Labour takes British-based banks to task over China's Hong Kong policies

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent
Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Labour frontbenchers have criticised the chief executives of HSBC and Standard Chartered banks for supporting China’s political leaders, urging them to revoke their support for Beijing’s controversial security law, which they say threatens democratic rights in Hong Kong. They warned the banks that they could face a boycott.

In letters sent to the HSBC boss Noel Quinn and Standard Chartered’s chief executive, Bill Winters, on Friday, the shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, and the shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, said they had “profound concerns” that both banks had backed Beijing’s new rules, which violate Joint Declaration treaty commitments and could limit freedoms for HK citizens.

“As a senior figure in the banking industry, you will also understand the importance of maintaining the rule of law and the international rules-based order,” the letter said. “Quite apart from the morally abhorrent nature of the statement, we also find HSBC’s support for the autocratic actions of the Communist party of China to be completely at odds with the values framework in which financial institutions should be operating.”

The Labour MPs also wrote to their counterparts in Downing Street – the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak – asking for their support in challenging the two banks over their positions.

The letter said the ministers’ response would be a “test of the UK government’s resolve” on human rights, civil liberties and international law.

The Labour frontbenchers said the British public no longer trusted China to act responsibly, and warned that the banks risked boycotts similar to those aimed at South Africa over apartheid in the 1980s if they failed to uphold democratic values.

In their letter to HSBC’s boss, they said: “It would presumably not therefore come as a surprise if public attitudes were to harden against HSBC as a consequence of the decision to support the aggressive expansionism of the Chinese Communist party,” the letter added.

The letter stressed that, despite their global operations, both banks were still headquartered in London. “It therefore has a responsibility to uphold the democratic values and practices that we hold dear in this country – indeed HSBC’s 8 million British customers rightly expect nothing less. 

 “We therefore urge you to issue a statement rescinding HSBC’s support for China’s new national security law, at the earliest opportunity.” A similar letter was sent to Standard Chartered.

The Labour letters ramp up the political pressure on both banks, which faced a barrage of criticism on social media from both Tory and Labour politicians earlier this week over their support for Beijing’s new law.

They took issue with HSBC’s statement, which read: “We respect and support laws and regulations that will enable HK to recover and rebuild the economy and, at the same time, maintain the principle of ‘one country two systems’.”

Standard Chartered, meanwhile, has said it believed the national security law would help “maintain the long-term economic and social stability of Hong Kong”.

“The ‘one country, two systems’ principle is core to the future success of Hong Kong and has always been the bedrock of the business community’s confidence. We hope greater clarity on the final legislative provisions will enable Hong Kong to maintain economic and social stability.

“We remain positive that Hong Kong will continue playing a key role as an international financial hub and Standard Chartered is committed to contributing to its continued success.”

HSBC and Standard Chartered were both contacted for comments on Labour’s letter.

  • Book by Trump's niece claims he has psychological disorders. We asked psychologists

    Book by Trump's niece claims he has psychological disorders. We asked psychologists

    Armed with a doctorate in psychology, a piercing pen and a decades-old grudge, Mary Trump has attacked one of the world's most powerful people.The target is her uncle, the president of the United States.Her new book about Donald Trump is unique in the annals of presidential biographies: the author purporting to probe the president's mind not only has personal access to family gossip but also professional credentials as a clinical psychologist. There is deep debate in her field about the ethics of making public pronouncements on the mental health of a public figure — especially one she's never clinically observed.In Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, Mary Trump describes the president's father — her grandfather — as a high-functioning sociopath and blames him for instilling in his children the value of aggression and the notion that kindness is weakness.She suggests the most damaged of the siblings is Donald Trump, who, she said, has a variety of psychological impairments: definitely narcissism, for which she says he meets all nine criteria, but probably other conditions. She lists as possibilities antisocial personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, a learning disorder and sleep disorder.The president of the United States, in her opinion, struggles to control his impulses; tell the truth; learn new facts; apologize for mistakes; and lives in constant terror of having people perceive his flaws.She said she was traumatized by his 2016 election win and feared that her uncle was uniquely ill-qualified to govern in a crisis."It felt as though 62,979,636 voters had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family," writes Mary Trump, whose immediate family has feuded bitterly with the rest of the Trumps ever since it was sidelined from the grandparents' wills.   "Donald's pathologies are so complex and his behaviours so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he'll never sit for."She wrote that she hoped her book would put to rest the idea that Trump deploys strategies or has a tangible agenda — when his only aim is to protect his own fragile ego and have others see him as strong and smart.The White House press secretary has called her work "a book of falsehoods." The Trump family lawyer has sued to try blocking its distribution, alleging violation of a nondisclosure agreement.But on the broader issue of global public interest, the mental state of the U.S. president, what do Mary Trump's colleagues say?CBC News reached out to about two dozen psychologists at U.S. universities who study pathologies and asked two questions: * Is it ethically permissible to write what Mary Trump wrote? * Do they agree with what she's written about the president, based on excerpts they've seen from media reports on the book?There's a formal taboo in psychiatry against opining publicly on public figures, named after Barry Goldwater, a presidential candidate who successfully sued a magazine that ran a series of psychiatrist opinions on him.Psychology does not have the same so-called Goldwater rule but does have professional standards discouraging public speculation about people's mental health. Nearly all the experts contacted by CBC News declined to comment, several citing various reasons: ethical considerations, fear of professional consequences and fear of harassment from Trump supporters. "All of the above," said one clinical psychologist, who requested not to be named, when asked why people wouldn't comment on the record.She said people in her profession could face expensive lawsuits, or lose career opportunities with public organizations if they're perceived to have a political bias, which she said would be "career suicide" for some. She also mentioned "intimidation.""I wouldn't want someone coming to my house and saying, 'How dare you say this?'" she said.She did agree to speak without being named. Several others responded to a request for comment by offering the names of two colleagues quoted here, who have previously spoken publicly.Here are their answers, which have been edited for clarity.Is it ethically permissible to write what Mary Trump wrote?Josh Miller, a clinical psychologist and director of clinical training at the University of Georgia, defended the author: "Does the Goldwater rule apply to psychologists, and does it make a great deal of sense in the modern day?... I think we sometimes privilege the idea that you can only make a diagnosis if you're treating a patient. But psychiatrists make diagnoses after one 50-minute session, or three, or four, all the time. We surely all have much more information on Donald Trump at this point in time than a mental-health professional would after somewhere between 50 and 200 minutes. Then, a family member … I think clearly has much more information than a mental-health professional ever would. The ethics? I don't know — I personally fall into the category that there is a duty to warn about potentially the most important person in the world and whether they have a pattern of personality traits that portend quite poorly."So did Donald Lynam, a distinguished professor of clinical psychology at Purdue University: "I don't have a real problem with a trained professional who has access to lots of behavioural data on a person making an assessment like this.… I personally think that there is more than enough longitudinal life-history data available on many persons in the public eye that would enable professionals to make such assessments. I think Trump is no exception. He has always been a very public figure. Many books and stories have been written about his behaviour."Another clinical psychologist who works in the Washington, D.C., area, and asked not to be named, offered a more nuanced view: "The only ethical concern I can see is when someone puts their clinical hat on to diagnose, treat or make clinical recommendations based on a personal story … not rooted in data. That's where, in my view, we run across some ethical grey zones. When we combine someone who has a title, and knowledge about a particular field, and offers an opinion, we can easily interpret that this is their professional opinion as opposed to a personal opinion. That can become very blurry.… One of the reasons psychology is a science-based field is we root our conclusions in data, in scientific principles. … [Otherwise] it becomes a question of opinion and that's where biases can come from.… If a patient comes into my office and I really don't [like] them … I still have to give them a fair and objective treatment, or I have to identify that I'm too biased to be able to evaluate them and refer out.… That's why we use questionnaires, and ink-blot cards we give people sometimes ... [to] test a hypothesis. ...There is also a very high risk of bias when there's a particular family member who is not someone's favourite."  Do you agree with what she's written about the president?Miller: "[On narcissism] I agree entirely. 'Prototypical' doesn't describe the degree to which [Trump] meets the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Many of us who study it say that if we [described a character like his in a paper] other peer reviewers would say, 'You've made up too cartoonish of a case.' They wouldn't believe it would be possible. That's how incredibly well he fits those symptoms. I've viewed Donald Trump as an example of narcissism going back 15 years. Long before he was running for president, long before he was associated with the Republican Party. Literally, going back into the mid-2000s … at academic talks he was one of the pictures I would put up. This is hardly new.… Narcissism is associated with aggression, in general, and specifically under an ego-threat. When someone has criticized you, we're going to see lashing out.… An inability to accept blame — it's always someone else's fault.… To not admit one's mistakes ...that inability to admit that one has ever been wrong is a really huge problem…. I agree that we should not be distracted by his narcissism from his psychopathy…. Search for the criteria for psychopathy. Look at traits and behaviours in the psychopathy checklist written by Hare. Grapple with how many would he not fit there. And psychopathy is associated much more strongly than narcissism with behaviours that are particularly scary.… It's the callousness, irresponsibility, impulse-control problems, lack of remorse or shame."Lynam: "I agree that Trump meets most, if not all, of the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.... He certainly meets more than enough to deserve the diagnosis. I am not sure that I would say he has other pathologies, but I would say that he appears to have some additional traits outside of the ones included in NPD that make him more 'disturbed.' I think he is reckless, impulsive, unreliable and dishonest. There are some stories that suggest a tendency towards antisocial behaviour.... I am hesitant to say this, but I think the other diagnosis that should be considered is psychopathy... I have seen some commentators refer to a similar construct to psychopathy with the term 'malignant narcissism.' The only part with which I might disagree with Mary Trump (based on reported details of the book) is that I am not sure it is possible to pinpoint causes for these traits. It could be due to his father's treatment of him. It could be due to the genes he shares with his father. It could be due to a host of factors. I would not speculate on that."Anonymous: "[Mary Trump's book is] informative, but it's not surprising.… Is it really surprising to many of us, the things that may come out of this book? Do we need a book? … You just have to open the DSM [the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders].… [Mary Trump] is a legitimate author. She is not a pop-psychologist. Again, her only bias is that she's a family member."

