Regina councillor says auditor's 'devastating' findings will force PCC to start over with Brandt/CNIB project

Regina city councillor Bob Hawkins says the provincial auditor's report into how the government-controlled Provincial Capital Commission dealt with the proposed Brandt/CNIB building in Wascana Park is "absolutely devastating."

Auditor Judy Ferguson's report, released Thursday, critiqued the PCC for its handling of two recently approved and controversial projects in Wascana Park: the Conexus building and the Brandt/CNIB building. 

She said the Conexus building, now under construction, was approved by the PCC board, despite the fact it "knew the project did not conform to the plan when it approved it at the conceptual design stage." 

As for the Brandt/CNIB project, which has not yet received final approval, Ferguson said the province also failed. 

She said the PCC is required by law to either receive formal recommendations from an advisory committee approving the project, or to document how the proposed building is consistent with the Master Plan governing the park. 

She said the province failed to do so for both the Brandt/CNIB project and the Conexus building. 

"That means that those approvals are illegal. It means that they have no legal force," said Hawkins, who is also a law professor. 

He that said while nothing can be done about the Conexus building because construction is well under way, the PCC is now obligated to start over with the Brandt/CNIB project. 

"They're not minor problems that can be fixed by tinkering. This requires a root-and-branch review by the commission of its processes," Hawkins said. "To put it another way, not a shovel can legally go into the ground in Wascana Park in connection with the Brandt proposal until the whole of the process is revisited and strengthened."

The NDP's Nicole Sarauer goes even further. She says that, based on the auditor's findings, the Brandt/CNIB project should be scrapped. 

"I think we already know enough that this project can't go forward with any level of confidence from the public that this was done in the right way," Sarauer said. 

The provincial auditor announced she would be conducting a review of how the province approves projects in Wascana Park after a series of revelations about how the government had handled the Brandt/CNIB project. 

Daniella Ponticelli/CBC

At that time, in March, then-Minister responsible for the PCC Ken Cheveldayoff said there were no problems with the way the project had been handled.

But he said because there was a "perception problem," the government decided to put the Brandt/CNIB project on hold. 

"I think all processes were followed. There may be some perception issues out there," Cheveldayoff said in March. "All the review, all the work that I've done shows that to me that the proper processes were followed." 

Ferguson appears to have a different perspective. 

Criticism and recommendations

She noted in her report that the Wascana Centre Master Plan lays out specific rules about what sorts of projects can be built in the park. They have to conform to the five pillars: education, environment, recreation, culture or the seat of government. 

The auditor said the PCC isn't doing enough to ensure those rules are followed. 

"The commission has not set or communicated requirements of owners of buildings in Wascana Centre or their tenants to ensure on an ongoing basis conformity of the building and its use with the master plan," she wrote. 

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In addition, the report says the PCC doesn't have formal agreements requiring "building owners to seek its approval in instances of proposed changes to exterior design, changes in use, (such as significant changes in types of tenants) or change in assignment of control (such as change in building ownership.)"

She said that while the PCC is obligated to control development in the park, it "does not have mechanisms to ensure conformity of those buildings and their use with the five purposes outlined in the master plan." 

A lack of rules and transparency

Ferguson said there aren't clear rules around public consultation about proposed developments. 

"The commission has not established expectations and procedures for public consultation it expects proponents to undertake for major developments in Wascana Centre," she wrote. 

The auditor said that has led to a disparity in the extent and nature of the consultation done for the projects she reviewed.

She noted that in the case of the Conexus building, the proponent "did a good job" of consultation which "included numerous forums to allow for public input," while the Brandt/CNIB project held, "a one hour public consultation… with about 50 people in attendance." 

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Ferguson said the PCC needs to do a better job of keeping the public informed about the status of any project in the park. 

Her report calls on the PCC to "publish its design review steps for major developments in Wascana Centre and keep the public informed about the status of major developments." 

She noted that there are 19 steps in the approval process. 

The Conexus building is at stage 19: construction. 

As for the Brandt/CNIB building, it's much earlier in the process. 

"As of June 2019 one project (Brandt/CNIB) was at step 12 of 19 — architectural advisory committee preliminary and detailed design submission by the proponent." 

She said a failure to clearly communicate "can lead to confusion and misunderstanding." 

