A German couple who planned to move their family and business to Cape Breton got more than they bargained for. Their first property deal in Canada came with Nazi propaganda.Petra Krug said the man who sold her and her husband a property in Richmond County, N.S., also sent them emails with attachments that, among other things, honoured Germans from the Second World War and denied six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.Krug said she never asked for the material in the emails and didn't want it."I try to ignore that, because it is not our business with the things from Nazi and I detest it," she said. "I detest it."Krug said she and her husband, Bernhard, spent several years dealing by email with Frank Eckhardt, owner of F.E. Property Sales in St. Peters, N.S., looking for a piece of land in Cape Breton. They wanted to immigrate with their daughter and start a new business leasing cottages in the country to seniors looking to downsize.Allegations about Eckhardt holding far-right and Nazi views were first raised publicly last week in an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel. He was also the subject of a CBC News article last year after a couple from Austria complained about a land purchase they made from him.Efforts to reach Eckhardt for comment on this article were unsuccessful. He did not respond to emails and hung up when contacted by phone. A number of his business signs were recently vandalized, including one spray painted with "Nazi go home." RCMP said Thursday they were looking into it following a complaint from Eckhardt.Krug said the emails arrived sporadically over several years while they were still in Germany considering a land purchase in Cape Breton, sometimes on the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden or the anniversary of Germany's surrender in 1945.CBC News has seen some of the material sent by email to the Krugs. It includes a quote from someone saying the Holocaust "is the biggest lie in history." Another email said Zyklon B gas, which was used to kill prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, was only ever used to clean clothes.Land dealKrug said she and her husband finally got the money to buy a Richmond County property from Eckhardt a few years ago, but the deal turned sour after a dispute arose over the deposit.A German acquaintance in Canada helped the Krugs get their money back after finding out the land was being sold at more than eight times the assessed value, said Krug.The Krugs have since bought another property in Victoria County and say they are very happy to be in Canada, despite the rocky start."We have nothing to do with this right-wing stuff," Krug said. "We ... want to integrate and hopefully get the citizenship in a few years, too, especially for our daughter."The emails from Eckhardt were unsettling, said Krug, especially because espousing Nazi values and denying the Holocaust are against the law in Germany."Praising, I don't really know. I only remember that he said no, there were not six million Jewish killed, but even when we were in Germany, with this theme, we don't touch this theme."Hard drive turned over to RCMPKrug said Eckhardt also sent them a computer hard drive, promising that it contained articles on natural medicine and e-books too large to send as email attachments.However, she said the couple did not open it, because they were too busy packing and moving from Germany to Canada.Krug said the acquaintance who helped them get out of the land deal with Eckhardt suggested they take the unopened hard drive to the RCMP, because of concerns over the nature of the emails they had received.Krug said the couple never saw what was on the hard drive, but their acquaintance told them it contained Nazi materials. She said they left it in the hands of their acquaintance and the RCMP and did not want it back.Krug said she doesn't want anyone else to get into a bad land deal and doesn't want to see anyone else unwittingly exposed to offensive material."I only want that nobody has to go through this history we went through," she said.Police investigationIn an email to CBC News earlier this week, RCMP in Nova Scotia confirmed they examined a hard drive said to contain Nazi propaganda."We found that it did contain some material that is considered to be offensive, but the possession of it does not meet the threshold for a charge of public incitement of hatred," RCMP said."We made the decision not to proceed with criminal charges after a careful examination of the material and consultation with the Public Prosecution Service. Our investigation into the allegations is now complete and has been concluded."Naomi Rosenfeld, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council, said in an email her organization is aware of the Der Spiegel allegations and has alerted the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, as well as RCMP."Though these reports are alarming, there was nothing in the reports to suggest an immediate security threat to the Jewish community of Atlantic Canada," she said.MORE TOP STORIES
Something that normally happens off the grid has been in the spotlight this week, thanks to the few who do not follow the rules.According to Marla Zapach, who runs an eco-tourism operation near Nordegg, problems with random camping boil down to one thing: "People don't know what they don't know."Camping traffic in central Alberta's foothills and Rocky Mountains has been on the rise, in part, due to the pandemic removing other travel options.Many random campers pack out their garbage, but those who do not are leaving massive problems behind for locals to clean up in the Bighorn area. The increase in general traffic has been "insane" — according to a recent report from Alberta Environment's Bighorn backcountry standing committee.> They're not quite sure how to camp in an area with very little to no infrastructure. \- Marla Zapach, who operates Skadi Wilderness Adventures"You have a lot more people coming out to the area, who are used to camping in areas that have services or they have toilets, or, you know, other things that make their camping experience simply easier," said Zapach, who is also a member of that committee."And when they come onto the Bighorn, they don't realize that those services just simply don't exist for them. And so they're not quite sure how to camp in an area with very little to no infrastructure."Bighorn Country is a more than 5,000-square-kilometre wilderness area stretching east of the Banff and Jasper National Parks. It's a reasonable drive from both Calgary and Edmonton. It has mountain ranges, rolling foothills, alpine grasslands, rivers and lakes.And random campers."We've generally seen a large influx of people into the area," Zapach told Alberta at Noon, which dedicated its Wednesday show to the topic of random camping."The highways are busier. There's more garbage. There's a lot of people parking on the highways to access some of the trailheads. It's noisier … and it's consistent, whereas before it would be on long weekends, we now see it happening throughout the week."Zapach estimates that in the past, long weekend traffic would be about 10,000 people, but that has doubled this year."It's a large area, so there is room for everyone to be recreating and enjoying the space," said Zapach. "The problems only come about when the rules and the regulations in place aren't followed."Zapach ran through a list of issues: