NDP joins Tories in call for Gerry Byrne's resignation

NDP Leader Alison Coffin and her caucus have joined the Progressive Conservatives in their call for Gerry Byrne to resign from cabinet.

In a news release Friday, Coffin said the fisheries minister mishandled the die-off of 2.6 million salmon on the south coast.

She also said Byrne, a longtime Liberal both provincial and federally, exhibited "inexcusable conduct in the House of Assembly that included making unfounded accusations against opposition MHAs in question period and in subsequent media interviews, and aggressive behaviour that was deliberately intended to intimidate."

Byrne, meanwhile, told reporters Friday morning he will not apologize for suggesting Tory MHA Jim Lester is pro-poaching and that NDP MHA Jim Dinn condoned a racist remark in a 2018 meeting.

The comments were made during an angry exchange at the House of Assembly on Thursday. 

"I can appreciate why the opposition parties may want me to resign, because if I was in opposition facing me as a minister, I'd want me to resign too," Byrne said.

Coffin said Byrne's "aggressive behaviour" and attempt to "defame and raise suspicion" about Dinn was unacceptable conduct for an MHA and cabinet minister. 

Peter Cowan/CBC

Byrne said he makes no apologies for calling out racism and has Premier Dwight Ball's full support.

"It has to be fair, we recognize that people make mistakes. Mistakes should never, ever be considered fatal. You admit them, show concession, act on concession and if the apology is accepted you move forward," he said. 

As for Lester, Byrne is standing firm on not apologizing for that either. He says Lester condones hunting at night which is an illegal practice.Byrne has also cal

led PC Leader Ches Crosbie's push for his resignation "repulsive."

Crosbie said Byrne is coming unglued and is unreasonably attacking the opposition party members.

"He needs to be isolated and put into quarantine," Crosbie said on Friday.

"The way to do that is for Mr. Ball to put him out of cabinet."

Crosbie added that Byrne's accusations against Dinn and Lester are so over the top that the public doesn't give his comments any credibility.  

The NDP is calling for an independent investigation into the dead salmon and a review of aquaculture regulations and enforceable legislation.

Coffin said Byrne's reaction to Dinn trying to get answers about the salmon die-off resulted in harassment, intimidation and "very unparliamentary behaviour." 

"I don't think he's behaving well. I think he's not attending to his duties properly. He's not responding to the accountability that we are demanding," she said.

"If the minister won't do the right thing a

nd resign, I call on the premier to remove Gerry Byrne from cabinet."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • B.C. man who opted out of MSP now swamped by medical bills after cancer diagnosis
    Health
    CBC

    B.C. man who opted out of MSP now swamped by medical bills after cancer diagnosis

    A man from Enderby, B.C., recently diagnosed with colon cancer is facing mounting hospital bills after previously opting out of the province's Medical Services Plan (MSP). Benjamin Fuller, 43, opted out of B.C.'s health insurance five years ago in an effort to lower his bills, according to his wife, Kristina Fuller. Benjamin, who is originally from Saskatchewan, was trying to save the cost of monthly MSP premiums, which were ultimately eliminated by the B.C. NDP government at the beginning of 2020. "He opted out when he realized there was a process for it, and he thought, oh, this is great, why would I pay an additional medical premium for services that I probably won't need. I'll just rely on the, I guess, regular Canadian health care," Kristina said. "He thought the $35 was just additional services and not going to impact his regular services."Enrolling in the MSP program is mandatory in B.C. under the Medicare Protection Act, but there is an option to opt out for 12 months at a time — with a caveat. "Residents who opt out are responsible for the payment of all medical, hospital and other health-care services received during the 12-month opt-out period," according to the B.C. government website. "You will not be able to opt back in, in the event of an unforeseen medical problem."In line with his opt-out date, the soonest Benjamin can opt back in to the provincial plan is July 1 of this year. DiagnosisIn December 2019, Benjamin became ill. "He was sort of having tummy trouble I want to say, and he thought, oh, maybe it's a food sensitivity or maybe it's at worst an allergy," said Kristina. He to see a doctor and was sent for several tests.  "On Feb. 26, the GP let us know that it wasn't an ulcer, it wasn't gallstones. He said, I have actually really terrible news, it's Stage 4 cancer in your colon," said Kristina.Benjamin was diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer metastatic throughout the abdomen and liver.  According to his oncologist, his condition is incurable, so palliative chemotherapy was prescribed to extend his life. The burden of treatmentThree months after the diagnosis, the Fullers have accumulated more than $22,000 in medical bills for hospital visits, tests and prescriptions.Kristina says the costs have become such a burden that her husband is avoiding treatment to cut costs."I've overheard my husband ask questions on the phone to our doctor: oh, do I really need that scan?" she said."He's trying to tough it out so that we don't have an additional burden to bear, and that is very hard on my heart.""Even when we started, Ben had said to the oncologist, you know, there's this situation with my MSP, maybe I should wait until July 1 before we do any treatments [...] and the oncologist said, no, if you wait until July you will not be alive," Kristina added. "He said, that's not how it works in Canada. We will start treating you and somehow that other stuff will work out." Hard line from ministryBoth out of work due to Benjamin's illness and the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple reached out in desperation to the Ministry of Health and offered to pay back the missed premiums over the past year in return for enrolment in MSP. The Fullers feel that everyone should have been re-enrolled in MSP when premiums were eliminated on Jan. 1. "I was hopeful, and I thought, well, it went to zero, everybody should just be rolled back in," said Kristina.   Their hospital social worker and Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo both wrote letters to the ministry asking for Benjamin's reinstatement in MSP.They received one response stating Benjamin would not be eligible to re-enrol until July 1. It noted that while the response was disappointing, the legislation must be administered equitably to all residents of B.C. According to the Ministry of Health, 206 people opted out of MSP in 2019.The ministry insists there is no ability for an individual to opt back into the program before the end of the 12-month period. Positive mindsetMeanwhile, Kristina says Benjamin is in the middle of his second round of chemotherapy, and he is still experiencing stomach pain. She says while Benjamin's prognosis is grim, she is hopeful he will recover. "Doctors have talked to us a lot about his mindset: if you think you're going to live for 10 years then that's going to help you along," Kristina said."There have been different things written in the doctor's reports, saying two or three years, but we are not focused on that. We're focused on the positive and, hopefully, longer life. I'm hoping for 25 more years."

  • Deal struck to dismantle blockades at Manitoba Hydro site, Indigenous group says
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Deal struck to dismantle blockades at Manitoba Hydro site, Indigenous group says

    SPLIT LAKE, Man. — A Manitoba Indigenous group says there's a deal with the province's Crown-owned hydro utility to remove blockades set up over fears that workers could introduce COVID-19 to an area around a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project.Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak says in a news release that leaders of First Nations that had been blockading the Keeyask power project met with Manitoba Hydro President Jay Grewal on Saturday, and that they reached an agreement for the barricades to come down.The announcement says the deal includes lifting a court injunction issued last week against Tataskweyak Cree Nation, one of the communities that was part of the protest.Four northern First Nations stopped entry at three points around the site about 725 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg after Manitoba Hydro said it would rotate out hundreds of employees and contractors who had been there for eight weeks.Manitoba Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen says the utility is pleased to reach an understanding with its First Nations partners that he says "will see construction on Keeyask resume safely," adding that more information will be released Monday.The MKO news release doesn't say whether the shift change will proceed, but an MKO spokeswoman says in an email that the First Nations will continue to work with Manitoba Hydro on a plan to gradually resume construction at Keeyask."First Nations, like other Manitobans, have made many sacrifices to restrict the transmission of COVID-19," Tataskweyak Cree Nation Chief Doreen Spence said in the MKO news release."While we absolutely want our economies to open up and succeed, we are ultimately most concerned about the well-being and health of our citizens during this uncertain period."The Keeyask Project is a collaborative effort between the Crown and four First Nations — Tataskweyak Cree Nation and War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation and Fox Lake Cree Nation.The northern area so far has no cases of COVID-19, and Manitoba Hydro had said the Crown corporation planned to safely resume regular work rotations while protecting workers and neighbouring communities.Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench issued an injunction last Monday ordering the removal of the blockades, an order the First Nations had said they would ignore. Spence said in the news release that her community has "asked Manitoba Hydro to work with us in a better way to move forward with the project." York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant, meanwhile, called the situation "extremely frustrating and unnecessary.""If Manitoba Hydro had fully engaged with its Cree partners from the beginning, this situation would not have happened," he said in the release.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • What's Coming And Going From Netflix Canada In June 2020
    Entertainment
    HuffPost Canada

    What's Coming And Going From Netflix Canada In June 2020

    We all really need a new season of "Queer Eye" at a time like this.