The minister responsible for the PCC, Lori Carr, said the Brandt/CNIB project will remain on hold while the PCC board reviews the auditor's report. 

"I think we actually need to wait for the Provincial Capital Commission to look at the recommendations fully and think about them seriously as they bring back the report to me and have a plan moving forward."

She said that PCC report will take "weeks not months" and will be made public. 

In a news conference Thursday, Ferguson had some advice for the PCC. 

"Whatever decision you make you be transparent in that decision and you be prepared to defend why you made that decision," she said.

  • Prince Harry and Meghan's arrival could mean 'new grounds' for Canada's privacy laws

    Prince Harry and Meghan's arrival could mean 'new grounds' for Canada's privacy laws

    British paparazzi may soon come face-to-face with Canada's privacy laws as the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan has already prompted a warning to the U.K press to back off or face legal action.But it's unclear what legal recourse the royal couple will have to keep news photographers away from their family.David Fraser, a Halifax-based privacy lawyer, says, when it comes to privacy claims in Canada, he hasn't found any related to celebrities and paparazzi.The lawsuits here that relate to invasions of privacy, most recently, deal with large-scale business data breaches, or hidden cameras, he said."So this is relatively new grounds that we're looking at, maybe because we don't have the same sort of paparazzi culture or the same sort of celebrity culture in Canada. But so far, a claim like this has not been made or at least hasn't gone to a published decision," he said. "It's not something that's really been tested a whole lot in Canada. We don't have a paparazzi culture."Buckingham Palace announced Saturday that the prince and his wife will give up public funding and try to become financially independent. The couple is expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England near Windsor Castle in an attempt to build a more peaceful life. Video from Sky News showed Harry landing at Victoria's airport late Monday. The prince, Meghan and their eight-month-old son Archie were reportedly staying at at mansion on the island. Lawyers for the couple sent a letter to British new outlets, accusing photographers of "harassment," and claiming that paparazzi have permanently camped outside their Vancouver Island residence, attempting to photograph them at home using long-range lenses.They also allege that pictures of Meghan — on a hike with Archie and her two dogs, trailed by her security detail, on Vancouver Island on Monday — were taken by photographers hiding in the bushes. "There are serious safety concerns about how the paparazzi are driving and the risk to life they pose," the letter read.When it comes to privacy issues in Canada, there are a few ways Canadians can take action, says Iain MacKinnon, a Toronto-based lawyer. One can argue "intentional infliction of mental stress" in which the conduct of the defendant has to be proven to be flagrant and outrageous; calculated to produce harm, and results in visible and provable illness, he said.There's also what's known as "intrusion upon seclusion" in which the defendant's conduct must be intentional or reckless and have invaded the plaintiff's private affairs "without lawful reason." Also, a "reasonable person would regard the invasion as highly offensive causing distress, humiliation or anguish," MacKinnon said.And there's public disclosure of private facts, when one publicizes an aspect of another's private life — without consent — that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The publication also would not be of legitimate concern to the public."And Meghan Markle walking her dog in a public space … would not fall under any of those," MacKinnon said.They may seek recourse under the B.C. Privacy Act which specifically says it's a violation for somebody to willfully and without a legal basis violate the privacy of someone else, and allows for someone to sue the alleged perpetrator.In making that determination, a judge is required to take into account the circumstances of the situation, the relationships between the parties and other people's rights and interests. There is an exemption, however, for journalistic publications and if the matter is of public interest. "Up until now, certainly when they've been part of the Royal Family and are highly public figures and are paid, their whole and entire lifestyle is paid for by public funds, then that's certainly one justification for arguing that what they do is a matter of public interest," MacKinnon said."As they may recede from public life and become more private citizens, that argument may be more difficult to make. But certainly today, this is headline news, them leaving England, leaving the Royal Family, moving to Canada. It's tough to say that this is not a matter of public interest."Most people won't consider it to be highly offensive that someone took a picture of Meghan in public park because there isn't a reasonable expectation of privacy, MacKinnon said."Now, if they're shooting with telephoto lenses into a house where Harry and Megan are staying and they're photographing them in their private lives inside a house, that might be a different story."Fraser says, under the act, an invasion of privacy can also include surveillance."It's really going to depend upon the exact circumstances of what's alleged. But it certainly sounds like a group of photographers, paparazzi following them around might fit into the category of surveillance," he said.Fraser said even if one is in a public place, there's still an expectation of privacy.Being in a public park, there's a significantly reduced expectation of privacy. But when it comes to a photographer hiding in a bush, a court might say it's arguable that one has an expectation of privacy if they are in a place, looking around, not seeing other observers and somebody has hidden themselves, Fraser said."There would also probably be an element of kind of additional intrusion based on the fact that the person has hidden themselves and is covertly trying to surveil somebody," Fraser said.The Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't give anybody a particular privacy interest among individuals — only against the state. It does, however, provide a right for freedom of expression, which would be the right that the photographers have, Fraser said."So any court considering these issues would have to balance those interests which includes the rights of journalists to collect information, to disseminate that information, against a particular privacy interest."Still, Fraser believes Harry and Meghan could find a "level of sympathy" in the courts "Given that, it seems that they're moving from the United Kingdom to Canada, least part time, in order to get away from this glare and get away from these invasions of privacy," he said. It's unlikely that the royals would see a big cash windfall in the event their legal claims were successful. Privacy damages are relatively low or modest in Canada, Fraser said. "But I would expect that an injunction so a court order requiring the paparazzi to stay away might be something that they would seek as well."And as MacKinnon noted, Harry and Meghan, through their lawyers, are probably attempting to set new ground rules."My guess is that they're trying to draw a new line in the sand here with both the Canadian media [and], more likely, the Fleet Street tabloids."