trespassing on First Nations land, illegal discharging of firearms, garbage and food not being disposed of or stored properly, cutting down trees, cutting new trails, people not crossing streams appropriately with their ATVs, and everyone's favourite, leaving human waste.There are also issues with parking on highways, and speeding, and sometimes "just generalized anti-social behavior," Zapach said.In 2018, the NDP government proposed creating a new park system that would include a wildland park, three provincial parks and four recreation areas in Bighorn Country. Former premier Rachel Notley planned to spend $40 million on infrastructure in the controversial plan, which never came to fruition.No commitment for new fundingAs The Canadian Press reported Wednesday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon has not committed to any new funding for facilities or enforcement for the area, which is serviced by just two park rangers. "What is taking place in that location in the eastern slopes is exactly what we have taking place all across the province because of COVID. We'll continue to do our best to manage that," Nixon said.For Zapach, it's not about making it a provincial park."It's not the question of designated a park or not, it's what do we want this land to be used for," Zapach said."We have competing values and pressures on the landscape and we definitely want all Albertans to be able to continue to enjoy this world-renowned beautiful area, while conserving these values that make it special for generations to come."Almost 50,000 people have joined a Facebook group called Crown Land camping Alberta, run by Ryan Epp, who says his style of camping includes a 21-foot trailer, a quad and some target practice in an area where he won't be disturbing anyone."You're not reaching out and touching the trailer right next to you at arm's length away in the campground … generally, you're not even within eyesight of people around you," Epp told Alberta at Noon. "So it's peaceful and quiet and it's out there as well. You don't don't have somebody right next door to you."Epp says he has faced accusations that his Facebook group is causing the surge in random camping."I mean, sure, we brought more attention to it, but we're trying to teach people the rules and a lot of people think there are no rules," he said. "That's the problem.… You've got to abide by basically common sense while you're out there. I mean, yeah, we got people thinking we're the cause of it, but we're trying to help anyway."The appeal of random camping is undeniable, especially with the difficulty of booking online for most national and provincial parks. Epp says people want the freedom to make noise or enjoy peace and quiet.For some, the lack of rules is part of the appeal or random camping."They want to be out there on their own," Epp said. "A lot of the people aren't for more enforcement. I'm all for it, to try to catch these people that are breaking the rules, because they are causing big problems, and they're the ones that are getting all the attention, unfortunately."> The amount of human waste around the random campsites is unbelievable, and hacking down green trees, and it really is almost a no-rules situation. \- Cal Hill, from north of CochraneCaller Cal Hill, from north of Cochrane, says he's frustrated to see the lack of respect for one of his favourite places, around the Ghost Lake area."The amount of human waste around the random campsites is unbelievable, and hacking down green trees, and it really is almost a no-rules situation," he said."I think a lot of people just don't understand what's required and even how to use facilities when there are no facilities."Another camper, Paul Hogan, called in to Alberta at Noon from his random campsite 30 kilometres west of Sundre. He was in a fully-equipped travel trailer, which he says he has everything he needs."These campgrounds are going to offer me nothing except to pay them money," he said.Hogan, a member of the Mississaugii of Hiawatha First Nation in Ontario, suggested using the vast network of off-road enthusiasts to police the area.'They have a quad society up there in the Bighorn … I think they should enlist these people, they're out there and I know up at Bighorn they're fixing trails and stuff," he said. "These people care, and like you're going to get all these police and fish and wildlife all these people involved, it just costs more money."Hogan says he would never use the current reservation system for provincial and national parks, which requires people to book ahead — if they can grab a spot before they're all gone."I've never done that," he said. "Six years ago, I started random camping. I used to go to the sites. I leave home because I want to get away from stuff, and they put me in a lot with an RV right beside me. And I've got a fully contained unit. Unless you have water and sewage, you've got nothing really for me."Infrastructure, enforcement and educationZapach, who says she supports random camping, says the problems come down to three main issues: lack of infrastructure, lack of enforcement and lack of education."We just simply don't have enough conservation officers out there," she said. 'We really need a Kananaskis-level investment in conservation officers.'> We need to work together as a province to make sure that visitors from outside the province are respecting our natural habitat and our natural resources in the way that we do. \- Wyanne Smallboy-WesleyWyanne Smallboy-Wesley says as a First Nation person from the Bighorn area, she agrees that education is needed, and funding for more officers to patrol the area."As Albertans I know that we have been in good practice, in good faith, camping along the Bighorn Reserve for many years now," she said. "But the other provinces … I see their licence plates coming into our area, they don't have that appreciation, and they don't have that stewardship the way that Albertans do. We need to work together as a province to make sure that visitors from outside the province are respecting our natural habitat and our natural resources in the way that we do."TrespassingSmallboy-Wesley added that random campers are trespassing, cutting new paths and disturbing wildlife."Hunting season is coming up," she said. "It's traditional territory in that area … so we're going to go hunting. They're disturbing our livelihood. They're disturbing our culture. That is disturbing our way of life."Random camper Ian Cowles, from Edmonton, says he heads out camping at least once a month."I do a lot of backcountry camping, and I find that most of those spots are very well kept. There's not anyone taking down a lot of trees, and [campers are] just using deadfall if they are going to be lighting fires," Cowles said."But when it comes to the Nordegg area, which I have car camped in and around, I found that area to be extremely bad when it comes to garbage, to people taking down living trees."Cowles doesn't believe harsher enforcement is the key."I favour more education," he said. "Having an educated public that knows, like, you don't want to be disturbing it so that the next person to use that spot is going to be in a worse situation."Zapach, who runs Skadi Wilderness Adventures near Nordegg, says a complete list of rules and regulations, as well as best practices for random camping are laid out on the Government of Alberta website.With files from Alberta at Noon and The Canadian Press.
