lounges."I don't know who's going to be that first company to take that first step because someone's got to break the mould here and it just seems like everyone's waiting for everyone else to do it."Nickel said the hospitality industry will be a key player in paving the way for legal cannabis cafes and that someone from industry needs to present a business case to the city.In turn, the city can lobby the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, which enforces the provincial legislation and can suggest changing the rules. Council's community and public services committee is scheduled to review the city report at a meeting Feb. 26.    @natashariebe

  • 'Like losing a family member': Community mourns loss of Jane and Finch rec centre to fire
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    CBC

    'Like losing a family member': Community mourns loss of Jane and Finch rec centre to fire

    Residents in the Jane and Finch area say their community has lost its heart.A fire ripped through Firgrove Learning and Innovation Community Centre (FLICC) last week, leaving kids without a place to gather and organizers scrambling to keep programs running.The space is a non-profit community centre that opened in 2008.Now, those who loved the facility are wondering what will be done with the building."To see this gone, its very hard," said 13-year-old Tahmya Anderson as she fought back tears. Anderson says she's been going to the recreation centre with her mom since the building opened."Now she picks me up from school and we go home and there's nothing really to do," she said. Watch: Jane and Finch community mourns the loss of their recreation centre to a devastating fireThe space was home to after school programs for children, community sewing circles for adults, computer literacy classes, virtual learning and food banks.Janessa Dacosta, 9, is one of the many children who say they've benefited from those after school programs. Dacosta has been going to FLICC since she was five years old."It was fun for me and I could do a lot of stuff. I loved drawing but now I have to find somewhere else to do that," she said. Dacosta says she cried when she saw the building burning because it reminded her of the drawings she had posted on walls inside.Many of the people who frequented the rec centre consider themselves part of an extended family, said Christine Prevedel, an after-school program co-ordinator. "As soon as the school bell rang, this is where everybody was going to be," she said.Vanesha Cardwell has spent 17 years in the neighbourhood and says it was a safe space for many youth.  "Many young people that were affected by gang violence or problems at home, they would come to the rec centre to talk to someone about it, they were heard," she said.'It's like losing someone'Executive Director Lorraine Anderson, who is also Tahmya Anderson's mother, is still coming to terms with what happened.She hasn't been back to the building since it burned through the night on Feb. 12."It's like losing someone. It's like losing a family member, what this centre has inside is a lot of memories, a lot of love, a lot of care," she said. It took just two hours for the blaze to burn through 12 years of work. Everything from the children's artwork to newly donated soccer equipment to computers were lost, says Anderson. Now staff faces a tough logistical challenge."Finding new spaces to hold homework help, family barbecues, summer camps and food banks are going to be really hard but we just go day-by-day," she said.  An uncertain futureFor now, programs like the women's exercise group are running in an adjacent building, while kids do school work in the next room.Meanwhile, the blaze is still under investigation by Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal and Toronto fire services.It is believed it began in a computer room, firefighters said, though it remains unclear how it may have started.Anderson says the building is likely going to be demolished as a result of the city's Jane Finch revitalization project. Toronto Community Housing says it's assessing the damage to see just how bad it is before deciding on what to do next."We do know it's an important part of the community so we're going to be looking at things with that in mind" said Bruce Malloch, TCH's director of strategic communications.

  • Tragedy stole Aly Jenkins from her family, the sport she loved is helping them heal
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    CBC

    Tragedy stole Aly Jenkins from her family, the sport she loved is helping them heal