  • Trump commemorates Memorial Day, defends decision to play golf
    Politics
    Reuters

    Trump commemorates Memorial Day, defends decision to play golf

    ARLINGTON, Va./BALTIMORE (Reuters) - President Donald Trump paid tribute to fallen members of the American military on Monday to mark Memorial Day while defending his decision to spend most of the holiday weekend playing golf as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus outbreak neared 100,000. Before becoming president, Trump had repeatedly criticized his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, for playing golf, including during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

  • Premature victory lap? Meng Wanzhou poses ahead of momentous court decision
    News
    CBC

    Premature victory lap? Meng Wanzhou poses ahead of momentous court decision

    With a momentous court ruling that could deliver her freedom days away, Meng Wanzhou appeared to take a premature victory lap on the weekend, posing for pictures and flashing a thumbs-up on the steps of B.C. Supreme Court.The Huawei executive took part in a staged downtown Vancouver photo shoot as security guards stood watch Saturday evening. She jumped out of a black SUV to take centre stage once a group of family and friends had arranged themselves in front of a photographer.It was an unusual move for the 48-year-old chief financial officer of the telecommunications giant. And even more so for a defendant who will learn this week whether the court's associate chief justice believes Meng is accused of an offence worthy of extradition to the United States."I can't say that I've seen that [before]," said Gary Botting, an expert on the Canadian extradition process."You can hardly blame her. This has gone on for nearly two years."Accused of fraudMeng was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, at Vancouver's airport after arriving from Hong Kong for what was supposed to be a stopover en route to Mexico City and Argentina.The U.S. wants Meng extradited to New York to face fraud charges for allegedly lying to an HSBC executive at a meeting in Hong Kong about Huawei's relationship with a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.U.S. prosecutors claim banks in turn placed themselves at risk of running afoul of U.S. regulations by relying on Meng's alleged lies to continue handling Huawei's finances, risking prosecution and massive penalties in the process.B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes announced her plans last week to deliver a decision Wednesday on an issue that could end the extradition process: double criminality.If Holmes rules that the offence Meng is accused of committing in the U.S. would not have been considered a crime had it occurred in Canada at the time the arrest warrant was issued, then there was no double criminality, and Meng could be free to return to China — barring further detention on appeal.Security guards kept watchSaturday's appearance on the courthouse steps marked a very different look from the one Meng first presented to the world in December 2018. At that point, she had spent a week in a women's prison in Maple Ridge, B.C., emerging from the courthouse in a tracksuit to the glare of cameras, after being released on $10 million bail. Meng is the daughter of Huawei's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei. She currently lives under house arrest in one of two multi-million dollar homes she owns on Vancouver's west side. The terms of her release allow her movement around the city under the constant watch of a security detail.Her plainclothes guards paced the sidewalk outside the courthouse for an hour before Meng arrived Saturday evening, their black SUV parked nearby.A CBC reporter and photographer watched unobserved, from a distance.At around 7 p.m., a photographer hauled a step ladder onto the sidewalk and another large black vehicle pulled up. A number of women and men dressed in suits began assembling on the stairs.Black gown and ankle braceletMeng has appeared in court in designer dresses and shoes worth thousands, her wardrobe becoming part of her publicity strategy. Once the group of 11 people who would join her in the photographs found their places, Meng emerged from the SUV in a sleeveless black dress that reached to her ankles.She pulled the hem of the dress up at one point to reveal the GPS ankle monitoring bracelet she must wear under the terms of her release.Huawei board member and head of global media Vincent Peng, a longtime friend, stood next to Meng as the group smiled, made peace signs and gave thumbs-up to the camera.After no more than about four minutes, Meng was back in the vehicle.'Is this criminal in Canada?'Meng has denied the charges agaisnt her, and both she and her father have expressed confidence in the Canadian judicial system. Still, it's rare to see an accused appear to celebrate before a decision.Botting believes Meng has reason to be hopeful.During four days of hearings in January, Meng's lawyers argued the U.S. was trying to use Canada to enforce sanctions Canadians rejected by choosing to remain in a global treaty aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions that U.S. President Donald Trump decided to leave.The Crown, on the other hand, claims Meng's alleged offence is one of fraud: depriving a bank through a lie. And that's a crime in the U.S. and Canada."I think there's a good chance of success in the sense that when it boils down to the nitty-gritty, is this criminal in Canada? What she's alleged to have done, if instead of the United States, it was Canada who was bringing the prosecution, would we continue with the prosecution? Would we regard this as being criminal enough to carry it forward and bring it to trial?" Botting asked."I think the answer is fairly clearly, we wouldn't."'She'll go back to China'Botting says the strength of the case is undermined by the fact the alleged offence occurred in Hong Kong and the alleged victim is a U.K. bank. He calls Meng's detention arbitrary.If Holmes sides with the Crown, Meng's lawyers will have another chance to fight the extradition with arguments over what they claim was an abuse of her rights at the time of her arrest.But if Meng is successful, the Crown could appeal. Botting says she would not need to be in detention while the appeal is ongoing, but says U.S. prosecutors may well want to keep her in Canada."If she's smart, she'll go back to China," he says.The two MichaelsIn the meantime, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain in custody in China, where they were detained just days after Meng's arrest. Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been accused of spying in what many observers believe is retaliation for Canada's decision to act on behalf of the U.S. in regards to Meng.The Canadian government has denounced China's treatment of the two men, who are being held behind bars and have been denied access to lawyers.Many have pointed out the disparity between Meng's gold-plated, self-funded home-arrest and Kovrig and Spavor's harsh treatment.And unlike Meng, neither man is appearing in any pictures.