As questions swirl about the WE Charity's links to federal political leaders, Toronto city council has voted to look at how staff decided to lease a Cabbagetown building for nearly $10 million from the parents of the charity's founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger.Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose ward includes the building, moved the motion this week, saying the city needs to deliver a full explanation about how the deal was worked out for the building at 233 Carlton St., just west of Parliament Street."When the WE scandal blew up," said Wong-Tam, "community members started to raise the concern about how much the city was involved with the WE charity and the Kielburger family, especially as it pertains to 233 Carlton." Wong-Tam was referring to the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government and the WE Charity. It all stems from a contract with WE to administer a $900-million federal summer student grant program. WE backed out of the deal amid conflict of interest allegations.against Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, both of whom have family ties to the charity. Review to consider if city overpaid The city's review is set to include how staff came to know about 233 Carlton St., who from the WE organization communicated with staff to determine the financial terms of the lease, and if the agreed upon amount is in line with the current market value. The building is owned by 1622774 Ontario Ltd., which is listed as belonging to Fred and Theresa Kielburger. The City of Toronto got possession of the rental property at the beginning of 2020. The nearly 13,000-square-foot space is set to become the new home for the Adelaide Resource Centre for Women, a 24-hour drop-in centre. The review will look at how the lease agreement was handled and whether other rental units were considered to house the centre. According to the lease, the city is paying nearly $10 million over a 10-year period, including $3.7 million in renovations, an amount many residents in the neighbourhood feel is extremely high.Carmine Coccimiglio, who lives in the area and owns commercial properties, says the Kielburgers are getting about $4 million dollars in free upgrades to the building. "That's our taxpayer dollars," said Coccimiglio. "Tenants do not put in that amount of money" to renovate a building, he added. Property sat on the market for monthsHe also wonders why the city didn't negotiate a better price when the three-storey unit sat on the rental market for several months before the city scooped it up. "The owners had to take it off the market because it sat there for so long," said Coccimiglio. According to the rental listings, 233 Carlton St. was on the market from December 2018 to March 2019, and the price is listed at $26 per square foot.CBC Toronto is unable to confirm the correct rental listing amount. After the listing was taken down at the end of March 2019, the city signed a lease in July 2019. The copy of the lease agreement that CBC Toronto obtained lists Wong-Tam as the councillor consulted about the rental agreement, however Wong-Tam says that's an error that has now been corrected. Never approved the rental, Wong-Tam says"I was not given any option to approve or disapprove; I was just advised that this was going to happen," said Wong-Tam. Another concern, Cococimiglio says, is that the community feels as though it was blindsided by the deal and not informed that a drop-in centre would be moving into that space. Wong-Tam admits that the community wasn't given advance notice about what the space would become.Staff was handling the lease agreement and was allowed to sign off on it, though Wong-Tam says the expectation was that the community would be contacted.
It's a once-in-a-generation event. The last time the federal government faced a decision of this kind, Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" was playing on the radio.Today is the submission deadline for the three aerospace firms bidding for the right to build Canada's next fighter jet.Public Services and Procurement Canada confirmed it has received three proposals — one each from U.S. defence giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and one Swedish aircraft-maker Saab.The Liberal government pushed back the deadline for the $19 billion competition to the end of July because of the pandemic crisis.On April 10, 1980, a previous Liberal government chose the McDonnell Douglas (later Boeing) CF-18 as the backbone of the country's fighter jet fleet.The current government is not expected to make a decision on whether to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35, Boeing's Super Hornet (a newer, beefier version of the F-18) or Saab's Gripen-E for several months. The first jets likely won't arrive until 2025.In retrospect, buying the CF-18s was a walk in the park compared to the procurement experience of a generation of federal officials since a replacement for the CF-18 was first discussed in the late 1990s.The government of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau decided in March, 1977 to buy a new fighter. Three years later, bids had been submitted and a contract was signed. Two years after that, the first CF-18s were on the flight line.If only it could have been that easy this time around."The road we have been on in this journey has been long and torturous," said Dave Perry, an expert in defence procurement who has followed the fighter jet file for a decade.It was Jean Chrétien's Liberal government that started the ball rolling by joining a U.S.-led program to construct among allies a new, affordable stealth fighter — a proposal that eventually morphed into the F-35.A dozen years later, when Stephen Harper was prime minister, the Conservative government signalled its intention to buy the F-35. That pitch triggered a storm of political and defence opposition that dragged in the Parliamentary Budget Office and, eventually, the auditor general.The problem, said University of British Columbia defence expert Michael Byers, is that the Canadian air force has only ever wanted the F-35."They thought they had it done and dusted with the Conservatives until Kevin Page started to pull it apart," Byers said, referring to the former parliamentary budget officer who first questioned the cost of the planned acquisition.'Just bonkers'The plan became even more politically toxic when the Liberals promised in 2015 not to buy the stealth fighter — to acquire something cheaper instead.Successive governments have "ragged the puck," said Byers, and politicians have avoided tough decisions that would "annoy the generals, the U.S. government or the Canadian public."Upon assuming office, the Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embarked on a ponderous round of industry consultations and reviews that pushed the deadline for buying new fighters out past the last election in 2019."It did not need to go on this long," said Perry. "They tried to maximize the competitive environment [for aerospace companies] but in general, it has been just bonkers."It was always going to be tough, Perry added, to have a competition on a level playing field because of the structure of the F-35 program, which provides industrial benefits to Canadian companies. Those benefits make it tough to measure the cost and value of the F-35 against its competitors.Federal officials were forced to find workarounds to keep Lockheed Martin in the competition.In a statement, Lockheed Martin said Canada has been a valued partner since the inception of the Joint Strike Fighter competition in the late 1990s and it is convinced the stealth fighter will "transform the Royal Canadian Air Force fleet and deliver the capabilities necessary to safeguard Canadian skies."In its own statement, Saab said its Gripen fighter is designed to operate in harsh environments and defeat the most advanced global threats, and the aircraft meets all of Canada's specific defence requirements.The Liberal government plans to buy 88 new fighter jets. It will have to start paying for them just as the navy is expected to start receiving the first of its new frigates.Sticker shockBoth bills will come due at a time when the federal government will still be digging itself out of pandemic debt.Perry said he's concerned."When the government's deficit is eye-wateringly large and its revenue hole is astoundingly high," he said, a finance minister might "hesitate" to approve a military contract worth many billions of dollars.One factor that could influence the program is whether the pandemic has forced aerospace companies to increase prices beyond what was anticipated, in order to account for economic conditions and supply uncertainty.The most likely outcome for the program in the current dire fiscal climate, said Byers, is Ottawa opting to buy fewer planes. He pointed out that the Conservatives had planned to purchase only 65 jets — the minimum number the air force said it needed to do its job.The federal government cannot avoid the program entirely, he added."We will be buying fighter jets. The questions are, how many? And from whom?"
OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Navy is poised to enter a new era by taking possession of the first armed warship under the federal government's multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan, and the first built for Arctic military operations in decades.HMCS Harry DeWolf was welcomed in a ceremony at Canadian Forces Base Halifax on Friday, five years after Irving Shipbuilding first started cutting steel on the Arctic offshore patrol ship — and two years later than originally scheduled.Top navy officers marked the occasion along with representatives from Irving, which is slated to build five more such vessels for the navy and two for the Canadian Coast Guard in the next few years."These ships will be at the core of an enhanced Canadian Arctic presence, effectively complementing the capabilities of our other current and future warships through critical reconnaissance and surveillance operations," said Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, the commander of the navy, in a statement.Harry DeWolf was a career navy officer who retired as chief of the naval staff in 1960. He rose to prominence as commander of HMCS Haida during the Second World War, known for daring tactical manoeuvres and sinking numerous enemy vessels, especially in the English Channel.While the DeWolf's delivery is a major milestone for the federal government's shipbuilding plan — through which Ottawa is replacing nearly all of the large ships in the navy and coast guard — it wasn't easy coming.Then-prime minister Stephen Harper first announced plans to build up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels in July 2007 and Irving was selected in October 2011 to produce them before building replacements for the navy's frigates and destroyers.But the following years saw several cost overruns and delays in the program.After work started on the DeWolf in 2015, Irving said it would only be able to build five ships with the $3.1 billion budgeted for the project. The government ended up increasing the budget to $4.1 billion for six.That money does not include the two ships for the coast guard, which are expected to cost about $400 million each.Technical problems were also blamed for pushing the delivery date back several times. Then Irving closed its Halifax shipyard in March for several months because of COVID-19.Despite those setbacks, University of Calgary professor Rob Huebert described the DeWolf's arrival as an "amazing step forward" for the Royal Canadian Navy. It's the first vessel specially built for military operations in the Arctic since the 1950s.And it couldn't come at a better time, as more and more countries are starting to increase their interest — and military footprints — in the Far North, which is becoming easier to access due to climate change, said Huebert, who is an expert on Arctic policy."Even the most profound Arctic exceptionalist who says the Arctic is just peace, love and 'Kumbaya' will recognize there is a growing need to have at least a presence in the Arctic as it opens up and becomes a greater part of the geopolitical environment," he said. "But once again, this is going to now give us a capability to operate that we haven't had since a short little period between 1956 to '57 with (HMCS) Labrador."The Labrador was an icebreaker built for the navy but was in the fleet just a few years before being transferred to non-military use.The navy was actually disdainful when Harper announced the new Arctic ships in 2007. Part of it was their slow speed and light armament, as the ships have only one small cannon. But mostly it was because the navy saw the Arctic as coast guard territory."Because they had not done this since '57, there was a little bit of: OK, what the hell do we do with these ships? We know what we need to do with NATO and in the Pacific. But this is going to sort of require us to scratch our head,'" Huebert said."Once the navy got comfortable and started realizing what it could do with it, that has subsequently changed."The Royal Canadian Navy is only the latest naval force to join the fray in the Far North. Russia, the U.S., China and some European countries have been increasing their maritime capabilities in the region in recent years as part of a seemingly slow military buildup.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
The infamous bus that served as the final campsite for doomed adventurer Christopher McCandless could be preserved as a museum piece under a plan announced on Thursday by Alaska officials. The University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks has offered to house the bus, removed by the state last month from its six-decades-long resting site near Denali National Park. Over the years, hundreds trekked out to spend time at the abandoned bus, where McCandless spent 114 days before dying of starvation in 1992.
Staff at the Overdose Prevention Society in Vancouver say the man killed Monday night behind St. Paul's Hospital was their colleague, Thomus Donaghy.Donaghy was one of the first volunteers at OPS when it opened its doors in 2016 in response to the opioid crisis, says Sarah Blyth, executive director at OPS.Donaghy would walk Vancouver's streets and alleys, often alone at night, just to make sure someone didn't overdose alone, she said.In all, she predicts he saved hundreds of lives."He was one of the kindest volunteers we've ever had," she said. "It's so shocking and tragic. He would go above and beyond for everyone."Vancouver police confirmed Donaghy as the victim on Friday morning.On Monday, officers responded to a report around 8:30 p.m. PT that a stabbed man had been found in a lot near Thurlow and Comox streets.Emergency crews took the 41-year-old to hospital, where he later died from his injuries, police said. Police said Donaghy was working at the Overdose Prevention site connected to St. Paul's Hospital and had stepped outside. He became involved in a fistfight with an unidentified man before the man stabbed him.'Unbearable'Blyth says Donaghy was part of her team, which won an award from the City of Vancouver for its overdose prevention efforts."Everybody loved him and the thought of something tragic happening to him in that way is unbearable for everyone in the community," said Blyth."He had a lot of compassion. More than most."Cindy Vell, who worked alongside Donaghy as a volunteer at OPS, says he was a very caring person and echoed Blyth's comment that he would do anything for anybody."He's gone but not forgotten," said Vell.Donaghy's death marks Vancouver's ninth homicide of 2020.VPD homicide detectives are appealing for witnesses to come forward, and are looking for dashcam footage from any drivers in the area of Comox and Thurlow streets.Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call VPD detectives at 604-717-2500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Plans to expand the Vista Coal Mine must now be scrutinized by the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, the federal environment minister says.Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson previously decided one phase of a proposed expansion to the open-pit mine near Hinton wouldn't need federal review.Environmental and Indigenous groups protested, saying two planned expansions at the mine made the project large enough for federal consideration.On Thursday, Wilkinson said he agreed. "What we said is, they're actually at the same site. They're the same project. They're very close in terms of timing. So, we want to look at them as one project," Wilkinson said in an interview.Alongside the Alberta Energy Regulator's review, the federal Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will study how the coal mine expansion might affect matters of federal jurisdiction. That includes effects on fish habitat, species at risk, Indigenous people and their treaty rights to hunting and fishing.Big test for Impact Assessment AgencyOwner Coalspur Mine Operations has applied to expand the Vista mine to the west, excavate an underground mine for coal that can't be reached from the surface, relocate the storage of its explosives and accelerate the construction of a central dump on the site.Application documents say the expansion would allow the mine to more than double its output to as much as 15 megatonnes of coal per year.Unlike some other proposed coal projects