  • Quebec police say girls who were subject of Amber Alert found dead
    The Canadian Press

    Quebec police say girls who were subject of Amber Alert found dead

    SAINT-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — The bodies of two girls who were the subject of an Amber Alert were found in a suburb of Quebec City on Saturday, in what Premier Francois Legault is describing as a "national tragedy."Quebec provincial police said they found the bodies of Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and 6, in a wooded area of St-Apollinaire, Que., drawing to a close a days-long search that gripped the province."Like all Quebecers, I am devastated, without words. Losing two children, what we hold most dear in life, is incomprehensible," Legault said on Twitter. "It is a national tragedy."He said that all of Quebec is grieving with Norah and Romy's loved ones.A spokeswoman for the provincial police confirmed the news of the girls' deaths on Saturday afternoon, saying the investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.But Ann Mathieu said the current priority is to locate the girls' father, Martin Carpentier."We think that he is still in the area, so the police operation is still on to find him as soon as possible," she said.The girls had been missing since late Wednesday. Their disappearance has gripped people across the province who had hoped they would be found safe.Police had said the girls and their father were believed to have been in a car crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire on Wednesday evening.Investigators said the car was heading east on the highway when it skidded into the median, flipped over and landed on the shoulder on the opposite side of the highway.An Amber Alert was issued for the girls Thursday afternoon, and an extensive police search began in the rural area south of Quebec City.That search had resumed Saturday morning, with police deploying a helicopter, as well as canine units, ATVs and on-foot search teams, to try to locate the three people.Police believe Carpentier could still be in St-Apollinaire or the nearby town of St-Agapit, Que., Mathieu said."We ask the residents of St-Apollinaire and also St-Agapit to really be alert," she said.Bernard Ouellet, the mayor of St-Apollinaire, said earlier Saturday that the tragedy touched the hearts of people across the province."Everyone has tears in their eyes," Ouellet said in a brief interview. "It's not easy for anyone."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the chorus of condolences, writing on Twitter that he's "devastated" by the news."My heart breaks for the family and friends of Norah and Romy — I'm sending you my deepest condolences," he wrote. "Know that all Canadians are keeping you in their thoughts tonight."Mathieu said police are asking anyone who sees Carpentier or has any information on his whereabouts to immediately contact 911.Police say the 44-year-old was wearing a grey T-shirt and jeans when he was last seen. He is listed as being five-foot-ten and weighing 130 pounds.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • A Bell Island woman wrote her own obituary — and it's hilarious

    A Bell Island woman wrote her own obituary — and it's hilarious

    Kathleen Hearn's obituary isn't your average death notice."It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away …  I now will check the obituaries and finally see my name there," it reads.Hearn died on Thursday, but not before she penned her own obituary, one full of wit and wry humour.Katheen's sister-in-law, Dorothy Hearn, says she wasn't surprised by the obit. "I expected nothing less from her than to do her own obituary and have a few jokes thrown in," she said.Dorothy said she didn't get to see the obit before it was published, but was "just blown away" when she read it.She said Kathleen had an unpredictable and sometimes shocking sense of humour — as her obituary shows."As I leave you all behind, I want to thank all those who were part of my life and the butt of my jokes," Kathleen wrote."In the meantime, I now have the smoking hot body I have always wanted… having been cremated."'Kathy was Kathy'In the 40 years that she knew Kathleen, Dorothy said it was nothing but laughs when they were together."Kathleen was full of life. From the moment we met her, until her last breath, Kathy was Kathy," she said."She was outgoing, funny, loving, a sense of humour like no other person you could meet. Very loveable."Dorothy said Kathleen even held a contest to choose an obit, but decided to write her own instead."She just had a couple of other people write an obituary to see which one would be the best one, but of course she went with her own. She knew that from the beginning anyway, it was just a fun thing to do," she said.Kathleen had her fair share of tough times in her life, Dorothy said, like her husband Mack's battle with multiple sclerosis and his death at just 45 years old. But through it all, including her own battle with cancer, she said Kathleen took it all in stride."There was never a down day in her life. No matter what came at her, it was a laugh. She dealt with it like no one I have ever known," Dorothy said."Even during her chemo at the Health Sciences [Centre], the staff there were in constant laughter … she just didn't let anything get her down."Even after her sister-in-law's passing, Dorothy Hearn said she's glad Kathleen's humorous obituary could put a smile on people's faces."She walked in and the whole atmosphere changed. She was a constant riot, you didn't know what she was going to say next," she said."There will never be another Kathy."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, July 11

    What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, July 11

    Recent developments * A stretch of Bank Street closes today to give pedestrians and cyclists more space.  * Some 30 paramedics in Ottawa can't get access to masks that fit their faces. * Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa on Friday. What's the latest?Today is the first Saturday that a lengthy stretch of Bank Street will be off-limits to cars, the latest effort to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians to physically distance.The 17 blocks between Queen and Catherine streets will be closed from 9 a.m. until midnight on Saturdays through at least Aug. 8.Other Ottawa streets that close just for weekends include: * Somerset Street W. between Bank and O'Connor streets. * The westbound lanes of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway between Booth Street and Carling Avenue. * The Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway, from the Aviation Parkway to St. Joseph Boulevard.There are growing concerns about the amount of adequate personal protective equipment available to first responders.Some 30 Ottawa paramedics have been removed from front-line duties because their employer has run out of the N95 masks that properly fit their faces.How many cases are there?There have been 2,146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and 263 deaths as of Saturday. The vast majority of cases in the city, 1,831, are classified as resolved. Gatineau has reported 533 total cases.Public health officials have reported more than 3,400 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, of which more than 2,900 are resolved.Kingston now has 21 active cases of COVID-19. Most are linked to three nail salons: Binh's Nails and Spa, where the recent outbreak started, Kingdom Nails and Georgia Nail Salon. The Amherstview Golf Club has also seen new cases. Clients at all four businesses are being asked to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19.COVID-19 has killed 102 people outside Ottawa: 52 in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 17 in other parts of eastern Ontario and 33 in the Outaouais.What's open and closed?Eastern Ontario is in "Stage 2" of the province's recovery plan, allowing more activities and "circles" of up to 10 people that don't have to distance.Some streets in Ottawa's ByWard Market have now turned into patio space, including parts of Clarence Street, William Street and a section of the north side of York Street.Starting today, a 15-block stretch of Bank Street will be closed to vehicles on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until just before midnight. That will last until at least early August.Ottawa's pools started to reopen July 6, as did five city rinks. Drivers are also once again subject to tickets if they violate posted time limits at on-street parking spaces.The Ottawa Art Gallery and the Diefenbunker Museum reopened with restrictions last week. The National Gallery of Canada reopens Thursdays to Sundays starting July 18. Quebec now allows indoor, distanced gatherings of up to 50 people, including in places of worship and indoor sports venues, and has relaxed rules at daycares.The province has also allowed bars, spas, water parks and casinos to reopen.Quebec's back-to-school plans bring older students to classrooms again. Ontario has put three options for next school year on the table, while post-secondary schools are moving toward more online classes in September.Distancing and isolatingThe coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People don't need to have symptoms to be contagious.That means physical distancing measures such as working from home and in Ontario, staying at least two metres away from anyone they don't live with or have in their circle.The City of Ottawa has made cloth face masks mandatory in indoor public settings. Anyone who has symptoms or travelled recently outside Canada must self-isolate for at least 14 days.Specifically in Ottawa, anyone waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate at least until they know the result.The same goes for anyone in Ontario who's been in contact with someone who's tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly urges self-isolation for individuals who have weakened immune systems and Ottawa Public Health recommends people over 70 stay home as much as possible. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pinkeye. The Ontario government says in rare cases, children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can now be tested at one of three sites.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.Testing has also expanded for local residents and employees who work in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area.There is a drive-thru test centre in Casselman and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don't require people to call ahead.Others in Rockland and Cornwall require an appointment.A COVID-19 assessment centre has opened in Alexandria, running Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only.In Kingston, the Leon's Centre is now open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, replacing the previous location at the Kingston Memorial Centre. Find it at Gate 2.Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call for an appointment.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to get tested if you have a symptom or concerns about exposure.It has a walk-in site in Brockville open seven days a week at the Memorial Centre and testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment.The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people to call it, their family doctor or Telehealth if they have symptoms or questions.You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre, or in Picton by texting or calling 613-813-6864.Renfrew County is also providing pop-up and home testing under some circumstances. Residents without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 to register for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.If you're concerned about the coronavirus, take the self-assessment.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents should call 1-877-644-4545 if they have symptoms for further assistance.First Nations:Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.Akwesasne has opened a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to Akwesasne who's been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. The community's reopening plan that's now underway.Kitigan Zibi is planning for an Aug. 29 election with changes depending on the status of the pandemic at that time.For more information

  • Ontario reports 130 new COVID-19 cases, while 18 public health units record no new cases at all

    Ontario reports 130 new COVID-19 cases, while 18 public health units record no new cases at all

    Ontario reported 130 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with 18 public health units recording no new cases at all.A total of 28 of the province's 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases.New cases are concentrated in Toronto and the Peel, York, Windsor-Essex, Durham and Ottawa regions, with 42, 26, 12, 12, 11 and 9 respectively.Saturday's new COVID-19 figures represent a 0.4 per cent overall increase and bring Ontario's cumulative total since the outbreak began to 36,594.Ontario's health ministry considers 32,422 of those cases — or 88.6 per cent — resolved.The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus increased by 11 and now sits at 128.Thirty-one people are being treated in intensive care units, while 18 of those are on ventilators, a drop of six since Friday. Ontario's network of about 30 community, commercial and hospital labs processed 29,522 test samples for the novel coronavirus on Friday. An additional 22,083 tests are currently under investigation. The province reported another six deaths on Friday, bringing its official death toll to 2,716. But a CBC News count based on data provided by public health units puts the actual toll at 2,752.The Ministry of Health also reported an eighth death of a health-care worker associated with the long-term care system today. Windsor-Essex asks Ottawa to tackle outbreaks in farms The latest numbers come as officials in Ontario's Windsor-Essex region are calling on the provincial or federal government to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in farms.Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said there have been instances where "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," and having a lead agency would help prevent that confusion.Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said there should be incentives for farms to have their workers tested, or fines for those who refuse.Hundreds of migrant workers have tested positive for the virus, and three have died — two of them in Windsor-Essex and one in Norfolk County.Annual Pottahawk boat party still going aheadMeanwhile, Norfolk County officials say they are surprised and disappointed the Pottahawk boat party is going ahead.The so-called "Pottahawk Pissup" happens every second Sunday in July off Turkey Point in Lake Erie.The party draws as many as 10,000 people from across Ontario and the U.S."I wish it was cancelled this year," Jim Millson, Norfolk County's bylaw supervisor and a retired OPP officer., said."Not to ruin anyone's fun, but why take a chance? We've seen what happened in the United States." OPP vessels will be patrolling the water and local bylaw officers will be at piers reminding people to maintain physical distancing. Millson is also asking people not to pass food or drinks between boats.COVID-19 complicates an event already known for its safety issues. Party-goers have been charged with assault, and those who hitchhike have sometimes ended up stranded, calling out for help in a dark, remote location.At the province's daily COVID-19 update on Friday, Premier Doug Ford said he doesn't think it's "right" that the party is proceeding as planned."I'm just not in favour of this, unless people want to stay on their own boat or pleasure craft," he said. And despite the pressure he has faced, Ford said he's in no rush to move into Ontario's Stage 3 of reopening. "We're going to get there," he said. "I am going to make sure we are careful and go by the guidance of our medical health team."