  • Married for 68 years, this B.C. couple died 5 hours apart after testing positive for COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    Married for 68 years, this B.C. couple died 5 hours apart after testing positive for COVID-19

    Juanita and Howard Robinson's romance started with double dates and calls to "the dirt department" and ended more than 65 years later as they held hands on their final day together.The Robinsons died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Amica Edgemont Village, a long-term care home in North Vancouver that has been the scene of an outbreak.Juanita, 91, died at 8 p.m. on April 6. Five hours later, Howard died. He was 94. The facility reported the deaths in April, but now their family is telling their story."It just hasn't quite hit that they're not there," the couple's eldest daughter, Sharon Robinson, said last week. "We just had such a special, long time with them."Many of the British Columbians who have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, were residents of long-term and assisted-living facilities."It's so easy to say, 'Oh, those people were old, they would have died anyway,'" the couple's second daughter, Diana Coleman, said. "But they still added value to everyone's life around them, not to mention their own family."They still had a lot to give and that was taken away from them."The 'dirt department'Howard Robinson was born in Vancouver on Jan. 25, 1926, and grew up in the city.In 1942, he began a 44-year career with CanCar Pacific, a heavy machinery company. He started as a machinist but eventually became general manager of the company.At 17, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. He dealt with supplies and was deployed to the Netherlands and France late in the Second World War."It took its toll on him," Robinson said. "He suffered as did many, many other very young men."He met Juanita Jackson shortly after the war through a co-worker and his wife. The four of them went on double dates.Juanita was born in Vancouver on Aug. 12, 1928, and also grew up in the city.She briefly worked as a secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture. Robinson and Coleman aren't sure if it was the federal or provincial ministry.In those days, Robinson said, several government departments could be reached with a single phone number.When Howard wanted to talk to Juanita, he would dial it and ask for "the dirt department.""That just drove her nuts," Robinson said. "She didn't want anyone to be thinking there was any disrespect for the Department of Agriculture."Howard and Juanita married in 1951 and moved to North Vancouver.Juanita became a homemaker and raised three children. She survived breast cancer in the 1960s. All her life, she loved baking, gardening and making needlepoint art."She was a very clever, talented lady," Robinson said.In the summer of 2019, Howard and Juanita moved into Amica Edgemont Village.'Just like Leave It to Beaver'Both Coleman and Robinson described their parents as a team — they respected and complemented each other."It was just like Leave It to Beaver," Coleman said.Howard was diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago, Robinson said. He also survived a heart attack and prostate cancer.They saw their family regularly, but in the past few weeks, those visits were through the window or on the phone as the couple self-isolated and visits were restricted."That was the best we could do," Robinson said. "I just feel for everybody and anybody who's got people in these care homes."Coleman said seniors killed by the coronavirus, like her parents, aren't mere statistics."They were mom and dad, and Howard and Juanita, and grandma and grandpa, and great-grandma and great-grandpa," Coleman said."We feel a void without their kindness, without their wisdom."To hear Diana Coleman remember her parents in an interview on The Early Edition, tap here.If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

  • Senior missing for 9 days found dead in Delta
    News
    CBC

    Senior missing for 9 days found dead in Delta

    Police in Delta say the search for a missing senior has ended in tragedy.On May 15, 88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera of North Delta was reported missing. He was last seen leaving his family residence near Nordell Way and 116th Avenue in North Delta.Police said Sanghera had dementia and diabetes, which was treated through medication.Investigators were able to find video footage of Sanghera walking and received several tips from people about him.On May 19th, police and members of Sanghera's family held a news conference to review the extensive efforts made to find the missing man and to ask for more help in finding him.On Sunday Delta Police said in a tweet that officers were called to a wooded area off Swenson and Nordell Way where they found the body of Sanghera.Officers remain at the scene and say that Saghera's family has been notified of his death.Police did not say what the circumstances of Sanghera's death were but that more information would be available on Monday.

  • Return to sender: passengers sent back after arriving at Yellowknife Airport
    Lifestyle
    CBC

    Return to sender: passengers sent back after arriving at Yellowknife Airport

    Despite strict protocols around who is allowed into the Northwest Territories, there have been two recent instances of people arriving at the Yellowknife Airport who weren't supposed to.An official with the territory's Municipal and Community Affairs Department said in the past two weeks, there were a couple of separate cases of people getting off an airplane in Yellowknife only to have to turn around the following day."We take care of them and we put them up and we make sure we make all the arrangements to send them back to where they need to go," said Ian Legaree, the operations section chief for North Slave with the territory's Municipal and Community Affairs Department."I'm sure they're disappointed they can't come to Yellowknife and visit but that's just the rules we're living under."The N.W.T. has virtually banned all non-essential travel into the territory. Residents are allowed to return and essential workers are allowed to enter, but visitors from out of territory are restricted. "Occasionally someone simply wasn't aware. They assume they can travel. Like in normal times, you can travel anywhere in Canada you like. But occasionally some people just don't get the word and we have to deal with it here," Legaree said.It's unclear where the people were coming from or the reasons why they were rejected. He said the territory pays for their stay in the hotel in order to monitor where they are.It has been more than one month since the N.W.T. has had an active case of COVID-19. The territory's chief public health officer has said the highest risk right now is on the border and that restrictions would remain in place until a vaccine is available.Arrivals into Yellowknife down 'significantly'From March 27 to May 19, there were 1,087 arrivals at the Yellowknife Airport. It's down "significantly" said Legaree.When passengers enter the arrivals area, they snake their way through a cordoned off line keeping two metres apart. They're then asked a series of questions by staff about who they are and why they're here.Anne-Elizabeth Fauvel and her son, Ewen Fauvel-Burns, returned to the city Friday after spending the last few months visiting family in France.It took them three days before they arrived back home, flying from Paris to Montreal then onto Toronto and Calgary before arriving in Yellowknife."The whole planning on the trip was extremely difficult because I had different answers from different places," Fauvel said.She said the trip itself went well. There were no lineups and the planes were almost empty.She and her son will spend the next 14 days self-isolating at home. "I don't mind at all, we're pretty jet lagged right now," she said.She said the arrival process was pretty simple and a good way to screen people. "I think it's a good idea to take precautions in Yellowknife because it is a small place and some people commute to northern communities and they don't want to bring the virus there."

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario pushes back loosening of social gatherings due to rising cases, park debacle
    Health
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario pushes back loosening of social gatherings due to rising cases, park debacle

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.

  • As province opens COVID-19 testing to all, health unit warns people not to have false sense of security
    Health
    CBC

    As province opens COVID-19 testing to all, health unit warns people not to have false sense of security

    Health officials in Windsor-Essex are looking to increase testing for COVID-19 after Premier Doug Ford's announcement that even asymptomatic people can get a test if they want one."The fact that he's basically saying that anyone that shows up to the assessment centre would be tested makes it a lot easier for the clinical staff," said David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital. Previous statements from the Premier only allowed for people displaying one or more symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested. On Sunday, he said mass testing was the province's best defence against the virus. As of Saturday, the province was still nearly 5,000 tests short of its daily goal of 16,000 tests a day.WATCH | David Musyj, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, talks about the relaxation of rules surrounding COVID-19 testing.Musyj said until now, a little more than 90 per cent of people who would come in would get swabbed. "Right now, they're basically saying, you come in, you're going to get swabbed, so it will be 100 per cent." Musyj said anyone coming in to the hospital's assessment centre, which is in a white tent directly beside the Ouellette emergency department, would be swabbed and tested for COVID-19."It's a very quick in and out," he said, adding that anyone who wants to see a primary care physician for another medical issue would be able to do so there as well.> Having a test only means that today, on the day of testing, you are not infected. \- Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health"Instead of going to your primary care physician and or a clinic or possibly the emergency department you can get that looked at."The assessment centre is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Musyj said they're seeing about 80 to 100 people daily, but hours could be expanded."We could go 24/7 if we need to," he said.Negative test result doesn't mean you're not at risk, warns WECHUDr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said there has been about 400 tests being conducted in the region daily between the assessment centres in Leamington and Windsor.Allowing asymptomatic people to get tested will serve as a way of better understanding the community spread of the virus, Ahmed added. But he fears it may lure people into a false sense of security.WATCH | Ahmed warns that increased testing is not a reason to relax when it comes to physical distancing:"We want to make sure that if it's available, then yeah, people should go and get it," Ahmed said. "But they shouldn't go with a false expectation or a false understanding of what this test means."He said the test doesn't differentiate whether you are at risk of contracting COVID-19 or not, adding it's a diagnostic test — not a screening tool. "We don't want to give that message that if you come back negative, you are not at risk ... Having a test only means that today, on the day of testing, you are not infected."At Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the hospital will discuss the possibility of offering testing for its staff, physicians and patients onsite, according to president and CEO Janice Kaffer.Up until now, those who were tested at the hospital had to have symptoms and any staff who wanted to or needed testing had to go to an assessment centre.

