China's embassy in the Philippines has denounced the United States for "creating chaos" in Asia, after a visiting White House envoy backed countries in disputes with China and accused Beijing of using military pressure to further its interests. During a trip to Manila on Monday, national security adviser Robert O'Brien underscored the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and told the Philippines and Vietnam, countries both locked in maritime rows with China, that "we've got your back". "It shows that his visit to this region is not to promote regional peace and stability, but to create chaos in the region in order to seek selfish interests of the U.S.," the embassy said in a statement issued late Monday.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday vowed to defend the democratic island's sovereignty with the construction of a new fleet of domestically-developed submarines, a key project supported by the United States to counter neighbouring China. Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has been for years working to revamp its submarine force, some of which date back to World War Two, and is no match for China's fleet, which includes vessels capable of launching nuclear weapons. At a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a new submarine fleet in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, Tsai called the move a "historic milestone" for Taiwan's defensive capabilities after overcoming "various challenges and doubts".
Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said."We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible."Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the "exciting" technology would have multiple benefits.Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn't much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work."It's going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask," she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta's mechanical engineering department, said Rubino's innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
There's mixed messaging emerging from the debate over methylmercury contamination in Labrador, with a U.S. researcher again raising the alarm about the toxic organic compound, while a contractor monitoring the effects of Muskrat Falls — backed up by the Department of Environment — says there's no need to worry.Ryan Calder co-authored a 2015 study by researchers at Harvard University saying hundreds of Labrador Inuit will be exposed to dangerous levels of methylmercury once the Muskrat Falls reservoir is fully flooded.The report was rejected at the time by Nalcor Energy, the government-owned corporation building the controversial hydroelectric generating station and dam on the Lower Churchill River.Calder has since moved on to research university Virginia Tech, but has continued to follow the findings of an ongoing monitoring program on the river and in Lake Melville.He said recent data showing an increase in the toxin is cause for concern."There's a small number of people that eat enough fish and marine mammals for it to be a concern," Calder said during a phone interview. "Probably in the hundreds of people among the Labrador Inuit that would be pushed beyond the Health Canada and EPA [United States Environmental Protection Agency] reference sources for mercury exposure."But Jim McCarthy — a senior biologist with Wood Environmental Infrastructure Solutions, which has been contracted by Nalcor to lead a methylmercury monitoring program in central Labrador — disagrees.It's now been a full year since the Muskrat Falls reservoir was filled to capacity, and McCarthy said methylmercury levels in the Muskrat reservoir has average 0.06 nanograms (one billionth of a gram) of methylmercury per litre of water. And as expected, McCarthy said levels increased in the summer, reaching as high as 0.2 nanograms per litre in one sample, with the 2020 summer average at 0.07 nanograms per litre.The natural levels prior to reservoir flooding was 0.017 nanograms per litre, said McCarthy.So is McCarty alarmed by those numbers? "That's not high at all," he said. "To put it in terms of drinking water quality, there'd be an advisory on if the water quality had 1,000 nanograms per litre of methylmercury."The main concern for area residents is their wild food supply becoming contaminated with unsafe levels of methylmercuy, and so far there is no evidence of this, said McCarthy, who has been studying the water and fish in the Churchill River for two decades.Fish samples collected in 2019 did not show any changes in methylmercury levels from previous years.McCarthy is awaiting laboratory results from fish samples collected in September and October, but is not expecting any significant change again this year.McCarthy said it can take anywhere from three to five years for higher concentrations of methylmercury to appear in fish, and, he said, "I don't expect it to be much."When asked if he envisioned a scenario where area residents might be advised against consuming fish or mammals, McCarthy said, "I"m not a human health person, I'm a fish person. But I don't believe so, based on the data that I've seen, I don't think there'll be advisories."The Environment Department said methylmercury levels are below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment's guidelines."To date, monitoring data confirms that the actual methylmercury levels are far below predicted levels by CCME guidelines for aquatic life," a department spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News.A statement from Nalcor says, "The Muskrat Falls reservoir is reacting in a similar way to other reservoirs following the first year of flooding."In fact, Nalcor says average methylmercury concentrations in the reservoir are slightly lower than predicted for the past year, at 0.058 nanograms per litre. The concentrations decrease further downstream, said Nalcor."We've noticed that there is an increase, but not a very large increase," said McCarthy.McCarthy said it's common for concentrations to increase in the first three years after reservoir flooding, and eventually return to natural levels.He said he could easily find a pond dammed by a beaver anywhere in the province and find higher concentrations of methylmercury.He stressed that the consumption of fish and mammals should not be avoided."I think they're safe to eat, yes," he said.Ballooning project costs and long delays have dogged the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project for years, but human health concerns have also been at the forefront, especially for those who eat fish and other mammals in the region.The threat of methylmercury contaminating the wild food supply resulted in protests four years ago, and a prolonged impasse was resolved after the provincial government agreed to establish an independent expert advisory committee.An enhanced monitoring program was also launched, with weekly testing at more than a dozen sites upstream of the Muskat Falls reservoir, downstream into Lake Melville, as far as Rigolet.The issue flared again last year after the provincial government failed to deliver on a promise to clear some vegetation — a process known as wetland capping — from the reservoir prior to full flooding, with then premier Dwight Ball calling it an unintentional oversight.Nalcor responded by allocating $30 million in compensation for three Indigenous groups in Labrador.Meanwhile, Ryan Calder says the data emerging from river monitoring is supporting his early concerns about methylmercury."The first data that's rolling out is consistent with our predictions, and is exactly what Nalcor refused to believe five years ago," said Calder."Immediately the levels are going way beyond the Nalcor projected peak, and are now well within the range of what we had predicted. And they're still rising. The fact that we're in late November now and the levels are still rising quite sharply, when they usually are falling, is a concern. And it suggests they'll probably continue to rise next spring and summer."When asked why Calder's tone is so different from his own, McCarthy replied, "Well, there's two conflicting models too, I guess."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A timeline of Alireza Onghaei, Toronto currency trader accused by CSIS of helping Iran circumvent sanctions.