  • Justin Trudeau drops into another pitfall of his own making

    Justin Trudeau drops into another pitfall of his own making

    Justin Trudeau and his government have shown a remarkable ability to find trouble in novel places — a Christmas vacation, the Shawcross doctrine and the possibility of a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin, the prime minister's choice of attire during a trip to India.And now, a national program for student volunteers.News that a subsidiary of the WE Charity paid Trudeau's mother and brother for speaking engagements raises further questions about the government's decision to enlist WE to disburse the funds from that program — and the prime minister's apparent involvement in signing off on that decision.It inflames doubts that were already being raised about the intent behind the government's decision to partner with WE.But it also makes one wonder why the prime minister keeps putting himself in these situations.WE insisted at first that "the charity" had "never paid an honorarium" to Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Pierre Trudeau, who is known for her advocacy on the issue of mental health. In some cases, that statement now appears to be incorrect: the charity did pay Margaret Trudeau for some appearances, though WE now claims that was a paperwork error. But WE's original claim also elided over the fact that its for-profit arm, ME to WE, had paid the prime minister's mother.For WE, it's impossible to justify that omission. For Trudeau, the newest facts make it much more difficult for him to explain why he went anywhere near this decision.Trudeau insists that the recommendation to partner with WE came from public service officials and an associate deputy minister has defended the choice. A committee of the House of Commons has requested the internal documentation related to the government's decision and the paper trail will now be studied closely.But even a recommendation from a non-partisan public servant won't be enough to entirely redeem what has happened here.Even without the participation of Trudeau and his family members in WE events, it's now obvious that the charity's involvement would have attracted WE's various critics regardless. In fact, it was criticism of WE's general practices and new complaints about how it was administering the volunteer program that compelled the government and the charity to walk away from their arrangement last week.A scandal in plain sightThat false start has real implications for a program that is supposed to be creating opportunities for young people.But the demise of the partnership was not enough to end the controversy because of the known ties between Trudeau and WE. In addition to the appearances by Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau has made several appearances as prime minister at WE events and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau hosts a podcast for WE (she is not paid for that, though she was paid for an appearance in 2012).That was always going to be enough to raise suspicions. The fact that Margaret and Alexandre, also known as Sacha, were paid for their appearances now adds money to the mix.Maybe, by some strict reading of the applicable rules, the Liberals can argue that Trudeau's involvement in the decision to go forward with WE didn't amount to a conflict of interest. That ultimately will be up to the ethics commissioner to decide. But the prime minister himself could have eliminated the possibility of any conflict — simply by stepping back and excusing himself from any participation in the decision.As Trudeau acknowledged earlier this week, he did not recuse himself. And now he faces the possibility of a third reprimand by the ethics commissioner — after earlier rulings against that vacation on the Aga Khan's private island and the government's handling of the SNC-Lavalin case.Some may choose to believe that there was corruption in any or all of those cases. A final verdict on the current controversy will depend on both documentation and the testimony of officials. But even a less-damning read of the last five years is unflattering.Self-inflicted woundsFor whatever reason, the prime minister and his office seem to have a recurring problem of failing to check themselves. As a result, they have now repeatedly wrecked themselves.Perhaps believing their motives are sound and their intentions are good — and that meaning well should transcend all potential problems — they have waltzed into a series of avoidable spectacles.In each case, it seems as if someone (not least the prime minister himself) should have seen the trouble coming — that what this government lacks is someone willing to put their hand up and ask, "Wait, are we sure about this?" (In that respect, Trudeau's worst moments as prime minister might have something in common with his infamous decision to wear blackface in previous years — the lack of an internal or external voice counselling caution.)Trudeau's life has played out at a rarified level, where your father can be a friend of the Aga Khan and your mother and your brother can be celebrities who get paid to speak. Someone from that world should be keenly aware of how vulnerable he is to the charge of being out-of-touch — should know how dangerous it is to leave the impression that the standards of mere mortals don't apply to him. And yet, more than once, he seems to have lost track of what is expected from a politician.Burning through the benefit of the doubtTrudeau's Liberals came to power having made many promises to do big things. They might tell themselves now that their electoral fortunes still depend ultimately on getting those big things right — on the economy, equality, climate change, and so on. There is still a pandemic to battle. But ethics and judgment and character become big things when people in public life leave room for doubt — when they can be labelled arrogant, or entitled, or worse.It also gets much harder to do those big things every time you turn a Christmas vacation or a student volunteer program into a multi-chapter affair of revelation and recrimination.In the absence of the WE controversy, the focus of political attention in Ottawa yesterday might have been the new jobs numbers, or the testimony of grocery store executives who recently withdrew a wage bonus for their employees. The Liberals might only have had to worry about how they were going to manage the economy's restart and the government's fiscal situation.Instead, the prime minister is being asked again to account for actions that apparently weren't accounted for very well to begin with.

  • Fatal Christmas Eve beatings leave family mourning troubled couple in love

    Fatal Christmas Eve beatings leave family mourning troubled couple in love

    When Nellie-Rae Willams saw two suspects beating her boyfriend François Shurie in Duncan on Christmas Eve, her mother, based on witness accounts, believes she tried to jump in to protect him, screaming at his attackers.The 29-year-old Ditidaht First Nations woman died four days after the brutal attack in her small hometown. Her 37-year-old partner died the night of the beating.More than six months later, the couple's double homicide is described as targeted and remains unsolved by the RCMP.On Facebook, sister-in-law Susie Cusson described Nellie-Rae Marie as a "little warrior." "She would fight to the death for anyone she loved and unfortunately she proved it," wrote Cusson.When her daughter died, so did Linda Williams' hope that she would see her take on the family legacy of carving totems."I miss her so much," said Williams, 58.She wants justice and to understand why it took so long for authorities to contact her."They treated Nellie like she was homeless and she had nobody, but I'm still here," said Williams.RCMP identified two persons of interest soon after the Christmas Eve attack that happened around 11 p.m.Witnesses caught the men on video just metres from the scene near Trunk Road and Government Street, as first responders worked to save the injured couple.Williams believes Shurie was the first attacked."They were happy because they just got word they get to see their their baby girl Christmas Day," she said.Williams was trying to help the pair escape their lifestyle of drugs and petty crime.People who knew Kaslo B.C.-raised Shurie describe a kind, funny, caring man who was skilled at building.'My heart goes numb'The couple had a daughter, and a plan to turn their lives around within five years."It was like those two fell in love and no one could get between them," said Williams.In his obituary, Shurie's family wrote a goodbye to the "sweet little boy we knew" who loved his child and remained kind despite a hard life.In Duncan, witnesses often approach Williams. She says they say they watched the fatal fight that left her daughter with multiple injuries, including a broken jaw."I talk with different people downtown. Some of them seen it. Some of them heard her screaming and crying and asking for help. My heart goes numb when I talk about this," said Williams.Growing up in Duncan, she says, her daughter Nellie played soccer, biked and skateboarded.When she was 13, she had her first child.Williams says Nellie's life spiralled downward after she was beaten "black and blue" by a former partner and lost custody of their children.Five of William's grandchildren are now in the care of foster or adoptive families.This is another tragic loss for the Nuu-chah-nulth woman.In 2010, her brother, 50-year-old John Williams, a celebrated carver, was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. The shooting was ruled unjustified and the City of Seattle paid the family $1.5-million.Eight years later, her 36-year-old son, Daniel Williams, died of an opioid overdose.'You act like I'm not even here'RCMP say they spoke to Williams on Christmas Day and broke the news about Nellie.At first, all hoped Nellie would make it.Williams said she went to Victoria General Hospital after church Dec.25 with a prayer cloth and candle to pray by Nellie's bedside. But she only got to the door of Nellie's room where she said she saw four nurses around the bed of the young woman who was restrained and struggling.She said she was wasn't allowed to visit because of the ongoing criminal investigation and never got a chance to see or talk to her, as she'd hoped.After surgery on Dec. 27, it became clear that the Duncan woman would not survive. RCMP investigators knocked on her mother's door that afternoon.Williams said she spoke to the doctor and saw her daughter before she died, but Nellie never regained consciousness. She said it made her angry that she was not contacted sooner, so she could have said goodbye."I thought … how could you? How could you not let me see her that night? Why did you stop me from seeing her? Why did you wait until she died? I'm her mother. You act like I'm not even here."Dec. 28, police were notified that Williams was dead, and the investigation shifted from aggravated assault to homicide.These days, Williams keeps busy.She buried the couple side-by-side at the Duncan Indian Road Cemetery and is planning to carve a totem in memory of her daughter who she believes would have made a great mother "given half a chance." She keeps urging police to investigate, hoping the attackers are found, to give her daughter a sliver of justice.The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit told CBC the case is ongoing. They urge anybody with information to call 250-380-6211.

  • Today in History for July 11th
    Canadian Press Videos

    Today in History for July 11th

    Highlights of this day in history: America normalizes diplomatic ties with Vietnam; Aaron Burr mortally wounds Alexander Hamilton in a duel; Skylab makes a fiery return to Earth; Babe Ruth's major league debut; Laurence Olivier dies. (July 11)

  • Cloudy outlook for pipelines gets even murkier amid court rulings, U.S. election