  • Thousands without power in Western Australia after once in a decade storm
    News
    Reuters

    Thousands without power in Western Australia after once in a decade storm

    Wild weather downed trees and left tens of thousands of people without power in Western Australia, as emergency services began cleaning up in Perth on Monday after some of the worst weather in a decade. Wind speeds of up to 132 km/hour (82 mph) were registered at Cape Leeuwin, one of the state's most south-westerly points early on Monday, the strongest May gusts in 15 years, according to the Australia Broadcasting Corp. Around 50,000 customers were without power on Monday due to storm-related outages, utility Western Power said, as the remnants of Cyclone Mangga hit a cold front and brought squalling rain and emergency level storm warnings to the south of the state.

  • N.S. RCMP use warrants to find killer's cellphone, computer and other devices
    News
    The Canadian Press

    N.S. RCMP use warrants to find killer's cellphone, computer and other devices

    HALIFAX — As police continue their investigation into a mass killing that claimed 22 lives last month in rural Nova Scotia, newly released documents reveal the RCMP recently seized and searched the killer's computer, cellphone, tablet and navigation devices.The search warrants, unsealed by a judge on Monday, do not provide details about what police found because their investigation has yet to be completed. As a result, the documents are heavily redacted.The warrants say police were looking for firearms, ammunition, explosives, chemicals, surveillance systems, computers, electronic devices, police-related clothing, human remains and "documents related to planning mass murder events" and the acquisition of weapons.Each of the warrants is accompanied by a grim recounting of the events that started on the night of April 18, when 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman allegedly assaulted his common-law spouse at one of his seasonal homes in the village of Portapique, N.S.Armed with several semi-automatic weapons, he set fire to properties and killed 13 people in Portapiqe before he left the area, disguised as a Mountie and driving a vehicle that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser.He killed another nine people the following day in several other communities in northern and central Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer fatally shot him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 90 kilometres south of Portapique.The suspect remained at large for 13 hours."Gabriel Wortman showed a complete disregard for human life as he shot at people sitting in their cars, people walking along the side of the road, and at people in their private homes," says a document prepared by RCMP Sgt. Angela Hawryluk.Investigators have said little when asked what may have motivated the killer.The RCMP documents say police seized a Samsung cellphone, Toshiba laptop, Acer tablet, a data-storage card and a Garmin global positioning device from the gunman's denture clinic in Dartmouth, N.S., on April 20, the day after he was killed by police.As well, the warrants and other documents say police have obtained data from the infotainment systems inside two vehicles seized from the same property: a 2013 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor and a 2015 C-300 Mercedes-Benz.Police say these systems can store synchronized cellphone data regarding navigation, texting, phone calls and internet-enabled content including traffic conditions and weather.Meanwhile, the RCMP have filed a so-called production order with telecommunications provider Telus Communications Inc., based in Scarborough, Ont. The order says the Mounties are seeking documents and data from Telus Mobility, but the specific requests have been redacted.Investigators obtained warrants to search at least four other properties owned by the killer, two of them in Portapique.Police confirmed that nothing was seized from 287 Portapique Beach Road, which was destroyed by fire.At another burned property, 136 Orchard Beach Drive, police found something they described as "rounds," but the description on either side of that word has been blacked out.At 200 Portapique Beach Road, Wortman's main seasonal residence, police found an ammunition box with a burnt $100 bill, a black plastic bag, a burnt receipt box and burnt pieces of a rifle.Police were also granted permission to search a second denture clinic at 3542 Novalea Drive in Halifax, where they hoped to find another computer. But the search turned up nothing.The documents released Monday were unsealed after a media consortium, including The Canadian Press, went to court.Last week, the court released other documents that revealed statements from witnesses who described Wortman as an abusive "sociopath" who had suffered a mental breakdown and was stockpiling guns while displaying paranoid behaviour because of the COVID-19 pandemic.One witness said Wortman "had been disturbed and that he was severely abused as a young boy," adding he was "very smart, cheated and was a psychopath." Another witness said Wortman had described ways to get rid of bodies using chemicals.The document confirmed Wortman had purchased used police cars at auctions and had obtained decals to make one vehicle, another Ford Taurus, look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.In the reasons given for seeking search warrants, Hawryluk describes how the first two officers to arrive in Portapique on the night of April 18 encountered a wounded witness who told them he'd been fired upon by a man in uniform driving what they thought was an RCMP vehicle.The witness told police his "first suspicion was that (the gunman) was … Gabe (Wortman) because his barn was on fire and he had a look-a-like Taurus that he was calling a police car."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

  • Premier says anyone who wants a COVID-19 test will be able to get one
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Premier says anyone who wants a COVID-19 test will be able to get one

    TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Sunday that anyone in the province can get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, as cases continued to mount and officials criticized thousands of people who gathered in a Toronto park a day earier.The premier said mass testing is the province's best defence against the virus, adding that the only way for the province to reach its testing capacity of nearly 25,000 is for people to show up to provincial assessment centres. Currenly, daily testing rates hover around 11,000."If you are worried you have COVID-19, or that you've been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, even if you're not showing symptoms, please go get a test," Ford said during a televised speech on Sunday."You will not be turned away, you don't need an appointment, just show up."A spokeswoman for the Minister of Health later said in an email that the province doesn't anticipate demand for tests outpacing supply, even with this directive.The messaging is a marked change from earlier guidelines for the general public, which said that only people displaying one or more symptoms of the novel coronavirus should be tested.Ford also said a new detailed testing strategy targeting specific sectors will be unveiled next week.The announcement comes as cases continue to mount in Ontario, with 460 confirmed cases reported on Sunday along with 25 deaths related to the virus.The new cases account for a 1.8 per cent increase over the previous day.The province now has 25,500 confirmed cases, which includes 19,477 that are marked as resolved and 2,073 where patients have died.The Ministry of Health said it completed 11,383 tests over the previous 24 hours.Meanwhile, the premier criticized Torontonians who flocked to a popular downtown park on Saturday after city officials said thousands of people at Trinity Bellwoods Park were flouting physical distancing rules."I thought it was a rock concert in the beginning when I went out there, I was in shock," Ford said."I get it, it's a beautiful day out, everyone wants to get out and have a great time ... but the images I saw, we just can't have that right now, it's just too many people too close."On Sunday, far fewer people were at the park, Toronto police said, noting that there were more cops and bylaw officers present to issue $1,000 tickets to those violating the rules.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

  • Most Canadians Want The U.S. Border To Stay Closed Longer During Coronavirus Pandemic: Survey
    Politics
    HuffPost Canada

    Most Canadians Want The U.S. Border To Stay Closed Longer During Coronavirus Pandemic: Survey

    Even when the border reopens, many Canadians said they won’t travel to the U.S.