  • OPINION | Defeating Jason Kenney will require a progressive merger

    OPINION | Defeating Jason Kenney will require a progressive merger

    This column is an opinion from Max Fawcett, a freelance writer and the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine.Jason Kenney, it turns out, is not invincible. After two years of bending the political universe to his will, that universe started to fight back in 2019.His much ballyhooed "war room" keeps finding new and exciting ways to shoot itself in the foot, small business confidence is faltering, and the cuts to health and education spending (and yes, they are cuts) have yet to really bite.An October poll showed support for the UCP dropping from 56 per cent to 44 per cent, with 21 per cent of the people who voted for the UCP in April expressing dissatisfaction with its performance."If this persists and these voters feel as though they were misled, it impacts trust and makes them awfully difficult to win back," ThinkHQ Public Affairs president Marc Henry told the Edmonton Journal."They thought there'd be a light at the end of the tunnel, but all they're seeing is more tunnel."But if Mr. Kenney's progressive opponents are going to defeat him at the polls in the next election, they can't sit around and wait for his government to continue making mistakes. Instead, they'll have to do what Kenney did in the run-up to the last election: put aside their partisan differences and unite behind a single banner.A toxic brandThat will mean someone putting an end to the Alberta Liberal Party, whose brand is only slightly less toxic in Alberta right now than the Communist Party of Canada's.The party's current leader, David Khan, finished fourth in his own riding of Calgary-Mountainview in 2019 (one that used to be a reliable Liberal stronghold), while the party itself received just 18,546 votes provincewide, less than one per cent of the popular vote."I don't know how much lower they could go," says Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University. "Even in the 1980s, when they had zero seats, they didn't get one per cent of the vote."A diminished brandThe Alberta Party, meanwhile, doesn't seem to know what it stands for — or, right now, if anyone's willing to stand for it. And while the brand itself might have once had value, the fact that it's spent two elections trying to find itself has almost surely diminished that value in the minds of voters.With no leader, and no real excitement around finding someone to replace Stephen Mandel, it's fair to assume that 2019's performance could be its high-water mark."I actually feel bad for the Alberta Party," Bratt says, "because they made huge strides in 2019. They ran candidates in every riding, they increased their fundraising, they participated in the leaders debate and they took their popular vote from two or three per cent to nine per cent. But the absence of that one seat makes a world of difference."It's probably tempting to think that the banner progressives should be uniting behind is the orange one, since that's essentially what happened in both 2015 and 2019. But even so, the NDP wouldn't have been able to form government in 2015 without the split on the right between the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and the Wildrose Party.Without that split in play, and with a four-year track record as a government that happens to coincide with a collapse in oil and gas prices, the NDP brand may not be in much better shape than the Liberal one.The fact that many Albertans blame the NDP for an economic downturn that was driven by huge changes in global oil and gas markets is neither fair nor rational, but nobody ever said politics was either of those things. After all, Donald Trump is president of the United States.A new allianceThat's why Alberta needs a new progressive alliance, one that can offer a home to everyone who doesn't support the current government's policies and personalities.And while a rebrand might seem to some New Democrats like an admission of defeat, it's often the shortest path to power.In addition to the UCP, there's the B.C. Liberal Party, which was effectively taken over by Social Credit members after their government was drubbed by the NDP in the 1991 provincial election. The B.C. Liberals would go on to govern for most of the 21st century before they were defeated in 2017 — and even then, they won the popular vote and the most seats.In Saskatchewan, meanwhile, the Progressive Conservative Party emerged from the ashes of the scandal-ridden Grant Devine era in 1997 as the Saskatchewan Party — and eventually formed government in 2007. The Alberta NDP was far more scandal-proof in office than either