    Cloudy outlook for pipelines gets even murkier amid court rulings, U.S. election

    If Albertans had forgotten about the risks associated with Premier Jason Kenney's decision to invest $1.1 billion US in the Keystone XL pipeline, plus $4.2-billion in loan guarantees, this week was a painful reminder of the treacherous business building pipelines has become.This was an especially difficult week for the pipeline industry across North America as two lines were dealt headline-making setbacks and another major project was cancelled.It began last weekend with developers of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline terminating the project amid cost, permitting and litigation uncertainties.It continued Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that left in place a lower court ruling that blocked a key environmental permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — a decision the company said will continue to delay large portions of construction on the 1,947-kilometre project.Calgary-based TC Energy vows to continue building the Canadian leg of the project while fighting the legal battle south of the border.The news out of the U.S. courts didn't shake Kenney's public confidence in the project as he continued to tout the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline."It immediately creates thousands of jobs," he said during a news conference on Wednesday."But after the oil starts flowing, it'll generate tens of billions of dollars that will benefit Albertans and generate government revenues for decades to come."Also this week, a U.S. judge ordered the Dakota Access pipeline to shut down and empty its oil in 30 days. According to the ruling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act because it failed to produce an adequate Environmental Impact Statement for a segment of the project. The pipeline has been in operation since 2017.In recent days, the state of Michigan also launched a website to keep the public abreast of its ongoing battle with Enbridge over the Line 5 pipeline.The company shut down both legs of the pipeline last month after noticing a disturbance to an underwater anchor support in the Straits of Mackinac. The state wants to keep Line 5 closed indefinitely. A judge has allowed the west leg to reopen, but the other leg remains closed until more testing is finished.Attention on climate change, oil spills Developing large pipeline projects has become increasingly difficult in the last decade, especially with greater attention on climate change and spill concerns. And while building a new mine or power plant may impact a few nearby communities, pipelines can pass by hundreds of communities along a route.The past week adds even more wrinkles to an already uncertain outlook for major pipeline development in North America.Building an oil or natural gas pipeline will ultimately become more difficult in the wake of recent developments, said Stephanie Kainz, a senior associate with RS Energy Group in Calgary.Although she'd never seen an order like the one telling the operator of the Dakota Access pipeline to stop flowing oil, Kainz said in her opinion, the biggest news was Keystone XL, which continues to be blocked from using a streamlined permitting process, called Nationwide Permit 12."The Supreme Court telling Keystone XL they can't use Nationwide Permit 12 for their water crossings ... really means that Keystone XL literally has to go the long way around the permitting process to cross every single water crossing," Kainz said.A spokesperson for TC Energy said Thursday that the company will seek authorization for the necessary permits and approvals to convene U.S. mainline pipeline construction in 2021 and maintain its 2023 in-service date.The Keystone XL pipeline would provide a valuable outlet for Alberta crude to the world market, giving it direct access to the U.S. Midwest and down to the Gulf Coast, Kainz said. Building it should mean producers can fetch a better price for its crude and more royalties for Alberta.But further delays mean the project could face big political headwinds, she said. "I want to be very optimistic on it, but I think it definitely lowers the chances of it actually being completed, especially going into an election this fall," she said. "Right now you're banking on a Trump re-election in the midst of a pandemic."Biden opposed to Keystone XLU.S. President Donald Trump has been a strong supporter of the Keystone XL project, but his opponent, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has said he would tear up Trump's approval of the pipeline if he wins the White House.Kenney said he believes Biden can be persuaded to back the project, but the former vice-president has been unequivocal in his criticism of the pipeline, calling it "tarsands that we don't need."James Coleman, an associate professor of energy law at Southern Methodist University in Texas, said pipeline developers will, on balance, view the past week positively because the U.S. Supreme Court did not stop other projects from using the nationwide permit.For proponents of Keystone XL, he said, it's also a "serious positive" that the court appears interested enough to look at the matter when it takes so few cases.Still, he said he believes the odds of getting this pipeline built remain less than 50 per cent because of Biden's chances of winning in November. "It's not going to be in service by the time he would be elected [this fall]. So, any individual [court] decision is playing on the margins of that basically bigger overall question, which is about the election." Coleman said the last week of news demonstrates for people outside of the energy industry just how difficult a business it is to build pipelines these days. It perhaps also underscores why government investment may be necessary to get such projects done."One thing you're seeing is if you want to build energy transport infrastructure — doesn't matter if it's a power line or oil pipeline or natural gas pipeline — it is getting riskier," Coleman said."One way to have even a chance of getting to build is to have government investment because that government investment provides patience that wouldn't otherwise exist. And thus far, in the United States, we haven't felt the need to invest in oil pipelines. I'm not sure that that's far off."The question Kenney will ultimately have to answer is whether his big bet on Keystone XL was worth the gamble. It's a bet that comes with considerable hurdles and uncertainty, with the cost for some also measured against climate change and the future of energy.And even if the legal and regulatory hurdles are overcome, the outcome of a hotly contested election in a foreign country could decide the fate of the project — and with it, Alberta's investment.

  • Enbridge billed eatery for $4,000 worth of gas it didn't use during COVID-19 shutdown, owner says

    Enbridge billed eatery for $4,000 worth of gas it didn't use during COVID-19 shutdown, owner says

    An owner of one of Toronto's most iconic downtown restaurants says Enbridge Gas billed him for thousands of dollars worth of gas his eatery didn't use while it was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Andre Rosenbaum says the Queen Mother Cafe was forced to close its doors on March 15 and it didn't reopen until the middle of last month. But he calculates the difference between what Enbridge charged for and the gas the restaurant actually used is $4,000. "We were struggling, we had zero income during that period, and it was a really, really tough challenge," Rosenbaum told CBC News. Enbridge says it's been forced to estimate its customers' gas usage during the pandemic and is willing to adjust the bill if "we have overestimated" it.But that doesn't satisfy Rosenbaum."I feel they're taking us for a ride. I think it's cruel, I think it's unfair, unsympathetic. It's adding a burden to small businesses that need every spare penny now and I'm just completely and utterly offended," he said.The well-known spot, which has been a fixture on Queen Street West near University Avenue since 1978, reopened for takeout and delivery on June 17. The restaurant started serving diners on its patio a week later. But because of physical distancing restrictions that are still in place, the Queen Mum can seat only about 20 people — a far cry from its normal capacity of approximately 150 customers.Some suppliers were compassionate and made arrangements to defer or reduce payments.Enbridge did allow the restaurant to consolidate its bills, but when Rosenbaum started paying them he says he noticed they were high, even for the period they'd been closed. So he called customer service."They said because of COVID we can't send out technicians to check the meters, so we have to estimate."  He says he was told if he provided an accurate meter reading, his bill will be adjusted. "Why are they charging people huge estimated readings based on January, February and March when there was heating going on, and they also know that after that many of us were shuttered? It's absolutely crazy," he said."They are just taking money that they must realize it's very, very difficult for us to be paying for and they have not earned."Happy to 'rectify the issue,' Enbridge saysIn a statement to CBC Toronto, a senior communications adviser with Enbridge Gas confirms that the company is following the latest guidance provided by public health officials and government authorities. "Our meter readers are taking extra precautions to keep the public safe. We have suspended reading meters located inside homes and businesses, and outside meters are only read once every other month," Leanne McNaughton wrote.She says Enbridge uses customers' gas-use history, expected gas rates and weather forecasts to estimate monthly billings."If we have overestimated, we are happy to work with this customer to rectify the issue," said McNaughton, adding that customers are also welcome to submit their meter readings online.The company also postponed its regular quarterly rate adjustment for July, so rates did not increase.But Ryan Mallough, the director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says this is kind of thing that small businesses do not need as they struggle to recover."On the face of it, it's pretty silly," he said."We all know that most of the businesses across Ontario have been shut down for three months and that their gas usage has been very little at best."And while it's nice that Enbridge will help correct the bills by allowing small businesses to send in their gas readings, it's "just an added piece of stress," he says. "It shows a lack of understanding about what businesses in this province are going through."

  • News

    Seven years after moving family to Montreal, Parc-Ex resident fears they'll have to live on the street

    When he first immigrated to Montreal, Mohammed Amfizguy managed to find the perfect apartment for his growing family. It's where he and his wife raised their three children; it's where those children leave for school every morning, and it's where they forged connections with their tightly woven community."My children go to school just two minutes from here, so they have all their friends over here. They're able to walk there alone safely," Amfizguy said in an interview Thursday. But that may not be the case for much longer. Amfizguy is one of many Quebecers now waiting for a decision from the province's rental board, the Régie du logement, on whether he'll be forced out of his Parc-Extension home. The Quebec government placed a moratorium on evictions last March because of the pandemic. It was lifted last week. As of July 6, decisions rendered by the rental board prior to March 1 can be enforced.  More recent decisions can be enforced as of July 20.Amfizguy said he received an eviction notice without any prior warning or discussion at the end of December. The building had been sold two months earlier, and Amfizguy suspects the new owner was not satisfied with the rent the current tenants were paying. "They want to renovate and do a change of vocation for the building. We don't know exactly what they mean by that," Amifzguy said. "The only thing we know is they want to rent the apartments at a higher price because this is a really in-demand neighbourhood, especially with the Université de Montréal [campus]." Amifzguy says he thinks his landlord wants to push his family out to make room for students who will be willing to pay higher rents.Hoping to keep his children, who are between the ages of seven and 11, in the same school, Amfizguy has been scouring the neighbouhood for apartments but so far has found nothing that fits his budget. "We can find a four-and-a-half but at $1,400, $1,500, $1600 instead of $600 or $700," he said.Amfizguy moved to Montreal from Morocco with his family in 2013. He made the decision after several of his family members and friends had done the same, and he hoped to raise his children close to their extended family. Now, if the rental board rules in favour of his landlord and approves the eviction, Amfizguy says he is afraid he may either have to leave the city behind or wind up living on the streets."We really don't know right now what we would do, what we can do. It's really a nightmare," he said. "It's really unfair. The government has to find a solution for families like us. It's not just the rich that should have the right to live properly." City's measures not enough, advocates sayAmifzguy is far from the only one having issues finding affordable housing. According to social housing group FRAPRU, more than 370 families were left without a new lease on moving day this year.While the City of Montreal enacted emergency measures for those who could not find a home come July 1, Maxime Roy-Allard, a spokesperson for Quebec's coalition of housing committees, says there's more to be done. "We fear many people will just go elsewhere — further away from their family, from their friends, from their jobs," Roy-Allard said, "or they will wind up in an apartment in really bad shape." Now that the moratorium on evictions has been lifted, Roy-Allard fears the city may soon see even more people without a place to live. "Especially for evictions, non-payment evictions, many people have lost their revenue, have lost their jobs," Roy-Allard said. "So they came into a situation of not being able to pay their rent." Roy-Allard is calling on the city to put more pressure on the province to provide more social housing and rent controls.

