Two unlikely best friends
Two unlikely best friends
The public school board in Windsor-Essex says it needs more time to prepare for the switch to online learning, and as a result, the return from spring break is being delayed by a day. In a media release on Wednesday, the Greater Essex County District School Board said instruction will resume on Tuesday, April 20. On Monday, when students were originally slated to return from the break, elementary and secondary school teachers will connect with their students to determine technical needs and access to resources. "They will also provide students with some work for the day they can complete, independently," the board said. If a student needs technology to participate in online learning, parents should contact the school, the board said. Schools are switching to online learning for the second time in recent months. Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Monday, saying that the province is at a "critical point." "The situation is changing quickly, and we need to respond," he said. "Right now, I'm extremely concerned about the new variants." There are three schools in the region currently in outbreak, Centennial Central Public School, St. Peter Catholic School and St. John Vianney Catholic School. As of Tuesday more than 400 students and staff were isolating following potential COVID-19 exposures, according to public health.
Sixteen new cases of COVID-19, affecting two health zones, were reported in New Brunswick on Wednesday. The majority of the new cases are in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, which has 107 of the province's 141 active cases. Eleven of the 14 cases reported in the Edmundston region are contacts of a previously confirmed case and three are under investigation. Three zones — the Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi regions — have no active cases. In a news release, Public Health said the 16 new cases break down in this way: Saint John region, Zone 2, two cases: an individual 50-59. This case is travel related. an individual 60-69. This case is a contact of a case. Edmundston region, Zone 4, 14 cases: three people 19 and under an individual 20 to 29 three people 40 to 49 two people 50 to 59 three people 60 to 69 two people 70 to 79 The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 1,752. Since Tuesday, seven people have recovered for a total of 1,577 recoveries. There have been 33 deaths, and the number of active cases is 141. Nineteen patients are hospitalized, including 13 in an intensive care unit. A total of 270,515 tests have been conducted, including 1,259 since Tuesday's report. There are currently 141 active cases in the province.(CBC News) Public Health tweaks its COVID-19 dashboard Sharp-eyed New Brunswickers may have noticed that some information that was previously posted on the province's COVID-19 dashboard is no longer available. The dashboard, which provides data on COVID-19 cases, testing, vaccines and other related statistics, is a public site that is updated daily. Earlier this week, under its Vaccine Statistics tab, the "Doses administered this week" section was removed. On Wednesday, the "Number of doses received" section, referring to doses delivered to the province, was also removed. Asked about the changes on Wednesday, Public Health spokesperson Shawn Berry explained that the "doses administered this week" section was removed because the data "was sometimes lagging by several days." "Vaccines are being administered in hundreds of locations in the province and the 'administered this week' section is not an accurate reflection," Berry said in an email. "The total number of people vaccinated with at least one dose is still being reported." And while the "doses received" section was removed from the Vaccine Statistics tab, that data "continues to be provided on the Vaccine Timetable graphic," Berry said. The province tweaked its public COVID-19 dashboard this week, removing two sections under the Vaccine Statistics section. In one case, the data was "lagging" and in the other case, the data is provided in another section of the dashboard, Public Health said.(Government of New Brunswick) MLA calls for return of compassionate care exemptions Green MLA Megan Mitton is calling for the return of compassionate care exemptions between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia now that the reopening of the Atlantic bubble has been pushed back. Mitton, who represents the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar on the border with Nova Scotia, made the comments after the Atlantic premiers announced the return of the bubble would be delayed by two weeks. The bubble was supposed to open on April 19 but is now delayed until at least May 3. Mitton said that since January, the province hasn't allowed caregivers to cross the border without going into quarantine, and regardless of the bubble, the premiers should work together to allow crossing the border for compassionate care. "There are people [whose] caregiver may live 20 kilometres away in Amherst," said Mitton. "They live in Sackville and suddenly they lost that care. That was really important to them." Mitton said the province needs to figure out a way to reopen the Atlantic bubble, and keep it open, even with future outbreaks. "We know that that is likely to continue to happen in the future, so they need to have a plan, so that the bubble doesn't burst all the time," said Mitton. Green MLA Megan Mitton is calling for the return of compassionate care exemptions between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the reopening of the Atlantic bubble has been pushed back.(CBC News file photo) Mitton said the loss of the bubble has been tough on her constituents, many of whom are accustomed to travelling across the border regularly. "People's families have been impacted ... It's hard on people's day to day lives. So many people, you know, live near the Nova Scotia, New Brunswick border and many cross it daily." Mitton said she's still calling for better communication with residents about the rules and why they're in place. "The rules have changed constantly and it's been really hard on the people who live here and deal with it daily to figure out 'What am I supposed to be doing,'" said Mitton. "There needs to be better communication from government. I've been saying that for a year or so." More possible exposures Saint John region: March 29 and April 1, Guardian Drugs-Herring Cove Pharmacy (924 Rte. 774, Unit 2, Welshpool, Campobello Island) March 31, Service New Brunswick (73 Milltown Blvd., St. Stephen) March 31, Giant Tiger (210 King St., St. Stephen) March 31, Kent Building Supplies (188 King St., St. Stephen) March 31, Carman's Diner (164 King St., St. Stephen) Edmundston region: April 7, 8 and 9, Canada Post (4 Grondin St., Edmundston) April 8 and 9 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Fenêtre Unique (130 Rivière à la Truite Rd., Edmundston) April 8 and 9, National Bank, (111 de l'Église St., Edmundston) April 9 between 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (160 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston) April 8 between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., April 7 between 6:30 a.m and 7:00 a.m., and April 6 between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. – Tim Hortons (262 Isidore-Boucher Blvd., St-Jacques) April 7 between after 6:00 p.m., April 6 after 6:00 p.m. – Epicerie Chez ti-Marc (256 Isidore-Boucher Blvd., St-Jacques) April 7 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., and April 6 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. – Dollarama (787 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 7 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., and April 6 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. – NB Liquor, (575 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 7 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. – Jean Coutu (177 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 7 between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Subway (180 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston) April 7 between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore (577 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 6 between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) March 26 to April 8 – Napa Auto Parts - (260 Canada St., Edmundston) March 20 to April 9, Atlantic Superstore (577 Victoria St., Edmundston) April 5 at 11 a.m. – Shoppers Drug Mart (160 Hébert Blvd., Edmundston) April 1 – Royal Bank (48 Saint-François St., Edmundston) March 31 between 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) March 30 between 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) March 29 between 8:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. – Scotiabank (75 Canada Rd., Edmundston) Moncton region: April 8 between 4:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – COSTCO Wholesale customer service (140 Granite Drive, Moncton) April 6 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. – YMCA Vaughan Harvey, (30 War Veterans Ave., Moncton) April 4 between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. – Moncton Wesleyan Church (945 St. George Blvd., Moncton) April 3 between 8:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – Kelseys Original Roadhouse (141 Trinity Dr., Moncton) April 1 between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., April 3 between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., April 6 between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., April 8 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. – CF Champlain (477 Paul St., Dieppe) Fredericton region: March 31 – Murray's Irving Big Stop (198 Beardsley Rd., Beardsley) Saint John region: April 9 between 2:10 p.m. and 2:40 p.m., GAP Factory East Point, (15 Fashion Dr., Saint John) April 9 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. – McAllister Place, 519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John April 8 between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., – McAllister Place, 519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John April 8 between 1:15 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Service New Brunswick, 15 King Square North, Saint John April 1 between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – YMCA of Greater Saint John (191 Churchill Blvd., Saint John) What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: Fever above 38 C. New cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