in Alberta, the Vista mine produces thermal coal, which is burned to generate electricity. Most of it is sold overseas.Meanwhile, both Alberta and Canadian governments have committed to stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2030.University of Calgary law Prof. Sharon Mascher will be watching the application closely. It could be the first big test of how the recently revamped federal agency considers the downstream implications of climate change in approval of coal projects, she said.The Impact Assessment Agency was last year borne out of Bill C-69, a bill unpopular with both the United Conservative Party government and former NDP government for its potential implications for future oil pipeline approval.The new review process is supposed to prevent approved projects from being ensnared in court challenges.In September, the Alberta government launched a court challenge of the law, saying the federal government was treading on provincial jurisdiction.Jess Sinclair, press secretary for Alberta Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon, said in a statement the province is "disappointed" to hear the federal government would intercede in the Vista mine approval."As Section 92a of the Canadian Constitution guarantees Alberta the right to jurisdiction over our own resource development, we will be studying the issue over the coming days and taking all appropriate action," she said.No one from Coalspur, which runs the Vista mine, returned a call for comment.Environmental groups cheer decisionJulia Levin, climate and energy program manager for advocacy group Environmental Defence, said in a statement thermal coal has no place in the 21st Century, given its environmental and health effects."An environmental assessment is our best chance of generating and evaluating the information required to ensure this expansion is rejected based on its threat to our climate," her statement said.Ecojustice, on behalf of several groups, had asked Wilkinson for the federal environmental review of Vista. Lawyer and program director Alan Andrews said in a statement the decision to proceed was "absolutely necessary to show Canadians and our international allies that it is serious about tackling the climate crisis and upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples."Canada is one of the co-founders of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which seeks to aid and convince other countries to move away from coal-generated electricity.Environment and Climate Change Canada last year launched an assessment of whether the country should be selling thermal coal to other countries while encouraging them to abandon it."I think there is a legitimate question to be asked of Canada as to how it should be, whether it should be continuing to export a substance that we have been saying to folks that they should be phasing out," Wilkinson said, adding that he wouldn't pre-judge the outcome of the assessment.Law Prof. Mascher said it would be "wrongheaded" for an environmental assessment to disregard emissions from coal combustion — regardless of where in the world they happen — when they know greenhouse gases contribute to climate change."It's important from an international perspective that if we believe a product like thermal coal should be phased out that we're not speaking with one voice in the Powering Past Coal Alliance and then, on the other hand, not taking a close look upon what it means to approve a proposal like this," she said.Wilkinson said the time for reviews varies, but could take about 18 months.
Métis Nation leadership says the rise in people falsely claiming a Métis identity is dangerous because it threatens the future of the entire Nation. David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Métis Federation and vice-president and spokesperson for the Métis National Council, said his temperature started to rise reading about Breanne Lavallee-Heckert's experience at the Senate. Lavallee-Heckert, a citizen of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), told CBC News she felt she had no choice but to resign from her job in the office of Sen. Marilou McPhedran over the handling of a complaint she raised — alleging a coworker was falsely claiming to be Métis in the workplace. "What if somebody came and said they're Canadian and they're not?" said Chartrand."How would you act, senator? That's how we feel. You cannot just come in here from anywhere in the world and say you're Canadian unless you go through a process; the same thing with us."Chartrand said the MMF will be asking Lavallee-Heckert if she wants to take further action with respect to what happened and that he'll also be personally following up with the Senate."We have a lot to lose here," he said. His argument is that if hundreds of thousands — or millions — of people start self-identifying as Métis without repercussions they will outnumber the Nation's citizens, start re-writing the Nation's history and could eventually "assimilate our very existence as a people.""In our process of our constitution, self-identifying is only one segment of it. You've got to prove your historical connection to the Métis Nation and its homeland," he said. 'We're struggling to make sense of what to do' There's a lot to lose, said Chartrand, because of the scope of how many people have started to self-identify as Indigenous. It's a trend that academics have described as 'race-shifting' or 'self-Indigenization.' Darryl Leroux, an associate professor of social justice and community studies at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and author of Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, said the situation that unfolded at the Senate is common. He said 'race-shifting' has become "quite widespread" in the public service, in academia and elsewhere. "As a society generally we're struggling to make sense of what to do when white people are claiming to be Indigenous because that's not what we have come to think of as a possibility over time," he said. Leroux said that historically it hasn't been beneficial to people to identify as Indigenous but he said this started to change with the legal recognition of Aboriginal rights. He said most often the 'race-shifting' groups claim a Métis identity, but some claim to be First Nations. Leroux said the phenomenon is problematic at a systemic level, in terms of eroding Indigenous sovereignty. He said institutions need to be equipped to respond if they're serious about supporting Indigenous people. "If you work at an institution and you are bringing in initiatives related to Indigenous people, you are inevitably going to have to tackle this," he said. "We're literally talking about hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are taking up Indigenous space." Grassroots movement of verifying claims Where institutions haven't been tackling this question, it's left a gap where grassroots people have organized around investigating people's claims. Robyn Lawson, a Nehiyaw-Métis activist in B.C., said she got involved in the movement a few years ago in response to the "enormous issue of thousands of false claims of Indigeneity across Canada" and how that translates to lost opportunities for Indigenous people.Over the years she she's been involved in looking into hundreds of people claiming an Indigenous identity. She said for most of them research reveals no legitimate claim to being Indigenous. "I don't know how we're going to get past all of this," she said.In the recent situation at the Senate, Lawson said she too had looked into the Senate staffer Lavallee-Heckert raised concerns about. Like Lavallee-Heckert, she too determined the person's claims to Indigeneity were problematic based on the Eastern organization of which they were a member and she wrote to Sen. McPhedran with the information she'd come across. In her email correspondence with the senator, shared with CBC, Lawson said it seemed the senator was missing her point. Instead of directly addressing the issues, she asked Lawson if she were insinuating that only Indigenous people should work on certain issues in the Senate. "I thought her response was steeped in an arrogance that was infuriating," said Lawson. Lawson said the situation at the Senate emphasizes, to her, the importance of Indigenous Nations being respected in defining who is and isn't part of their Nation.