  • How a Canadian woman pushed a popular South Asian matchmaking site to drop its skin-tone filter

    How a Canadian woman pushed a popular South Asian matchmaking site to drop its skin-tone filter

    When Meghan Nagpal decided to take her chances at finding love by signing up for a popular matchmaking website, she never expected to be asked to describe her skin tone — let alone the skin tone she would find desirable in a partner.About a year ago, Nagpal joined, a website that asks users to choose potential matches based on family background, status and body type. She said there was also a filter asking users for their preference of skin colour."I felt really uncomfortable," said the University of Toronto graduate student, who is originally from Vancouver. Nagpal soon deleted her account, but returned to the site last month after feeling some pressure from her mother to get married. She was again confronted with the skin-tone filter, which allowed users to select from "fair," "wheatish" or "dark."This time, after all the worldwide anti-racism protests inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, her discomfort turned to outrage.WATCH | Matchmaking site removes skin tone filter:The skin-tone filter, she said, sparked her realization that something needed to be done about what she called the South Asian community's bias against skin colour."There's a preference for fair skin in the culture when it comes to marriage and finding a life partner," she said.Discrimination within communities of colourTo Nagpal, the need to do something felt urgent because even though many prominent people in the South Asian community have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, there are still some, including Bollywood actors, who continue to promote creams that promise to lighten skin tone.Nagpal emailed the website, which is owned by a company based in Mumbai, India, hoping to get the skin-tone filter removed. She received a one-sentence response saying the filter was a popular feature with parents looking to arrange marriages for their children. "Most parents do require this as an option so it is visible on the site," read the response sent on June 10. Nagpal then posted the response to a Facebook group with more than 2,000 South Asian women in North America.Group members Hetal Lakhani and Roshni Patel got involved, creating an online petition to remove the filter.They argued that it perpetuates a form of racial discrimination known as shadeism or colourism that's prevalent in the South Asian community — with light skin being historically viewed as more desirable than dark.Skin-tone filters removedOvernight, the petition had amassed more than 1,400 signatures and Nagpal said the skin-tone filter was no longer on the site. In an email, a spokesperson for told CBC Toronto that they were not aware of the skin-tone filter and claimed it was a "non-functional aspect" of the site. "There is no skin colour filter on, on any of its platforms," the spokesperson said."[It] is a several year old product debris left-over in one of our advanced search pages on the website, which is non-functional and barely used and hence it did not come to our attention," the email reads."We do not discriminate based on skin colour and our member base is as diverse and pluralistic as the world today is." Two other prominent South Asian matrimonial sites — Bharat Matrimony and — were also pressured to remove skin-tone filters. CBC News contacted both websites for comment on this story, but received no response. 'Colourism is very easy to fester in communities'Thurka Gunaratnam, a filmmaker and educator based in Toronto who has focused on shadeism in her work, says the filter did not come as a shock to her. "When a group has been historically oppressed and they have not been given the freedom to understand what their own identity is, something like colourism is very easy to fester in communities," said Gunaratnam. Toronto-based writer and filmmaker Mirusha Yogarajah participated in a 2016 social media campaign called unfairandlovely. The campaign targeted the South Asian population in particular and was meant to tackle the issue of shadeism and the popularity of skin lightening creams — including one called "Fair and Lovely.""It's so embedded in us from such a young age, it just makes me really sad," Yogarajah told CBC News.She said women who are targeted by ad campaigns for the creams are "deeply impacted" by beauty standards, but that it "ultimately comes down to their value as a person." Prejudice should not be confused with preference, Gunaratnam said."In the wake of talking about colorism and racism, one thing that will help with unlearning is to really ask ourselves: Is it a preference or is it prejudice?"And if it's a preference, why is it that?"

  • After a violent trauma, birds have become this Twillingate man's 'saving grace'

    After a violent trauma, birds have become this Twillingate man's 'saving grace'

    The pine grosbeak that lands in his hand, and interrupts the interview, is named "Mom."Randy Jenkins recognizes her immediately, with the small white feather just behind her right eye.She's a frequent visitor to his Twillingate backyard, and earned her nickname for her habit of bringing her fledglings to the backyard, too. It's happened three years in a row.Her current mate — Jenkins suspects — follows close behind, and lands on the microphone just a few seconds later. But Mom eats right out of Jenkins's hand."This is the one that's been here for five years. She returns every spring."He adds, "It's a passion now … It's a lifesaving passion for me." Jenkins is not being overly dramatic. He moved to Newfoundland after the trauma of a 1994 murder and robbery at the Oshawa, Ont. sporting goods store where he worked. The shooting left his boss dead and Jenkins wounded, his life turned upside down. Decades later, Jenkins has rebuilt a new life in Twillingate, a historic fishing community on Newfoundland's northeast coast. His life is considerably different. All Jenkins has to do is extend his left hand into the air, and Mom arrives. The yard is filled with birds, and some, particularly the young ones, are more reluctant."They'll get off my hand and almost flutter like a hummingbird, nervous to land," he said. "Where the older ones, they know me."Over the winter, and during the spring, Jenkins will burn through an "unbelievable" amount of bird feed. He's built a custom feeder, cat and squirrel resistant, with four-inch ABS pipe. > When you get a grasp of what really happened, you understand how important they are to me. \- Randy JenkinsHe once counted 26 birds in the yard, around his feeder — and around him — at once.He'll talk to the birds, too. And he's sure they're talking back."The birds have become a saving grace," he said in an interview. Smiling againMom is a bit of a star online, too — on a Facebook group where Jenkins shares dozens of photos of the birds he finds near his home.The Newfoundland and Labrador Birdwatching Group has grown to 10,000 people, and his posts will usually get hundreds of reactions, and dozens of comments."I wish everybody could have a friend like you," he tells Mom in one of the videos, as the bird picks at feed on a wooden plank. The comments — a blend of "beautiful," "sweet," and awesome!" — are a delight. Jenkins said many people are amazed that the birds will land straight in his hand."You don't think it's going to go anywhere, and at the end of the day you look at it, and you've got over 100 loves on it. Not just likes, loves! So you know you're affecting people," he said."I was putting a lot of smiles on faces, and through all of this that was my goal. I want them smiles back, man. I want to know that I can put smiles on people's faces again."Now, more than ever, he said."It's become so important during this COVID thing, because I have a lot of experience at PTSD and mental anguish and trauma and everything," he said. "And I am very well aware of how it's affecting people."'I'm still a mess'In an interview, Jenkins relived his nightmares that spanned years in Ontario courtrooms, including the shooting, a trial, an appeal, a mistrial, and a third trial,> 'It turned me into a mess. I'm still a mess over it.' \- Randy JenkinsBefore the September 1994 shooting at Gagnon Sports in Oshawa, Jenkins had had a pleasant life as a sporting goods salesman and a waterfowl hunter.He put smiles on people's faces, he said. "It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Jenkins remembered.He was actually off the day of the shooting, but he returned to the sports store because he had borrowed his boss's car, and wanted to return it."I walked into the store and the two crooks come in right behind me. I was shot immediately, within seconds," he said. The bullet went went into his left arm, struck a bone, and was lodged close to his shoulder.The gunman then turned on the store's owner, Roger Pardy, and murdered him. Two other men were shot. The two assailants stole 11 handguns, and fled in a stolen vehicle.According to local media reports of the trial in Oshawa This Week, the whole attack took just 90 seconds. Two men were convicted for their parts in the murder and the robbery. In 2006, Ronald Woodcock received six life sentences."It turned me into a mess," Jenkins said. "I'm still a mess over it."'I wanted to get Randy back, and I did'Jenkins tried to go back to work, but he said he couldn't bear it. In 2000 he moved to Twillingate, and shortly after the move bought his current home, near Jenkins Cove.It's been almost 26 years since he was shot, but the nightmares still haven't stopped."I've been at a big supper and actually busted out crying at the table, and it's so embarrassing," he said. "I can be in a store shopping and something will come across my mind and I'll start crying. It's very embarrassing." He's had therapy and taken medications, some effective, others not so effective. He says he's had therapists practically disappear, and medications leave him with difficult and embarrassing side effects.Nothing has been nearly as effective as what he's found now: his birds."How can a doctor even tell me what to do? They haven't been shot," he said. "I wanted to get Randy back, and I did. And this is how I did it."I've seen just about the worst that man has to offer," Jenkins said. "When you get a grasp of what really happened, you understand how important they are to me."They'll be backJenkins lives alone in Twillingate. The birds are good company."When, in fact, that bird is sitting there in my hand, and I'm giving back the single notes to it and it's repeating, that bird to me is so comfortable that it's actually treating me as if I'm part of the flock."He was always interested in birds, but since arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador, he's decided to connect with them in a deeper way.How has he convinced them to get so comfortable?"I attribute it to the calling, to the knowledge of their calls. And the learning of their calls," he said.  "I've listened [and] watched and paid attention to what they call, when they call, why they call."Now, he said, Jenkins can warble with the warblers. "It's a communication thing. I don't know what they're saying, and I don't know what I'm saying to them, but it is a communication thing and the notes are right. That's the key." And there were mistakes along the way, boundaries with the wildlife that Jenkins believes he crossed — he now tries not to feed the young ones unless a mother or father is present — but he's always trying to do better.It's now time to take the bird feeders down, and allow the wildlife to feed themselves. Frounce, a deadly disease for songbirds, has been found again in Newfoundland and Labrador, for the fifth straight year. The disease is spread at bird feeders, by droppings or regurgitated seed.  In an advisory Monday, the Newfoundland and Labrador government asked birders to take their feeders down. It's a bittersweet time. "It hurts when we stop feeding them, it really does," he said. For a few months, Jenkins will go without his friends, without his singing and communication, and without his conversations with Mom.But, come the first big snowfall, she'll be back. He guarantees it."They know I love them," he said. "And they know I look after them."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • North Korea denounces UK for sanctions on organisations accused of links to prison camps

    North Korea denounces UK for sanctions on organisations accused of links to prison camps

    North Korea denounced Britain on Saturday for announcing sanctions against two organisations that the British government has said are involved in forced labour, torture and murder in North Korean prison camps. The move against the two organisations, named as the Ministry of State Security Bureau 7 and Ministry of People's Security Correctional Bureau, is part of the first sanctions under Britain's new global human rights regime. "Britain's latest move is a flagrant political plot to jump on the bandwagon of the United States' inimical policy," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried on state media KCNA.