    MOOSE JAW, Sask. — It was supposed to be Aly Jenkins's moment.The promising Saskatchewan curler so badly wanted to wear her provincial colours one day and play in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada's crown jewel for women's curling.But on that first Sunday of competition at this year's tournament it was Jenkins's husband, Scott, and their three children who stood at ice level inside Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, Sask. Aly Jenkins wasn't there. But her presence could be felt by everyone inside the arena."It was a tough decision to come," Scott said this week. "I think she'd be proud. I think she might think I would just fold maybe and not come. But she always pushed me to do these things so that's why I'm doing it."It had been just four months since Aly had died giving birth to the couple's third child. She had suffered an amniotic embolism, a rare complication during childbirth and almost unthinkable for a healthy 30-year-old.It sent a chill through the curling community.WATCH | Devin Heroux reports on Aly Jenkins' story for The National:In the days that followed, people from across Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world rallied around Scott and his family, doing whatever they could to help him make it to the next day."I can't thank them enough," Scott said. "I wish there was a way I could thank every single one, and help them with something they're struggling with."This past Sunday, at the opening weekend of this year's Scotties, Curling Canada honoured Aly.WATCH | Tribute for Aly Jenkins:In front of a capacity crowd, Scott, his four-year-old son Brady, one-year-old daughter Avery, and new baby Sydney courageously walked out onto the ice surface area in front of a crowd of thousands.  Scott held Brady, with Aly's former curling teammates holding Sydney and Avery nearby. They played a video tribute honouring her, highlighting Aly's love of curling, zest for life and infectious smile. Tears streamed down their faces as photos of Aly flashed across the screen inside the arena.It was devastating and beautiful.Scott had to be there. For Aly. For his healing process. And to help his kids know their mom."Just trying not to let them forget. That's my biggest worry right now is them forgetting her," Scott said. "They ask about mom. Not as much lately which scares me."The 'miracle' babyOctober 20 was supposed to be the perfect day.It was Scott's birthday. It was also the day Aly, a physiotherapist, went into labour.Scott doesn't want to revisit it. But all he does is revisit it, over and over in his mind — their drive to the hospital, being in the delivery room and then the chaos that followed."We were joking and laughing when we arrived. It was my birthday. So we were talking about having the same birthday and all the stuff and trying to have this baby on the same day. She was all excited for that," Scott said."Everything switched in a hurry."Aly was in a lot of pain. She quickly got an epidural. But nothing was getting rid of her severe pain. Her heart rate started dropping. Aly was having trouble breathing."All of a sudden in the blink of an eye everything just dropped," Scott said. "She had a seizure and all the machines were dinging and ringing. They grabbed me and I went out to the hallway and I collapsed. They had nurses on me and then I saw them take her away.""It was the last time I saw her," Scott said. One doctor came in and told me when Aly passed away, for some reason, everything started to change with Sydney. \- Scott JenkinsFor hours doctors tried everything to save Aly, pumping litre after litre of blood into her. Nothing worked. While that horrifying situation was unfolding doctors were also trying to save the baby."Sydney wasn't breathing for the first two minutes or three minutes," Scott recalled.Sydney had no brain function. Her lungs weren't working. It wasn't looking good."I was running up and down floors to try to meet doctors," Scott said. "I remember every second of it. It's crazy."And then a miracle moment."One doctor came in and told me when Aly passed away, for some reason, everything started to change with Sydney," Scott said.Sydney started breathing.WATCH | Curling helping Aly Jenkins's family ease the pain:Doctors thought Sydney would be in the hospital for at least 30 days recovering, hooked up to machines. Scott left the hospital nine days later with a healthy "miracle baby.""She's the last person that was with Aly. I see so much of her in Sydney. She's a fighter like her mom," he said.Picking up the piecesScott, 31, is now adjusting to life as a single father, on leave from his sales job with a construction company.In his Warman, Sask., home he's filling bottles, changing diapers, playing mini sticks, trying to maintain normalcy for kids who need love and fun. The routine of parenthood, but underlying it all, his grief. There are two TVs, one for Avery's cartoons and one for Brady's shows. Sometimes Scott is able to watch sports late at night if he doesn't fall asleep on the couch after another exhausting day.He's finally getting a routine down, but wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of his parents and Aly's parents who drop by the house on a daily basis."They've been amazing. I couldn't have done without them. Just the daily challenges," Scott said. "I can't just curl up in bed and sulk. We have three kids so I keep pushing."But he has his moments. When all he wants to do is cry. Avery is too young to know what's happening right now. But Brady is acutely aware of his dad's feelings, stepping up to help as much as he can."He's an eight-year-old in a four-year-old body. He doesn't complain about anything. He'll help me with the bottles and diapers. He cleans up. Avery is my little Aly. She's feisty just like her mom," Scott said.   "We have our moments. I try to keep it away from them as much as possible when I'm upset."Brady knows. He always says we're okay, and gives a hug. It's special."Back to the ScottiesEverywhere Scott turns he's reminded of his high school sweetheart.The two met when they were in Grade 11 during a golf tournament in Waskesiu, Sask. They immediately fell in love.For the next number of years, Scott would drive four hours almost every week from Prince Albert, Sask. to Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., where Aly grew up, to spend the weekend with her. They had been inseparable ever since."We were drawing up something pretty perfect," Scott said.Five years ago, in February 2015, the two made the drive together from Warman to Moose Jaw and dreamed of their future.It was the previous time the Scotties was held in Saskatchewan. Scott remembers the drive along the expansive prairie landscape with Aly like it was yesterday."She was so excited. Her dream was to make it and I knew she would have one day for sure," he said.They spent that week in the Mosaic Place stands together, laughing, cheering, and imagining Aly being on the ice one day."I know exactly where we were sitting," Scott said, pointing to the spot. "Across the rink. Right over there."This week, Scott had to make the drive without her. As he walked up to the arena with Avery in his arms and Brady walking beside him holding his hand, Scott shared memories with them of that time with Aly."That connection to curling is going to keep it together for sure," Scott said. "It's forever going to be attached with mom and curling,"Not long after Scott and his family arrived, he was met by Rachel Homan, the three-time Scotties champion from Ottawa.She gave birth to her first child, a baby boy, this past summer, and news of Aly's death hit her in a visceral way. She immediately reached out to Scott and the pair had remained in contact, Homan offering whatever support she could.On this day, the two hugged each other on the Mosaic Place concourse with their two babies in their arms."It's devastating and emotional so I just wanted to reach out to see if there was anything I could do to support or help," Homan said.  "Being through a similar experience but obviously a different ending.  I just can't even imagine going through that."Homan is the skip of Team Ontario. They decided to put stickers with Aly's name on their brooms to honour her throughout this year's tournament.It's little things like this that keeps Scott going."The curling community is quite amazing and I'm so grateful to be a part of it," Scott said. "We're all a big family."Aly's teammates were her second family.Nancy Martin and Sherry Anderson were two of the last curlers to be on the ice with her. They came within a shot of making it to the Scotties in 2019 — they so badly wanted to play a role in helping Aly achieve her dream."I think you saw probably on our faces when we lost last year she was down and beside me and the tears were rolling," Martin said. "It was heartbreaking to lose that game. You always think there's another year." You wanted her to experience the joy of the win and getting to go and play in the Scotties. \- Sherry Anderson, Jenkins's former teammateAnderson has been to the Scotties a number of times; she knows what it takes to win at that level. And she knew Aly was good enough to one day be there."You wanted her to experience the joy of the win and getting to go and play in the Scotties because that is every female's dream in Canada, to go to the Scotties and perform. So, it was hard."The two have kept in touch with Scott and the kids, helping out as much as they can. And like Scott, Martin and Anderson have been overwhelmed by how the curling community has rallied together in the wake of this tragedy."I think the one thing that blew me away was it was curlers. Friends of friends of friends curlers who didn't know Aly that reached out to us and it really made me realize what a small community we have really," Martin said.  "We all have each other's back."Keeping Aly's memory aliveIn Scott's bedroom, in the corner beside the bed, sits a duffel bag.Scott points to it, the emotions beginning to bubble up inside him."She packed that before going to the hospital," he says.Aly's previous two deliveries were lengthy and so she wanted to be prepared for her third.Scott can't bring himself to open the bag to see what's inside.Some days are better than others. But there are these daily moments, out of nowhere, where he's hit by the reality that Aly isn't there to watch their three beautiful children grow up."Every day it's something. And that's what hurts. Avery started to talk a lot more and little things like that set me off because it's just stuff that I wish Aly could have witnessed."I see them growing up and doing things their mom would've been so proud of."He has her phone. Aly recorded moments together with Brady and Avery — at the park, at the curling rink, in the kitchen with the kids. Scott will watch those videos from time to time to remind him of her.Aly loved being a mom."She kept the family together. I have to learn so many new things now. She took care of everything around this family."And in some ways she's still taking care of them, through the community she leaves behind, and the rinks that were her second home.

  • Trudeau says rail barricades 'need to come down now,' rules out sending in soldiers to restore rail service
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    CBC

    Trudeau says rail barricades 'need to come down now,' rules out sending in soldiers to restore rail service