It's flu season, which means the glass-and-concrete warehouse on an industrial stretch of Pie-IX Blvd. in Montreal's north end is buzzing. Forklifts are trundling to and fro.It's the sort of secure building — owned by the medical distributor McKesson Canada — that comes in handy if you're preparing mass immunization for COVID-19.It's expected that campaign will begin at some point in early 2021, but what will it look like in Quebec?There are several clues: new federal guidelines suggest health-care workers and vulnerable elderly populations will probably be at the head of the line. In all likelihood, people will need to be injected twice, so an appointment system will be set up.Unlike the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, which provides a recent blueprint for mass inoculations, it seems unimaginable people will gather in, say, shopping malls to queue for a shot.The effort will likely involve CLSCs and family medicine clinics, as well as hospital installations. Might pharmacies be involved? Possibly, but those questions haven't been dealt with yet.Coincidentally, the province moved to a new distribution model for the flu vaccine this fall. It has involved the private sector to a greater degree than in years past and by all accounts it has worked smoothly, with only minimal hiccups."We've offered our help. We are in active exchanges with the various levels of government involved so we can be part of the solution," said Jean-Philippe Blouin, McKesson Canada's senior vice-president of pharmaceutical distribution and operations.As the province gears for a COVID-19 serum — which should arrive this winter if the front-running candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University win speedy approval from Health Canada — there are still pivotal issues to sort out.'The main obstacle is not having any data'Several European countries and multiple U.S. states have already spelled out how they plan to vaccinate their populations — some as early as next month.If it seems like Quebec and the other Canadian provinces are lagging behind, there are solid reasons for that.For one thing, Quebec has a large territory to cover.For another, there are likely to be two, three or more simultaneous rollouts, aimed at different segments of the population."What's complicated is there are multiple things that need to happen at the same time," said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, a microbiology and infectious diseases professor at Université de Montréal and chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (or NACI), the external scientific body that advises the Public Health Agency of Canada."The first one is to see the data from the vaccines to see in which population we'll use which vaccine."The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use similar technologies, but Quach-Thanh said there is comparatively little data on their effect "in the most vulnerable populations, or even in the healthy population for that matter."It seems likely one or more of the vaccine candidates will prove more effective with some clienteles than others, she said.The most pressing need is to decide who comes first."If we decide we want to start with elderly people in long-term care facilities that's an entirely different strategy than if we want to start with health-care workers in hospitals and clinics," said Quach-Thanh.The scientists at NACI recently issued preliminary guidance on prioritization, but it will ultimately be up to Quebec public health authorities to decide."We don't know yet what's going to be the final distribution model," said McKesson's Blouin. "There are still a lot of unknowns. What we know, though, is that the front-runners ... are going to use frozen or ultra-frozen conditions on their products, which creates some challenges, obviously."In a white paper issued in September, the company warned "the overall public and private vaccine supply chains in Canada are not equipped to support frozen and/or ultra-frozen COVID-19 vaccines at scale."But that's changing. Health Minister Christian Dubé said recently the province has arranged for the purchase of 60 specialized refrigeration units. As of September, McKesson, one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the country, only had one.The Canadian government has also entered into agreements to buy 100 more, according to the federal procurement department.There is a low-intensity international scramble to acquire the equipment, which is key to preserving some of the vaccines.The AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine can be stored between 2 C and 8 C but Moderna's needs to be kept at -20 C and Pfizer's must be kept at the ultra-cold temperature of around -70 C."It has to be kept at a specific temperature, it's not just 'get a big freezer and put everything in the big freezer,'" said David Levine, a former junior health minister who managed the vaccine rollout for the H1N1 flu pandemic, as head of Montreal's regional health authority.It may also be that Pfizer and the other vaccine providers decide to deliver their product directly on a just-in-time basis rather than providing a stockpile that can be kept in facilities like McKesson's or the provincially-owned medical depots.But Quach-Thanh says it's not how the health-care system here is used to doing things."We don't necessarily have a good handle on who is going to show up the next day," Quach-Thanh said. "Yes, you can book appointments but you have no-shows. It would be very regrettable to have vaccines go to waste."A logistical challengeOne person who will play a part in ironing out the logistics: Jérôme Gagnon, Quebec's assistant deputy minister of health.Dubé appointed the operations specialist on Oct. 19. Gagnon has spent the past two decades in the Public Security department. His background is in civil security and anti-terrorism.Quebec's Health Ministry declined to make Gagnon available for interviews, citing his busy schedule.On Tuesday, Dubé said the current flu vaccination campaign has managed to reach 200,000 people per week, and that his department is discussing options to scale that up quickly depending on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines."Are we going to go to the pharmacists, or other medical professionals ... we're in the middle of preparing for that. Those discussions have started. That means in the coming weeks not only will we be ready, I would tell you we already are," the health minister said.There are complex issues to manage in any vaccination effort, for example, the winter rollout will be complicated by the fact that most of the leading candidate vaccines will require two injections, with the second coming between two and four weeks after the first.Levine said the good news is Quebec's health-care system — despite the perennial staff shortage it faces — is well-equipped to organize a mass inoculation. Centralization, usually something to be feared and loathed by regional health administrators, is a good thing in this case, he said."I don't think the logistics today is a problem," he said.It also helps that another substantial piece of the puzzle, namely millions of needles and syringes, is already taken care of, courtesy of the federal government.Then, there's the issue of who wants the vaccine."Everyone is going to want the vaccine and they're going to want to get it as soon as possible," Levine said. "There might be parts of the population that say I'm going to wait and see that the vaccine works well. And those will be the main challenges."Though the health system doesn't have a surplus of nurses, Levine said the government showed this past spring that it's possible to temporarily re-allocate staff, if necessary.Lessons from the pastThe H1N1 episode is instructive, even though it was a far different situation, in that the pandemic never really took off. "We were lucky," Levine said.The government also learned the importance of clear communication."Throughout the whole process remain very transparent, very open. It'll be a moment of intense movement in the population when the vaccine is made available," Levine advised.In 2009, as today, there were multiple vaccines and one drug in particular, the antiviral Tamiflu, was in heavy international demand."Everybody was nervous: 'Are we going to get it? What about the hoarding? Who's stockpiling?'" The lesson, in Levine's view, was clear."You need to be careful that in that type of scenario there is an equal distribution of the vaccine, and it isn't related to social class, it isn't related to parts of the city rather than other parts of the city, parts of the country rather than other parts of the country," he said. Dividing up the dosesCanada has a contract for 20 million doses each of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and options to acquire 56 million more of the Pfizer and 36 million of the Moderna.In all, the federal government has agreements in place for 350 million total doses from seven manufacturers, including Quebec City-based Medicago.The blanket-tugging has already started.Last week, Ontario plainly stated that it expects to receive 1.6-million doses of Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of Moderna in the first three months of 2021.Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott lifted the cover on how much Canada expects to receive as a whole between January and March: four million of the first and two million of the second.Her Alberta counterpart quickly staked a public claim to about 900,000 doses. Last week, Quebec's public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda stated plainly that Quebec will ensure no other province claws into its per capita share.There should be enough to go around, although the provincial Health Ministry indicated in an email that it expects limited quantities of serum at first.WATCH | One man's struggle with COVID-19 Quach-Thanh suggested the vaccination campaign needn't be mandatory, and pointed out children won't be vaccinated, at least not to start, because "there is no data whatsoever, they haven't been enrolled yet in phase three studies."Also, there may be a popular misconception about the benefits the vaccines will provide.Quach-Thanh said it's still not clear the vaccine has "any capacity to mitigate transmission."In other words, the vaccine can and does protect against symptomatic and acute illness from COVID-19, but it may not prevent a pre-symptomatic person from spreading the coronavirus.Thus, the key is to provide it to those people who face the greatest risks."To me, the overall goal of this vaccination program is not herd immunity, it's individual protection of those who are vulnerable and those who need to be protected," she said, later adding "you're going to vaccinate those whose working and living conditions put them at higher risk of infection, regardless of their risk of complication."