Roxane Smith never thought that, as a 24-year-old, she would even catch COVID-19, but after 11 days in hospital with a feeding tube in her nose, the young mother of three is begging Quebec residents to take the pandemic seriously. "They say COVID just affects super-sick people or super-old people," she told Radio-Canada through Skype. "I never thought it would go this far." It all started on the last day of March, she said. "I was really, really not feeling well. Small chest pains, palpitations, fatigue," Smith said. "I went to the hospital." Once hospitalized, her health quickly deteriorated. She had a fever and was no longer eating, but was vomiting and suffering from gastrointestinal distress. She was bedridden by April 1, and the feeding tube was inserted two days later. Smith no longer has the strength to walk. Even the short distance to the bathroom is too much and she expects to stay in Quebec City's l'Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus for another two weeks. "We just have to wait for the COVID to go away," she said. "And it can really take a long time." She says she's worried about her education. Missing so many days of school will set her back. She tries to study but says she struggles to breathe and is so tired that it is impossible to focus. Just getting out of bed, she says, feels like running a marathon. She will be off work for a few months, she suspects, but she will still have bills to pay. "So it's not just 10 days in the hospital and it's over," she said. Respected the rules Smith once believed that the government and public health officials erred on the side of caution. "I thought for a long time that maybe there was a bit of exaggeration, that it wasn't as bad as they said. People I know have had COVID without symptoms, so I was in doubt," Smith said. But despite those feelings, she respected the public health rules, she said. And now she can't even video chat with her children because she doesn't want them to see her with a tube in her nose. "It's been 11 days since I've seen my three children," she said. But Smith said she wants people to see the situation she is in — to realize the health measures are in place for a reason. "Right now there are plenty of people protesting, breaking the rules, saying COVID is a government ploy," Smith said. "Then there is me, who has been in the hospital for 11 days, who will not be out for a good two weeks, who is crying and wondering, why me? Why isn't it someone who did not follow the rules?" A ceremony for the victims of COVID-19 was held in Quebec City in March. The city is now one of several under a special lockdown because of the rapid rate of transmission.(Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press) 'Russian roulette' Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 19 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Canada are young people between the ages of 20 and 29. The group accounts for 3.3 per cent of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. "According to doctors, I was just unlucky in the COVID lottery," said Smith. She says it should serve as a reminder to those who break health rules — there's little to gain and a lot to lose. Dr. François Marquis, head of intensive care at Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital in Montreal, agrees with Smith's conclusions about her medical "bad luck." According to Marquis, people arriving at the hospital are, on average, about 10 to 15 years younger than those who needed medical care for COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic. "We are starting to see what was very unlikely during the first wave — 30- or 40-year-olds without any previous medical history, people in good health,'' Marquis said. "They're not seeing a doctor, they're not taking any kind of medication, they don't have diabetes, they don't have high blood pressure. They just get sick.'' Marquis said there are health conditions that make certain people more vulnerable to COVID-19, but overall, it is "very similar to a Russian roulette."
The parents of a Nova Scotia teen with autism who has complex care needs want to know why some families are being told by the Department of Community Services to give up custody of their children in order to get them into group homes. The option is used in only a handful of cases, but can present a devastating choice for those families. "That was the shock of our lives that we would have to potentially give up our parental rights to give our child the care that they needed," the teen's mother said. "We adamantly, adamantly want to participate in his care." The teen's mother says she doesn't believe the Nova Scotia system has the flexibility to support families who have children with high-care needs while retaining their parental rights. The family wants to keep custody of their son, not only because they love him but because they want to continue to be his advocate and be involved in any decision-making while he's in a group home. Because he is a child in the care of the province, neither the teen in this story nor his parents can have their identities published by CBC News. The teen's mother says she doesn't believe the Nova Scotia system has enough flexibility to accommodate families with children with high care needs while retaining their parental rights. (David Laughlin/CBC) The boy's parents say they were able to care for him at home until he was 14, but he became aggressive and would sometimes scratch or hit people. "There's other family members, pets, people in the household, and they weren't necessarily safe," the teen's mother said. There were times when she said her son would run out of the house and into the street unless he was watched constantly. "You're in the kitchen washing dishes, and there's no reasonable way that you can supervise a child that intensely [in order] to keep everybody safe," she said. In September 2020, the family made an agreement with the Department of Community Services to place their son in a group home where he could receive specialized care. However, the parents say they made it clear to department staff they were not prepared to sign away their custodial rights. 3 options According to regulations attached to the province's Child and Family Services Act, families with children who've been diagnosed as having physical or intellectual disabilities that prevent them from living at home may enter into a "special needs agreement" with the department. There are three options under the regulations, according to an emailed statement from the Department of Community Services. "We work with the family throughout this process to determine what type of special needs agreement would be most appropriate," the statement said. "This could mean agreeing to transfer care and custody of the child to the minister, [the family] retaining care and custody of the child while the child is placed in a child-caring program, or receiving supports and services while the child remains home with their family." The statement said the department's goal is always to ensure children and youth are protected and families are supported. "We know children do better if they can stay in a loving home with people they already know, but in some cases, when a child has high-care needs and requires specialized care, a placement may be necessary." The options presented to the family may depend on whether there's a spot open at a licensed facility and what sort of support the parents can continue to offer a child while they're in care, the statement said. Community Services Minister Kelly Regan and her department are responsible for children in group homes if custody is turned over to the province.(Craig Paisley/CBC) The parents of the teen say they feel that provincial staff pressured them to accept the option to give up custody. But the family pushed back until department staff eventually agreed to the option to retain custody, the parents told CBC. The mother says her understanding is that it would be easier for the department to fund the teen's placement if the family turned over custody. Under the regulations, the period of agreement for transferring the care and custody of a child to the Minister of Community Services cannot be longer than one year, although the agreement can be renewed. 