    While ruling out deploying the army to lift Indigenous blockades restricting freight transport, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today called the blockades "unacceptable and untenable" and said they must come down."Everyone involved is worried," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. "Canadians have been patient, our government has been patient. But it has been two weeks and the barricades need to come down now."Trudeau said that his government has engaged directly with Indigenous leaders and premiers with the aim of finding a "peaceful and lasting resolution" to the crisis."That focus does not change," Trudeau said. "This is a complex issue and the situation we now find ourselves in is a delicate one. History has taught us how governments can make matters worse if they fail to exhaust all other possible avenues."When some urged us to use force immediately, we chose dialogue and mutual respect. When others urged us to give up, we extended a hand in good faith."Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, opposed to a natural gas pipeline being constructed through their territory, have prevented workers from Coastal GasLink from entering their territory in northern B.C. That defiance has inspired other activists and indigenous groups to launch railway and port blockades that have restricted the transport of goods across the country for the past two weeks. Even if the barricades do come down, the construction of the pipeline faces other obstacles. B.C.s' Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has instructed Coastal GasLink to undergo further consultation with Indigenous communities along a stretch of its pipeline route.The firm now has 30 days to begin talks, and during that time no construction can happen along the 18-kilometre portion of the pipeline in the Morice River area, which is within Dark House territory.Watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says rail blockades are "unacceptable and untenable":Despite efforts to reach out to leaders of the protest, Trudeau said, all attempts at dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs behind the initial protest have failed to deliver a resolution."We cannot have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table. For this reason, we have no choice but to stop making the same overtures," Trudeau said. "Of course, we will never close the door on dialogue and our hand remains extended should someone want to reach for it."Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told CBC News Network's Power & Politics earlier today that some Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who disagree with the chiefs behind the protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline project have reached out to the federal government to talk. "There have been discussions with hereditary chiefs who have been willing to speak to us, and actually that has been very productive," Blair told host Vassy Kapelos."But unfortunately, those who have been most vocal, and have now [a] growing list of demands, have declined to engage with any meaningful dialogue with us."Looking for a peaceful solutionAsked if he would send in the RCMP to end the blockades, Trudeau said that since the railway blockade in Ontario falls under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Provincial Police, the Mounties would not be involved. He also ruled out deploying the army."There is no question of using the army. You don't use the army against Canadian civilians," he said. The prime minister said he's confident that Canada's law enforcement agencies will work with Indigenous leaders to avoid any violent outcome."I think that we have demonstrated that we believe in a peaceful solution to this," Trudeau said. "But we cannot continue to watch Canadians suffer with shortages and layoffs."Two kinds of protestsTrudeau said there are two kinds of protests in play right now: those being staged by activists focused on historical wrongs done to Canada's Indigenous peoples, and those aimed at "particular project with which they disagree to advance a particular point of view.""Let me be clear, our resolve to pursue the reconciliation agenda with Indigenous peoples is as strong as ever. There are historic wrongs to right, there are gaps to be closed, there is a relationship to be renewed and new relationships to be built," Trudeau said."Canada is ready for this, Canadians want this but hurting Canadian families from coast to coast to coast does nothing to advance the cause of reconciliation."Speaking from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ont., Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chief Woos, who also goes by the name of Frank Alec, gave Trudeau credit for acknowledging the wrongs of the past but gave little indication he agrees with the government's concerns.'Illegal occupation in Wet'suwet'en territory': Chief Woos"We heard Prime Minister Trudeau just a little while ago talking about the inconvenience that Canada has suffered. However, there is a difference between inconvenience and injustice. Total difference. Don't confuse one with the other," He said. Woos said that the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have confirmed that, far from leaving Wet'suwet'en land, the RCMP has "increased harassment, made illegal arrests increased surveillance of Wet'suwet'en people and their invited guests."Watch: Chief Woos says no blockade talks until RCMP leave Wet'suwet'en territoryThe chief said the RCMP actions amounted to an "illegal occupation in Wet'suwet'en territory," and that the protests would continue until the RCMP clears off their land and all work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline stops."We demand the remote detachment, community industry service office, established by the RCMP on Wet'suwet'en territory without our consent, be immediately removed," he said."We demand that all [Coastal GasLink] activities cease within Wet'suwet'en territory while nation to nation talks are ongoing."Send in the Mounties: ScheerConservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau today of showing "phony resolve" in demanding the barricades come down. He also criticized the prime minister for ruling out the use of police to end the protests."Justin Trudeau has caused this problem. He elevated these protests to the same level as efforts for reconciliation as recently as this Tuesday, and now he's finally realized that there are two different things at play here," he said.Scheer claimed radical environmental activists have hijacked the Indigenous protests in an effort to shut down Canada's energy sector. He also dismissed the argument that the RCMP doesn't have the jurisdiction to end at least some of the protests.Watch: Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says Trudeau is showing 'phony resolve' on blockade crisis:"There are many areas where there are protests that are under the jurisdiction of the RCMP and I believe having that leadership shown at the federal level would certainly send a signal that the prime minister is serious about what he's saying," Scheer said.Rule of lawIt remains unclear exactly what the federal government means to do to remove the barricades that are strangling rail traffic.Asked Friday morning if the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs had responded to an offer from the B.C. RCMP to pull back officers from a part of their traditional territory, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he couldn't comment."We know that we still have a great deal of work to do. We're doing that work and we very much recognize the importance and the urgency of resolving this as quickly as possible," Blair said hours before the prime minister addressed reporters.Watch: The NDP's Rachel Blaney respond's to Trudeau's press conference:The Mohawk protesters in Tyendinaga had said they would continue their blockade of the CN Rail line near Belleville, Ont., until the RCMP abandons its temporary detachment on Wet'suwet'en land. The B.C. RCMP has said it will move its operations to nearby Houston, B.C., as long as the hereditary chiefs guarantee free access to Morice West Forest Service Road, a public road used by construction crews building the Coastal GasLink pipeline."We are waiting for a commitment before we finalize that transition of our operations to Houston. However we are doing all the planning now and getting things ready so it can be happen as soon as we get that commitment," a spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP said."The RCMP recognizes the importance for this crisis to be de-escalated, both across the country and in the Wet'suwet'en traditional territory ... Ultimately, we remain open to any service delivery scenario that keeps people safe and secure."On a call with premiers late Thursday, Trudeau was told Ottawa needs to resolve this crisis quickly or risk a backlash from counter-protesters and vigilantes determined to put an end to Indigenous demonstrations that have snarled the flow of goods and people.The protests have put 1,500 railway workers temporarily out of a job and disrupted the transport of food, farm products, consumer goods and essential items like chlorine for water and propane for home heating.Watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's full press conference in the player below:

  • 'West Side Story' opening draws protesters on Broadway
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    The Canadian Press

    'West Side Story' opening draws protesters on Broadway

    NEW YORK — There was a chorus outside the Broadway Theatre on Thursday at the opening night of a new revival of “West Side Story” but what was being sung was a protest chant.A group of about 100 people demanded the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar, who was fired and then reinstated last year at New York City Ballet for sharing nude photos of women and sexually explicit texts.The protesters chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, Amar Ramasar has got to go!” before the curtain went up even as the opening night celebration drew such stars as Andrea Martin, Julie Taymor, Vanessa Hudgens, Alec Baldwin and Iman.Protests outside Broadway shows are relatively rare but have occurred by anti-Scientology activists outside “All My Sons” starring Katie Holmes in 2008 and outside “The Scottsboro Boys” in 2010 by people upset by that show's material.Alexandra Waterbury, a former student with the City Ballet's affiliated school, the School of American Ballet, alleged in 2018 that Ramasar and two other men shared nude photos of her, taken without her knowledge, with other men in the company.Since, then, there’s been a petition to remove Ramasar from “West Side Story,” where he plays Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. Producers in a statement last week backed the actor, noting that the incident took place in a different workplace and “has been both fully adjudicated and definitively concluded according to the specific rules of that workplace.”“There is zero consideration being given to his potentially being terminated from this workplace, as there has been no transgression of any kind, ever, in this workplace,” the statement read.Protesters held signs that read: “Boo Bernardo” and “Keep Predators Off the Stage.” One of the organizers, Megan Rabin, said she wanted alleged abusers to know they’ve been put on notice."I hope that we can set the precedent that Broadway is no place for a sex offender. There's no place in the spotlight for a sex offender, and men who abuse their power will face consequences for it,” Rabin said.Actor's Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers, issued a statement saying it is trying to ensure that all Broadway actors work in a harassment-free environment.“Everyone at ‘West Side Story’ should be able to go to work and perform feeling safe and protected in their workplace. Equity has been in communication with the general manager and the members of the show. As a union, Equity’s role is to ensure that our members are protected in the workplace and we take that responsibility very seriously. Equity will continue to hold all employers to their legal obligation to maintain a safe and harassment-free environment," said Executive Director Mary McColl.Ramasar and another dancer were initially terminated by New York City Ballet. The third dancer resigned before he could be fired. Their union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, appealed the firings to the arbitrator, and both were reinstated last year. Ramasar did not return to the ballet company.___Associated Press writer Mark Kennedy contributed to this report.John Carucci, The Associated Press

  • New project aims to inform Islanders on legal consequences of cyberbullying and sexting
    News
    CBC

    New project aims to inform Islanders on legal consequences of cyberbullying and sexting