Though nobody knew exactly what was going on between them, witnesses say something was not right in Selena Lomen and Danny Klondike's relationship in the time leading up to Klondike's violent death.Lomen, 23, is accused of murdering Klondike, her common-law spouse, in their community of Fort Liard on Oct. 28, 2018. She is currently on trial for the homicide in N.W.T. Supreme Court in Yellowknife.Dustin Hope was among the roughly 20 people, including Lomen and Klondike, at a Halloween party that Saturday night leading to Klondike's death.'He appeared to be crying,' says witnessHe told the court that Klondike appeared very intoxicated that night. At one point he saw Klondike sitting in an armchair appearing about to pass out. But Hope said that later, he saw the 34-year-old walking around and socializing again.Around midnight, he saw Klondike walking into the house."He appeared to be crying," recalled Hope. As Klondike passed by, he said, "Selena is mad at me."Hope said at the time he was not sure how much the alcohol had contributed to Klondike's emotional state. He said a few moments later, Lomen walked in. Hope said she was wearing a teal-coloured hoodie and was no longer in the Halloween costume other witnesses said she wore when the couple first arrived. Hope said Lomen stood beside Klondike for a short while then turned and left."She flipped the hoodie over her head and she walked out of the party," Hope testified.He said he saw Lomen again as he was leaving the party with his girlfriend shortly after everyone had gathered outside to watch some fireworks. He said Lomen was standing near the water treatment plant alone. He said he saw a woman approach her in the darkness and ask what was wrong.Victim confided his relationship troublesThe party was hosted by Manny Vital and his partner, Janna Deneron, with help from Deneron's sister, Hillary Deneron. Almost all of the people at the party grew up in the small Dehcho community and have known each other their whole lives.Vital testified that Klondike and Lomen arrived at the party together. He said they left together before midnight, but Klondike returned soon after, alone. Vital said Lomen phoned him about 30 minutes later and asked him to tell Klondike to give her a call. He said he saw Klondike stagger away from the party with two other men shortly before 1 a.m.Janna Deneron testified that Lomen returned to the party to try to find Klondike."I didn't get a vibe off her that she was upset," said Deneron. "She just asked if he was still there and I said 'no.'"Vital said Lomen had texted him several times during the summer, when he was supervising Klondike and others on a forest fire crew outside of the community. He said she asked whether Klondike was there.Vital said Klondike confided in him about troubles in his relationship."He said his common-law flips out all the time and he tries to calm her down."The nurse who arrived to try to help Klondike the morning he died testified that by the time she got there, it was too late. He said she found him lying face down in a pool of blood. He had no pulse and was not breathing.Lomen has already admitted she stabbed Klondike. She told police she has no memory of what happened before or after the stabbing. At the start of the trial, she tried to plead guilty to manslaughter but the prosecutor did not accept her plea.The trial continues Tuesday afternoon.
Two Green MLAs have called out some of their legislature colleagues for examples of what they call belittling, demeaning and patronizing language during last week's sitting.Kevin Arseneau said he's had enough of politicians referring to "our" Indigenous people, a phrase he said conjures up a colonial attitude.And Megan Mitton said she got overwhelming support on social media after revealing an unidentified older male MLA called her "young lady" to her face."Ultimately, language matters," she said. "It really matters what we say to each other and about each other. I think we should move calling women 'young lady' out of our vocabulary, especially in the workplace but probably everywhere else."Mitton won't identify the member but points out that she is, at 34, the youngest MLA in the house and one of only 14 women, "so there's quite a few people who it could be."Arseneau said he has heard the possessive pronoun "our" used for Indigenous people for a long time but decided to speak out after last week's Speech from the Throne. It said MLAs had gathered "on the ancestral territory of our Indigenous people.""It refers to colonialism," he said. "I find it's extremely disrespectful … to take possession of people."Two days later, Liberal leader Roger Melanson said he wanted to contribute to "a strong partnership with our First Nations."Melanson used the phrase while congratulating St. Mary's First Nation Chief Alan (Chicky) Polchies on winning a new term in band elections.Polchies said in an interview he'd also like to see the use of "our" disappear. "Indigenous people are the Indigenous people of this land," he said. "When you refer to 'our,' we don't belong to any group or government other than our own. We belong to the land of Turtle Island. It's the Indigenous people of the territory." The official French translation of the Throne Speech did not use "our." Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn won't say whether the phrase should have been in the English version but commented, "I would not refer to First Nations as 'our' First Nations. I refer to First Nations as partners. Full partners."She notes she has nine nieces and nephews who are Indigenous. "My preference is to call them partners, and be respectful."Arseneau said if Dunn had read the Throne Speech ahead of time, "she could have told government to change that part of it."I know a lot of people in that [Progressive Conservative] caucus, if they'd read it in advance, would have flagged it." Liberal MLA Lisa Harris, who became her party's aboriginal affairs critic after the provincial election, has been vocal in criticizing the Higgs government on its refusal to hold an inquiry on systemic racism but said the implications of the word "our" hadn't occurred to her."I never really thought about that question before but it's a good question," she said, suggesting the word could be seen as a way to be inclusive."I could only begin to imagine what it means, but I think we're blessed to have First Nations in our province, so I guess we're owning the fact that we have First Nations in the province, the same as our francophone population or anglophone population."To me, they're all to be celebrated." Mitton said 98 per cent of the people who responded to her Instagram post about being called a "young lady" agreed with her that the term was ageist and sexist. "In a workplace, but especially workplaces that are dominated traditionally by men, there's a power dynamic that exists, so I think it adds an extra layer to women maybe not feeling they belong because historically they haven't," she said.Fourteen women were elected as MLAs in September's election, a record number. Mitton said none of her fellow female members from other parties had approached her to talk about her post. She said that may be because COVID-19 guidelines have made discreet one-on-one conversations difficult in the corridors of the legislature.