  • Police respond to crowds, shooting near Fla. beach
    News
    Canadian Press Videos

    Police respond to crowds, shooting near Fla. beach

    A shooting that erupted at a Florida beachside road where more than 200 people gathered and were seen partying and dancing despite pandemic restrictions on Saturday night left several people injured. (May 24)

  • Saskatoon mom concerned Sask. Health Authority using hand sanitizer that's unsafe for pregnant, nursing people
    Health
    CBC

    Saskatoon mom concerned Sask. Health Authority using hand sanitizer that's unsafe for pregnant, nursing people

    A Saskatoon mother is concerned the Saskatchewan Health Authority is using a hand sanitizing gel that may be harmful to individuals who are nursing or breastfeeding. A May 21 memo obtained by CBC sent to staff across the authority indicated a type of Health Care Plus Sanitizing Hand Gel "is unsafe for pregnant and nursing women" as it uses "technical grade ethanol alcohol" as opposed to medical grade isopropyl alcohol.The product has been used in some authority facilities in recent weeks, as global demand for medical grade isopropyl alcohol has been growing exponentially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact the product is even in the hospital is a red flag for Saskatoon mom Amanda Harder."There's that element of trust," she said."We have the right to know what we're putting on our bodies and I think when there's governing bodies, like the Sask. Health Authority, we expect safety standards and we expect the products we are using are safe." Harder, who founded the group Mothers Empowering Mothers, is well-connected in the Saskatoon parental community. Speaking as an individual, she said the fact this product is even in hospitals is concerning. "I do think this pandemic needs to be taken with the utmost caution, but that being said, I don't think that excuses them from providing full disclosure or bypassing any safety standards," she said. The product has been approved by Health Canada for use in hand sanitizers, but it comes with many conditions including directions that it only be used by adults, that it contains a warning for pregnant and nursing individuals and that it clearly lists its medical ingredients. "Health Canada has put these specific conditions in place to minimize potential risks, while continuing to ensure sufficient supply of hand sanitizer during this public health crisis," Health Canada states on its website. "Once the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, or should the increased demand during the pandemic no longer necessitate production of technical-grade ethanol, all time-limited conditional approvals granted by Health Canada will cease to be valid." Harder said the SHA should be providing better alternatives for both its staff and the public, pointing to things like portable hand-washing stations that could be installed at the facilities.She said while she understands use of the product may be low-risk for her and her family, she has concerns for people pregnant and nursing individuals who regularly frequent the hospital for treatment or work. "That's a big risk for them," she said. Based on conversations she's had with other moms in Saskatoon, she says there's a lot of feelings of being let down, disappointment and feelings their trust was taken advantage of. CBC Saskatchewan reached out to the Saskatchewan Health Authority numerous times over the weekend to get insight into why the product is being used, how long it was used for and where it was used, but a response was not received.The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, which represents registered nurses across the province, also issued a warning to their staff about the product and has raised concerns with the authority directly, as there were no warnings posted in or around the product. Tracy Zambory, president of the union, said while the health authority is now putting up posters informing people about risks associated with the hand sanitizer, they were slow to go up when the product appeared on site. She says while there was no malice behind the delay, she said it's a symptom of how busy the system is, as the health authority resumed some of its services on May 19, while at the same time, has been making service changes at rural hospitals."What's going on is an overload of trying to close, trying to open, it's all of these things that are happening that unfortunately a very important situation fell a little bit between the cracks," she said. "I think part of it is having so many balls in the air," she said. "It seems like communication is far down on the list." Zambory said this has been a pattern when it comes to the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the provincial government, as the union has said on previous occasions that transparency has been lacking in a big way."They're not transparent and there isn't a lot of conversations or communication that happens in a timely fashion, this is one of the potential outcomes," she said. Zambory said she's pleased warning signs about the hand sanitizing gel are now being posted and say the health authority has confirmed to the nurses' union it is working to source a new supply of hand sanitizer.

  • Toronto Mayor John Tory Apologizes For Not Wearing His Mask Properly
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Toronto Mayor John Tory Apologizes For Not Wearing His Mask Properly

    He was spotted talking to people at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

  • Provincial court judge makes waves opposing waterfront development near her home
    News
    CBC

    Provincial court judge makes waves opposing waterfront development near her home

    A provincial court judge has "raised some eyebrows" by publicly opposing a waterfront residential development near her home in Caraquet, arguing it will create too much traffic.Judge Johanne Landry wrote a letter to Caraquet council about the 24-unit project proposed by DuParc Real Estate Group, an affiliate of Foulem Construction.She urged council to cancel the rezoning hearing for the project, suggesting it violated the province's COVID-19 state of emergency declaration.And when the meeting went ahead on May 11 via Zoom and YouTube, Landry teleconferenced in to speak against the project, called Faubourg de la mer."That kind of raised some eyebrows," said Mayor Kevin Haché.Judicial conduct, both in and out of the courtroom, is subject to public scrutiny because a judge's impartiality and integrity play an important role in the public's confidence in the judicial system.Landry did not identify herself as a judge in her letter or at the meeting, but "it's a small community," Haché said. " Everybody knows everybody."She was calling as a citizen but of course, you know, can you separate the judge from the person, or the person from the judge? I guess that is the question."Haché, who is a lawyer, declined to offer an opinion about Landry's actions, saying he might have to appear before her in court one day.Tricky balanceRichard Devlin, a professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, said judicial conduct is a complicated issue.Judges don't give up their citizenship rights, but they do have to think about how they assert those rights, he said. "Just because you're a judge doesn't mean to say you're not allowed to have a voice in your community."The concern, however, is that a judge may be using their status as a judge to reinforce their position, or to create an impression that there is only one way to go about things."> There's no sort of silver bullets here. There are no bright lines. \- Richard Devlin, law professorThe challenge, said Devlin, is to find the right balance. That can be particularly "tricky" in small communities.The objective test that's normally applied, he said, is whether the judge's actions, in the eyes of a fully informed and reasonable person, would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."There's no sort of silver bullets here. There are no bright lines. It's a very ad hoc decision-making process."Guidelines for federal judgesFederally appointed judges have a 60-page document, titled Ethical Principles for Judges, to guide them.It advises "avoidance of public participation in controversial political discussions." But it goes on to acknowledges this is "more open to debate and problems" than other principles."In defining the appropriate degree of involvement of the judiciary in public debate, there are two fundamental considerations," the document says."The first is whether the judge's involvement could reasonably undermine confidence in his or her impartiality."The second is whether such involvement may unnecessarily expose the judge to political attack or be inconsistent with the dignity of judicial office. If either is the case the judge should avoid such involvement."Only a couple of provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have guiding principles for their judges, said Devlin.No provinces have a code of conduct for judges, he said.There is, however, case law to turn to.Landry, who was appointed to the bench on June 1, 2017, did not respond to a request for an interview.Chief Judge Jolène Richard of the provincial court did not respond to a request for an interview either.2nd rezoning vote todayCaraquet council voted in favour of rezoning to allow the proposed development, despite the objections of Landry, at least two local lawyers — Judy Begley, who co-signed the letter with Landry, and Charles R. LeBlanc — and other area residents."There's a demand for these kinds of [units] in the community and weighing the against and the for, [council] decided the project should go ahead," said Haché.Second and third reading are scheduled for later Monday, he said.In their May 6 letter, Landry an Begley argued council should not have launched the rezoning process, which requires public consultation, during the COVID-19 pandemic.'Statutory obligation' to delayThey cited the province's state of emergency declaration, which says: "On the recommendation of the Attorney General, retroactive to March 19, 2020, the operation of the provisions of any act, regulation, rule, municipal bylaw or ministerial order that establish limitation periods for commencing [or for taking steps in] any proceeding before a court, administrative tribunal or other decision-maker is hereby suspended."Landry and Begley told council they believed the public meeting could not proceed until at least 21 days after the end of the state of emergency. "We ask you to confirm that the town is aware of this statutory obligation, and that the town intends to comply with it."Without the delay, "the balance will tip in favour of the project promoters at the expense of those who will have to live with the consequences for years, even decades," they argued.The physical distancing requirements make it extremely difficult for citizens, including those who live in the roughly 50 homes in the Haché-Legarrec-Rioux neighbourhood of the proposed project, "to meet to consult, discuss, and get organized."We are therefore at a distinct disadvantage in our efforts to prepare our best possible submissions to the city and to decision makers."In addition, some residents don't have the internet to access the public hearing via Zoom or YouTube, or may not know how to communicate by video conference, they said.Telephone access doesn't allow "full and equitable" participation, they argued, because people on the phone can't see or be seen, and may have difficulty hearing and discerning who is speaking, when.Council checked with the town's legal counsel and the province before holding the meeting, according to the mayor. "They told us we were OK," said Haché.Would have broad implicationsThe Francophone Association of Municipalities of New Brunswick requested clarification from the province, said executive director Frédérick Dion."We understand that this situation could lead to a legal challenge. So, to avoid wasting everyone's time, we simply asked the province to clarify the decree that was adopted."Landry and Begley's interpretation would have significant consequences for all municipalities, he said, because "it implies that the municipality would not have the powers to act."The Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General did not respond to a request to clarify whether the state of emergency could void Caraquet council's rezoning decision, as Landry and Begley had suggested.But on Friday the declaration was amended. It now states: "For greater clarity, this paragraph does not affect the normal operation of municipal or local government or of community planning activities."Proposed compromiseLandry and Begley contend the proposed development will increase traffic by 50 per cent on their neighbourhood's quiet, narrow streets, which have no sidewalks.In their letter, they raise concerns about pedestrian and cyclist safety, as well as snow removal and flooding.They said they consulted with the residents of nine other homes and all 16 of them are in favour of a residential development, but with fewer than the proposed 24 units.At least 15 people are opposed to the proposed extension of their street, Legarrec, they said.Instead, they propose a compromise. They contend the existing zoning and space could accommodate up to 16 units and the project could be accessed from Saint-Pierre Boulevard west, which is equipped to handle the increased traffic and has sidewalks.Denis Foulem of Foulem Construction did not respond to a request for an interview.The mayor said council considered all possibilities, but the request for the project was for 24 units, which was deemed reasonable. There is space and there is a need for the housing, said Haché.Without the Legarrec Street extension, he said, an extra road would be required, which would make the project too expensive.