  • Unusual granite culvert from 1800s is collapsing. Community wants it saved

    Unusual granite culvert from 1800s is collapsing. Community wants it saved

    Amateur historian Tammey McLean walked into the woods in Pembroke, near Woodstock, in search of a large stone structure from the last half of the 1800s.This was her second attempt to find what she thought was a train tunnel. But this time, she was prepared: McLean was wearing boots and her 18-year-old son Kolby Cronkhite was with her in case she crossed paths with a bear or a moose. As instructed by a man who had posted a photo of the "tunnel" on her Woodstock history Facebook page, a railway crossing would appear on the road, she was to park her car nearby, and follow a trail about 30 metres in.In less than three minutes, she found herself in front of a towering stone arch built around 1870.It was a culvert about 5½ metres tall and made of finished granite stones that fit perfectly together like puzzle pieces.The stones near the curve had been cut in angles to form the arch, and it was easy to tell how painstaking the process must have been.Surrounded by trees and plants, the arch culvert looked as if it belonged in an enchanted forest. "What we saw first was a stream, and I could see the big cement boulders that were the outside of it. It was quite amazing to see," said McLean.Except it was falling apart.Its historyThe arch culvert was part of the Gibson branch railway, called the New Brunswick Land and Railway Company, according to Paul Hanson, a retired civil servant who is a railway fanatic."It is not a tunnel," said Hanson. "It looks like a tunnel. But it is an arch culvert, a waterway. And any civil engineer would say it looks like a tunnel." Built by New Brunswick industrialist Alexander (Boss) Gibson, who owned sawmills and a cotton mill in Marysville, the railway line that passed above the arch culvert would haul coal and flour, sugar, molasses and other survival supplies as well as construction tools such as nails and spikes. The Canadian Pacific Railway eventually bought the Gibson line and countless others in New Brunswick, then abandoned them around Jan. 1, 1995, as the company abandoned the East Coast.As happened along other old railway beds in New Brunswick, the tracks above the culvert were pulled up and replaced by a trail. Today, it carries hikers as well as ATV and snowmobile riders, most oblivious to the beautiful structure coming apart beneath them.Falling apartPembroke resident Kevin McKell is a railway buff who has explored almost every trail line in New Brunswick. He lives with his wife Shirley Sewell McKell in a farm that surrounds the stone arch.According to McKell, it wasn't common back then to build such an elaborate culvert over a stream."Just the cement work and stone work in those times, I think it would have taken a year to build, just to do the masonry work," he said.Hanson is also amazed by the architecture that went into the structure. "They did better work back then than what we are doing right now, and they did not have the machinery, " he said."All the blocks had to be cut out of granite and it had to be engineered."'There is concern'McKell said he and other nearby landowners have watched the degradation of the culvert over the past 10 years and are concerned now about an imminent collapse.Granite stones have become dislodged and the ceiling is falling. Heavy rains and high freshets send damaging debris under the arch."It would be devastating if that collapsed," McKell said. "There are some homes and some businesses just below. There is concern."He said in the springtime, the water from Shaw's Brook, which runs through the culvert, is high and moves at a fast pace. If the structure collapses "that would fill up and then we would have a lot of water and we don't know where it would go and what damage could come from."McLean said she's trying to find someone who can help her restore the culvert."It is a piece of history that should be taken care of," she said. Who's responsible?The arch is the responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development.No one was available for an interview, but a written statement sent to CBC News said the department is aware of the situation and was requesting an engineering assessment of the site."Should it be determined from engineering assessments that the structure failures pose a public risk, the department will take steps to close the trail segment to protect the public."Take care of historyNo train has crossed the tracks that used to lie above the arch since 1987, but people who grew up in the area know the culvert's there.Some have messaged McLean to share stories of when they played nearby and to agree with her that it should be restored.That hot summer day that McLean and her son walked to the culvert, they spent quite some time there taking photos and exploring the ins and outs of the structure."You have to learn to preserve history," she said. "If you don't preserve history, there won't be anything for the rest of the people to see."

  • 7 things to know about P.E.I.'s 'new' potatoes

    7 things to know about P.E.I.'s 'new' potatoes

    New potatoes are a veggie lover's early-summer dream — the tender little spuds, some around the size of golf balls, others the size of a crabapple, melt in your mouth when steamed, buttered and lightly seasoned. Heaven. And they're now popping up at roadside stands across P.E.I. But what exactly are new potatoes? How are they grown and harvested, and when are they no longer "new"? CBC News contacted the P.E.I. Potato Board, as well as G.W. & R. Visser Farms in Orwell, P.E.I., where we spoke with chief operating officer Adam Jay.  1\. They are not one special breedNew potatoes are planted in spring, as soon as fields are dry enough — sometimes in early April — and so can be a number of different early varieties (that's potato lingo for breed or type). "Common early-season varieties on P.E.I. include Irish cobbler (an old-time favourite), eramosa (a creamy tasting potato), superior (a standard commercial early) and Jemseg (usually the first one ready). Often these early potatoes are marketed by variety name and many people have their favourite," said Mark Phillips from the P.E.I. Potato Board via email.Early varieties mature quickly — after about 60 to 70 days in the ground. On the other end of the spectrum, russet Burbank potatoes used in french fry processing take 120 days to grow and are usually the last out of the ground in the fall. If one tried to harvest them now there wouldn't be much to see, Phillips said, because most of the plant's energy has gone into first growing its leafy top.    2\. They are encouraged alongPhillips explained that the first step is "green sprouting" the seed (which is itself a cut-up potato). Green sprouting is allowing the potatoes to sprout before they are put in the ground, to give them a head start.Once planted, the rows or drills of potatoes may be covered with plastic to help warm up the soil and air underneath, and protect emerging plants from late frost, he said.3\. They are harvested earlyNew P.E.I. potatoes currently for sale have been harvested early, when the tops are still green and before the skins have a chance to thicken. (That thickening is a natural process experts call suberization — it prepares the potato to be stored, sometimes for almost a year. It begins when they are dug. The spuds are first kept at a moderate temperature of 8 to 10 C and at low humidity. Once they're suberized, they're ready to be stored at cooler temperatures. Now you know!)Jay admits the definition of a new potato is "a little vague," but he considers potatoes to be new if they are sold fresh after digging and have not been stored. The earliest new potatoes are harvested after they've grown in P.E.I.'s rich red soil is roughly 70 days. 4\. They are harvested mostly by handOn the Visser farm, new potatoes are dug with a tractor and a one-row turnip harvester. Because the tiny spuds are so tender, they are picked by hand into crates, then bagged and weighed. The potatoes are not washed — they are already high in moisture, and dampness might cause them to break down, especially in the warm sun of a roadside stand. Because the process is labour intensive, Visser's farm plants only a small amount of new potatoes — about a hectare.5\. Why are they so delicious?Because the little spuds are so high in moisture they are tender, have a creamy texture and are ready to soak up butter, Jay said. "New potatoes are great on the barbecue, in a salad, or simply boiled with some butter, salt and pepper," added Phillips.While they may be creamy, they are not what are called creamer potatoes, however. Creamers look like new potatoes in that they are tiny and have a creamy texture. Creamers are planted specifically to be sold year-round as tiny potatoes, or what are sometimes called "baby" potatoes. Jay explains they are planted densely and their growth is stopped mid-stage by top-killing when they are all roughly the size of golf balls. Creamer potatoes do suberize — their skins set or stiffen slightly — before they are stored. The Little Potato Company, which contracts some farmers in P.E.I. to grow tiny spuds, even have their own proprietary breeds of creamers.6\. When are they no longer considered 'new'?That may depend on who you talk to. Jay said Visser's maintains the "new" label as long as the potatoes are sold fresh, before being stored. "It aligns well with the tourist season," said Jay. "We potentially keep our new potato stands till mid-September."People like grabbing a bag on their way to the cottage or as a tasty souvenir of their trip as they head for the ferry or the bridge, he said. 7\. How important is the sale of new potatoes?Purely economically, new potato sales are, well, small potatoes. Visser's sells at some small convenience stores and a handful of roadside stands. Their main business is growing and selling potatoes for the table, and for seed. "For us, it's probably more for the fun of seeing something growing early in the season," as well as satisfying local demand for the tasty treats, said Jay, adding Visser's hires local youth for the harvesting, some who are involved in 4-H, so they can "experience the joy of seeing things grow," and make some extra pocket money. With COVID-19 restricting visitors to P.E.I. to seasonal residents and tourists from the other Atlantic provinces, Jay said farmers "will take a hit on tourist sales this year." "New potatoes make up a very small percentage of our total sales, but they are a very important part of the true P.E.I. experience in the summer," enthused Phillips. "They are great for tourists visiting the Island, and they fill an important gap between when the previous year's crop is cleaning up, and when we begin harvesting our storage crop in the fall. They are certainly a fan favourite."More from CBC P.E.I.