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruled out negotiations with the United States over Tehran's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes on Friday and urged Iranians to resist U.S. pressure. "America's brutal sanctions on Iran are aimed at collapsing our economy ... Their aim is to limit our influence in the region and to halt our missile and nuclear capabilities," Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on television.
There is now a second hotel in Winnipeg for Nunavut residents to isolate in before returning home from the South amid the pandemic, but some travellers say there are changes that need to be made for future guests. Two women who recently stayed at the Hilton Winnipeg Airport Suites in Manitoba's capital told CBC News that rules and restrictions in the quarantine hotel are inconsistent."The rules are changing daily," said Helen Ell-Natakok of Coral Harbour. "The government and security must not be communicating enough." For example, while businesses offering restaurant delivery can freely drop off orders for the guests, she said locals wanting to drop off country food and supplies could be accepted one day, and refused the next.During a COVID-19 news conference on Monday, Nunavut Health Minister George Hickes said he was not aware of this incident, but said "there are parameters" for dropping off packages safely. Right now, the government is making country food available to guests. Lisa Oolooyuk, another guest from Rankin Inlet who quarantined at the Hilton hotel in Winnipeg, says she is thankful that the government is accommodating residents and providing food for isolation at the hotels.> Why is our government isolating us for two weeks in an isolation hub with other guests from other provinces who aren't going to Nunavut? \- Helen Ell-Natakok, Coral Harbour residentBut she also says the rules from security are constantly changing, and the changes aren't well-communicated to the guests. She wants to see more space made for families and children in the outdoor parking lot areas, so they don't have to stand around people who are smoking cigarettes and cannabis, or who are publicly intoxicated. "Some people have legitimate traumatic experiences with drunk people and they don't want to be around it," she said. "Those people are avoiding fresh air."Oolooyuk said that, to her, incidents with disruptive guests that require security staff are a sign the government needs to take mental health more seriously in Nunavut."I respect and understand why we're doing it," she said of the isolation measures. "I hope I never have to do it again." Inuktut-speaking staff contracted to help guestsTo increase communication and make sure guests are treated well, the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation is contracted by the territory to support the guests in all isolation hubs. Qikiataaluk Corporation is the business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, which works to protect Inuit rights.As of Monday, it had two bilingual Inuktut-English representatives for the hubs in Winnipeg, and one each in Edmonton and Ottawa.Minister Hickes says it's become a full-time job to communicate between the government and guests — for example, by making sure people knew what their mental health and travel supports are, and making sure language needs are met.This contract allows Health Department staff to focus on their work, he said.The Hilton Winnipeg Airport Suites said it will not comment to media. Its reservations department is still taking bookings for regular travellers — when Ell-Natakok learned there were guests staying at the hotel who are not part of the Nunavut quarantine program, she said she was "furious.""Why is our government isolating us for two weeks in an isolation hub with other guests from other provinces who aren't going to Nunavut?" she said. "You are isolating us for two weeks, yet I could be exposed tomorrow." Ell-Natakok says she was cautious leaving her room, and only touched doorknobs and elevator buttons with a tissue or her keys. Nunavut's Health Department says it takes guests' feedback seriously. Hickes says a very small percentage of people are causing the majority of issues with alcohol or noise. The second isolation hotel was opened because the wait list for the quarantine hotel was as long as three weeks. The government said it needed to prioritize medical travellers."We are anticipating needing that hub until the end of the isolation period," Hickes said.The government has shelved the idea of using Iqaluit as a temporary hub to eliminate the backlog in the South. "Our first choice is to keep people in isolation outside of the territory," Hickes said.
On the streets of Tripoli, Lebanon's second biggest city and one of its poorest, there are no signs of festivities for Eid al-Adha this year, no decorations or twinkling lights. The Muslim holiday usually spells large family gatherings replete with mutton cuts, sweets and gifts. Look around you, does this look like a market at Eid to you?