of those two parties, but it still faces the same branding challenge that Alberta Liberals have struggled with for decades. And like those Liberals, that's less a result of anything they've done than the behaviour of their federal cousins.For example, the NDP held its national convention in Edmonton in 2016, and used the opportunity to undercut the only provincial NDP government in the country at the time.In an interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, then-leader Tom Mulcair said he'd support a policy to keep Canada's oil in the ground if members passed it — a statement that only confirmed the suspicions many Albertans still had about the provincial NDP's attitude toward the oil and gas industry.Jagmeet Singh, the leader who replaced Mulcair, has been even more antagonistic toward Alberta's energy sector, pledging repeatedly (and impotently) to block the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.Notley hugely popularIf the NDP brand and its association with federal leaders and policies is a bit of an albatross, though, its leader surely isn't.Rachel Notley remains a hugely popular politician in Alberta, one whose appeal and reach vastly exceeds that of her party.In the run-up to the last election, Notley consistently polled higher than the NDP itself — often by double-digits. And it's that popularity, particularly within the party, that makes political strategist Stephen Carter think she could be the one to convince them to take the kind of leap they'll almost certainly need in order to win the next election: a full break with the federal party and the birth of a new political vehicle in its place."I think the Alberta Democrats could be something that would be phenomenal," he says.Carter isn't convinced that there needs to be a formal merger between the various progressive parties in Alberta."The population won't split. If the population really wants to defeat Kenney, they will choose one horse and ride it to the finish line."But, he says, they'll be far more likely to saddle up with a party that doesn't have any pre-existing baggage. And ironically, he thinks part of that baggage is the NDP's conspicuous swing to the centre when it was in government."I think they were a very responsible government, in terms of what they actually did. But they didn't give anybody any real reason to love them. You're not going to get anywhere by relaxing the craft brewing laws. They needed to do something more significant — that actually impacted regular human beings."New voices neededMore importantly, he says, if the Alberta Democratic Party is to succeed, it would need to be willing to allow new voices at the decision-making tables: "You never grow a political movement without reaching outside."He remembers being approached to run the leadership campaign of Alison Redford and agreeing, provided a certain individual wasn't involved. That individual had the same condition for their own participation, but eventually the two met and realized they worked well together."If I'd been successful in my small-mindedness," Carter says, "I never would have had that power and strength that comes from working with someone who mildly disagrees with you — or in some cases even moderately disagrees with you, and pushes you to a new position that is better and stronger. I would argue that was the problem with the NDP, and that remains the problem with the NDP."Another problem is the temptation to believe that what happened in 2015 could happen again in 2023 — namely, a split of the conservative vote. But betting on a breakup of Jason Kenney's conservative coalition might be even more foolish than expecting him to lose outright, according to Duane Bratt."There are some early indications of splits within the UCP, but he's just such a force of nature, and a force of will, that he's got his hands over that," Bratt says.That means that if progressives want to win the next election, they'll have to put aside their misgivings and tribal loyalties and find a way to work together.That will require Alberta Liberals to finally let their beleaguered brand die. It will mean formalizing a divorce between Alberta's New Democrats and their federal cousins. And it will force the Alberta Party's members and donors to give up on their own new brand and endorse an even newer one.The alternative, of course, is a re-elected UCP government. Time will tell which option Alberta's progressives find more unpalatable. This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

  • Jean Charest unloads on Quebec's anti-corruption unit as he opts out of Tory leadership race

    Jean Charest unloads on Quebec's anti-corruption unit as he opts out of Tory leadership race