The NATO principle of one-for-all and all-for-one was the reason it — and by extension Canada — went into Afghanistan, but that assumption is being sorely tested by a U.S. administration that is in a hurry to wind things up.Hurry might be a relative term, though, considering Washington's military involvement in the country is approaching the two-decade mark.The Trump administration's deadline to draw down U.S. forces to 2,500 troops by mid-January — paving the way for a full withdrawal — has been greeted with nervousness by NATO allies.There is an old saying, from early in the war, that the Taliban were fond of repeating: you have the watches, we have the time.The implication was that militants could simply wait out foreign forces and wear them down in a steady drip of casualties and spectacular setbacks.It seems time is still on the Taliban's side.Witness the steady rise in attacks across at least 50 districts in the country, according to Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, in figures that were recently reported in the local media.Key parts of Kandahar province, which have remained relatively peaceful since the Canadian withdrawal from there almost a decade ago, have become contested. Afghan forces, with the help of punishing U.S. airstrikes, were forced to retake the Arghandab district from the Taliban recently in a level of fighting that matched the darkest days of Canada's involvement in the restive province.With their refusal to agree to an outright ceasefire, the Taliban are putting pressure on both the Afghan government and the U.S. as a deadline for the complete withdrawal of international forces looms next spring.A hard decisionThe Taliban are playing for time as peace talks grind on in Doha, Qatar, leaving bewildered NATO allies warning that the last two decades may end up being for naught should the Taliban succeed in their resurgent campaign of violence. "We strongly support the peace talks that are taking place between the Taliban and the government," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a pre-recorded interview at last weekend's Halifax International Security Forum."And part of the agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban is that all international troops would be out by the first [of] May next year. So, clearly we have to make a very hard decision and that is whether to leave and risk to lose the gains we've made … or whether we stay and continue to be involved in a very challenging and demanding operation in Afghanistan."Stoltenberg staked his ground on the possibly quaint notion that the alliance is free to make its own collective decision about whether to follow the U.S. out the door next spring."My message is that we must assess whether the conditions for leaving are met together," he said. "We need to make these decisions together, and as we have said many times at NATO, we went into Afghanistan together, we should make decisions about adjustments to our presence together, and when the time is right we should leave together in a co-ordinated and orderly way."The reality is, without U.S. logistical and air support, a standalone NATO mission would have a short shelf life.Abdullah Abdullah, the chair of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation and the man leading the government's negotiating team, told Agence France-Presse a few days ago that the two sides are "very close" to breaking a deadlock in peace talks.Those negotiations started on Sept. 12, but bogged down over agenda disagreements, the basic framework of the discussions and religious interpretations, according to the news agency."We haven't moved towards discussion of the main substance of negotiations, the main agenda," said Abdullah, who was interviewed in Turkey."We are close. We are very close. Hopefully we pass this phase and get to the substantial issues" including security.The assessment coincided with a separate statement from the Taliban to AFP that said "sufficient progress" had been made on key sticking points.At the same time, the group has consistently refused to take part in a ceasefire, with frequent attacks against Afghan security forces.They show no signs of being in a hurry. As ever, the Taliban don't need watches.
For the second time this month, Canada has ordered a temporary fishery closure in the Roseway Basin off southern Nova Scotia after multiple detections of endangered North Atlantic right whales in the area.The latest order, issued Monday, closes several fisheries until further notice and could affect the lucrative commercial lobster fishery when the season opens next week."We intend to conduct an aerial survey of the area in the coming days to determine if there continues to be [right whale] presence," Barre Campbell, a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said in a statement Monday night."Management measures will continue to be applied if right whales are detected."Acoustic sensors detect whalesSince Nov. 9, acoustic sensors on board a marine glider cruising the area made 11 separate right whale detections."It could be one animal calling over all of that period of time. It's more probable that it was multiple animals that happened to come through. But how many?" said Fred Whoriskey, executive director of the Ocean Tracking Network, which deployed the glider in collaboration with the Ocean Frontier Institute."We can't tell because all we're doing is picking up a call. Our algorithms on board the machine that is detecting the calls are saying that's a right whale."It's the first time DFO is acting on data from autonomous gliders to make the call to shut down a fishery, said Adam Burns, director general of fisheries resource management for the department."We've been doing acoustic monitoring now for a few years, but this is the first year that we've considered them to be a trusted source in terms of implementing dynamic closures," Burns told CBC News on Tuesday.The Roseway Basin — located approximately 20 nautical miles, or roughly 37 kilometres, south of Cape Sable Island — has been designated a critical habitat for the whales, which used to feed there in late summer.The glider that found the whales is scheduled to come out of the water Wednesday, and the aerial survey will take over.If no right whales are spotted during the aerial surveys, the area will reopen for the start of the lobster fishery, said Burns. Sightings stump scientistsSightings have become rarer in recent years as the critically endangered whales moved north into the Gulf of St. Lawrence with disastrous results.Since 2017, 20 have died in the gulf, caused in some cases by vessel strikes and gear entanglements. No deaths have been reported so far in 2020."What we do know is something massive has changed in the way the right whales are interacting with our ocean here right now. And so it's very hard to say what is normal anymore, and this is basically a part of that. They were in Roseway for many, many years, and suddenly disappeared a few years ago. Now suddenly we're picking up a few," said Whoriskey."We don't know whether at this particular point in time if these are transitory animals that are on their way south for the winter — they probably are — or whether there are some that have moved in and tried to occupy it for longer periods of times."The detection means fishing for multiple species is closed until further notice. That will apply to lobster and crab when those seasons open.Because of a forecast for bad weather, fishermen have been given until Thursday to remove gear from parts of the Roseway Basin where the whales were most recently detected.DFO had reopened some, but not all, parts of the Roseway Basin that were closed temporarily earlier this month.Unusually late in the seasonSean Brillant of the Canadian Wildlife Federation said detections in Canadian waters this late in the year are unusual, but DFO is doing the right thing."The fact that they're taking this new information and acting on it in a way to try and prevent entanglements is encouraging. This is the kind of adaptive and strong leadership we need to see. Nobody wants to be closing these fisheries," said Brillant. "But at the same time, these rules are important to try and prevent this accidental harm that can happen to these animals."Whales' behaviour not understoodThe implications for the lobster fishery are potentially dramatic.Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34 from Halifax to Digby are the most valuable in Canada. Combined landings in 2018-19 were valued at $490 million.Fishermen there have largely been spared the intrusive measures taken to protect the whales elsewhere in the region. It was always presumed the whales had migrated out of Canadian waters before the season opened in late November or early December."What we're trying to do is protect the whales, but we're also trying to protect Canadian fisheries. Obviously there's going to be a huge problem if we have mortalities caused by our fisheries and then buyers begin to boycott Canadian seafood products," said Whoriskey."For us, as scientists encountering this all of a sudden, it's very uncomfortable, and we don't really understand what the whales are doing or why they're doing it right now."I personally am hopeful that this is a migratory movement of the animals and they are heading south, and heading south fairly fast, so the fishery can reopen again fairly quickly and get these guys back out in the water."MORE TOP STORIES
Talking to your children about the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult, but with schools in the Windsor-Essex region and beyond experiencing outbreaks, that conversation may be necessary.So how should you talk to your kids about COVID-19?For Lance Rappaport, a clinical psychologist and an assistant professor at the University of Windsor, the first step may just be acknowledging that having this conversation is not the easiest thing to do."It's a difficult conversation to have ... It's a difficult thing to articulate and communicate with a child," he said. Drawing on your own knowledge of your child — their developmental stage, their fears, and what they already know — can also be valuable in preparing to have the conversation. "Every child is going to be somewhat different, and I think parents are in a unique position to know their child and explain it in a way that the child will understand," Rappaport said.Rappaport added that one of the keys to having a good conversation is to remember to talk about preventative and safety measures against the disease, rather than just talking about the risk.Good listening is keyStacey Slobodnick, clinical lead for outpatient services at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare's Regional Children's Centre, says that it's important to be aware of your own emotional state heading into the conversation. What might be most important is to be a calm and sometimes inquisitive listener."Regardless of whatever comments the child is making, I want the parent to reflect back, 'Oh it sounds like you're really scared.' 'Sounds like you're not scared at all.' 'Tell me some more about that,'" she said.It's an effort to get information from the child before offering information about the pandemic or an outbreak. But before you do that, Slobodnick says it's important to be aware of your child's developmental stage, including how much information your child can handle.Emphasizing that uncertainty and a lack of control are difficult is also important, but that comes with an opportunity to talk to your child about what they can control."Uncertainty can be really hard, so I want [parents] to validate and acknowledge that that's difficult," she said. "When we have situations where we don't have a lot of control, I want the parents to then focus on what are the things we can control."These include how to spend their time, what things can be done to keep safe and how they plan on doing their schoolwork.What you shouldn't doIn terms of mistakes to avoid, Slobodnick says you should not share questionable information from unreliable sources with your child. You also don't want to project your own fears and concerns, she said, adding parents should remember to stay calm. "So just being really aware, if this is something that makes you really nervous, know that your child needs to see that you're confident and that the two of your are going to get through this situation together," she said.Though the pandemic has been going on for nine months, Slobodnick warns that now is also not the time to get desensitized. "Even though we're kind of used to it by now, it's still something kind of impeding us from living our best life right now," she said.