'It was mortifying' For a few months after the teen was placed in a group home last September things went well. His parents say he was "thriving" and making friends. But in the last few months the home began to have some challenges getting enough staff to fill all the shifts required to supervise their son, his parents say. Just before the Easter weekend they were told that the boy would have to return home, but the family says they responded that they weren't able to safely take him home with the support they currently have in place. "There's just myself and my husband here. We have another child, and our house isn't a secured facility," his mother said. She said her husband instead volunteered to work at their son's facility to supplement his care. The mother says at that point they again felt pressured to give up custody of their son. "We were at that point again, where they were telling us that we would have to do that potentially to provide him with support," she said. "It was mortifying. Because it's not like we didn't want to [provide support]. We desperately wanted to. We made that abundantly clear." The mother says their son was moved twice in the days around the Easter weekend, and they were not told where he was going. They spent the weekend making repeated calls and sending emails to find out where their son was. They didn't learn of his whereabouts until the Tuesday following the long weekend, according to the family. CBC asked the Department of Community Services for a breakdown on how many special needs agreements have been made in each category and received the following breakdown of current cases: Transfer care and custody to the Minister while placed in a facility: 3. Placed in a facility but custody retained by parents: 2. Services provided in child's home: 654. CBC reached another family with a child with high-needs autism who was also presented with the choice of giving up rights to their child to gain a placement in a group home. In that case, they also did not give up custody of their daughter. Planning for the future The teen's mother acknowledges her son's care needs are complicated; he needs two employees to supervise him at all times. She and her husband worry if their son does not receive intensive care when he's young, he may not develop skills that could help him live more independently later in life. "If your child needed to be on a ventilator and have complex medical issues, physical medical care, they would be in a hospital without question, with specialists and support," she said. "But because it's autism, and it's behavioural, it's viewed very differently." MORE TOP STORIES
As COVID-19 cases surge in Alberta, there are new concerns that testing delays could spark further spread of highly contagious variants of concern. Juliana Hagans has to wait almost a week to get her eight-year-old daughter tested for COVID-19 despite being deemed a close contact of a case in her Calgary elementary school. "As a parent, it's very concerning," she said. Hagans was notified in a letter from Alberta Health Services (AHS) on April 9 that her daughter was a close contact and was exposed in her classroom three days earlier. The letter states the exposure could be related to a variant of concern. According to Hagans, a second student has since tested positive and the parents of both children were notified that it was, indeed, a variant. But when she tried to book her daughter for a test through the AHS online booking portal, the earliest appointment was Thursday — nearly a week after the AHS notification and nine days after the potential exposure. "Are we doing the best we can is my biggest concern and question," she said. "Why is it that we're having to wait until Thursday when this variant of concern is supposedly such a big issue?" According to Alberta Health guidelines, when someone is deemed a close contact, that person must quarantine for 14 days, but their household members are not required to do so unless there is a positive test result. Hagans' two other children are still attending school, and she's worried either she or her husband could unknowingly spread the virus while they wait for the test. "There's just so many people that we come across … and that amount of time is concerning to me because if she is, in fact, positive, then the amount of people that would have been infected [during the wait] would be quite substantial." Hagans says her daughter recently developed symptoms, including a high fever, and she tried calling Health Link numerous times to move up the appointment, only to be repeatedly cut off due to high call volumes. And there are other Calgarians reporting similar delays. CBC was contacted by another individual who tried to book a test online Monday after developing a symptom but was unable to get an appointment until Friday. They were also unable to get through on Health Link. Dr. Craig Jenne is an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary.(Jennifer Lee/CBC) 'Time and speed are really critical' The delays are a concern for Dr. Craig Jenne, associate professor in the department of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary. According to Jenne, the wait times elevate the risk in the community because there is no requirement for family members to isolate until the close contact (in this case, Hagans' daughter) tests positive. "Time and speed are really critical," he said. "We are looking at a period of time where people should be isolating because they've been exposed to the variant.… They're out in the community, potentially spreading the virus — and this is probably one of the driving forces as to why we see so many variant cases in Alberta currently." Jenne says demand for COVID-19 testing is rising because case numbers are growing, and a recent policy change means close contacts are now offered testing twice. "These delays make it very difficult to get ahead of the viral growth and make it also very difficult to understand exactly where and when this is spreading." AHS ramps up testing AHS says it isn't aware of any appointment delays. It says Albertans should receive test results within 24 to 36 hours once testing is completed. In a statement emailed to CBC News, a spokesperson said there are no known issues with Health Link at this time. AHS acknowledges the growing demand for testing and says appointments are being ramped up. "Over the last few weeks, AHS Calgary Zone has been testing approximately 4,500 symptomatic individuals a day across eight testing sites. Demand for testing has been increasing, and even more appointments are being made available this week. Between 200 and 300 appointments are being added each day," the email said. The number of daily COVID-19 tests in the province peaked at over 23,000 during the height of the second wave in December. While Alberta has not reached those heights since then, the numbers are climbing, hitting 15,738 daily tests on Wednesday, after a significant drop in February.
Canada's Liberal government will deliver on its promise to spend big when it presents its first budget in two years next week amid a fast-rising third wave of COVID-19 infections and ahead of an election expected in coming months. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has pledged to do "whatever it takes" to support Canadians, and in November promised up to C$100 billion ($79.8 billion) in stimulus over three years to "jump-start" an economic recovery in what is likely to be a crucial year for her party. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals depend on the support of at least one opposition group to pass laws, and senior party members have said an election is likely within months as it seeks a clear majority and a free hand to legislate.
Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says he's hopeful the province can offer second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the general public in late May or early June. "As soon as we have high uptake [of first doses] in all age groups, and as supply allows, we need to start our second doses for [people aged] 18 and over hopefully by the end of May [or] early June," Dr. Saqib Shahab said Tuesday during a COVID-19 news conference. Walk-in clinics opened up to people aged 52 and over — up from 55 — on Wednesday. "We want a high vaccine uptake by the end of May in all persons 18 and over," Dr. Shahab said of the next few weeks, as the age bracket at clinics is expected to be gradually lowered more. Health Minister Paul Merriman, speaking at the same news conference, said he was pleased with the latest statistics on vaccine uptake, including the fact that more than 80 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 70 or over have received their first dose. (Government of Saskatchewan) The proportion of health-care workers who have been offered vaccines and accepted them remains low, however, standing at only 68 per cent as of Tuesday. Dr. Shahab had flagged that as a concern — and even as the source of some long-term care home outbreaks — last week. While strongly encouraging everyone to take whatever vaccine they are offered, Merriman said anyone can refuse to take a vaccine if they want to and can be added back in the priority queue at any later date. Merriman added that he has met with union leaders. "They are encouraging their membership to get vaccinated," he said. "So it's coming from the government and the management side of it as well as the union." Vaccine access widening at Saskatoon and other drive-thrus Health officials said last week they hope to provide all Saskatchewan residents aged 18 and over access to their first dose by mid-May. Merriman said that remains the goal, even as he acknowledged recent delays in Moderna vaccine shipments to the province. "That does change things very quickly," Merriman said. "It's very important for everybody to understand that we have ... about a two-to-three-day supply of vaccines on hand. "If there's delays, that causes some problems." In Regina — and Regina only — health officials have operated a drive-thru clinic for residents aged 49 to 54 — a more permissive age bracket than in all other clinics in the province. The drive-thru was launched as Regina experienced a rise in variant of concern cases. Late on Tuesday, the province announced it was further widening the eligible age bracket at the Regina drive-thru to include 48 year olds as well. At other drive-thrus — which have been administering AstraZeneca vaccines that can currently only be given to people aged 55 and older — the eligibility will be changed to cover people aged 52-54 only. This will be made possible by introducing Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at all current and future drive-thrus, according to a release from the Saskatchewan Health Authority. That change will first take effect at the Saskatoon drive-thru, on Wednesday. A CBC News analysis has found that Saskatchewan would have to significantly increase its daily rate of vaccinations if it hopes to meet its first-dose targets.