    A new project aiming to better inform youth and caregivers on the legal elements of cyberbullying and sexting is seeking public input. Community Legal Information is behind the project called Sexting, Cyberbullying and the Criminal Code.The project will also include information about forming healthy relationships and decision-making skills.Sarah Dennis, a project manager with the organization, said the group has already conducted one focus group with youth. Now, the organization is looking to conduct focus groups with caregivers, she said.Dennis said the hope is to get a sense of what the landscape of cyberbullying and sexting looks like on the Island from different perspectives.Videos and other resourcesOnce the information is gathered, the organization plans to rollout three videos and a workshop geared toward youth in Grades 7 to 9,  she said.  Social media has been so integrated into our daily lives that maybe we don't think about the consequences of a simple post before we make it. — Sarah Dennis"It's been identified that sexting and cyberbullying is a reality for youth on P.E.I., and this project will deliver, you know, tangible resources that people can go to and reference to be able to get the facts in a plain language way," she said. Dennis said the plan also includes a youth advisory committee which will oversee the project. "The role there is to ensure that the information that we put out into the community is vetted through a youth lens so that it has more impact on the community."'We don't think about the consequences'Youth who want to get involved must be between 12 and 18 years of age and should expect to commit to about six hours of their time to meet with organizers. The caregiver focus group is expected to take about two hours and involve one session. "Social media has been so integrated into our daily lives that maybe we don't think about the consequences of a simple post before we make it. Maybe with these resources it'll give people pause to think about what they're posting before they do." Resources from the project will be rolled out over the next two years, Dennis said. More from CBC P.E.I.

  • 'I started crying, I started dancing': Rencontre student wins $100K scholarship
    News
    CBC

    'I started crying, I started dancing': Rencontre student wins $100K scholarship

    Lydia Hardy of Rencontre East, roughly 200 kilometres south of Grand Falls-Windsor, won a scholarship valued at $100,000 — now she's ready to do for the world what she did for small-town Newfoundland.Rencontre East has a population of less than 150, but now can boast that one of their own is among the most recent Loran Scholar recipients, a four-year award for undergraduates who show character, service and leadership.When it comes to living in a tiny community, Hardy said people don't often speak about their struggles in rural communities where everybody knows everybody. She was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 11 years old. That same year she came out as bi-sexual."Right now I'm still the only openly gay person living in my community," she said."A lot of people haven't had exposure to the LGBT community, but I found them generally accepting and supportive of me."Hardy took things in stride, opting to take the reins and lead the charge in breaking the stigma within her community. She successfully obtained a government grant to renovate her school's bathrooms to double as safe spaces. Hardy has worked summer jobs with MOWI, a Norwegian-based seafood company, her local town council and is an advocate for human rights.But, now it's time for Hardy to leave behind her tightknit community, at least for the time being, but the dedicated student says she's ready to go, albeit with fond memories."Growing up as a kid in Rencontre, we just had all the freedom in the world. There was never any safety issues. Everyone was family," Hardy, a student of St. Stephen's All Grade, told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show."I've learned the most valuable life lessons here ... but I'm ready to move on now to bigger things."  Almost 5,200 applicantsThe award gives Hardy an annual living stipend and matching tuition from one of Loran Scholar's 25 partner universities, plus summer internship funding, one-on-one mentorship and the opportunity to connect with other "high-potential" youth through the foundation's gatherings.She was flying home from Toronto — where the 88 finalists had travelled for the last part of the scholarship's selection process — and she got stuck in Montreal due to flight cancellations. It was then she got the call that was one of the winners. "I dropped to the floor, I started crying, I started dancing," Hardy said.Loran Scholar's Foundation said 5,194 students applied for the 2020 scholarship — only 36 were chosen overall. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • News
    CBC

    City preparing to help low-income Calgarians cope with provincial policy change

    The City of Calgary will take steps to help low-income people affected by the province's decision to change when it sends money to those on income support programs.The UCP government announced in January that it's shifting the date for making those payments from a few days before the end of the month to the first day of the month.If the first day of a month doesn't fall on a weekday, then the money will go out on the last business day of the previous month.Most recipients get that money through a direct deposit in a bank account.Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city will do what it can to help thousands of low-income Calgarians who rely on those payments."This is not a good change. It is really disruptive to some of the most vulnerable people in our community," he said.Additional cost, inconvenienceFor example, most people who qualify for Calgary Transit's monthly low-income transit pass line up to purchase their pass in the final days of the month.Nenshi said now some of those people who may not have enough money to buy the pass ahead of time will likely join a huge lineup on the first day of the month, when they receive their income support or AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) payments.That opens up another problem."How are you going to get to the place where you buy your bus pass without having to pay another fare?" Nenshi said. He said it could mean someone has to pay a $3.50 adult transit fare to pick up a monthly low-income pass, which costs $5.45."These are things I wish the provincial government had considered and consulted on before making this decision." City looking at opening officeGiven March 1 falls on a Sunday, the province will make the support payments on February 28.Nenshi said the city is looking at opening its Calgary Transit customer service centre on Seventh Avenue S.W. downtown on February 29 to sell passes.The centre normally only operates Monday to Friday. In this case, Nenshi said the city would have to absorb the cost of the additional day of operation.As for what happens in future months, Nenshi said city council may have to look at amending its transit bylaw, but no details on changes were discussed at Thursday's meeting of council's intergovernmental affairs committee."At the city, we are committed to make sure that vulnerable people are not hurt by this transition. It's not our decision, but we will work hard to make sure that we're managing the impacts."

  • China's leaders say nation yet to turn corner in virus fight
    News
    The Canadian Press

    China's leaders say nation yet to turn corner in virus fight

    BEIJING — China's leadership sounded a cautious note Friday about the country's progress in halting the spread of the new virus that has now killed more than 2,200 people, after several days of upbeat messages.The Politburo, made up of the senior officials of the ruling Communist Party, said the situation in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, remains grave.“We should clearly see that the turning point of the development of the epidemic across the country hasn't arrived yet," the Politburo said at a meeting led by President Xi Jinping and reported by state broadcaster CCTV.The 25-member body said the outbreak has been “preliminarily contained" and urged party committees and governments at all levels to carry out prevention and control work without any relaxation to “win the people's war against the epidemic.”The National Heath Commission earlier reported 889 newly confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total in mainland China to 75,465. The death toll rose by 118 to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 14 deaths have been confirmed elsewhere, from Japan to France.Newly reported infections in China have trended downward in recent days, though changes in how health authorities have counted cases have muddied the true trajectory of the epidemic.“The overall situation is trending towards the better, and the outbreak is under control with zero increase in some provinces," said Zeng Yixin, vice director of National Health Commission. “In Hubei and Wuhan, however, newly reported deaths remain at a high level. We need to take that seriously.”The outbreak began in Wuhan and has hit the city and the rest of Hubei province the hardest.Officials have been sacked in Hubei and other areas after more than 500 cases were diagnosed in prisons, Justice Ministry official He Ping told reporters at a daily briefing.He and other public security officials reiterated that legal measures would be brought against those defying demands to wear masks and take other containment measures.People in China mourned the death of another doctor who had succumbed to the disease Thursday, according to an announcement from the district in which he worked in Wuhan. Peng Yinhua, a respiratory and intensive care physician, was infected last month while treating patients with the illness.Chinese media reported that Peng was 29 years old, which would place him among the youngest to die from COVID-19, the name of the new illness. Most of the fatalities have been people aged 60 and over with underlying medical conditions, according to a report from China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.A newspaper profile of Peng last month said he had postponed his wedding to help fight the epidemic, working day and night to accommodate the influx of patients.He is at least the third doctor to die in China from the illness.Hong Kong reported the first infection of a police officer in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The city has confirmed 69 cases of the virus, with two deaths.The 48-year-old officer had been at a dinner Tuesday with 59 other police officers, who have been placed in quarantine, the force said on its Facebook page. It urged officers to pay attention to hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission.___Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Yanan Wang in Beijing contributed to this report.Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press