Back in mid-April, about a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, Magdalena became worried her husband's verbal and sexual abuse would escalate."'You're stuck here with me, you got to do everything I want you to,'" Magdalena recalls her husband telling her. CBC has agreed not to publish her full name to protect her identity and safety.Originally from Mexico, now living in rural eastern Ontario with no family support, Magdalena said she called 10 women's shelters before finding safe beds for her and her young son. "I just grabbed my kid and we left," she said.She was driven to an unfamiliar community 100 kilometres away, where she recently found a job and has lived in a shelter ever since. "I cannot imagine what could have happened if I didn't leave that day. I'm in a shelter and I'm grateful to be in here, but I don't want to be here forever," she said.Call volume up 75%Women's shelters in rural eastern Ontario say they're coping with an excessive number of crisis calls and an increasingly volatile environment for women, all while dealing with COVID-19 restrictions on their staff and facilities. "If you compare April 2019 to April 2020, our calls were 75 per cent up," said Erin Lee, executive director at Lanark County Interval House in Carleton Place, Ont. "We've seen more severe incidents of violence. Women are reporting more complexities in the violence."Across the region, Lee's counterparts report a similar story. "We're looking at about 800 crisis calls so far this year," said Deborah Thomas executive director of Naomi's Family Resource Centre, a nine-bed shelter in Winchester, Ont.To the southwest, Leeds and Grenville Interval House in Brockville, Ont., is chronically full, and like the others, has fewer rooms available due to COVID-19 precautions."We have had to use hotels ... for all of our overflow," said Charlene Catchpole, executive director of the Brockville shelter.Leeds and Grenville provides outreach services to about 250 families in an area from Westport to Kemptville to the St. Lawrence Seaway and everywhere in between, while the Lanark County shelter serves approximately 400 families in the wider community, women who may never need a shelter bed but still need help to stay safe. Money with strings attachedEarly on in the pandemic, women's shelters across the country shared a $20.5-million fund from Women and Gender Equality Canada. In October, the federal department promised "up to $10 million [more] for women's shelters and sexual assault centres to help them continue to provide their critical services safely.""It's the first time for us that we've ever received money from the federal government, so it has been helpful," said Lee.The rural directors say the money was spent on new equipment, mileage for outreach visits, and internet and data plans so staff could communicate with women in need. Money received from the Ontario government, the main funder of women's shelters, came with the condition that it be spent directly on services inside the shelter. "[If] we have to go and buy dash cams or we have to help with some of the security issues, we can't use the provincial money for that," said Lee.Staff burnoutWith fewer volunteers and more reports of violence, the executive directors worry about their staff. "I have no doubt that we're burnt out," said Catchpole. "Staff are doing all the cooking. They're doing three times the cleaning ... we don't have volunteers doing that anymore." Naomi's Family Resource Centre in Winchester has lost 30 per cent of its staff since March. "Some people openly declared at the beginning, 'I can't work here because of pre-existing health conditions,' and we're not allowed to have staff working at two shelters at the same time," said Thomson. Most shelters depend on community fundraising to keep operating, but during the pandemic, face-to-face fundraising events aren't possible."We're entering into the Christmas season, which is our big time of the year for fundraising. Right now we are probably down by about 60 per cent for this time of year," said Catchpole. "It's a perfect storm.