    Former Quebec Liberal premier Jean Charest has sought to undermine the credibility of an ongoing corruption investigation into his political career, slamming the provincial anti-corruption unit as he announced he won't be running for the federal Conservative leadership.In an interview Tuesday with Radio-Canada, Charest accused Quebec's anti-corruption unit (UPAC) of conducting a "fishing expedition."He also cast doubt on the reliability of information gathered by UPAC investigators and defended a friend suspected of defrauding the government.It is the first time since leaving office in 2012 that Charest has directly addressed allegations that engineering and construction companies in Quebec were able to secure government contracts by donating to the Quebec Liberal Party.After Charest had stepped down, a public inquiry heard evidence that during his time as premier, the provincial Liberals benefited from millions in illegal donations.The anti-corruption unit, which Charest's government created in 2011, subsequently opened an investigation into Liberal fundraising practices. Media reports suggested Charest was a key figure in that investigation.In his comments Tuesday, Charest confirmed he'd been singled out by UPAC. He said investigators had questioned a wide circle of his contacts, including former political organizers from as far back as the early 1980s."What do you call it when, suddenly, you begin an investigation and you interrogate 300 people about someone's life? Is that not called a fishing expedition?" asked Charest.The investigation has been going on for six years, and no one has yet been charged. It was "common sense," he said, to ask for the investigation to end.Charest's demand was echoed by the party's current house leader, Marc Tanguay. "We're asking UPAC, really, to close this investigation one way or another," Tanguay said Wednesday. "It doesn't make sense that it's been six years."The government, though, scoffed at Tanguay's remarks. "It's very audacious for a Liberal MNA to make that request," said Andrée Laforest, the interim public security minister. "We're going to let the investigation follow its course."MNAs for Québec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois made similar comments. "Me, I'll believe UPAC," said Manon Massé, parliamentary leader of QS.On Wednesday afternoon, UPAC issued a statement saying it was important that the anti-corruption unit "be able to make its operational decisions with complete independence."The head of UPAC, Frédérick Gaudreau, said in the statement that he understood the "impatience" for answers, and promised to inform the public when the investigation was completed.Tanguay tweeted later to say he respected UPAC's independence.  'I don't believe one word' about Bibeau: CharestThough Tuesday's interview with Radio-Canada began with Charest's announcement about the Conservative leadership, the questions focused on the UPAC investigation and the allegations of wrongdoing that hounded his goverment. Charest said his government wasn't aware that firms were reimbursing employees to get around political fundraising laws in Quebec that prohibit companies from making donations.When his government learned about the reimbursement scheme, which benefited other provincial parties as well, Charest said he immediately tightened the Quebec Liberal Party's fundraising rules.Many of these allegations resurfaced last week when Marc Bibeau — a former Liberal fundraiser and close friend of Charest's — lost a bid to block the publication of UPAC affidavits. The affidavits were filed in support of search warrant applications — part of UPAC's investigation into Bibeau. They contained summaries of police interviews with several witnesses, many of whom were high-ranking executives at engineering companies who allegedly said they felt pressured by Bibeau to illegally donate to the Liberals. In one summary, a witness said Bibeau went around with a business card embossed with a Quebec government logo, even though he had no position within the government."I don't believe it. I don't believe one word," Charest of the allegations against Bibeau.He said that information in UPAC affidavits had been wrong in the past. He also raised the various governance problems that have checkered the anti-corruption unit's reputation in recent years."Do I need to remind you that UPAC is currently under investigation?" Charest said, referring to its bungled arrest of a sitting MNA in 2017.No role in the decision not to run for leadershipThough the information contained in the affidavits published last week wasn't new — much of it was initially heard during the public inquiry into corruption known as the Charbonneau commission — it reignited debate in Quebec about Charest's ethics.Several columnists questioned why he would want to re-enter the political fray given the questions raised by the open UPAC investigation. "What could be going on in Jean Charest's head?" began one recent column in the Journal de Montréal."Think about it carefully," counselled a columnist at La Presse.In Tuesday's interview, Charest said the publication of the documents last week played no part in his decision not to run for the Conservative leadership."All this was already in the public domain," the former premier said. "I would never have evoked the possibility of becoming a candidate if I felt for one instant that something like this would lead to criminal charges or would have hindered me."Charest said he opted not to run because, among other things, he felt the party had changed too much since he led the Progressive Conservatives, from 1993 to 1998.