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's ruling junta has charged at least 19 medical doctors for participating in civil disobedience protests against the military's Feb. 1 coup, a state-run newspaper reported Wednesday. Doctors, nurses and medical students have marched and joined strikes to show their opposition to the military takeover that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's democratically elected government and put a halt to the progress Myanmar had made toward greater democratization after five decades of military rule. The doctors charged are accused of supporting and participating in the civil disobedience movement “with the aim of deteriorating the state administrative machinery,” the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper wrote. The military government has already issued arrest warrants for 100 people active in the fields of literature, film, theatre arts, music and journalism on charges of spreading information that undermines the stability of the country and the rule of law. This isn't the first time doctors have been targeted. Earlier this month in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, security forces used stun grenades and fired guns to break up a march by medical workers protesting the army’s takeover. The online news site The Irrawaddy reported that four doctors were arrested. Protests continued Wednesday across Myanmar even as people boycotted the official celebration of Thingyan, the country's traditional New Year, usually a time for family reunions and merry-making. In leaflets and social media posts last week, people were asked not to hold any Thingyan celebrations, saying it would be disrespectful to “fallen martyrs” to enjoy the festival. The government's violent response to anti-coup demonstrations has seen 714 people killed by security officials, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Last week, at least 82 people were killed in one day in a crackdown by security forces on protesters, according to reports from independent local media and AAPP. Friday’s death toll in Bago was the biggest one-day total for a single city since March 14, when just over 100 people were killed in Yangon, the country’s biggest city. Bago is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Yangon. The Associated Press was unable to independently verify the number of deaths. The Associated Press
Councillors with the Town of Tecumseh have decided to reconsider allowing cannabis retailers within the municipality. The town's council voted in favour of reconsidering its previous decision to opt out of allowing cannabis retail. The municipality's administration is now expected to bring a report to council by June that will include community feedback. "We never said never," said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. McNamara said the retail cannabis industry was fairly new back when his council decided to opt out on Dec. 11, 2018. At the time, he said he didn't know the impact the industry would have. He said he was concerned with loitering, whether increased policing would be needed and whether it would "create havoc" in the community. But based on the rollout across the province, he said none of these issues seem to have come to the forefront. The town is the only municipality in Windsor-Essex that has yet to approve cannabis retailers. On Tuesday evening, Tecumseh councillors heard from three delegates — Sam Katzman, Robert Katzman and Melissa Boow — about the need for cannabis retailers in the area. The Katzmans own and operate Greentown Cannabis and The We Store Cannabis in Windsor. The father-son duo said the stores would bring jobs to the area and noted that they have two locations in mind for Tecumseh retail spots. "It's a fantastic opportunity from all different sides," said Robert. Meanwhile, Boow, who owns House of Hemp Inc. in Tecumseh, said her shop is looking to include cannabis products. While she said she can appreciate the "level of concern and uncertainty surrounding the emerging cannabis industry," she noted that if distribution and regulation remain responsible, the industry can benefit the community. As of Wednedsay, there are 24 retail stores in Windsor-Essex approved and another 27 seeking approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates the industry. Most recently, LaSalle opted in to the budding industry in March.
VICTORIA — A charge of assault has been approved against an RCMP officer from Kelowna. The BC Prosecution Service says in a news release the charge was sworn against Const. Siggy Pietrzak on Wednesday. The service says the charge relates to the arrest of a suspected impaired driver in Kelowna in May last year. A news release from Kelowna RCMP says the man was unco-operative with police and arrested for obstructing police, but the actions of one of the officers were later reviewed by an external police agency. The officer remains suspended with pay and his first scheduled court appearance is set for May 3 in Kelowna provincial court. The service says the charge was approved by an experienced Crown attorney with no connection to the officer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Prime Minister says he's supportive of provinces and territories closing their borders in order to protect their residents from the spread of COVID-19. Justin Trudeau's comments to CBC Radio came a day after B.C. Premier John Horgan indicated he is considering restricting travel to and from the province to help stem the third wave of the pandemic. Trudeau, asked Wednesday on CBC's Daybreak South whether he would support such a move by Horgan, said he has already backed similar pandemic travel restrictions elsewhere in the country. "Every step of the way, I've been supporting premiers and territorial leaders on what they need to do to keep people safe," the Prime Minster said. "As we saw with the Atlantic bubble, as we saw with the the Arctic territories, they make decisions around closing off the regions. That is something that we are supportive of." He said the federal government's role is to help make those decisions easier for provinces by providing income assistance and financial supports for businesses. On Tuesday, Horgan told reporters the possibility of travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet. Those talks will also likely examine the status of bookings for hotels, bed and breakfasts and camping sites. "We've not taken anything off the table, but practicality is first and foremost in our mind," said Horgan. "We will use the tools that are available to us if we believe they are effective, but deployment of those tools is a challenge. We haven't taken travel restrictions off the board, quite frankly." Possible restrictions coming Thursday The premier said Henry will provide any update of possible new restrictions Thursday, during a briefing in which the province's latest COVID-19 modelling data will be presented. Tuesday's announcement was made less than a week after Horgan told CBC's On The Island he had no plans to further restrict travel, at least within B.C. — and that while it was "absolutely outrageous" for people to be travelling between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island, and while he did have the power to restrict ferry travel, he was not planning to. "What do we do? Arrest them?" said Horgan about people choosing to vacation while the coronavirus continues to spread. More than 1,500 people have died in B.C. due to COVID-19 and case numbers and hospitalizations have surged in recent weeks. Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix has warned high occupancy rates are beginning to affect the surgical capacity of local hospitals in some parts of the province. A group of travellers arrive from Quebec en route to Whistler, B.C., on Feb. 28.(Cory Correia/CBC) B.C. health officials are particularly concerned about the P1 variant of the virus, first detected in Brazil. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has confirmed some of those cases can be traced to travelling Canadians. "It was likely that visitors from other parts of Canada initially introduced that strain," said Henry. She also said that some cases have been traced back to people who visited Whistler in February. Vaccines supply and safety As thousands of Canadians across the country wait for their chance to queue up for a vaccine shot, Trudeau said the federal government will have 44 million doses available by Canada Day — enough for everyone to have their first dose. "It depends on what the provinces actually lay out in terms of [a] vaccination schedule, but we're optimistic that we're going to get great numbers vaccinated in the coming weeks and months," he said. Health-care workers administer the COVID-19 vaccination to members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation on March 25. (Ben Nelms/CBC) Two vaccines — AstraZeneca-Oxford and Johnson & Johnson — have caused concerns after reports of potentially dangerous blood clots in people who received them. The United States has currently hit pause on use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Trudeau said on Tuesday that Canada is "closely monitoring" that decision. Trudeau told Daybreak South listeners Wednesday it is still much safer to take a vaccine and be protected from COVID-19 then to worry about "extraordinarily rare" side-effects. "We're still encouraging everyone to get whatever vaccine is offered to you," he said. According to the Prime Minister, Canada is currently third among the G20 countries in terms of how many first dose vaccinations have been administered thus far. LISTEN | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to CBC Daybreak South host Chris Walker:
Max and Katie the Great Danes love corn on the cob, especially with lots of butter and salt. Their owner gives Max (who is deaf) the thumbs up sign, which means good boy!