  • Survivor: German shooter emptied magazine, calmly walked out
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Survivor: German shooter emptied magazine, calmly walked out

    HANAU, Germany — Piter Minnemann and his friends were eating when they heard shots fired outside the door of the snack bar in Hanau where they had gathered.Minnemann, 18, recalled that he had just got his pizza when the first shots were heard at the Arena Bar. It was the second site targeted in Wednesday night's shooting of nine people by a German man who had posted an online rant calling for the “complete extermination” of many “races or cultures in our midst."“We thought it was a blank gun or something. We thought nothing of it,” he said. “Then the man came in, he fired.”The gunman shot two people before coming into the bar, where “he aimed right at us — he shot the first one in the head,” Minnemann said.A pregnant woman jumped out of the window, he said.“He came, fired, emptied his magazine, then everything was quiet, then he walked out normally," he recalled. “I opened my eyes, I saw that I was alive, I was happy. I asked if people were OK but Edris — I don't know if he's still alive but I think he survived — he had a hole in his throat and he said, ‘I’ve been hit, I’ve been hit,' my other friend Momo was hit in the shoulder.”In all, Hanau native Minnemann said he lost four or five “friends I have known for years.”He spoke to The Associated Press next to a statue of the Brothers Grimm, the collectors of folk and fairy-tales who hailed from Hanau, in the town's main square. That memorial is now festooned with flowers and candles in memory of Wednesday night's victims.“I still can't believe it, in some situations it's as if nothing happened, but when I see the people crying, when I see this, then it becomes true again, ... then you see that it is real," he said. “But otherwise, I can't believe that this happened to us, us of all people, in the very place where we are every day, where we chill out every day.”“I thought it was some kind of gang stuff at first,” Minnemann said. He recalled that there were 12 or 13 people at the scene at the time of the shooting. Many others died, he said — “I was very lucky.”Another witness of the shooting at the Arena Bar told Turkey's Haber television that he and his friends heard five or six shots outside before the gunman entered.“He shot the first people he saw in the head. A man fell to the floor,”Muhammed Beyazkender, who was lying in his hospital bed with a bandaged shoulder, said on Thursday. “Then he fired at all of us. I got shot in the arm while I tried to hide behind the wall.”Beyazkendersaid he lay on the floor on top of someone, and someone then lay on top of him, and someone else then on top of him.“There was a kid underneath me with a hole in his throat,” he said. “The kid said to me: ‘my brother, I cannot feel my tongue; I cannot breathe.’ I said to him, recite the Kalima Shahadat prayer (from the Qur’an). He recited the Kalima Shahadat, he called on everyone to recite it. There was no other sound, just the two of us. I didn’t see him escape or anything.”—-This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of the hospitalized survivor's name. It is Muhammed Beyazkender, not Beyazkender Muhammed.Christoph Noelting, The Associated Press

  • Wellington West traffic plan for Scott Street work raises concerns
    News
    CBC

    Wellington West traffic plan for Scott Street work raises concerns

    Residents west of Ottawa's core aren't impressed with what repairing the sewers on Scott Street could do to traffic in their neighbourhoods.The city says it has to repair its aging sewers and water mains from west of Athlone Avenue to Smirle Avenue ahead of LRT Stage 2 construction, which will send more buses down that stretch of Scott in late 2021.This roadwork is expected to last from late spring until December and close eastbound Scott from Island Park Drive to Ross Avenue, on the western edge of Tunney's Pasture.It will involve detours onto Richmond and Wellington streets from Churchill to Holland avenues.The city said traffic volumes along Richmond and Wellington are expected to double and there will be parking restrictions on those streets and Holland. Most will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with certain sections getting relief from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m."Many of my businesses just won't be able to survive that," said Dennis Van Staalduinen, executive director of the Wellington West Business Improvement Area, at a public meeting on the plans Thursday night."Parking is part of the mix of how people get to the neighbourhood … Many of our businesses rely on that stop-in traffic. So if you're a small bakery or you're selling fresh meat or you're a coffee shop, people are stopping, grabbing the product [and] getting back in their vehicle."He said he would rather see the restrictions only during rush hour. The city said the restrictions are needed to create more traffic flow, especially for detoured buses, and that they were developed with traffic studies. The detoured bus routes include the 16, 50, 81 and 153.Bike lane not safe say residentsAs part of the plan, the multi-use pathway on the north side of Scott will be widened.There will also be a separate dedicated bike lane on the south side for a small section.But people living along Scott Street don't think it's safe."It's basically like Russian roulette trying to get out of our driveway as it is right now with the snowbanks," Joshua Abrams said "I have a big fear of backing out, having a biker come and not seeing it."Abrams said there is currently no room to put snow from his driveway and worries the bike lane will impact that further.The city is accepting written comments on the traffic plan until March 5 and said it will consider all opinions before finalizing them.

  • News
    CBC

    Edmontonians frustrated with cul-de-sac snow clearing

    Winter's end can't come soon enough for some Edmontonians. More people have called 311 to complain about snow removal this winter compared to last, according to city officials who spoke at Wednesday's council meeting. Specific numbers were not provided.Several councillors said they, too, have been getting more complaints about snow removal operations.Of those complaints, many have been from residents who live on a cul-de-sac and are waiting for bladers to come through, said Coun. Andrew Knack."It was about four weeks ago that I started to see a pretty substantial pick up, to the point where I think it's far more than I've seen in any year that I've been on council," said Knack.The cul-de-sac conundrumThe city's approach to snow removal on cul-de-sac streets differs from other roads in the city.Crews clear roads based on the city's snow and ice clearing policy, which is currently a priority-clearing system. But culs-de-sac are not actually part of the policy, according to parks and roads spokesperson Zak Fairbrother.Culs-de-sac are bladed after residential streets, he said. In part, that's because they require special blading equipment.In an emailed statement, Fairbrother said the city currently doesn't have the equipment to blade culs-de-sac "due to the tight-turning radiuses," so a contractor takes on the job. The city did not specify how many culs-de-sac exist in Edmonton; cul-de-sac blading will start next week. We essentially have two standards of treatment. \- Ward 9 Coun. Tim CartmellWard 9 Coun. Tim Cartmell, who has also received numerous complaints, said it's unacceptable for the city to offer substandard snow clearing for residents who live in a cul-de-sac."I do have a concern about where this leads," said Cartmell.  "We essentially have two standards of treatment. One for residential streets and another for residential streets that are cul-de-sacs. It's an equity piece there. It's not clear and at the very least we need to clear that up and clearly communicate to people what they can expect."Cartmell said any future discussions should be about making the city's snow removal policy work for all residents. "Clearly our constituents are not happy with the level of service that is being provided. I think we need to analyze that and examine why our constituents might be feeling that way and how to improve the situation for them," Cartmell said Thursday.Councillors will resume their snow removal discussions Friday morning. City administration will bring any proposed changes to the snow removal policy to council in June.