Search and rescue crews in B.C. are worried that adventurers will put themselves at risk by heading into the winter wilderness unprepared as the COVID-19 pandemic limits travel options this year.They're predicting a repeat of this summer in B.C. when hiking and camping gear sold out as people rushed to the outdoors, followed by a record number of calls for help.The senior manager of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association says there have already been far more rescue operations in the fall months compared to normal years."A lot of it is a lack of preparedness," said Dwight Yochim. "If you look outside in Vancouver right now, there's no snow [but] within a half an hour from anywhere in Vancouver, you can be in two or three feet of snow. He says unless you're prepared for snow, you can get into trouble.A trio of ill-prepared hikers was rescued off Mount Fromme in North Vancouver on Sunday after one of the hikers twisted an ankle. The group had wandered off-trail and called for help around 4:30 p.m. PT. One of the hikers was reportedly wearing shorts.Yochim says it's not uncommon for crews to rescue people who aren't dressed for the conditions."They've been rescuing people with jeans that are frozen solid because they've gotten wet during the day and by the time they're found, the jeans have just frozen solid."Skis and snowshoes out of stockLocal winter sports shops say they're experiencing record sales of winter gear similar to what bike shops and outdoors stores saw in the summer."We brought in several sizes [of snowshoes] and apparently they are now sold out for the season," said Chris Turjanica, store manager at West Coast Sports. "Whatever we have in stock is what we have for the remainder of the season."Many of the customers haven't skied in years, or have used rentals in past years, and are looking to upgrade their equipment, he says.However, Turjanica says it's not only beginner skis and snowshoes that are selling out. Anticipating that ski resorts may be forced to shut down, some customers have decided to invest in touring skis and snowboards to explore the backcountry."It's scary," Turjanica said. "Seeing this large influx of people, from my perspective, they're thinking that, 'Oh, I see this on YouTube. I can just go back there.'"The Backcountry Skiing Canada website says backcountry skiing is "an inherently dangerous activity that requires experience and knowledge to travel safely." Training on how to recognize and stay safe in avalanche terrain is recommended by most guides and safety experts."When I mentioned avalanche safety training to people they don't know what I'm talking about," Turjanica said of some customers. "And that's kind of scary."Additional equipment like shovels, probes and airbags can bring the cost of a backcountry outfit up to several thousand dollars.Yochim says people who want to make the most of the outdoors this winter should stick to their local trails and lower elevations to start."Don't go up onto the mountain peaks, try some lower elevation trails, get used to it, get your stamina up, your level of physical fitness up, do a bit of training."He recommends downloading the BC Adventure Smart app which not only provides tips for staying safe in the outdoors, but can help record a trip plan that can be accessed by rescue teams.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 24 ...What we are watching in Canada ...EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 has become like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up size and speed, and threatening to overwhelm the health system.Dr. Deena Hinshaw says immediate action is needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.Premier Jason Kenney and select cabinet ministers were to meet with Hinshaw, and new measures are expected to be announced today.Alberta, once a leader in how to prepare for and contain the virus, has in recent weeks become a national cautionary tale.There have been well over 1,000 new cases a day for five straight days, and there are more than 300 patients in hospital and more than 60 in intensive care.Kenney has said he wants targeted measures to control the virus while keeping businesses as open as possible.Others, including some doctors, say the focus needs to be on a sharp clampdown, even for a short period.\---Also this ...A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they're eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they have gained weight since March, while 15 per cent said they lost weight over that time.Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says this is one of the collateral effects of the pandemic, as the survey suggests there is a link between weight gain and fear of COVID-19.Forty-six per cent of respondents who said they are very afraid of COVID-19 gained weight during the pandemic.Forty-four cent of those who expressed that level of fear said they have been exercising less than they did before the pandemic and about 46 per cent said they were eating more than usual.The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...The U.S. General Services Administration has ascertained that president-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election. President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight. The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20. An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.And today, Biden is preparing to formally announce his national security team to the nation. Those being introduced during an afternoon event are among Obama administration alumni whose roles in the upcoming administration signal Biden's shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies. The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars. China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. The Chang’e 5 mission, launched today, will be the first to bring back moon rocks and debris since a Soviet mission in 1976. Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.\---On this day in 2002 ...Quebec Premier Bernard Landry announced that the May 24th Quebec holiday, ``La fete de Dollard,'' would henceforth be known as ``La Journee nationale des Patriotes.'' The name was changed to honour the movement that contributed to the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada and became an early symbol of French-Canadian nationalism.\---In entertainment ...Anne Murray wasn’t sure her singing voice was still intact until a few months ago.The famed Canadian crooner had left her most-cherished instrument largely unchecked while in retirement, aside from belting out a song here and there while doing household chores.But last summer, she decided to dust off her guitar to see whether her trademark lush alto voice could still carry a tune.Murray says she performed a few of her old songs “just for the fun of it,” and was pleased to learn her famous pipes are still humming.The winner of 24 Junos and four Grammys swore off recording new music more than a decade ago, but she recently compiled several of her classic tracks for a new holiday album.“The Ultimate Christmas Collection” brings together 22 songs pulled from Murray's various Christmas albums, including “Joy to the World, “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble.\---ICYMI ...A Quebec municipality that had planned to cull about 15 white-tailed deer in the coming days relented late Monday amid pressure on officials to relocate the animals.Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent said in a statement the threat of people intervening or attempting to thwart the cull has forced the city to consider other options. Parent noted the plan to capture and slaughter the deer, approved by Quebec's Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, was supported by a "broad consensus within the scientific community."But given the circumstances, she's asking the city's top civil servant to come up with a plan to move the deer from Michel-Chartrand Park to a sanctuary authorized by provincial officials.Parent's announcement came hours after an animal rescue group and a lawyer who champions animal rights urged the Montreal-area city to reconsider its plan to kill half the white-tailed deer in the park and donate the meat to a food bank.The organization, Sauvetage Animal Rescue, along with well-known Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, had urged Parent to consider its own plan to relocate the animals to a sanctuary, free of charge.Ultimately, the city relented but Parent said the deer situation would need to be resolved quickly.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020The Canadian Press
NAV Canada, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, is considering cutting air traffic controller jobs at seven towers across Canada in an effort to save money as the global health crisis continues to drag down air traffic.But some aviation experts and airlines warn that reducing the number of people who control air traffic and ensure aircraft keep their distance in the sky and on the ground would amount to removing a layer of protection."It would degrade the level of safety at Whitehorse," said Joe Sparling, president of Whitehorse-based airline Air North. "We would encourage Nav Canada to look for other cost reduction measures."CBC News obtained an internal memo from Nav Canada president and CEO Neil Wilson informing staff that the not-for-profit company — which operates Canada's civil air navigation system — is conducting studies of air traffic control towers in Whitehorse, Regina, Fort McMurray in Alberta, Prince George in B.C., and Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor in Ontario which "will result in workforce adjustments."The company also is looking into closing a control tower in St. Jean, Quebec. These locations were identified as having low air traffic levels, even prior to the pandemic, the memo said."We are working closely with our bargaining agents to safely streamline our operations in an ongoing effort to align with traffic levels," wrote Wilson on Nov. 14, adding his commitment to safety is unwavering.Nav Canada manages millions of kilometres of airspace over Canada and used to provide air navigation services for more than 3 million flights a year. It's funded through service fees paid by air carriers.COVID-19 has dramatically decreased the number of flights across the country since March. In September, there was a 63 per cent drop in air traffic compared to the same month in 2019, according to Nav Canada numbers.In response, the company announced in September it was cutting more than 720 jobs, or 14 per cent of its workforce. The CEO also warned more layoffs remain possible.Transitioning to flight service stationsNav Canada is studying the possibility of closing the St. Jean tower in Quebec. The company is also looking into transitioning the other six towers to "Flight Service Stations," which would involve cutting air traffic controller jobs.Flight service specialists — who cost less to employ than air traffic controllers — would replace those workers. They do not have the power to control air traffic and keep planes separated while in flight or on the ground. Instead, they provide advisory services and information about weather, runway conditions and air traffic, leaving it up to pilots to keep a safe distance from other planes.Sparling said Whitehorse doesn't have radar, so the tower can't see air traffic on its screens. He said cutting the number of air traffic controllers from the airport could affect pilots by making it harder for them to keep track of everything in the air."It removes the level of safety afforded to air operators," he said. "During peak season, during heavy traffic periods, it is a safer environment if you're in a tower environment ..."The worst instance would be a collision or something like that."Mid-air collision in 1999David McNair, a former aviation safety investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, said airports "with air traffic controllers tend to have a safer management of traffic."He pointed to a fatal mid-air collision over Penticton, B.C. in 1999 that killed five people and involved flight service specialists. One plane had just taken off from the airport when it collided with a descending plane. One aircraft smashed into the parking lot of the Okanagan University College, the other into the yard of a business. The crash raised concerns about the lack of air traffic controllers at the airport at the time — positions that were eliminated years earlier in a cost-cutting move by Transport Canada, according to a CBC report in 1999."Likely, neither pilot was aware of where the other aircraft was or what exactly it would be doing," said McNair. "A tower controller would have controlled as required to provide separation."Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens also raised concerns last week about the impact on Windsor's airport, arguing that removing "Nav Canada controllers at YQG will really cut us off at the knees ... it will have a detrimental impact." City officials plan to fight the move by arguing it could cause delays and operational challenges.'Safety is always our number one priority,' said Nav CanadaIn a statement, Nav Canada said that its studies are "rigorous" and follow a process set by Transport Canada that includes public consultation."Safety is always our number one priority — and we would never do anything to jeopardize that," said Nav Canada spokesperson Rebecca Hickey in a statement to CBC News."When making decisions, we always take a long-term view to preserve the sustainability of the company and the integrity of the air navigation system of behalf of all Canadians."Transport Minister Marc Garneau's office said that before Nav Canada moves forward with any staff reductions or terminations, it must ensure it will maintain "rigorous aviation safety standards." "Transport Canada will work closely with Nav Canada to ensure the safety of air transportation in Canada," said department spokesperson Amy Butcher in a statement to CBC News.Under Canadian aviation regulations, Garneau also has the power to direct Nav Canada to maintain levels of service if he believes there is an unacceptable risk to aviation safety.