On the front wall at Good Robot Brewing, one of its cheeky slogans is painted in big, upper case letters: I don't wanna grow up. But over the last few years, the north-end Halifax brewery and beer garden has done just that — it's grown up. However, doing that next to a mosque, a place of prayer and contemplation, has involved growing pains for a business that bills itself as Halifax's most questionable brewery. "It's kind of become part of our mantra here in that we make mistakes a lot, learn to own up to them, and learn to apologize," said Josh Counsil, one of the brewery's co-founders. Good Robot's rocky relations with its neighbour, the Centre for Islamic Development, which houses a private school, a community centre and a mosque, reached a boiling point in 2016. This sign at Good Robot reminds customers to keep the noise down.(Elizabeth Chiu/CBC) Amid Ramadan — Islam's season of reconciliation and forgiveness — the windows in the place of worship were boarded up and sealed to muffle the sounds from loud bar patrons. But noise from a large and lively Pride dance party was the final straw. "The music and glitter bombs and everything were just a bit too much with prayer going on next door, so that was the turning point," said Counsil. The rowdy event led to a bylaw complaint from the Islamic centre, which wanted the brewery's liquor licence revoked. Faced with that possibility, Good Robot management met with the centre's nine directors for five hours to clear the air. They learned the worst offences — noisy, vomiting, and urinating bar patrons — had been spilling over and disrupting their Muslim neighbours. When the centre's complaint became public, it ignited a media storm and drew a backlash of hurtful, Islamophobic, xenophobic, racist messages. Mohamed Yaffa is one of two imams at the Centre for Islamic Development.(Elizabeth Chiu/CBC) Even though Good Robot didn't contribute to the racist trolling, Counsil said the company resolved to be better. "Learn to swallow your pride, and put your ego at bay, and meditate on things where you have done some harm, and see what comes out of it," he said. The promises made during that long meeting with the centre's directors have been maintained to this day, he said. A sign was installed reminding bar patrons "not to scream at the top of your lungs. And be respectful of our neighbours." Staff write down daily prayer times as a reminder of when the music volume is to be turned down. And a few times a day, workers circle the block to clean up any debris and garbage in the area. "A pub is a public house, and if you aren't respectful of your neighbourhood and its surroundings, you aren't really living up to your namesake," he said. Bar staff jot down the daily prayer times at the mosque next door as a reminder to turn down the music volume.(Elizabeth Chiu/CBC) Over the last five years, Good Robot has learned to be a good neighbour. On Instagram this week, the brewery sent good wishes to its Muslim friends at the centre as they begin Ramadan. The post detailed the fateful events of five years ago. Counsil said that turning point helped to steer the company down a path toward equity, diversity and inclusion. The company has made efforts to hire more Blacks and women in the white, male-dominated industry. "This incident, among others, helped to really craft what it is we do and what we want to do in our neighbourhoods," said Counsil. When the faithful gathered on Monday evening to pray and recite scripture to mark the start of Ramadan, it was completely uneventful. "We didn't hear any noise," said Mohamed Yaffa, one of the mosque's imams. "I never actually thought about that. We have neighbours that we used to have clashes with before. So, yeah, it's all good now." MORE TOP STORIES
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, people with close knowledge of the matter told Reuters in Delhi. Ties between the nuclear-armed rivals have been on ice since a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in 2019 traced to Pakistan-based militants that led to India sending warplanes to Pakistan. Later that year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir's autonomy in order to tighten his grip over the territory, provoking outrage in Pakistan and the downgrading of diplomatic ties and suspension of bilateral trade.
Russia and Ukraine held simultaneous military drills on Wednesday as NATO foreign and defence ministers began emergency discussions on a massing of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. Washington and NATO have been alarmed by the large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and two U.S. warships are due to arrive in the Black Sea this week.
Toronto police didn't check Bruce McArthur's criminal record in 2013 before or after interviewing him — despite possessing evidence connecting the now-convicted serial killer to three missing men whose disappearances officers were then investigating. That's just one of many serious investigative flaws former judge Gloria Epstein identifies in her independent review of Toronto police's handling of missing-persons cases — including the victims of McArthur — released Tuesday. Epstein argues proper preparation for the McArthur interview, an understanding of his 2003 assault conviction, and his connection to the three missing men should have resulted in greater police scrutiny of his conduct as early as November 2013. He was eventually arrested and charged with murder in January 2018. "Someone with a connection with all three missing persons who had attacked another member of the LGBTQ2S+ communities and been banned from the Village for a period should have undoubtedly have qualified as a person of interest," Epstein wrote, referring to the gay community's downtown neighbourhood. The 1,100-page report marks the first time some of these details — of what police did and knew when — have come to light. The service has previously refused to "dissect the investigation" despite questions about how police handled the investigations into missing men who turned out to be McArthur's victims. Retired judge Gloria Epstein released her final report on Toronto police service's handling of missing-persons cases, including McArthur's victims, on Tuesday.(Submitted by Shelley Colenbrander) "I cannot say that McArthur would necessarily have been apprehended earlier if these investigative steps had been taken," Epstein wrote. "But the Toronto police did lose important opportunities to identify him as the killer." McArthur went on to kill five more men after police first interviewed him as part of Project Houston. In a news conference, acting Toronto police chief James Ramer told reporters Tuesday "the shortcomings [Esptein] identified are inexcusable" and that the service is going to implement her recommendations "as quickly as possible." The 16-minute interview The Project Houston task force was launched in November 2012 to probe the disappearances of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Majeed Kayhan — all of whom were connected to Toronto's Gay Village. Almost a year into that investigation, police discovered McArthur was connected to Navaratnam and Faizi through his online username "silverfoxx51." A detective on the project scheduled an interview in November 2013. But Det.-Const. Joshua McKenzie did not prepare questions, look into McArthur's background or do a Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database search on him before the interview, according to Epstein's report. If he had, McKenzie would have found McArthur's 2003 assault conviction, which Epstein argues could have then been used to obtain the synopsis of the serial killer's unprovoked pipe attack on a gay man in the Village in 2001. Project Houston, a police task force, was created to probe the disappearances of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Majeed Kayhan.() Instead, the interview with McArthur lasted only 16 minutes and McKenzie didn't ask McArthur about his known connection to Faizi after McArthur denied knowing the missing man. McArthur also admitted to having had a sexual relationship with Kayhan — who police had yet to connect to McArthur — but McKenzie didn't ask follow-up questions about the relationship. 'Important fact went unnoticed' After the interview, police had a connection between McArthur and all three missing men. "However, this important fact went unnoticed," wrote Epstein. "McKenzie's summary of the interview failed to include it." In the report, Epstein references and agrees with a summary of the implication of those connections from an unnamed police investigator provided to the review. "[McArthur] would have been the one and only person who was linked to all three disappearances at that point from all the information we had," the investigator said. WATCH | Report 'hard to read,' interim chief says: "He would be on the top of the list of finding out what more is he capable of and what he does. The prime suspect, if you will." Instead, it looks like no supervisor reviewed McKenzie's interview or instructed any follow-up action because of it, according to the report. Epstein said McKenzie was a relatively junior officer at the time and told the review that he did what he was told. Neither the video of the McArthur interview nor the summary McKenzie wrote were added to Toronto police's records system, Versadex, or the major case management system, PowerCase. In her report, Epstein outlines how those omissions had ramifications on how police investigated McArthur when he was arrested, but not charged, for an assault in June 2016. CBC News has previously reported on the attempted choking of a man, in the back of McArthur's van, who was able to escape and called 911. Afterward, McArthur went to the police and said the incident was consensual. He was let go, as police believed his story was credible. Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to killing these eight men. Top row, from left to right: Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen and Abdulbasir Faizi. Bottom row, from left to right: Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan.(John Fraser/CBC) The investigator, Sgt. Paul Gauthier, is facing police disciplinary charges in connection with the case. He told the independent review that had he known McArthur had been identified as someone in contact with three missing persons in Project Houston, Gauthier would have contacted officers from the task force before making his decision not to charge McArthur. "[Gauthier] saw this situation as a counterproductive siloing of relevant information. I agree with him," Epstein wrote. However, the report also notes that Gauthier's 2016 investigation failed to turn up McArthur's 2003 assault conviction. By that time, McArthur had received a record suspension from the Parole Board of Canada in connection with that conviction, but that didn't mean police couldn't find a record of the assault. 'Easily discoverable' "We do know this information, which turned out to be relevant, was easily discoverable during Project Prism," Epstein wrote in relation to the task force that looked into the disappearances of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen and eventually led to the arrest of McArthur. Without the information on McArthur's pipe assault, Epstein said that investigators in Project Houston and the 2016 choking investigation saw McArthur "as a 64-year-old man with no prior violent history." "What became obvious to me during this Review is that officers have varying (and sometimes inaccurate) understandings of what is available to them on their own databases." McArthur murdered five men — Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Esen and Kinsman — after he was interviewed as part of Project Houston in 2013. Esen and Kinsman were killed after the 2016 attempted choking investigation. McArthur is currently serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder of all eight men. He will be 91 by the time he can apply for parole.