  • MLA Natalie Jameson hopes to bring 'new perspective' to PC cabinet
    News
    CBC

    MLA Natalie Jameson hopes to bring 'new perspective' to PC cabinet

    Natalie Jameson, MLA for Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park, has become the most recent addition to Premier Dennis King's cabinet, being sworn in Friday morning.Jameson was named minister of environment, water and climate change — a portfolio previously held by Brad Trivers, who will stay in cabinet as minister of education and lifelong learning. Jameson was also named as the minister responsible for Charlottetown and for the status of women, absorbing those files from ministers James Aylward and Darlene Compton respectively.She is one of only two women in the PC caucus, and becomes only the second woman in the King cabinet. She's also the only MLA the current PCs have elected in Charlottetown.Oil and gas industry experienceSpeaking immediately after her swearing-in, Jameson said she brings a "new perspective" to cabinet."I have small children, I have renewed energy. I certainly feel that I'm going to add another voice to the table in terms of representing women and of course the residents of Charlottetown," she said.Jameson also brings a decade of experience working in the oil and gas sector in Alberta, work which continued right up until she was elected in July 2019.Now she will take charge of efforts to reduce P.E.I.'s carbon emissions to meet an ambitious new target written into law through a bill passed by the Green Party."I think we all bring a variety of experience and expertise to anything that we do," Jameson said of her work as a recruiter and marketing representative for Obsidian Energy."That to me was 10 years of extremely professional experience where I gained a lot of skills and expertise and I think that fundamentally it'll just help me." Finding 'economic opportunities' in changing environmentAfter reiterating his government's commitment to act on climate change, King outlined the credentials of his new climate change minister. We'll be holding her to account to make sure that she is fulfilling the role. — Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker"The Natalie Jameson that I've come to know in the last year is a passionate Islander," he said. "She is very, very aware, having two young children, the importance of having a healthy environment.… I think her background gives her a unique look at many, many things of course, like all of us. But I'm probably more focused and excited about what she will do moving forward."King said he expects Jameson not just to lead the province in meeting its emission reduction target, but also to help "find the economic opportunities that are wrapped up inside of a changing environment. I want Prince Edward Island to be innovative in leading that charge."For his part, Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker welcomed the news of Jameson's appointment."That work of hers is in the past," said Bevan-Baker. "And I would hope actually that from that part of her life she could bring forward some knowledge of how that sector actually works and to use that effectively and positively in her new role."If the Greens don't feel the new minister is committed to bold action on the environment, Bevan-Baker said the party's reaction would be the same regardless of who the minister is or what's in their work history."We'll be holding her to account to make sure that she is fulfilling the role that she is mandated to do as minister of climate change," he said.Water Act, one of first prioritiesThis has brought King's cabinet to 10 members. That means only three MLAs from his caucus are not cabinet ministers.Jameson was elected in the deferred election held on July 15, 2019. She currently serves on the special committee on poverty.One of Jameson's first tasks will be the proclamation of the Water Act.Last month, then Environment Minister Brad Trivers said when the act is proclaimed it will likely include a continued moratorium on high-capacity wells. That is expected this spring. King introduced his first cabinet less than a year ago, during a ceremony in Georgetown, P.E.I., on May 9, 2019. Shortly after last year's election, the incoming premier suggested a mixed-party cabinet was possible, but in the end he opted for an all-PC cabinet.More from CBC P.E.I.

  • News
    CBC

    Work 'paused' at mine near Yukon-B.C. border, company says

    The owners of the Silvertip mine on the B.C.-Yukon border have suspended operations, citing low prices for lead and zinc.The mine is located 90 kilometres southwest of Watson Lake, Yukon, and is owned by Chicago-based Coeur Mining. The company bought it in 2017, a year after the underground mine had gone into production.The company's website says there are 167 employees at Silvertip.A news release from Coeur on Wednesday blames deteriorating zinc and lead markets for the "paused" operations.The market slump "represents significant headwinds to our ability to generate positive cash flow," according to a written statement from company CEO Mitchell Krebs.The release says the company will continue to drill for new deposits at the site, in hopes of extending the mine's life.It does not say when mining and processing activities might resume.According to the release, Coeur will also look into expanding the Silvertip mill to increase production when the mine reopens.The company owns four other mines in North America, including the Kensington gold mine near Juneau, Alaska.

  • Cremation not yet an option in N.W.T., but it might be soon
    News
    CBC

    Cremation not yet an option in N.W.T., but it might be soon

    Cremation can't happen in the Northwest Territories right now, but residents and their loved ones who want the option may soon get it.Until recently, cremation fell into a kind of legislative grey area. While a law paving the way for cremation in the territory passed in 2017, there were no regulations to guide the practice.But that changed on Jan. 15, when cremation regulations finally came into force in the territory."It's been a long road I'm happy to see that happen and that people and families here have more options in terms of end of life options," said Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly, who brought the private member's bill that would allow for cremation.O'Reilly's bill came at the urging of Janice McKenna, the owner of McKenna Funeral Home in Yellowknife.At least one obstacleShe's wanted to offer her own cremation services for over a decade.  "I have this dream to develop this for the Northwest Territories," said McKenna. "It's timely and I am hoping there will be no further obstacles in my way."But right now, there's at least one: zoning.Yellowknife's city government needs to amend a zoning by-law to allow for cremation, which requires public hearings and three readings in council, said spokesperson Alison Harrower. The city is also preparing for a water license application related to the cremation method McKenna wants to use.Harrower said the city can't yet provide a timeline for the by-law amendment.Still, McKenna is hopeful she will be able to offer the service. She met with city officials on Thursday and said "it went really well."Demand on the riseDemand for cremation is on the rise, said McKenna. She handles about 100 deaths a year and estimates that cremation is requested for a little under half of those. "When you talk about coming to a funeral home, and you have to make a decision of your final disposition of the body, it's a very emotional topic," said McKenna. She added there are many reasons why people may choose cremation.Some families may find keeping the ashes with them comforting, she said. Others may not want to take up land space that could be used for something else. When you talk about coming to a funeral home, and you have to make a decision of your final disposition of the body, it's a very emotional topic. \- Janice McKenna, owner of McKenna Funeral HomeMcKenna suspects that if cremation is offered in Yellowknife, demand for the service will grow further.In the meantime, McKenna makes arrangements for the service to be done in Edmonton. The whole process takes about a week. McKenna said she's secured deals with a company there, and with airline Canadian North — discounts she said she passes on to her customers — but the whole package still comes out to around $5,000. "Costs of a funeral are exorbitant," said McKenna. "I feel badly for that."She says if she could offer cremation in Yellowknife, it would cut those costs down substantially.AquamationMcKenna hopes to perform her cremations using a process called alkaline hydrolysis — also known as aquamation. Instead of burning, aquamation reduces a body to ash using a potassium hydroxide and water solution. She said the process takes about 12 hours.Aquamation is viewed as an environmentally-friendly alternative to incineration, said McKenna, and "the outcome is the same." "As a watered system, you can have [the machine] on my site here," she said, adding that there would be "no effect to my neighborhood."It isn't just people in Yellowknife, though, who McKenna expects would use her cremation service. She's arranged cremations for residents of Fort Simpson, Norman Wells, Hay River, Fort Resolution and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. "There's people all over who want to have cremation," she said, "and the business should stay in the North."