  • N.B. fears rising federal debt and sinking economy may squeeze poor provinces
    Business
    CBC

    N.B. fears rising federal debt and sinking economy may squeeze poor provinces

    New Brunswick's receipt of federal aid has grown steeply over the last three years but as Ottawa piles on hundreds of billions of dollars in debt to support the economy through the COVID-19 crises there are creeping worries over what that might mean when the virus subsides and the bills come due."I'm very concerned about next year and our transfer payments because I don't know what's left in the federal government," Premier Blaine Higgs said last week.  "Given the projections of the hole being dug federally, it's like, well, we won't worry about that today. We'll worry about that tomorrow or the next day, or maybe someone believes they'll never have to worry about it. Well, for me, I'm very worried about it and very concerned."The federal government is in no danger of running out of money, but Trevor Tombe, one of Canada's leading authorities on federal aid to have-not provinces like New Brunswick through the equalization program, says Higgs is not wrong to be nervous."I think the premier may have some legitimate concerns around the size of the equalization program," Tombe, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary, said in an interview. "Exactly how the feds balance the debt pressures that they'll be under, you know that's an important thing to think about." Expanding Canadian prosperity over the last decade that was not matched by economic growth inside New Brunswick  has triggered a windfall of federal aid for the province under Canada's $20.6 billion equalization program. The no-strings-attached payments from Ottawa to Fredericton this year to assist with providing basic services will be a record $2.2 billion, up 25.6 per cent in just three years.  It's the single largest source of funding the New Brunswick government has — greater than its own collection of personal income or sales tax — and it has been providing the majority of revenue growth to the province in recent years. The $450-million jump in federal aid to New Brunswick over its last three budgets has grown at triple the rate of inflation, the largest increase, in percentage terms, of the five equalization-receiving provinces, which also include Quebec, P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Manitoba.  But economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 will almost certainly halt those rapid increases in equalization and may well throw them into reverse. according to Tombe.The $20.6-billion equalization pool from which have-not provinces are paid comes from a formula that grows based on growth in the Canadian economy over a three-year rolling average. But a significant contraction in the national economy in 2020 could easily overwhelm increases in 2018 and 2019 and trigger the first reduction in the funding pool in 17 years."The total number of equalization dollars is indexed to the [gross domestic product] growth rate in Canada and 2020 is almost surely going to be a year of some significant contraction," said Tombe.    "If we have a 10-plus per cent contraction in GDP in Canada, which is not an unreasonable expectation right now, that might be enough to even pull down a three-year average."  Tombe said it is impossible to know where economic growth numbers for 2020 will land, and so the final effect that will have on the equalization pool is speculative, but a $350 million reduction next year is not inconceivable.  This year New Brunswick's share of the pool is 10.7 per cent, so a reduction that size would cost New Brunswick $37.6 million in aid, if its economy performs in a similar way to other have-not provinces.But that's if the equalization remains as it is.A critical issue, according to Tombe, is the federal government alone is in charge of equalization and if it decides changes are required on the other side of the pandemic to deal with its own elevated debt level, or to accommodate growing demands for inclusion from provinces not covered by the program, anything might happen."I want to emphasize this," said Tombe. "The feds can easily decide not to follow the current formula and can enact an ad hoc change to legislation anytime."This is a program that is 100 per cent federal and they have full unilateral authority here. And so in principle, there could very well be changes, and there does not need to be any consultations be done."