A First Nations chief whose reserve has seen only a tiny fraction of the total tax-sharing revenue in the province says he doesn't feel the system is unfair to his community. Tobique First Nation chief Ross Perley says Premier Blaine Higgs should be applauding Indigenous entrepreneurship rather than ripping up tax-sharing agreements for being "unfair" to some reserves. "The premier and the minister should be proud of their First Nations communities that are successful, not try to oppress them," he said. Higgs said Wednesday on CBC's Information Morning Fredericton that the tax deals were unfair to other First Nations because Madawaska Maliseet First Nation collected 40 per cent of all the revenue in the province last year. Premier Blaine Higgs on Wednesday said a gas-tax-sharing program with First Nations in New Brunswick was creating 'super wealthy' Indigenous communities.(CBC News) He was responding to a question from a listener who asked why he doesn't raise taxes on "super-wealthy" New Brunswickers like the Irving family. "You could apply that logic right here in this situation," Higgs said. "Because this model does create super wealthy [reserves and] that is not shared with the other populations." According to figures from the Finance Department, Tobique had the lowest revenue last year of the 13 First Nations with tax sharing agreements, bringing in only $230,000. But Perley said he doesn't resent Madawaska's runaway success or accept Higgs's use of it as a rationale to terminate the deals. "We applaud communities when they become successful," Perley said. "We don't stomp on them or try to oppress success, because they've planned and invested and become a model for all of us to follow. "It's shameful that the premier had to go there in defence of the Irvings, who are the real super-wealthy family in New Brunswick. We're talking billions." Madawaska Maliseet First Nation's Grey Rock Power Centre has been a successful business venture for the community located next to Edmundston.(Julia Wright / CBC) Madawaska Maliseet First Nation's success has been fuelled largely by the sprawling Grey Rock retail complex located on the Trans-Canada Highway near the main exit to Edmundston. The band brought in $18 million under the tax agreements last year, less than one one-100th of this year's $1.9 billion estimate of Arthur Irving's net worth by Forbes Magazine. Minister distances herself from premier's comments Higgs's aboriginal affairs minister distanced herself from the premier's "super-wealthy" comment Wednesday. Arlene Dunn said she wouldn't use the same terminology to describe the almost $18 million that the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation collected last year. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn on Wednesday said she wouldn't use the same terminology Higgs used to describe the money the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation collected under the agreement last year.(Jacques Poitras/CBC News) "The premier has a historical perspective with these tax arrangements that I don't necessarily have," she told CBC News. "So his perspective is what it is." "I can't speak to his perspective. I know there are disparities in these tax agreements that are weighing heavily on his mind." But she said it's "a valid point" that some Indigenous communities located near major highways have cashed in thanks to the tax deals, while others have not. She referred to the financial figures provided at what she termed "the premier's announcement." 'There's always a better way to do things' Higgs and Dunn shared a podium Tuesday when they said they were giving notice to 13 First Nations bands that they were cancelling the agreements. Some will end next year and others will be terminated in 90 days. Dunn said she regretted how chiefs from those communities learned of the decision: in a conference call with Finance Minister Ernie Steeves in which he read a prepared statement and took no questions. She called the brief call "very abrupt" and "very unfortunate" and said she understood why chiefs were upset by it. "There's always a better way to do things," she said. "I've very sad to learn of that." "She's going down the road of being the worst Indigenous affairs minister in history in New Brunswick..." - Tobique First Nation Chief Ross Perley Perley compared the call to Dunn's earlier refusal to hold a public inquiry into systemic racism following two separate police shooting deaths of two Indigenous people. "This is the same pattern of action that's been happening since they took office. It's crazy that she regrets it, but she did it," Perley said. "She's going down the road of being the worst Indigenous affairs minister in history in New Brunswick, at the rate she's going." The tax agreements have allowed retailers on First Nations reserves to keep 95 percent of provincial tax revenue. Provisions added when they were renewed in 2017 cap that at $8 million. The bands get 70 percent of revenue beyond that. Higgs says that on top of being inequitable between First Nations, the agreements put non-Indigenous business owners near reserves at a competitive disadvantage. But he said the concentration of wealth at Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, which has only two per cent of the Indigenous population in the province, violates the principle of taxation that everyone pays for services available to all. "There are over half of the population, I would say, that do not receive any great benefit from these tax agreements," he said. "This is not shared among First Nations as a collective."