  • OSSTF president says Ontario protest a 'demonstration of unity'
    Global News

    OSSTF president says Ontario protest a 'demonstration of unity'

    Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Harvey Bischof said on Friday that the mass protests happening across Ontario and at Queen's Park in Toronto was a "demonstration of unity" by unions with their membership, as well as the parents and students who support them. The protests are being held the same day all four major school unions are holding a provincewide strike.

  • News
    CBC

    Alberta family lawyers puzzled by suspension of unified family court project

    The launch of a new unified family court, an initiative to streamline the duplication and complexity of family law cases, has been put on hold indefinitely by the Alberta government. Family lawyers were told about the suspension at Court of Queen's Bench town halls in Edmonton and Calgary on Tuesday. The project — which would set up a centralized access point for families — was supposed to start in September. Wayne Barkauskas, a family lawyer from Calgary who is a past national family law chair for the Canadian Bar Association, said people were shocked by the news, particularly since they were expecting to hear about a launch date. Instead, they were told how Alberta Justice alerted the Court of Queen's Bench about the suspension on Feb. 14.The reason wasn't immediately clear, but Barkauskas has heard that the province was concerned about a small increase in the costs of support staff. "It doesn't make any sense that the province would delay this as a result of cost implications," Barkauskas said in an interview with CBC News on Thursday. "Actually, it seems counterintuitive."A unified family court would eliminate duplication of resources and judges would be paid by the federal government, which has already committed funding, he said. Clients would also save money on legal costs. Barkauskas said the unified family court was supported by both judges and Alberta family lawyers. He said the current system is in crisis with some cases taking three years to get to court. He said a family could appear before as many as four judges. "So you're trying to explain to four different judges, none of whom talk to each other, about what's going on with the file," Barkauskas said. "Each of these judges play a different part or piece in this puzzle."Suspension a mysteryJonah Mozeson, press secretary for Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, confirmed there were no immediate plans to set up the Alberta Family Court. In an email, he said the federal government had committed to appointing 17 justices, but would not commit to funding support positions. "The idea of a Unified Family Court would have been intended to save taxpayer money and cut red tape. However, these and other ongoing expenditures would have cost Alberta taxpayers millions of dollars a year," Mosezon said. "This would be in addition to the tens of millions of dollars in capital and infrastructure changes in Edmonton and Calgary that would have been required during a time of fiscal restraint."In Canada, federally-appointed judges that sit on provincial superior courts — like Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta — hear matters relating to the Divorce Act. Provincial court judges deal with issues like the separation of common-law couples and child support and custody. Under a unified family court, a judge who specializes in family law would hear everything related to a case. The matter could also go to mediation prior to ending up in the courtroom. The idea of a single court for family matters has been around since the 1970s. Alberta is one of the last Canadian provinces to put the system in place. Calgary-Mountain View MLA Kathleen Ganley, the NDP opposition critic for justice, said most of the work for the unified family court was complete when she was justice minister in the previous government. Like Barkauskas, Ganley says she is confused by the government's decision. "There shouldn't be additional cost to the province," Ganley said in an interview. "In fact, the province should be able to hire more folks because they get back the money from the judges' salaries."Families in distressPatricia Hebert, a family lawyer and mediator in Edmonton, said the suspension was a disappointment. She calls the move a disservice to families trying to navigate a complicated system while they are in personal distress. Many represent themselves at court, she said. "The last thing they need is more confusion trying to determine which level of court is best for them to go to," Hebert said. Streamlining the system means people won't have to go to court as often, she added. "That reduces costs to the court and the court system but that also reduces cost, stress to the family members involved. And that's really who we all are here to serve."Barkauskas is unhappy the suspension appears to have occurred without any consultation. He says the government is disregarding the extent of the crisis in family law. "All of the available resources are being put toward criminal law matters which are also critically important," he said. "But as a result of that, everything in family law is getting pushed back further and further and further and nobody's talking about that. And it's causing some real problems."

  • Avalanche techs say 'rein it in' this weekend in White Pass
    News
    CBC

    Avalanche techs say 'rein it in' this weekend in White Pass

    Avalanche technicians have a message for any Yukoners heading to the White Pass this long Heritage Day weekend: play it extra safe."We're at high avalanche danger at treeline, and also at high avalanche danger in the alpine," said James Minifie, lead avalanche field technician for Avalanche Canada, on Friday morning.Minifie said the area got a big dump of snow on Thursday night, and it was continuing into Friday. It's also been extremely windy, he said. The temperature has also risen in the last few days.He said the team of avalanche technicians is eager to get out in the back country, but it's risky. They've been keeping to more sheltered, "low-angle" places.  "We're chomping at the bit, but this is the time to kind of really kind of rein it in," Minifie said."We really have our guard up at this time, with these with these elevated conditions."The White Pass is a popular weekend destination for many Yukoners who want to ski or snowmobile in the backcountry.

  • Inquest to focus on 1 of 3 Sask. Penitentiary inmates who died in 2-week period
    News
    CBC

    Inquest to focus on 1 of 3 Sask. Penitentiary inmates who died in 2-week period

    Saskatchewan Penitentiary will be back in the spotlight next week as a coroner's inquest probes the circumstances in the death of Curtis Cozart — one of three inmates to die at the Prince Albert-area federal prison in a two-week period in 2017.Little is known about how Cozart, 30, died on May 23, 2017.According to Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice, he was found unresponsive in his cell. Paramedics tried to revive him. He died later in hospital. Shortly after his death, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) said it did not suspect foul play.But the inquest into Cozart's death promises to return the focus to an institution plagued by a series of inmate deaths in one very short period. Two deaths in one dayOnly two weeks after Cozart's death, two other Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmates died on the same day.In the early morning hours of June 7, 2017, Daniel Tokarchuk, 40, was taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 4:24 a.m., according to Correctional Service Canada. CSC has declined to confirm whether Tokarchuk died of natural causes.Several hours later on the same morning, guards found the body of another inmate, Chris Van Camp, in his cell bed on the prison's maximum security ward.Van Camp's cellmate, Tyler Vandewater, now 31, was recently on trial for second degree murder. He testified he stabbed Van Camp, 37, dozens of times in self defence shortly after midnight.The court heard that guards doing hourly checks thought Van Camp was asleep in his bed.The judge will give his decision in the Vandewater case next monthPreventing future deathsThe inquest into Cozart's death begins Monday morning in Prince Albert. Jurors will be tasked with making recommendations on how to prevent other inmate deaths. It's not a criminal proceeding. Cozart, Tokarchuk and Van Camp's deaths all came only months after a December 2016 Saskatchewan Penitentiary riot that left one inmate dead.Correctional service respondsCBC News reached out to CSC for comment on the fatalities at the prison. "[We take] the death of an inmate very seriously," a spokesperson for the service said. The loss of life is always a tragedy."For all cases of non-natural inmate deaths, CSC convenes an internal board of investigation (BOI). BOIs allow the CSC to examine circumstances of incidents and to present findings and recommendations that may prevent similar occurrences in the future. Any actions that address any areas of concern are considered and implemented accordingly."