  • A tale of 2 leatherback sea turtles tagged off Nova Scotia
    Science
    CBC

    A tale of 2 leatherback sea turtles tagged off Nova Scotia

    Good luck, persistence and international co-operation has delivered a rare trove of data from two endangered leatherback turtles tagged off Nova Scotia last summer.The turtles, Ruby and Isabel, were carrying a tracking transmitter and a device that stored a huge cache of precise GPS locations accumulated during their 12,000-kilometre migration from Canada to Trinidad, off South America.This month, when the nesting leatherbacks crawled ashore on separate beaches, researchers and volunteers on the island managed to intercept them, retrieve their tags and 10 months of stored data."We're really excited," says Mike James, lead scientist with the sea turtle unit at Fisheries and Oceans Canada."In the case of Isabel's data, it downloaded yesterday and we had over 12,000 GPS positions that have been collected for that turtle since she was tagged last July."The data allows scientists to reconstruct the movements of the sea turtles throughout their migration, including where it's needed most — in and around Trinidad, the nesting destination for most of the declining northwest Atlantic population that are in Canadian waters."We know that there are a lot of threats to the turtles in those areas and there are a lot of interactions with local artisanal fisheries, and there are a lot of places where there happens to be a lot of human impact on the turtles. But we just don't have the data to understand that very well," James said.Recovering an archival tag, as it is known, is rare.Sometimes the tags fall off during mating or are otherwise lost on the journey.In the 20 years leatherbacks have been tagged in Atlantic Canada, archival tags have been recovered only four times: in Panama, French Guiana and twice in Colombia. The most recent case was seven years ago.Within a single week in May, two were recovered in Trinidad."I have never recovered this much data from leatherbacks at one time," James said.It took 10 hours to process the data Isabel was carrying.Ruby and Isabel were tagged two days apart in waters south of Halifax in July 2019.Ruby is one of the biggest leatherbacks ever captured in Atlantic Canada. She is the size of a pool table and weighs a tonne. A flipper tag told scientists she had previously nested in Trinidad.Isabel had no markings.In the summer and fall, leatherbacks feed on jellyfish in Atlantic Canada before migrating south to breed.Data shows Isabel travelled 12,252 km and Ruby 12,891 km after being tagged.The recovery operation was run out of Mike James's Halifax home, where he's been working since the pandemic.When it became clear where the turtles were headed, James got in touch with the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Fisheries, and conservation groups on the island.Finding the tagged turtles was not a sure thing.Female leatherbacks nest on 10-day cycles, spending 90 minutes laying eggs on shore at night before heading back to sea and returning again several more times to nest."Generally they return to the same stretch of coastline and if you're lucky to the same beach on that stretch of coastline. And in both cases, both these animals did that," James said. "We found out when and where they laid their initial nest. They were successfully intercepted … and their instruments were removed and new instruments were deployed on the turtles which is the next chapter."James gives credit to teams in Trinidad that spent nights waiting for the turtles.One of the researchers was Kyle Mitchell, of Nature Seekers, a conservation group that pays for itself by conducting ecotourism.He was in Nova Scotia on an exchange last summer and on board to help tag Ruby.Ten months later, he was on hand when Isabel first came ashore at Matura Beach.Unfortunately, there was not enough time to remove the tag, so he watched her crawl back into the ocean in the hopes of getting a second chance."We were a bit skeptical that we might find her back again because usually, to get that much luck twice in a row, is not something that happens that often," Mitchell said. "I was very fortunate to be a part of both sides. It was definitely overwhelming. Overwhelming and tiring, but definitely worth it."The Las Cuevas Turtle Group and Nature Seekers recovered Ruby on the north coast.With new satellite transmitters attached, scientists will be able to track the complete year-long migration loop when Isabel and Ruby return to Nova Scotia sometime in August.But that too was a close call.Normally, Canadian scientists with tracking tags would be in Trinidad for the nesting period.But this year, COVID-19 kept them, and their equipment, in Nova Scotia. When Ruby and Isabel showed up, tags were rushed by courier from Nova Scotia and from colleagues in Florida.They arrived in the nick of time."Both packages were received the week that they were needed. The one tag [from Florida] arrived the day that it was needed for the deployment on Isabel. So it was that tight," James said. "Our box arrived a day or two later, but we had about 48 hours of comfort zone in the end before that second instrument was needed for Ruby."But it was an Amazing Race-situation, tracking information on the various courier providers websites."With Fisheries and Oceans Canada shut down by the pandemic, it's not clear whether leatherback tagging will happen in Nova Scotia this summer.The program starts in July and no decision has been made.Ruby was named after the mother of noted Acadia University scientist, Sherman Bleakney, an academic who first proposed that leatherbacks were regular visitors to Atlantic Canada back in the 1960s. Bleakney died last October.Isabel was named by children attending an annual sea turtle summer camp in Halifax.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Why reopening Montreal is a riskier bet than Legault is letting on
    Health
    CBC

    Why reopening Montreal is a riskier bet than Legault is letting on

    The riskiest part yet of Premier Francois Legault's plan to end Quebec's pandemic lockdown gets underway today, as retail stores across the Montreal area open for the first time in nearly two months.At the same time, factories in Quebec will also be able to resume operating at full capacity. This follows the first weekend after the government ended its ban on small outdoor gatherings, and there was nary a Montrealer left inside. So in the span of a few days, hundreds of thousands of people will be back working, shopping and commuting in the Canadian city where the novel coronavirus has spread most widely and been most deadly.The previous phases of Legault's plan were a safer bet. When elementary schools, daycares and stores outside Montreal were allowed to reopen, transmission rates were already decreasing. And so far — fingers crossed, knock on wood — these areas of the province haven't seen a serious uptick in cases, hospitalizations or deaths.But there is a different order of uncertainty when it comes to lifting confinement measures in Montreal, and the suburbs that ring the island.The province has recorded 47,411 cases of COVID-19, of which about 80 per cent are in the Greater Montreal area.While there have been some improvements in the key indicators, it hasn't been enough to completely erase the fears of epidemiologists. The daily number of deaths is dropping and the average number of new cases is also inching downward despite more testing.  "There are some small signs of hope, but I'm very worried about what will happen in the next few weeks," said Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, an assistant professor at McGill University who helps prepare projections for the province's public health research institute."Hopefully this will give us some respite to be able to mount a more effective response for a potential second wave that could be worse than the first one."But as Legault continues to lift restrictions, some key factors that have contributed to the ongoing disaster remain unaddressed. The staffing crisis in long-term care homesThe scope of the tragedy in Quebec — nearly 4,000 dead — can be explained in no small part by the staffing shortage it caused in the health-care system. Until last week, there were routinely more than 11,000 health-care workers who were absent on any given day. In many cases, these were front-line workers — doctors, yes, but more critically nurses and patient attendants.These absences compounded already existing staffing shortages in the system, particularly in the province's network of long-term care homes (known as CHSLDs).It was understaffed long-term care homes that generated the most vivid traumas to date: elderly patients left unattended for hours and dying alone, sometimes in their own filth.The staffing shortage prevented the implementation of a policy that could have saved dozens of lives.On April 3, Quebec issued a directive urging CHSLD staff to avoid working in several different facilities, fearing they were carrying the disease with them as they went from one location to another. A similar policy was implemented in British Columbia, and public health experts there have lauded it for effectively halting the spread of COVID-19 in the province's nursing homes. But more than a month later, Quebec still hasn't been able to put an end to the practice. Given the continuing shortage of workers in the CHSLD network, it's either maintain the practice or leave patients without basic care. Health-care managers are forced to choose the lesser of two evils. A provincewide recruitment effort, bonuses, redeploying medical specialists, calling in the army — none of the government's solutions have generated sufficient replacements.The staffing situation has improved more recently. By the end of last week, there were 10,415 health-care workers absent either because they've tested positive for COVID-19 or are in preventative isolation.That's roughly 1,000 fewer than the week before. But it is still unclear when care homes will be able to fully implement the policy. At a National Assembly hearing on Friday, Health Minister Danielle McCann criticized the practice of moving CHSLD workers around. Asked when it would end, she replied: "I don't have a precise date."WATCH | Concerns that Quebec, Ontario reopened too soon:Crowded Montreal hospitals The Legault government has said hospital capacity is one of its key criteria for determining whether Montreal is ready for looser confinement measures.When the premier previously delayed reopening stores in Montreal, and scratched reopening schools there altogether, he cited the space crunch in Montreal-area hospitals.One benchmark that Legault has cited — borrowed from New York — is hospitals having at least 30 per cent of their beds available, in case easing the lockdown leads to a surge in new cases.Quebec's hospital network was at 70 per cent capacity on May 16, but had climbed to 74.3 per cent by May 21, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Health. Things are even tighter in Montreal and the surrounding area. On Thursday, hospital capacity in Montreal was at 77 per cent, in Montérégie it was at 84 per cent and was at 95 per cent in Laval. "In Montreal, things are very, very, very tight," Dr. Germain Poirier, head of Quebec's society of intensive-care specialists, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak last week.While there is more space available in intensive-care units, he said regular hospital beds are almost all taken. "If we have a second wave, that might be difficult."Last week, Quebec suddenly changed how it counted hospitalizations. It stopped including COVID-19 patients who are well enough to be transferred back into long-term care, but are waiting for space to free up.That allowed the province to register more than 200 fewer hospitalizations.But as Poirer pointed out, these patients were still taking up hospital beds and still needed care from doctors and nurses. "Maybe the [Health] Ministry wants to show that things are better," he said. "Are they really better in the field? I'm not so sure. We still see a lot of active cases."It's on us nowLegault, in other words, has opted to ease the lockdown in Montreal at a moment when area hospitals have limited capacity to handle additional cases.The staffing crisis in the CHSLD network remains a major public health risk, and there is still no conclusive evidence of a sustained decrease in transmission in and around the city.From this vantage point, it appears the government is going forward less because Montreal is out of the danger zone, and more because the heavy lockdown is no longer sustainable.Whether the health-care system can handle what happens next is now almost entirely in the hands of citizens, and their willingness to follow the conditions attached to their newly returned freedoms: wash hands, wear masks and stay two metres apart.