A former employee of Yasmin Ratansi is suing the member of Parliament for $2 million, claiming Ratansi verbally abused him on multiple occasions, made a derogatory remark about his girlfriend and fired him for attending an abortion in 2017. The lawsuit is only the latest claim of abusive workplace behaviour directed at Ratansi. CBC News reported late last year that former employees claimed Ratansi created a verbally abusive workplace environment and made offensive remarks to staff members. Ratansi has denied the allegations. Ratansi left the Liberal caucus last fall after CBC News reported that she had been employing her sister in her constituency office for years, violating parliamentary rules. Ratansi claimed it was an error in judgment. The ethics commissioner launched an inquiry, which is still underway. Now, Ratansi's former constituency assistant Alim Lila is alleging that the Independent MP for the Toronto-area riding of Don Valley East abused her authority in the workplace. "At the heart of this is all power and using it to intimidate and hurt people," Lila told CBC News. "That's why I'm speaking out." Lila is seeking $2 million for general and special damages, according to the statement of claim filed on April 9. He also claims Ratansi attempted to intimidate him by demanding to know late last year whether he'd spoken to the media about her relationship with staff. Alim Lila worked in MP Yasmin Ratansi's office as a summer intern in 2016 and as a permanent constituency assistant in 2017.(Chris Mulligan/CBC News) Hours before responding to CBC News' request for a comment, Ratansi posted on Facebook that she was "shocked by the statement of claim," calling its contents "wild and unsupportable allegations." She wrote that she is "deeply disturbed" by what CBC News shared with her and said she would defend herself vigorously in court. "Mr. Lila is making false claims regarding his time working in my constituency office in my riding," she wrote. Verbal abuse claims Lila started working at Ratansi's office as a summer intern in 2016 and was later hired as a full-time constituency assistant in 2017, according to the lawsuit. The statement of claim alleges Lila asked for time off work on Aug. 17, 2017 to accompany his girlfriend at the time to a medical appointment for an abortion. The lawsuit alleges Ratansi, who is Ismaili Muslim, verbally abused Lila, calling him "stupid" and an "idiot" for getting a non-Ismaili Muslim woman pregnant. The lawsuit also claims Ratansi made an insulting and derogatory remark about Lila's then-girlfriend related to her Filipino heritage. The statement of claim alleges Ratansi suggested Filipina women want nothing more than to get pregnant "so the child's father can take care of her" and questioned Lila about his past relationships and sexual history. Lila claims Ratansi gave him an ultimatum. "She said that I have two options," Lila told CBC News. "I can either come to work the day of the appointment and I keep my job, or I can attend the appointment and my time in the office is done." Lila said he chose to attend the appointment. That, he said, was the end of his career in politics — he gathered his belongings, slipped his key under the office door and never went back. "I wanted to be present and supportive of my partner as we went through one of the toughest decisions we ever made," he said. "I've lived with the scars and the pain of my termination for years." WATCH / Former staffer to MP Yasmin Ratansi: In a statement issued to CBC News, Ratansi said she had not been served with the statement of claim. CBC News did provide her with a copy, but Ratansi said it would be "inappropriate to respond via the media" since the matter is before the courts. "I categorically disagree with the characterization of the events as you have portrayed it," said Ratansi in a statement. "The allegations should not be relied upon, especially when the allegations relate to a statute barred period of time." 'We all did things in an emotive way,' says Ratansi on recording CBC News has listened to a recording of a Nov. 11, 2020 phone call between Lila and Ratansi, during which Lila confronts Ratansi about the abortion and his termination. "We all did things in an emotive way because you were necessary for us. You were really a good fit," Ratansi says during the call. Ratansi is also heard saying on the recording that she was considering running as an Independent in the next federal election and could no longer support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "I can't afford defending him as he continues the ethical mistakes," Ratansi says in the recording. Alim Lila (left) said MP Yasmin Ratansi (right) bullied and yelled at him at work.(Submitted) Claims of religious friction Lila's father and Ratansi are both Ismaili Muslims, according to the statement of claim. Lila said Ratansi was unhappy with the fact that Lila wasn't practising the religion and compelled him to attend mosque with her after work. "I didn't want to do it, but she would force me to attend with her," Lila told CBC. "It's her leveraging her power and authority into forcing me to do things I didn't want to do." Lila claimed Ratansi insulted his mother's Guyanese heritage by telling him the Guyanese are "lazy and an under-educated community." He claimed Ratansi also openly questioned how he succeeded at school when he was the child of a bank manager and a car salesman. The lawsuit also claims Ratansi yelled at him for trivial things such as leaving paper in the printer, routinely called his speeches and photos "shit" and erupted in hours-long "fits of rage" that would include personal attacks against him and other staff members. 'I felt intimidated and I felt scared' The claims have not been proven in court and Ratansi has not yet filed a statement of defence. The lawsuit is only the latest blow for Ratansi. Last month, members of Parliament concluded that Ratansi had breached parliamentary rules by employing her sister and ordered her to pay back more than $9,000 in severance and termination pay she gave her sister before CBC's story was published. Lila claims that, after CBC News subsequently aired a story quoting four former employees accusing Ratansi of mistreating them and making offensive comments, Ratansi started intimidating him. On Nov. 11, 2020, he claimed, Ratansi called him and "interrogated" him to find out if he contributed to CBC News' reporting. Lila claims that Ratansi then said she was going to give his name to her legal team for questioning. CBC News has listened to a recording of the call. Ratansi is heard on the recording repeatedly asking Lila if he spoke to the media. "In that moment, I felt intimidated and I felt scared," Lila told CBC. "That caused all sorts of anxiety, and I was deeply concerned that I was going to be harassed by her lawyers. I spent weeks and months anticipating a phone call from them." The Liberal riding association president gets involved That same day, Lila said, he received a call from Howard Shuster, president of the Don Valley East Federal Liberal Riding Association, asking him if he would write a letter in support of Ratansi. According to a recording of the call provided to CBC News, Shuster said more than once that he felt uncomfortable making the call because Ratansi is no longer tied to the party. Shuster told CBC News he doesn't regret making that call and does not remember feeling pressured by Ratansi to make it. He said he's known Ratansi for 35 years as a friend and also knows Lila, and just wanted to help with the situation. He also said Lila had written a resignation letter that expressed support for Ratansi in the past. Ratansi posted excerpts from that resignation letter on Facebook this morning. In it, Lila described Ratansi as a mentor. "You have always pushed me to do better and to be a better person," reads the letter. "You have given me more than enough support and accommodation and I am truly appreciative of everything." Lila said he sent that letter about 10 days prior to Ratansi's comments about the abortion. He said he was struggling at the time with the demands of his job and his master's degree, and with the aftermath of a fire at his house. He said Ratansi didn't want to accept the resignation and offered to make changes at the office to make things easier for him, so he decided to continue working. At the time, he said, he was 23 years old, needed another job and needed Ratansi as a reference. He argues it's "cruel" to use the letter now to "try to diminish my claims and twist reality." Lila's lawyer issued a notice to the House of Commons detailing his claims on Feb. 24. The letter asked Ratansi to compensate Lila for "the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress" she caused, according to the document. "To date, Ms. Ratansi, through her counsel, has refused to engage in any discussions aimed at resolving Mr. Lila's concerns," said Lila's lawyer Tahir Khorasanee. The House of Commons said confidentiality is a key part of its workplace harassment policy and it cannot comment on specific cases. Lila's lawyer said he has been trying to serve Ratansi with the statement of claim since April 6, but has been unable to do so.