After a two-week controversy that sparked a petition, protest and several arrests in connection with threats against local elected officials, the city of Longueuil is ditching its plan to capture and put down 15 deer.Mayor Sylvie Parent says the city will work with the province's forestry, fauna and parks ministry to find a safe location for the animals.In a written statement issued Monday night, Parent said the city had no choice but to scrap the plan, despite having gotten the approval from the province's experts and "a large consensus within the scientific community", "The threat posed today by certain people in order to harm, or even thwart the implementation of the deer population's cull in Michel-Chartrand park forces us to consider another option."The city had originally said euthanizing the 15 deer — about half of the park's population — was necessary to preserve vegetation in the area.In the last week, Longueuil police have arrested three men in connection with threats allegedly issued against the city's mayor. According to police, none of the men live in the Longueuil area.Parent hopes to have the deer moved within weeks, pending instructions from the ministry on where and how to undertake the relocation.Earlier this month, Anaïs Gasse, a biologist with the province's forestry, fauna and parks ministry claimed many of the deer would die within days if relocated, due to how difficult it would be to adapt to new surroundings.
Scotland's High Court was told on Tuesday that the conviction of a Libyan man over the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing, the deadliest militant attack in British history, rested on evidence that was badly flawed. The family of now deceased Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the bombing that killed 270 people, have launched a posthumous appeal, supported by some victims' relatives who say the truth has yet to come out. Pam Am Flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988 en route from London to New York, carrying mostly Americans on their way home for Christmas.
There are barely a dozen homes at Cape Spencer on the Bay of Fundy coast. But people here are not surprised when strangers quietly appear in their community about 25 minutes from downtown Saint John.The arrivals are often preceded by an upward trend in gold prices."We've always had people looking for gold out here," said Kimberly Burry, whose home sits atop a hill looking out toward the ocean.The latest newcomers, a small crew of geologists, caused barely a ripple this fall when they took up residence in a rented house and began their daily trips into the woods to explore the many rock outcrops and other geological features.If they find what they're looking for, they'll want to take care to reassure neighbours a new mine will not be like the old mine, which left a legacy of environmental ruin when it closed more than thirty years ago. Gold prices have climbed steadily since September, 2018 and, as of last week, sat at $2400 an ounce, close to a nine year high.'The region's becoming hot'These particular newcomers work for Magna Terra Minerals, a junior mining company based in Toronto whose stock was trading at 24 cents on Friday.That doesn't diminish the optimism of company president, Lewis Lawrick."The region's becoming hot," said Lawrick, who claims there is evidence of gold throughout a fault known as the Avalon Terrane that extends from Newfoundland, through northern Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick and on down the New England coast."It's probably one of the most unloved and under explored and misunderstood mineralized gold belts in North America," he said. "And it's starting to gain a lot of interest within the geological community." Magna Terra has obtained mineral rights for more than 5000 hectares extending almost ten kilometres along the Fundy coast and inland two to four kilometres.Included is the site of the former Gordex Minerals gold mine that closed in 1988 leaving a legacy of lost investments and environmental desecration.Clean-up & restoration attempts 'feeble'Gordex opened with much fanfare in 1986, 30 years after its founder, Morton Gordon, a young hobbyist prospector, discovered gold while exploring with a simple rock pick.He later staked claims and raised more than a million dollars to mine the low-grade ore using a then new method, called heap leaching to draw out the gold.Heap leaching involved spraying a diluted calcium cyanide over the crushed rock. The solution leaches down, melting the gold from the rock as it passes through.It worked fairly well as a method for extracting gold, but set off alarms when it came to the environment.When Environment Canada learned runoff from the site was making its way into a nearby stream just a few hundred meters from the ocean, they ran a water quality test.All the rainbow trout used in the test died within 60 hours.Changes were made and later tests showed the water to be clean, but contaminated barrels remained onsite for years after the mine closed. And three decades later, a beautiful coastal landscape remains badly scarred.Neighbour Stephen Mitchell, whose family now owns part of the mine site, said large areas were cleared and excavated for the mine, roads were built with little regard for property owners. He describes the cleanup and restoration effort mandated by the province afterward as 'feeble.' "It will take nature hundreds of years to correct it," said Mitchell.Lawrick said he's very much aware neighbours will be apprehensive about talk of a new mine."It left a pretty sour taste in people's mouths," he said. "And that's certainly not something we're intending to repeat."Lawrick said his company is most interested in a formation dubbed 'Emilio's Zone', about three kilometres to the northeast of the Gordex mine site, and roughly the same distance from the nearest homes.He's hoping to find higher grade gold that can be extracted by far more efficient means than were employed by Gordex Minerals.> Going back 150 years or so 'til now, there's never been a profitable gold mine \- David Thompson, former Fundy Baykeeper"I wouldn't anticipate that we would ever, in my wildest dreams, be looking at any sort of a bulk tonnage, heap leach operation in this part of the world."Lawrick said it is too early to determine whether an open pit or underground mine would be used or whether there's enough gold in the area to justify any mining.Even then, he said with permitting and other hurdles, it takes 10 to 15 years from the time a significant gold deposit is discovered to the opening of a mine.Longtime environmentalist and former Fundy Baykeeper David Thompson was active in the fight to have the Gordex mine site cleaned up by the province in the early 1990's following the collapse of the venture. He doubts heap leaching would be attempted here a second time, and he's skeptical a significant gold deposit will ever be found. "Going back 150 years or so 'til now, there's never been a profitable gold mine," said Thompson. "I mean anywhere in southern New Brunswick or along the Fundy coast here."Still a business case for goldPrior to entering politics, former Saint John MP Paul Zed was Gordex Minerals' secretary treasurer and spokesperson.He said millions of dollars worth of gold was poured at Cape Spencer. And at today's prices he believes there's still a business case for some kind of gold extraction in the Cape Spencer area. Looking back, he said a lot of emphasis was placed on creating jobs rather than on creating an 'appropriate balance' when it came to the environment.He said the operation had cleaned up its practices by the time it was forced out of business by falling gold prices.Nonetheless the concerns raised by the facility's neighbours can be justified."I think they were valid," said Zed. "You know, to tear up a beautiful coastline without proper standards becomes, I think, a critical factor in any operation."