  • Ontario delays allowing bubble families, larger gatherings as COVID cases rise
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario delays allowing bubble families, larger gatherings as COVID cases rise

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to keep following public health orders heading into summer, as rising COVID-19 cases and high-profile misbehaviour in a Toronto park over the weekend threatened to derail Ontario's reopening plans.Canada's most populous province, one of the hardest hit in the pandemic, had been contemplating letting more than one family to link up in so-called "bubbles" and allowing gatherings of more than five people.But Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that the province's top doctor is reluctant to loosen those rules yet."There is a concern with people creating groups that are too large," she said.Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed frustration at the otherwise "smart young people" who crowded into Trinity Bellwoods Park in downtown Toronto on a warm, sunny Saturday."It was like a rock concert without the band," he said Monday.But he said the recklessness on display at Trinity Bellwoods was not a reason to reinstitute some of the restrictions already removed."I'm not going to punish the whole province because a group of people in Toronto ended up getting together," he said. "Like, 99.9 per cent of the people are phenomenal."Ford encouraged anyone in the Trinity Bellwoods crowd to "do us all a favour" and get tested for the virus.However, the province's associate chief medical officer later said she recommends they watch for symptoms for 14 days and avoid coming into contact with high-risk people.Ontario reported more than 400 new COVID-19 cases Monday for a fifth straight day, after posting daily growth numbers in the 200s and 300s earlier in the month. It has now seen growth rates of between 1.5 and 1.9 per cent for 16 of the past 17 days.Elliott said the rising numbers were likely due to Mother's Day gatherings that flouted official guidelines. Ford himself has admitted that two of his daughters who don't live at home visited that weekend in a group of at least six people.The premier added officials will be keeping a sharp eye on the numbers and it's too soon to say how they could play into Ontario's future reopening plans."Everything's on the table, but we're very cautious," he said. "As soon as we see these numbers climb a bit, you get a little gun shy."In Ottawa, Trudeau said Canadians will have to keep adjusting their routines as the weather warms up."Our approach will have to be tailored to each community," he said. "That means the rules and public health recommendations you're asked to follow may be different depending on where you live and that can be confusing."But Trudeau said no matter where they live, everyone has the responsibility to try to stay two metres away from others, and wear a mask in public when physical distancing isn't possible.Non-essential retail stores in Montreal opened Monday for the first time since March. That was three weeks later than shops outside the hard-hit city.Dozens who lined up outside a downtown Zara clothing outlet were greeted by masked employees and a hand-sanitizing station.Zuleyha Sen was shopping for her nearly eight-year-old son, who had outgrown his clothes. Online orders have been delayed due to the pandemic. "I won't go in for a long time, I'm just hoping to grab several things," she said.Out West, in Calgary and the city of Brooks in southeastern Alberta, restaurants, bars, hair salons and barbershops that had been left out of Alberta's first reopening phase were also allowed to resume on Monday. The delay in those cities was due to a high number of COVID-19 caseloads.Meanwhile, Trudeau said he'll push the provinces to give workers 10 days of paid sick leave a year — a measure the federal NDP has been urging to ensure no one has to choose between coming to work sick and losing income.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the move was a good first step, but he wants to see more action before his party will agree to suspend full sittings of the House of Commons through the summer.— with files from Allison Jones in Toronto, Morgan Lowrie in Montreal and Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

  • 'It's awful': Calgary homeless sleeping outdoors over fears of catching COVID-19
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    The Canadian Press

    'It's awful': Calgary homeless sleeping outdoors over fears of catching COVID-19

    CALGARY — Gordon Kelter has something to fear more than not having a bed to sleep in at night — catching COVID-19."Worried about catching it? Are you kidding me?" said Kelter as he searched behind some dumpsters for his backpack on a recent night in Calgary's downtown East Village neighbourhood.Kelter, who has been homeless for years, said he has started to sleep on a friend's couch until the pandemic blows over.He has slept in some awful places, including concrete parkades, he said. But the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus has him avoiding shelters."It's not like I like to sleep on the streets. It's awful," he said."I won't go near the Drop-In Centre. The COVID really freaked me out."In the drizzling rain one night last week, clusters of people were hunkered under bridges, behind restaurants, in doorways and across from the locked gates of the city's Drop-In Centre.Chaz Smith, founder of the not-for-profit Be The Change YYC homeless outreach team, was out walking with volunteers Chris Macnab and Jake Tremblay.They were wheeling a wagon full of bag lunches, including meal replacements, vitamin powder and granola. They also handed out socks, emergency blankets, tarps and tents."The tents and tarps are running bare. We've handed out about 50 tents the past little bit," Smith said, who was himself homeless for five years.Those out on the streets now are scared, he said."We used to have a small amount of rough sleepers who are sleeping outside overnight. And now the majority of all the people you see are actually sleeping outside," he said."When we ask why aren't you staying in shelters, they'll just say either they can't get in or they're afraid to catch COVID."Across from the Drop-In Centre, wooden pallets piled with bedding lay under blue, white and green tarps tied to a chain-link fence. Bicycles and overflowing shopping carts were locked to the fence. Loud rap music was blaring.One man, with blood flowing from a gash on his head, struggled to his feet and hobbled away while holding up his pants. A woman under the tarps screamed at the outreach workers and threw bag lunches back at them."What's going on tonight?" wondered Smith. "Everyone's so negative."There have been a total of 24 cases of COVID-19 at Calgary shelters since the pandemic began: 12 at the Drop-In Centre, 10 at Alpha House and two at the Salvation Army shelter. Ten people have recovered and 14 infections remain active.Trisha Bearspaw was standing on a loading dock behind a shuttered restaurant. The 35-year-old was homeless for 10 years and now lives in a group home, but continues to hang out downtown with her boyfriend, who is still on the streets.She tested positive for COVID-19 and spent a week in hospital in early April, but says she is fully recovered."It was crushing, like I couldn't breath. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest. That's how bad it was."She knows there's a chance she could catch the virus again, she said."I know it's a risk, but I know that I have the antibodies," she said. "If I get it again, I'll beat it again."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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    CBC

    4 charged with first-degree murder in 2019 death of Athabasca woman

    Alberta RCMP have charged four people with first-degree murder in the death of a 25-year-old Athabasca woman.Nature Duperron was last seen in early April 2019 in Edmonton's central McCauley neighbourhood. Duperron's family reported her missing in the middle of that month. Less than two weeks later, her body was found near Hinton, Alta., 300 kilometres to the west.Four people, two women and two men between the ages of 21 to 31, have each been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in her death, the Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit said in a news release. Two of the accused were arrested. One turned herself into police. One of the men was already incarcerated at the Drumheller Institution. The Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit said it is not looking for any other suspects but that the investigation is ongoing. Investigators believe Duperron was killed on April 7 somewhere between Edmonton and Hinton.An autopsy was conducted in Edmonton but a cause of death was not determined. According to her obituary, Duperron is survived by three children, three siblings and her parents. "The Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit would like to thank the public for tips received that have assisted in furthering their investigation," police said in a news release.

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    Arbery was overcoming obstacles, family says

    For Ahmaud Arbery, the young black man shot and killed in Georgia in February, running was about staying in shape and contemplating his next move. After some legal trouble that began in his teenage years, Arbery planned to become an electrician. (May 25)