  • The great PPE panic: How the pandemic caught Canada with its stockpiles down

    The great PPE panic: How the pandemic caught Canada with its stockpiles down

    This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at some of the lessons learned from the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic and how Canada moves forward.To hear Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand describe it, Canada's effort to supply frontline workers during the pandemic has been a significant — if uneven — success."We did procurement like it has never been done before," said Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand. "We are in an urgent scramble to secure personal protective equipment and we will not let up until that task is accomplished."The federal government, she said, has conducted just under a hundred flights to Canada carrying Chinese personal protective equipment (PPE) and bringing supplies from the U.S. and Europe.It was a remarkable, last-ditch effort. But could it have been avoided?Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association, gives Ottawa credit for pulling every lever it could when the need for PPE became critical. "But they wouldn't have had to scramble to do that if we had adequate stockpiles, and the same goes for medication," he told CBC News. "We should have maintained and had them available."We had a pandemic plan in place but we didn't actually have things ready. We didn't have adequate personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers."In fact, Canada still doesn't have the PPE it needs to keep those essential workers safe.Read more from the series:Just take a look at the nation's capital. Thirty out of some 600 Ottawa paramedics are currently reassigned from front-line duties because of a lack of N95 masks, according to their union.CUPE ambulance rep Jason Fraser told CBC News that when he began as a paramedic during the SARS epidemic in 2003, he and his co-workers were fitted out with state-of-the-art respirators. "For 17 years, the gold standard of mask has been the N95 masks," he said. "And due to a global shortage or difficulty obtaining proper PPE, all of a sudden surgical masks are OK protection."Fraser said his members don't want to work with anything less than N95s and don't believe they'd be asked to do so were it not for preventable shortages.He points the finger of blame mainly at the Ontario government. But a shortage of N95s has been an issue in many places across the country.PPE stock in poor shapeCanada's pandemic response got off to a rocky start when it came to the basic tools: masks, gowns, gloves and other products.Canadian PPE stockpile levels were woefully low when the pandemic hit; materials were allowed to expire without being used or even donated, and then ended up in landfills. The Trudeau government was widely criticized for sending 16 tons of PPE to China at a time when the novel coronavirus was still mostly a Chinese problem, and the Public Health Agency of Canada was still mistakenly assessing the risk to Canadians as "low."Anand said her department responded to those shortages by fostering the creation of a Canadian PPE industry from scratch."Forty-four per cent of our contracts by dollar value are made with domestic manufacturers," she said."This is an incredible effort on behalf of Canadians themselves to protect Canadians. So that is a heartening story and it's also an important lesson learned."It's a lesson nearly everyone involved in fighting the pandemic agrees has to be learned — if Canada wants to avoid the same experience when the next pandemic hits.The preppers weren't preparedOne nation that hasn't had to worry about PPE is Finland. Its history of Soviet invasion left it with a siege mentality that manifested itself in the construction of a secret network of bunkers stocked with supplies to carry its people through times of war or disaster — including a huge stockpile of masks.Canada also has a National Emergency Stockpile System (NESS), launched in 1952 at the height of the Cold War and originally intended to help Canada survive a nuclear attack.Lately, the system's rationale has changed somewhat. "We began to move away from beds and blankets and increased our holdings of antiviral medications and key treatments," Sally Thornton of the Public Health Agency of Canada told MPs at a committee hearing in May."We do not focus on PPE and that wouldn't be a major element, because we count on our provinces, within their respective authority, to maintain their stockpile."Some MPs found that answer highly unsatisfactory, given that the NESS last year threw out two million N95 masks that had been allowed to expire.Stockpile 'completely unready'"The stockpile system proved completely unready for COVID-19, and the degree of unreadiness goes well beyond the explanation that COVID-19 was was unexpected in terms of its impact and scale," said Wesley Wark of the University of Ottawa, an intelligence expert who studied the NESS's response to the pandemic."It was clearly underfunded. Cabinet ministers and senior officials have admitted that fact."Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in April that "federal governments for decades have been underfunding things like public health preparedness, and I would say that obviously governments all across the world are in the same exact situation."What Hajdu said is true — although her own government closed warehouses and left the stockpile even smaller than it found it. NESS's annual budget is only about $3 million and both the Harper and Trudeau governments routinely spent even less on it. It has a regular staff of just 18 people."But beyond its underfunding," said Wark, "it basically lacked any kind of strategy as far as I can tell to prepare for an emergency ...""There was really no planning done to integrate the federal government's stockpile system with those held by the provinces and territories. It's not until February — a month into the COVID-19 crisis — [that] the federal government wakes up to the fact that they don't even know what is held in provincial and territorial stockpiles, nor do provinces and territories know what's held in the federal stockpile. That points to a basic strategic failure."The come-as-you-are pandemicWhen March arrived, Wark said, "the stockpile system had to transition into being a kind of portal for trying to get supplies hastily mobilized from domestic suppliers or international sources into Canada and passed on to provinces and territories."You know, I think the whole thing was just a desperate scramble. And it didn't need to have been that way, if proper attention had been paid to the important role that the stockpile system was meant to play."A pandemic is a bad time to start shopping for emergency supplies. With COVID-19 engulfing one country after another, Canada found itself competing with dozens of other countries, as well as private U.S. hospital networks, to acquire the most sought-after items. Anand said the government has learned that lesson and will ensure that stockpiles of PPE, medicines and other essentials are maintained in future.Stockpiles alone won't solve the problem, she said, because PPE products have expiry dates and a major pandemic would at least start to exhaust any stockpile."Another part of the puzzle is also to make sure that we've got relationships with a diverse range of suppliers who can produce these goods so that we have priority when it comes to making sure that we have that product," she said.Unreliable suppliersCanada's two main markets for acquiring PPE supplies — the U.S. and China — have been problematic.China's PPE market quickly flooded with new companies that previously had been making things like baby toys or auto parts. They began to churn out PPE of wildly varying quality.In the U.S., President Donald Trump ordered 3M to stop fulfilling contracts to provide N95 masks to other countries, and halted a shipment to Ontario in April. Thanks mainly to dogged resistance to that order by 3M executives, the threat was averted.But it it all served as a reminder of the risks involved in depending on other countries for essential supplies in a global emergency. Ontario Premier Doug Ford vowed to make his province self-sufficient."I'm not going to rely on President Trump," he said. "I'm not going to rely on any prime minister of any country ever again. Our manufacturing, we're gearing up and once they start, we're never going to stop them."Anand said she is working to end Canada's dependence on foreign sources. "The strategy from procurement has been to diversify our supply chains to make sure that we are not reliant on one country or one jurisdiction alone," she said."We would very much aim to have domestic production of every item here in Canada."That would mean persuading the Canadian manufacturers that switched production over to medical equipment — such as clothing maker Stanfields in Nova Scotia — to stay in the game once the crisis passes.Mixed messages on masksThe government's early advice against wearing masks confused many Canadians, who suspected (correctly, as it turned out) that the guidance defied common sense.That confusion also affected people in the medical field."I have been astounded that we are not being told to wear masks," one occupational therapist told CBC News on March 31, describing conditions at the rehab hospital where she worked. "We are even being told we can't wear our own masks and will be reprimanded and potentially disciplined for doing so."Some Canadian hospitals even had security guards order people to remove masks before they could enter.Calgary ER physician Joe Vipond told CBC News the government's position on masks struck him as irrational from the beginning."And I see that changing, but boy it's slow!" he said.He said that his own province of Alberta was "pretty late to the PPE bandwagon"."I know in B.C. on March 25 every single hospital and every single long term care facility were mandated to wear masks in all situations, in order to avoid pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread," he said.In Alberta, he added, that decision came "a good three weeks after. And so I think a lot of ways we were quite lucky to avoid a lot of transmission within our acute care facilities. That didn't work out so well for our long term care facilities."I know there was one outbreak at the Lloydminster hospital and also in Winnipeg that were blamed on lack of universal masking. There was always a concern about N95, and we were told to be very cautious in our use."Vipond blamed the relentless search for cost efficiencies, cheaper vendors and just-in-time delivery for the shortages."There is value in having stockpiles and there is value in having your own domestic control over things," he said. "I'm hoping that we recognize the value of being a masters of our own domain."Mike Villenueve, CEO of the Canadian Nurses' Association, agrees with Vipond about the patchwork nature of PPE access across the country."It's been a story of great success in many places ... and the complete opposite in others — you can't seem to get it, or it's locked up, or I'm encouraged to not use it because it's expensive," he said."Our view is that we should err on the side of protecting people, and whatever the cost of an N95 mask is, [it's] small compared to the cost of a life."'A sense of mistrust'Villeneuve said the fact that rules on PPE use varied from place to place led nurses to suspect PPE policies were being driven not by the best science but by harsh realities of supply and shortage."How come that filters down so differently across 13 jurisdictions, hundreds of employers and different practice settings and so on, when a nurse in a practice setting in Alberta is doing the same thing as a nurse in the same setting in Manitoba?" he said."That sort of sets up a sense of mistrust."Anand said that it's up to provinces to set such policies — but she doesn't rule out the federal government making uniform recommendations. She said her department soon will be rolling out new PPE supplier competitions on its supply hub website."We have had 26,000 businesses respond to our call out to suppliers, 26,000 businesses wanting to step up and assist in the Team Canada effort," she said. And while only about 17,000 of those companies are Canadian, Anand argued it "suggests is that there is capacity in the Canadian economy to become self-sufficient in the area of PPE."

  • The province says Bill 184 protects both landlords and tenants. Here's why both sides hate it

    The province says Bill 184 protects both landlords and tenants. Here's why both sides hate it

    Richmond Hill landlord Valeria Burnazov says she's at her wits' end with a tenant she says is refusing to pay rent. The tenant moved into her condo in the middle of the pandemic in May, and according to Burnazov, paid two weeks of rent that month as per their agreement for May, plus a security deposit — but hasn't paid a penny since."It is literally a nightmare. I actually have trouble sleeping. I have really bad anxiety," she said, adding she's "out thousands of dollars every month."Right now, there's a moratorium on evictions across the province because of COVID-19. As a result, Burnazov says, her hands are tied. She hopes that Bill 184 might lead to some positive changes in her favour.The legislation, officially titled the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, has passed second reading at Queen's Park and is now before a legislative committee. The government of Premier Doug Ford says it will "strengthen protections for tenants and make it easier to resolve landlord and tenant disputes."When rent is overdue, we want to encourage landlords and tenants to work together to come up with repayment agreements — rather than resorting to evictions," a spokeswoman for the municipalities and housing ministry has said in an email to CBC News.But so far, the bill seems to have satisfied nobody on either side of the landlord-tenant divide. It has sparked loud protests by tenants and their supporters in recent days, while advocates for landlords say the legislation doesn't go far enough to address their concerns.What tenant advocates are sayingThe bill has been dubbed the "eviction bill" by tenant advocates.A key sticking point for them is that, while currently all disputes over evictions and rent in arrears must be heard by the Landlord and Tenant Board —  some of which result in rent repayment plans — the bill would allow landlords to bypass the board and offer tenants their own repayment plan.However, a government official with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, explained in an email to CBC that if an agreement is reached during that process, the agreement must still be submitted to the Landlord and Tenant Board for approval, and if approved, the board would then issue a consent order.Dania Majid, a staff lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, says this new repayment plan process would be problematic, especially for tenants who've fallen into arrears in rent due to the pandemic."They might find themselves pressured by landlords to enter repayment plans, unaffordable repayment plans, in the offices of the landlord."The ministry official explained that after a consent order is issued, a tenant has 30 days to appeal the order if they feel they were pressured into the agreement. And, if a tenant is offered a repayment plan, they still have a right to a hearing.Cole Webber, a community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services, says the bill would speed up the eviction process. "One, by removing tenants' right to raise tenant rights issues at a hearing if they've not given written notice in advance, and also by creating a situation where if tenants fail to meet the terms of a repayment plan, the landlord can get a quick eviction order from the tribunal without having to have a hearing," he said. "[It's] setting the stage for mass evictions of tenants who were unable to pay rent in full during the COVID-19 lockdown."What landlord advocates are sayingAccording to Kayla Andrade, the founder of Ontario Landlords Watch and vice president of Boardwalk Property Management, the bill does more for tenants than landlords, pointing to a proposed fee structure for unlawful evictions that she says would require landlords to give compensation to tenantsAs for the argument that the bill would make it easier to evict tenants because of the opportunity to have mediation without a hearing, Andrade says both landlords and tenants would need to agree to that mediation. She says if the two sides don't agree, then they would still go to a hearing. "We don't see it changing anything better by offering this prior to a hearing date," she said."It could speed up the landlord and tenant board process ... by alleviating a backlog that way, but again, if tenants are abusing the system, they're going to know the loopholes within the new setting of mediation through Bill 184"Moratorium on evictions could lift soonA recent revision to the provincial order suspending all evictions indicates means it will be in place only until the end of the calendar month in which the state of emergency is terminated, which could happen in July. "It's frankly a horrifying prospect that evictions could begin as soon as August 1st," said Webber, the Parkdale community legal worker."And that the government continues to try and ram through Bill 184, which would speed up that eviction process when it starts again, all in the context of mass unemployment, widespread hardship, and of course, a global pandemic," . He's calling on Toronto Mayor John Tory to "pick a side in this fight" and order a municipal moratorium on evictions in Toronto.On Friday, when the mayor was asked about Monday's protest against the bill, in which protesters marched to his condo, he said he understands the frustrations, but he's not responsible for the legislation.Meanwhile, Burnazov hopes that the bill will help landlords who she says are being taken advantage of."Because right now, the process, it's a nightmare. It's really hell," she said."It can ruin lives, the amount of money that landlords are out every month."

  • Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Storm clouds hang over Trump's attempted campaign reboot

    Friday was supposed to be the day President Donald Trump's campaign reboot itself got a reboot. Amid uncertainty over whether he can still draw big and enthusiastic crowds to his signature rallies in the coronavirus era, Trump postponed a planned Saturday rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, citing a tropical storm expected to hit a swath of the Eastern United States. “With Tropical Storm Fay heading towards the Great State of New Hampshire this weekend, we are forced to reschedule our Portsmouth, New Hampshire Rally at the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease,” Trump tweeted.