  • Housing affordability challenges have NDP calling for swift action
    News
    CBC

    Housing affordability challenges have NDP calling for swift action

    With little notice, Rebecca Sparks and her family found themselves confronted with the growing housing challenge in Halifax Regional Municipality.Sparks, her two teenage children and their dog, were one of seven families that came home this week to the Travelodge in Dartmouth to learn that they had to leave within 48 hours. The message was posted on their door."No letterhead, no signatures, just, 'Unfortunately, your time is up at the Travelodge," she said. "You have until Feb. 21 at noon to be gone.'"It's part of a larger situation members of the NDP caucus have been highlighting in the first two days of the spring sitting at Province House.On Friday, the party introduced legislation for short-term rentals that would require anyone running an Airbnb-style service, regardless of size, to register with the province.The bill, which is unlikely to pass in the Liberal majority legislature, would also require rental platforms to provide information about the obligation of hosts to collect and remit HST.A sliding scale of fees, ranging from $20 per year for someone who rents a room in their own home up to $5,000 a year for platforms such as Airbnb, plus $1 per night per rented room, would be collected and paid to municipalities.The bill also includes fines for people who operate without registering.New Democrat Lisa Roberts, the Halifax-Needham MLA, said the bill has more teeth than legislation from the government that will not require all short-term rentals to register. It also comes with lower fees.Roberts said she wants to see the government be more responsive to a growing problem that's seeing more people challenged to find an affordable place to live, or to stay in their existing situation as landlords look to renovate or rebuild to try to capitalize on a booming housing market with razor-thin vacancy rates.For the NDP, that would include some kind of rent control. Although Roberts conceded there is "mixed evidence" when it comes to rent control, she said there needs to be some level of protection for renters while also allowing property owners to make reasonable rent increases as necessary."We are getting contacted by constituents who have seen rent increases in hundreds of dollars per month," she told reporters at Province House."We're saying that where there isn't major capital improvements that there should be some connection between the amount that rent can go up and the general CPI, the general inflation and cost pressures."Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters that his government has "a number of announcements that will come out over the next period of time" related to housing.He said the government is reassessing some investments already made to determine if the effect has achieved the desired outcomes.Meetings are also planned with the municipality and the private sector to see what partnerships are possible to provide more options for people looking for housing, he said.The government has a first-time home buyer program for families, but McNeil said he also realizes some people are just trying to find shelter overnight while confronting other issues."We need to wrap services around them, whether it's addictions services or mental health. So those are the kinds of investments we would work with our partners to do."There are other factors at play, too, said McNeil. The growth and development in the Halifax area has resulted in people who once had what they thought was an affordable place to live in the downtown being pushed to outlying communities.Rent creep is now making its way to those areas, too, said the premier."And that's been the real domino effect that we're trying to put some support around and trying to work with the private sector to make sure that we provide some options," he said.'It's breaking my heart'The premier said no single policy approach or partnership will fix the situation."This will require a multifaceted approach because everyone who finds themselves under-housed has a different reason, and that's why we need to continue to [work] on this."Sparks, whose family is preparing to move to another hotel, said it's been difficult finding a new place to live, with landlords being very specific about prospective tenants and rents that far exceed the amount of money she has for housing.She said she's planning to file a human rights complaint on the basis that she believes she's being discriminated against because she receives social assistance.It would be one thing to deal with the situation if she were on her own, said Sparks, but knowing how it's affecting her kids has made it difficult."Seeing my kids' faces, and knowing how disgusted they seem like they're feeling with me because of the situation that we're in, is just crushing my spirits right now. It's breaking my heart."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Former Ontario medical officer of health says it's not surprising to see new outbreaks of COVID-19
    CBC

    Former Ontario medical officer of health says it's not surprising to see new outbreaks of COVID-19

    'We shouldn't panic,' says Dr. Richard Schabas, noting the virus appears to spread slowly and there are ways to defend against it.

  • Watershed group helps residents prepare for possible spring flooding
    News
    CBC

    Watershed group helps residents prepare for possible spring flooding

    The Jemseg Grand Lake Watershed Association is hosting two workshops to help people better understand how to protect their property from flooding. Back-to-back flooding has devastated communities surrounding Grand Lake, causing thousands of dollars in damage and forcing people from their homes. Before winter even started, Lisa Joudrey, a member of the newly-formed watershed association, said water levels were already higher than normal.Now what?"What's going to happen when we have our thaw?" Joudrey said. "Luckily we haven't had as much snow as we normally do, but that doesn't mean it's not going to affect everybody's property."Grand Lake surpassed its five-metre flood stage in the last two years, as homes and cottages were battered by waves that were more than a metre high.Joudrey's house wasn't affected by last year's flood, but 10 cottages nearby were inundated with water. So she spent the past two springs helping neighbours sandbag. "The damage done over the last few years has been insurmountable." The Grand Lake watershed is the largest watershed in New Brunswick, covering five per cent of the province, Joudrey said.The association has lined up several speakers, including homeowners and companies, who will offer advice on protecting your home from high and heavy waves.The workshop, Stories from the Trenches, will be held at Mill Cove Nursing Home from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. Another session will take place next Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Minto Seniors Citizens Club.

  • Mars rocks: Edmonton geologist to steer Mars rover in collection of rock, soil samples
    News
    CBC

    Mars rocks: Edmonton geologist to steer Mars rover in collection of rock, soil samples

    Chris Herd has landed an out-of-this world opportunity.Herd, an Edmonton geologist, will decide which Martian meteorites are collected on NASA's 2020 expedition to the Red Planet. The mission, launching this summer and arriving on Mars next February, will be the first attempt to collect Martian rock and dust samples. The rover will collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils it encounters and cache them until a separate mission retrieves them and brings them to Earth many years from now. Taking part in the mission is a childhood dream fulfilled, Herd said. "It's super exciting. It's amazing," Herd said in an interview with CBC News. "There is something about Mars that really sparked my imagination. "I think I was 13 when I decided I wanted to be there when the rocks came back from Mars, and this is the first real step that NASA and other space agencies have taken to actually take samples back." The scientific waiting game Herd, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the University of Alberta Meteorite Collection, has a dual role in the mission.He was selected as one of 10 designated experts on the project and one of two returned-sample scientists. In these positions, Herd will decide which outcroppings of rock are most likely to provide key information about Mars's geological history. "The rover is equipped with all these instruments to tell us what the rocks are made of, but it has the additional ability to core that sample out, seal it in a tube and leave for eventual return to Earth." The rover has a life span of one Mars year, about 687 Earth days.A subsequent mission, still in the planning stages, would eventually retrieve the samples."It's too expensive to do it all at once," Herd said. "It would require another rover to come and collect the samples, put them in a rocket, blast them off the surface of Mars where it would rendezvous with an orbiter around Mars that would then come back to Earth." 'Water was there and, potentially, life'The rover will be scouring the Jezero Crater, an ancient lake bed, for signs of past microbial life."The river and lake likely existed three-and-a-half or four billion years ago and the sediments have been preserved ever since," Herd said. The samples gathered could not only provide a glimpse into the past but address fundamental questions about the potential for future human life on Mars, Herd said."Where we are going is where the action is," he said. "Water was there and, potentially, life and that's ultimately the goal of this mission, to search for signs of life."As for Herd, he hopes he won't be retired by the time the rocks made it to Earth."My role is for at least the next three years," he said. "The samples would come back sometime in 2031 or likely a little later.  "It's a huge undertaking."