Facing financial ruin due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada's language schools have proposed an ambitious plan to bring 40,000 foreign students to Canada over the next few months to learn English and French.The Study Safe Corridor initiative, which is awaiting approval from the federal government, would see Air Canada provide charter flights to bring COVID-screened students from countries such as Turkey, Japan, South Korea and Brazil.A number of Canadian hotels have agreed to offer "full-service quarantine packages" for the students during their 14-day isolation period. A health insurance partner is involved in the plan as well.The language students — who range in age from teenagers to people in their 30s and 40s — would be required to sign contracts to guarantee compliance with health regulations, which include financial penalties if rules are broken."We needed to come up with something that would be a game changer," said Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of Languages Canada, which represents 200 schools across the country."We believe that if sports teams are allowed to function in this way, then international education should be allowed as well."The federal government gave the National Hockey League permission to resume its season and hold the Stanley Cup playoffs in Canada, allowing players from 18 teams from the U.S. to enter the country. The teams have agreed to follow strict safety protocols while playing in Toronto and Edmonton.Economy would benefit, group saysLanguages Canada and its members have asked the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship for the same consideration."We're not looking at professional players being paid millions; we're looking at people who are building their lives and looking toward the future," Peralta said. "We know that borders cannot simply reopen; that's unthinkable at this time. But we do know that life needs to continue."His organization says the Study Safe Corridor would inject $533 million of export revenue into the Canadian economy by March 2021, benefiting not only the schools, but also the airline and hotel sectors, homestay programs, and the tourism and hospitality industry. As well, 9,000 education jobs are at stake.A Languages Canada member survey showed that as many as 75 per cent of schools will be out of business by the end of the year if they're not allowed to reopen. Some have already closed permanently.Initiative raises health concernsEmrah Oyman, executive director of operations at Toronto's Mentora Language Academy, said online classes aren't a suitable replacement."The big selling feature is the cultural component," he said. "If you take away the face to face, you may as well just go on to YouTube."Oyman and his colleagues are confident that the safety measures of the Study Safe Corridor will minimize health risks. "This plan is bulletproof," he said. "It's very robust."But some are concerned about the health risks of bringing so many foreign nationals to Canada.Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious and tropical disease specialist who teaches at the University of Toronto and works part-time at a COVID-19 assessment centre, said she is opposed to the initiative."The virus is surging around the world," she said. "People are dying of this. A lot of people have sacrificed a lot to keep us safe. Why would we take the risk of people coming from all around the world into Canada?"Part of Banerji's work during the pandemic has been to speak with people who have tested negative for the virus but are still exhibiting symptoms.She said she's not reassured that students would be tested before being allowed to fly. "We have a high degree of false negatives," she said.In her view, language studies are not essential during a global pandemic. "These students have the rest of their lives to learn a language. It just doesn't make sense to me."As for the fate of the schools? "Now is not the time to do this," Banerji said. "Maybe they can reopen next year."Students are keen to comePedro Hammer of Brazil said he is eager to return to Canada to continue his English-language classes and believes the Study Safe Corridor is a good approach."Especially in Brazil, we are dealing with a pretty hard situation in regard to the coronavirus, and I think the safety measures are a must," he said via a WhatsApp call from his hometown in the southern city of Curitiba.The 18-year-old was a student at Mentora Language Academy until February, when his visa expired. Then the coronavirus hit, and he's been unable to renew it to return.He said it's his "dream" to get back to Canada."At the moment I arrived in Toronto, I knew it was the place for me," Hammer said. "I fell in love with the city. It was a life-changing experience."Hammer is taking a business management course in Brazil but said his dream is to eventually emigrate. "My main goal is to go to Canada, to Toronto, to grow a family there and maybe grow a business as well."Many students are keen to resume studies, said Mentora's Oyman."Our day-to-day operations are heavily related to education agents when it comes to new students, and they're all across the world," he said."They're giving us market intelligence; they're telling us the students' concerns. And they are absolutely receptive to the idea of the Study Safe Corridor."Gonzalo Peralta of Languages Canada said many foreign students opt to stay in Canada and pursue higher education. It's another economic benefit of language schools, he said, but added that there's more than money at stake."It's also about promoting our identity to the world and our Canadian values. It's very, very important in that regard."Peralta said his organization hopes to receive the go-ahead from the government soon."Now is the biggest time for enrolment, over the summertime. And then in September, those are the two big intakes. We have missed the summer. So this is basically the equivalent of Christmas to the retail business."The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, as well as the office of Minister Marco Mendicino, did not respond to emails sent by CBC News asking for comment.
Parents with compromised immune systems in Ottawa are worried about the province's plan to return elementary students to school full time.The premier announced Thursday that students in kindergarten through Grade 8 would be going back to school in September, five days a week, with class sizes remaining at regular, pre-pandemic levels.However, students will stay within a single cohort — including during recess and lunch. "It's sort of like playing Russian roulette," said Eric Wilson who has three children aged six, eight and 11.Wilson, 45, has Crohn's disease, a painful inflammatory bowel condition that puts him at a greater risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.He said in order to protect his health he's decided to keep his children at home when school starts. Parents have the option of remote learning, delivered by school boards."We had already pretty much decided that we were not going to send them back [and] that we would go with the online learning option," he said. Wilson said he was disappointed the province didn't provide more information on how online learning will work for children in his family's situation."I would have liked to see more details on ... what would happen with parents like us that are immunocompromised," he said. Wilson said he hopes remote learning doesn't morph into homeschooling because it would be unworkable for his family. "I'm fortunate that I'm able to work from home and my wife is able to stay home and take care of the kids, but there's still three kids and two of us," he added. "It's very difficult."'Panic mode'Lindsey Evans, 34, has bronchiectasis, a chronic lung disease that she said on a normal day puts her at risk for pneumonia.She's written to Premier Doug Ford, Education Minister Stephen Lecce, her children's principal and her school board to voice her concerns about a return to full class sizes."I kind of went into panic mode and spiraled very quickly," she said. "I don't know how we go from literally not exposing our household to anybody, to being in a class size of 30-plus children."Evans, a nurse with two boys aged four and one, had anticipated sending her oldest son back to school this coming fall. "Knowing that it's going to be full class sizes with no social distancing in that age group ... just seems quite ludicrous to me," she said.Evans said the plan falls short of SickKids proposed guidelines for reopening schools, which was released on Wednesday ahead of the province's announcement. It included recommendations for reduced class sizes, staggered lunchtimes and regular cleaning schedules.She said she appreciates the learn from home option, but it doesn't address the socialization needs of younger children. "It's a bit of a cop-out in my opinion of the government not being prepared to spend the time and resources and effort into coming up with a solution ... that enables families of all sorts of backgrounds to allow their children to safely attend school," she added.'It's better to have them in one place'Epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan said reopening elementary schools is the right move because young children need more development time and social contact. Attending school all day will also reduce children's chances of contracting COVID-19 at daycare centres and other child-care facilities, according to the associate professor at the University of Ottawa. "It's better to have them in one place, in one cohort."Deonandan said a smaller class size is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 because it allows for better physical distancing in the classroom."I understand that's a resource limitation but we are spending $300 million dollars here. Surely a chunk of that money could be spent on lowering the student-to-teacher ratio," he said."The biggest bang for the buck is in physical distancing and physical distancing can be best achieved from small class sizes."