  • As Nenshi considers a mandatory mask bylaw, here's what Calgarians should know

    As Nenshi considers a mandatory mask bylaw, here's what Calgarians should know

    Calgary's mayor is musing about the possibility of making masks mandatory in certain situations and says he could bring forward a draft bylaw to council on July 20.That would be a step further than the province, which recommends use but hasn't appeared eager to force the issue. If Calgary did take the step, it would join three other major Canadian cities in making the masks mandatory. Here are some of the top questions and answers around the move. What's the current science on wearing masks?The Public Health Agency of Canada and Alberta Health recommend wearing a homemade or non-medical mask or face covering when it isn't possible to maintain physical distancing, particularly in places like stores and on public transit. Alberta Health says the use of non-medical masks hasn't been proven to protect the person wearing one, but "it can help protect people from being exposed to your germs."Both agencies, along with the World Health Organization, say mask use should not replace other preventative measures like physical distancing and proper hygiene. There is also the risk of self-contamination associated with mask use, if not worn and handled properly.While Alberta recommends wearing masks under certain conditions, it has resisted mandating the use of masks. Why is the mayor considering making it mandatory?Nenshi says mask use indoors in Calgary is too low and is one of three things Calgarians can do to reduce the spread of the virus — along with keeping distance and proper hygiene. He says he's been pushing for increased mask use, but Calgarians aren't taking up the call, so the city might force the issue. He points to the lack of masks on transit as a concern. What can he do and what would the city have to do to make it mandatory in Calgary?Nenshi is just one vote on council, so he can't do anything on his own. He has said he could bring a proposed bylaw before council, who would have to vote for moving forward with it. How would it be enforced?Bylaw officers and even police could levy fines if they find people without masks in public places, but it would all depend on the specifics of the bylaw. Calgary bylaw officers tend to prefer education over enforcement. Would there be exceptions?The details won't be known before a bylaw is written, but exceptions are likely. In Toronto, which introduced a mandatory mask bylaw, children under the age of two and those with certain health conditions are excluded. The bylaw there also doesn't apply to some spaces, including schools, child-care facilities, apartment or condo building common areas and restaurant patios. What other cities have done this?If Calgary brought in a mandatory mask bylaw, it would be following in the footsteps of other cities across Canada, including Toronto, Ottawa and, soon, Montreal. Quebec is considering a provincewide rule. What about other countries?Obviously it varies from place to place, but Asian countries have a long history of mask use, and citizens can face steep fines in places like Singapore for not wearing one. In the United States, multiple states have brought in mandatory mask laws. Vietnam, Slovakia, United Arab Emirates and Germany are just some of the countries that have introduced some form of mandatory mask usage.  What are the different kinds of masks and what protection do they offer?The masks recommended for public use are non-medical, essentially covering the nose and mouth to avoid droplets from escaping and potentially infecting others. This also includes the free masks handed out by the province. There are also medical masks.N95 masks form a seal about the mouth and nose and are designed to filter most viruses. Surgical masks don't form a seal and provide a barrier to splashes and droplets. Both are used predominantly by health-care workers.What are common mistakes when wearing a mask?Don't touch your face and don't touch the front of the mask. Alberta Health recommends adjusting or removing the mask using the ties or ear loops. Even then, wash your hands before putting it on and before taking it off. More obvious don'ts listed on the provincial website include: don't share a mask, don't wear a dirty or wet mask, don't wear a torn mask and don't wear the mask under your chin or under your nose as that sort of defeats the point. If you're wearing a disposable mask, make sure you throw it away. If you're wearing a reusable one, make sure you wash it. Making these mistakes while wearing a mask can accidentally spread infection rather than prevent it. Who supports mandatory masks and why?Some doctors are calling for mandatory masks in Canada, including a group calling itself Masks4Canada. That organization wrote an open letter to the Government of Alberta urging use in all public indoor spaces, in crowds and on transit. Who doesn't and why?Others, including Alberta's chief medical officer of health, aren't as convinced. Yet. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has recommended mask use, and says the province is keeping an eye on the latest research, but she has argued recommendations are working and cautions about the concerns with improper mask use contributing to infection rather than preventing it.Are you out and about in a mask? CBC Calgary would love to see what you're wearing, especially if it stands out. Send us photos of your masked self to, through Facebook or on Twitter.

  • Rescuers drag woman to safety moments before car engulfed in fire on Northern Peninsula

    Rescuers drag woman to safety moments before car engulfed in fire on Northern Peninsula

    Andrew Toope was just off work and driving south down the Northern Peninsula to his travel trailer in Cormack Thursday evening when he spotted two women frantically waving on the side of the road.It didn't take long for him to see what the fuss was about: a car upside down in a ditch. Music was blaring and flames nearly a metre high were licking up around the engine. "The two ladies were saying, there's someone still in the vehicle," Toope said."I ran down over the bank partly. I could see her but the flames were coming from the engine compartment."Toope said he with the drivers of the other vehicles who stopped for the fiery crash and asked for a fire extinguisher with no luck.With no other options, Toope said he and another young man, Scott Samms, began working to free the older woman from her seatbelt.A third man, Jeff Walsh, joined Toope and Samms to get her over the embankment."Between me and him working together, we managed to get the seatbelt off her and we dragged her through the driver's side door," Toope said."Two or three of us cradle-carried her to the other side of the road and within moments that car was in flames."Toope said the scene was like something from a movie, but he didn't hesitate to jump into action. He said just three or four minutes elapsed before the vehicle was completely engulfed and the horn began to sound.Wearing just a T-shirt and flip-flops, Toope wasn't exactly prepared for a daring rescue, but he said he's no worse for wear.He did lose one of his flip-flops in the moment and when he later went back to retrieve it, he found nothing but a charred piece of plastic.The line worker from Port Saunders is getting accolades from his employer and fellow employees, but he said it was instinctual to help another person in distress. "I wouldn't be able to just stand on the side of the road and just watch a person burn alive in a car. We had to get her out."The RCMP has notified Toope that the woman was transported to hospital in intensive care but they're hoping for a full recovery.Read more by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Forty years and thousands of bottles later, Cap-Egmont attraction celebrates milestone

    Forty years and thousands of bottles later, Cap-Egmont attraction celebrates milestone

    It all started when Rejeanne Arsenault brought photos of bottle houses in British Columbia back to show her father in P.E.I. "He's just said  ... 'If they can do it there, I should be able to do it here.'"Edouard Arsenault went on to build three bottle structures, the first one in 1980, on his property.They are still standing 40 years later and have become an integral part of the Cap-Egmont community in the Evangeline Region. The owners of the attraction held a birthday party for the structures on Saturday."I never thought of how long it was going to be here," said Rejeanne Arsenault, Edouard's daughter. "It was just there. And hopefully it will be here for a long time yet."It gives us an occasion to gather and to mingle with other people, and a lot of the community have come out this morning so that's special because they played a role in this project."The community helped her father collect the bottles, said Arsenault. "That's a question I've been asked a couple of times, 'Did your father drink all of that?' And I usually just start smiling … and say if he had I don't think he would have done what he did."Her father started collecting bottles from the legion, dance halls and dumps in the area starting in the fall of 1979, said Arsenault. Word got around and people from the community started bringing their own bottles to help out. "Ever since then … the attraction has grown and has become an icon, in a sense, to the tourism industry on P.E.I. So I feel that we've contributed back to the community," she said.Edouard Arsenault died in 1984.Rejeanne Arsenault ran the business from 1988 until three years ago when she decided to retire.She said her favourite memory was when she was having dinner with a friend in the area. Arsenault had her car parked out front with a sticker promoting the houses on it.  "All of a sudden there was a knock on the door and it was this couple, they had flown from Alaska … to see the Bottle Houses. They had a private plane, they had landed in Summerside and she was turning 65," said Arsenault."She told me, 'Well, last year my husband was 65 and his wish was to see the Grand Canyon.' Now, to me, that was kind of, 'Wow, she was choosing us while he had chosen the Grand Canyon.'"Arsenault thought about selling the houses when she retired, but she wanted them to stay in the community. When neighbour Angie Cormier called her out of the blue one day to ask if she would consider selling, it caught her off guard. Remain in the community"So I called her one day and said, 'Are you selling the place?' And she was like, 'Where did you hear that?' Because it wasn't public ... and I felt like I had offended her," said Cormier. According to Cormier, Arsenault called back the following day."And, she said, 'The reason I reacted that way, is I had prayed really, really hard last night to my dad to send me a buyer, someone who would keep the spirit of the place going and the heart of the place. And then you just called me," Cormier said."So … we really felt there was a connection there or something important that had happened, and it went from there."This is Cormier's third year of owning the Bottle Houses. She said she plans to keep the property for as long as possible.She hopes she can pass it down to her children, or Arsenault's children, keeping it a part of the Cap-Egmont community for years to come. For Arsenault, the Bottle Houses are a testament to what can be accomplished if someone puts their mind to something. "I usually tell young people if you have a dream or a project in mind don't give up," she said. "Let it go and create it. And that's what my father did. He was 66 and spent four years, the last four years of his life, doing something that lasts."More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Parents call on Ontario government to ensure full-time learning in school this fall

    Parents call on Ontario government to ensure full-time learning in school this fall

    Scores of parents called on the Ontario government on Saturday to reopen schools for full-time classes this fall with safety measures in place amid the pandemic.At a rally at the Ontario legislature, parents said a regular school schedule is vital to health and well-being of children and important for an "equitable" economic recovery. Such a schedule means the students would be in class five days a week.Bronwen Alsop, an organizer of the rally, told CBC News that parents want a "well-thought out" plan from the government that allows for full-time learning. Alsop is a mother of two children with special needs.The Ontario government should fund the safety protocols needed to make learning in the classroom happen, she said.According to a recent directive from the Ontario education ministry, the government has asked school boards to prepare for three scenarios: in-class learning, online learning or a hybrid model that would be a mixture of both."We would like to ensure that our children and our teachers are safe," Alsop said on Saturday before the rally."We do not believe the hybrid plan is going to work for the children. We want to make sure that our children have extra safety precautions in the room, more staff, more funding dedicated to make sure they are completely safe for five days a week."Alsop said the hybrid plan could result in more infections because children could be in daycare on the days they are not in class. She added that leaving it up to individual school boards to work out a plan for the school year puts a lot of pressure on those boards. The province needs a full financial plan to make sure that children and teachers are safe, she said.The rally came a day after the Toronto District School Board asked the province to reassess its plan for next school year. Alsop said online learning is very difficult for families with special needs children. She added her own children benefit tremendously from the structure of the classroom.

  • How threatening is COVID-19 if it's airborne? | COVID-19 Ask an expert

    How threatening is COVID-19 if it's airborne? | COVID-19 Ask an expert

    CBC's medical contributor Dr. Peter Lin takes viewers' questions, including: How risky is it to go to a mall?