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is urging Islanders not to travel during the upcoming Christmas holidays. Premier Dennis King announced this week that those arriving on the Island from the other Atlantic provinces will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.Many Islanders reacted to news by echoing King's sentiments — it's unfortunate but necessary.As Island businesses gear up for the holidays, news of the Atlantic bubble closing has left some hoping it will be a chance to attract and retain more local customers. Hockey leagues across the Island have had to rejig their schedules. Health PEI says it's preparing for a potential rise in cases. The province is looking for additional health-care workers and isolation accommodations in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.The Chief Public Health Office is warning about possible coronavirus exposure involving a New Glasgow, P.E.I., funeral home. One new case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the province on Monday. Dr. Heather Morrison said the new case is a woman in her 40s that travelled outside Atlantic Canada. On Twitter, the Government of P.E.I. issued a new directive advising anyone who has travelled to Halifax, Moncton or Saint John between last week and 12:01 am Tuesday to: * Closely monitor for symptoms * Wear a mask at all times, including outdoors * Limit contacts * Hand wash regularly * Physically distance when possible * Download the COVID Alert AppIn other COVID-19 developments, a one-day COVID-19 testing clinic was held at Lennox Island Friday out of precaution. There are no known cases of COVID-19 on Lennox Island, said Chief Darlene Bernard.A P.E.I. teen has turned his science fair project into a business building and selling bat houses after the pandemic cancelled the provincial science fair.There is one active COVID-19 case in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 69 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the fifth highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic — as officials announced new restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus.New Brunswick announced five new cases, bringing its number of active cases to 93.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
Canada has turned away at least 4,400 asylum seekers at the U.S. border since 2016 — including some who were hoping to find refuge here at the height of the global pandemic — according to newly released government figures.Nearly half of those trying to enter Canada over that five-year period made the attempt in the year after U.S. President Donald Trump took office, according to figures released in response to a parliamentary request from NDP MP Jenny Kwan.Under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which has been in effect since 2004, Canada and the U.S. consider each other to be "safe countries" for refugees and require them to make their claims in the country they arrive in first.The agreement has long faced criticism and legal challenges from refugee advocacy groups, who say the agreement is an inhumane way to limit the number of people Canada accepts as refugees. They say the U.S. is not a safe country for all refugees and that the dangers they face have increased under the Trump administration.The federal government is appealing a Federal Court ruling earlier this year that found the STCA infringed Charter rights.The figures provided to Kwan show there was a spike in the number of asylum seekers turned back at the border after Trump was elected in 2016 and took office in 2017.In 2016 there were 742 people turned back at the border. That figure jumped to 1,992 in 2017. There were 744 denied entry in 2018 and 663 in 2019.Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 23 this year — a period which captures the height of the first wave of COVID-19 — 259 people were turned back at the border.'Even more precarious'Kwan called that "really disturbing.""In the face of a pandemic, things are even more precarious for people who need to get to safety and Canada actually did not hesitate to turn people back," she said.Kwan said the Trump administration imposed detention and deportation policies that violated international human rights and provoked widespread fear among refugees. By turning away asylum seekers, Canada is "complicit" in the violation of their rights, she said.Kwan said Canada should immediately suspend the STCA and work to negotiate a new agreement with U.S. president-elect Joe Biden that addresses human rights issues. But she said the "aggressive and intense" detention policies could linger."I think even with the Biden administration, that policy may still continue to exist, and even if the Biden administration wants to make changes, it's not going to happen overnight," she said.Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, said the government appealed the Federal Court ruling because it believes there were errors in key findings of fact and law.She said the decision mistakenly suggests that all asylum claimants who are ineligible under the STCA and turned back to the U.S. are automatically detained as a penalty. She also noted that the U.S. remains a party to the UN Refugee Convention.Refugee pact 'fair, compassionate': Blair spokesperson"The STCA, which has served Canada well for 16 years, ensures that those whose lives are in danger are able to claim asylum at the very first opportunity in a safe country," she said. "We are in continuous discussions with the U.S. government on issues related to our shared border. We believe that the STCA remains a comprehensive vehicle for the fair, compassionate and orderly handling of asylum claims in our two countries."As for the spike in numbers in 2017, Power said that 2017-2018 recorded the highest number of globally displaced individuals since the Second World War.Justin Mohammed, human rights law and policy campaigner for Amnesty International Canada, said a number of factors could have driven that sharp increase, including global patterns and Trump's policies.He said Canada should be fulfilling its international obligations under international refugee law at all times — even during a pandemic, when safety concerns are heightened.Mohammed pointed to exemptions made for students, family reunification and other immigration classes that allow people to arrive in Canada despite travel restrictions."Why are refugees being excluded from that? They're able to quarantine or be required to have a quarantine plan just like anyone else ... so why is there not the ability to be able to provide protection?" he said.Partial pictureJanet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said the 2020 figures represent only a partial picture of the people turned back to the U.S. because of added restrictions after the border closed March 20.At that time, refugee claimants were denied entry on public health grounds whether they arrived at an official point of entry or at another crossing — such as Roxham Road in Quebec — where the STCA does not normally apply.Despite assurances the Canadian government says it received from the U.S. that refugee claimants directed back would not be subject to enforcement such as detention or removal, Dench said refugee advocates in Canada know of at least two people who were detained in the U.S. after being directed back.Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said the Liberal record on administering the refugee and asylum system was one of "mismanagement, years-long backlogs and failure," even before the pandemic."Conservatives have long been calling on the government to close illegal border crossings and work with their American counterparts to close the longstanding loopholes in the Safe Third Country Agreement so that refugee and asylum seekers have a fair, compassionate and effective pathway to come to Canada," she said in a statement.