The United States intensified its economic pressure on China's Xinjiang province on Friday, imposing sanctions on a powerful Chinese company and two officials for what it said were human rights abuses against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. The move, the latest blow to U.S.-China relations, came a week after U.S. President Donald Trump closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, prompting Beijing to shutter the U.S. consulate in Chengdu.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia's King Salman was discharged from a hospital in the capital Riyadh after more than a week following surgery to remove his gall bladder, the Royal Court said.The court said in a statement late Thursday the monarch, 84, left the King Faisal Specialist Hospital after a recovery.News of his improved health comes just as Saudis mark the start of the Eid al-Adha festival on Friday, which Muslims around the world celebrate. It coincides with the last days of the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, which this year saw only a sliver of the usual numbers of pilgrims taking part due to the coronavirus pandemic.King Salman was admitted to the hospital July 20 with inflammation of his gall bladder. A few days later, he was operated on. The procedure was described as a laparoscopic surgery — a low-risk procedure that usually involves only small incisions and a tiny camera to aid the surgeons’ work.The gallbladder, a small, pouch-like organ near the liver that stores bile, can easily be removed and is not critical for life. Surgeons often take it out if it begins to bother a patient.King Salman has been in power since January 2015. His health is closely watched by observers because of the absolute powers he holds presiding over one of the world’s top producers of oil and one of its biggest economies.His reign has been marked by quick, sweeping changes in a country accustomed to slow, gradual reforms. Since coming to power, he’s taken the country to war in Yemen, hardened the kingdom’s stance toward Shiite rival Iran and severed ties with neighbouring Qatar.He’s empowered his 34-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his successor. The crown prince’s assertive and bold style of leadership, as well as his consolidation of power and sidelining of potential rivals, have been controversial.With the support of his father, Prince Mohammed has transformed the kingdom in recent years, eroding decades of ultraconservative restrictions in society as he tries to diversify the Saudi economy away from reliance on oil exports.The crown prince has also detained dozens of activists and critics, overseen the devastating Yemen war as defence minister and rounded up top members of the royal family in his rise to power. The killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in late 2018 has been linked to the crown prince by Western intelligence services and U.S. lawmakers, further straining ties between the kingdom and the U.S.Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press
This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.When the spring sitting of the Alberta legislature ended Wednesday morning, Premier Jason Kenney wanted to wrap things up on a positive note.But a major oilsands company, Total, apparently didn't get the memo.As Kenney proudly itemized the government's achievements in the marathon session "to get Albertans back to work," Total announced more sobering news.The French-based energy company declared it is writing off $9.3-billion worth of oilsands assets in Alberta. Translation: We don't have much faith in the future of the oilsands.Total determined that the COVID-19 pandemic and the global push to reduce carbon emissions have overturned assumptions about the long-term viability of some oilsands assets.Translation: Oh boy, the price of oil isn't going to rebound. Ready the lifeboats; prepare to abandon ship.This is not the news Kenney wanted to hear Wednesday as he spent an hour pumping up the spring legislative sitting during which the government, among other things, lowered the corporate tax rate, increased private delivery of publicly funded health care, cut red tape, and fast-tracked approval of energy projects."As Albertans work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, our government is working to get our economy back on track with Alberta's Recovery Plan," said Kenney.NDP leader Rachel Notley had her own way of summing up the spring sitting: "Jason Kenney and the UCP used the cover of the pandemic to ram through their extreme agenda of American-style health care and American-style labour laws, while handing over more than $4.7 billion to profitable corporations."Welcome to Alberta politics 2020 where our two leading parties couldn't agree on the time of day in an atomic clock factory.Reality met with rhetoricBut more troubling for Kenney perhaps is that an increasing number of non-political players don't seem to agree with him.As Kenney continues to promote the oilsands not just in word but in deed — including a $1.5-billion cash-up-front stake in the Keystone XL pipeline project — others are headed in the other direction.Just two days before Total announced its waning confidence in the long-term future of the oilsands, the Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank said it was joining a list of European financial companies blacklisting new oilsands projects for environmental reasons.Kenney responded by figuratively shaking his fist at the "misinformed campaign from European financial institutions.""We will be demanding that Deutsche Bank share with us the factual basis upon which these decisions were made," said a blustering Kenney, as if the bank hadn't thought the decision through.This is part of the Kenney government's "Fight Back" strategy; a strategy that, by the way, also gave us the embarrassment of the Canadian Energy Centre "war room" and the behind-schedule-and-over-budget secretive "public inquiry" into enemies of the oil industry.Energy Minister Sonya Savage displayed the same pugilistic stance in her response to Total's announcement."This highly-hypocritical decision comes at a time where international energy companies should, in fact, be increasing their investment in Alberta, rather than arbitrarily abandoning a source of a stable, reliable, supply of energy," wrote Savage in a news release. You could almost hear the harrumph.Savage and Kenney are trying to protect Alberta's economy and jobs. That's understandable and laudable. But they are shaking their fists at the inevitable pace of change instead of embracing the opportunities.Rather than position Alberta as an energy leader in the 21st Century, they are trying to get back to the 20th.They are even championing more coal mines. And that, not surprisingly, suffered a blow this week. On Thursday, the federal government announced it will review a major expansion of the Vista thermal-coal mine in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Hinton.Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson had originally said he wouldn't get involved but because of public concerns he has concluded the project "may result in adverse effects of greater magnitude to those previously considered."Translation: As the prime minister said in 2017, coal is the 'dirtiest of all fossil fuels,' and we're not keen on mining more thermal coal in Canada even if it is destined for Asia.The world is trying to send Kenney a message about the long-term future of Alberta's fossil fuel industries.Perhaps it's time for Kenney to tone down the bluster, turn off the rhetoric, and listen.
In shutting each other’s consulates, the United States and China have done more than strike symbolic blows in their escalating feud. For the United States, the loss of the Chengdu mission in southwestern China will, among other things, cloud its view of Tibet, a region where Buddhist residents say Beijing is eroding its culture and its traditional independent streak. China says Tibet has been its territory for centuries.
Authorities have ordered some evacuations due to a wildfire in the Angeles National Forest near Asuza in Southern California. Helicopters and a converted jumbo jet were working to douse the flames burning close to a reservoir. (July 30)