Lyle Skinner is a constitutional lawyer who specializes in parliamentary law.(CBC) Lyle Skinner, an Ottawa-based constitutional lawyer based who specializes in parliamentary law, has been following Newfoundland and Labrador's election from its start. He says how it ends may depend on whether anyone else wants to join NDP Leader Alison Coffin in taking the election process to court. "This is part of the accountability mechanism. If anybody has any questions on if the election was conducted in a fair manner, then they can go to the court and ask the court to judicate that," Skinner said. Coffin and St. John's resident Whymarrh Whitby jointly filed a court challenge on Monday against Elections NL, arguing that the most recent general election discriminated against voters based on ethnicity, age or disability, while also excluding people without internet access and those in Indigenous communities. The application is separate from a challenge that Coffin filed earlier this month requesting a recount in her former district of St. John's East-Quidi Vidi, where she lost by 53 votes. This challenge is more bold: it asks that the Supreme Court to void last month's election results entirely. The Elections Act holds that a candidate or voter of a particular district can bring forward an application over an irregularity, Skinner said. The application filed on behalf of Coffin and Whitby lists 28 specific "irregularities," including Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk's hand-delivery of ballots to former PC leader Ches Crosbie and Liberal cabinet minister Siobhan Coady. Voiding election through a single application But Skinner said it appears Coffin's application is attempting to use a Charter of Rights and Freedoms argument to attempt to void all 40 districts through a single application. "Whether or not that will be successful will be for a judge to determine before they would consider the merits of the particular case, as it may be," he said. NDP Leader Alison Coffin and a resident in St. John's jointly filed a court challenge on Monday against Elections NL.(CBC) If the challenge is successful, and all 40 of the province's districts are void, Skinner said a second election will be issued, but it will be different than a regular general election. "The premier at any time can advise the lieutenant governor to dissolve the assembly. So in this case the assembly would still exist, it just wouldn't have any MHAs which from my research would be somewhat unprecedented," he said. If results are void for one district, Skinner added, it could still have a significant impact. A new election would be issued for that district, and if the incumbent is not returned there could be a cabinet shuffle and impacts on voting in certain committees. The possibility that all 40 districts will become void, in turn causing another election, may depend on the number individuals who feel there was an irregularity with this year's election, said Skinner. He said Monday's application may only be the first, and there's a window of two months since the day after a polling day in which people can bring forward their own applications. Balance of power may be affected Elections NL announced the results March 27. Voting had been suspended on the eve of the scheduled Feb. 13 election because of an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus variant B117. Chaulk pushed the province to mail-in ballots, although he adjusted the deadline to participate several times. WATCH | Lawyer Lyle Skinner tells Carolyn Stokes about the implications of a new NDP court challenge: "So it really depends on how many districts are being challenged, and again — even if there's only one or two, that might affect the balance of power," Skinner said. Andrew Furey's Liberals won 22 of the 40 seats in the House of Assembly. The Tories won 13 seats, the NDP won two, and three Independents were elected. "If the government goes into a minority government situation, the premier is within his prerogative to make an appeal to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and advise dissolution and commence an election in that way," Skinner said. "It doesn't have to be through the legal process through all 40 districts. There's also a political constitutional avenue as well." In 1993, the results for the district of Placentia were marked invalid because 55 voters, who didn't have proper documentation with respect to making an oath, totalled more than the 21-vote difference between candidates. Tory Nick Careen defeated Liberal incumbent Bill Hogan in that election. "The court said that when a situation materially affects the results such as that, that no other factors are really considered. It's that the irregularity could potentially affect the outcome," said Skinner. "In that case, because there was no further evidence produced, the results were voided and a second election occurred subsequent." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
EDITOR'S NOTE: CBC News and The Road Ahead commissioned this public opinion research in March, just as the third wave of COVID-19 cases was building in Alberta. As with all polls, this one is a snapshot in time. This analysis is one in a series of articles to come out of this research. More stories are to follow. (CBC) If an election in Alberta were held today, the NDP would likely win a majority, as support for the governing United Conservative Party plummets, according to a new poll commissioned by CBC News. The poll, conducted in March and April, suggests all parts of the province are souring on the current government, with declines in Calgary, smaller municipalities and rural areas. But it also shows a fractured electorate, with a sizable chunk of voters looking for a third option. It also shows Premier Jason Kenney's approval falling precipitously since he was first elected. The findings are more bad news for a party that has struggled to overcome persistent economic challenges and the pandemic, and which is now facing a caucus revolt over public health restrictions. They could indicate a turbulent near future as Alberta navigates a socio-economic and political crossroads. The numbers Across the province, compared to the 2019 election that brought the newly formed UCP to power, support for the governing party has cratered from 55 per cent of voters to 33 per cent of respondents in this month's poll. The poll, conducted by Janet Brown Opinion Research on behalf of CBC News, suggests declines in support across all regions, with the NDP surging ahead of the UCP in the key battleground of Calgary and the UCP plummeting in more rural parts of the province. (Janet Brown Opinion Research) In Calgary, 41 per cent of respondents now say they would vote for the NDP, compared to 34 per cent for the UCP. That's a considerable shift from the 2019 election, when 55 per cent voted for the UCP and 32 per cent for the NDP. Outside the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, support for the government has sunk 28 points — from 67 per cent voter support to 39 per cent of respondents saying they'd vote UCP now. (Janet Brown Opinion Research) Nestled among the numbers, however, is about 25 per cent of respondents who say they're not interested in voting for either of the leading parties. Fully 11 per cent of respondents said they don't know who to vote for, leaving the door open for a third party. Edmonton remains an NDP bastion with 50 per cent support, compared to 26 per cent support for the UCP, according to the poll. "What's interesting about this poll, because there's been other polls that have shown the NDP moving ahead on a provincial level, but that's really only been because they've had such a tremendous lead in Edmonton," said pollster Janet Brown. "But now that they're leading in both Edmonton and Calgary, that sets them up for winning government." But the findings aren't just grim news for the governing party. The poll also suggests a lack of faith in Kenney's leadership. The leaders Prior to being elected, Kenney was riding high, with a previous Janet Brown poll showing 36 per cent of respondents were highly impressed with the new UCP leader in March 2018. That honeymoon is truly over. (Janet Brown Opinion Research) In the latest poll, only 16 per cent of respondents say they're highly impressed with Kenney, while 53 per cent are not impressed. NDP Leader Rachel Notley's numbers have remained stable, with 34 per cent of respondents saying they're highly impressed with her and 36 per cent saying they're not. (Janet Brown Opinion Research) So how does that play out in the rough and tumble world of Alberta politics? What it means Melanee Thomas, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said she looks at the results and sees instability for the UCP and stability for the NDP. "What's interesting with the NDP is that they've never dropped below a certain level, like in the low- to mid-30s. That seems to be their floor and all they need to do is swing up to like 41, 43 [per cent]," she said. "I think the same thing with the UCP. I think that's a credible way to think about it, where now they're probably finding their floor. And so now the debate is about who gets that swing?" Brown says the strength of the NDP isn't necessarily as secure as the numbers suggest. "They've pulled ahead, mainly because the UCP has been falling behind," she said. Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, points out that much of the support that has bled from the UCP has not gone toward the NDP. Across the province, the 22-point plunge for the UCP resulted in a seven-point increase for the NDP. Outside Calgary and Edmonton, a 28-point drop saw a nine-point rise for the NDP. "That tells me that there's a ceiling, and that Rachel Notley and the NDP have hit their ceiling," he said. "You can't win in a two-party system with 40 per cent. You can win in a multi-party system, but you can't win in a two-party system." It remains to be seen if the current turmoil in the UCP, and that significant group of unsatisfied voters, will lead to a more scattered political landscape. 2 years to go It is still two years before the next Alberta election, with untold challenges and changes that could take place in the interim. The poll and its findings are a snapshot in time. Bratt says, despite all the controversies and challenges currently facing the UCP, there is still the chance for a win in 2023 — even with an embattled Kenney at the helm. "As bad as it may appear at first blush, when I start to think about it a bit more — what is life like in two years' time? What is life like post-vaccination? What is life like when the economy starts to come back?" he said. CBC News' random survey of 1,200 Albertans was conducted between March 15 to April 10, 2021 by Edmonton-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research (http://planetjanet.ca/special-projects/). The sample is representative along regional, age, and gender factors. The margin of error is +/-2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For subsets, the margin of error is larger. The survey used a hybrid methodology that involved contacting survey respondents by telephone and giving them the option of completing the survey at that time, at another more convenient time, or receiving an email link and completing the survey online.