  • Awake? Senators struggle to stay focused on impeachment
    The Canadian Press

    Awake? Senators struggle to stay focused on impeachment

    WASHINGTON — Adam Schiff was still speaking — about witnesses, documents, future presidents and the impeachment of President Donald Trump. He'd said it all before, but five hours into the Senate trial, Schiff, the lead prosecutor, was saying it again.Suddenly, from the Republican side, Sen. James Risch of Idaho raised his left hand so Schiff could see it and pointed, repeatedly, to his wristwatch. Time's up, Risch signalled. He was right: It was time to vote, and — perhaps as important — it would soon be time for dinner. Schiff yielded, and the senators rose to vote and then quietly left the chamber."The subject matter is something we’ve all heard,” Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., told reporters.The understatement helps explain what seemed to be a widespread struggle with attention late Tuesday and early Wednesday as arguments in the abuse and obstruction trial stretched past midnight. It's a challenge anyone who's served on a jury might understand, but senators try not to complain, given the enormous political stakes of the trial during the 2020 election year.About a third of the senators are up for reelection. The more senior members are on camera during the proceedings. Anyone falling asleep — and a few senators looked like they might have Tuesday and Wednesday — during only the third impeachment trial in history would have some explaining to do.The urge to nod off stems in part from the familiarity of the arguments. They have all heard the story of Trump's pressure on Ukraine. Only a handful claim to have not made up their minds on whether Trump should be removed from office. And the outcome — the impeached president's acquittal — seems clear. Still, the trial is expected to cover tedious, familiar territory six days a week until it is resolved.One piece of good news for the attention-challenged: The Senate voted Tuesday to trade 12-hour days for 8-hour days when opening arguments begin. And both sides are using audiovisual aides to keep people awake. Lawyer Jay Sekulow did a bit of pointing and raising his voice at one point late in the proceedings, which seemed to perk people up.But inside the crowded, tradition-bound chamber, senators have little to do besides take notes and listen. Phones and coffee are banned. So are talking and passing notes to each other. There's no pacing around the chamber. Snacks are traditionally frowned upon, though Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., could be seen popping something into his mouth and chewing as he wrote on a notepad.Senators in both parties paid close attention and took notes, highlighted papers and listened intently — at least at first.One of the most prolific note-takers throughout the proceedings was Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a centrist in a tough reelection fight this year. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of four Democratic presidential candidates forced back to the Senate ahead of the Iowa caucuses, held both a blue pen and yellow pencil in her right hand and alternated which she used to take notes.Others appeared to struggle to maintain attention as the hours wore on. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a presidential hopeful who has openly complained about having to be in Washington, yawned and at one point tipped his head back on his chair.Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another Democratic presidential candidate, appeared to be subtly chewing something at length, possibly gum, as Schiff spoke.It's worth noting that he did so largely extemporaneously virtually all day, referring sporadically to a page or two of scribbled points laid on the podium at the centre aisle. The repetition on calling witnesses and documents, he said, was purposeful: Getting to what Democrats consider a “fair trial” is hard. But the statement may have applied to the tedium, as well.“It's not our job to make it easier for you,” Schiff said.A few hours in, the visitors' galleries were less than half full. A staff area of the Senate floor had extra chairs but few people sitting there. Senators periodically gazed up into the galleries, a rare occurrence.As the debate stretched past 1 a.m., senators became looser with the rules. Several senators stood at their desks, walked around the back of the chamber or chatted quietly among themselves as Democrats continued to offer amendments. Some members sat with their eyes closed.Then something happened that jolted everyone awake: White House Counsel Pat Cippolone and Judiciary Committee Chairman and prosecutor Jerrold Nadler clashed openly on the floor in a manner that prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to set some boundaries.“I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body," he said. No matter the hour, he suggested, “Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”Through the final vote, senators started pacing around. Several leaned against back walls. At one point, Sanders was sitting in the staff area. Klobuchar and Warren stood together and chatted through the whole tally.Sen. Martin Heinrich had disappeared for a time. After about 10 minutes, he appeared to slow claps, laughing and “woo hoos.” He voted and at 1:50 a.m., Roberts adjorned.___Associated Press Writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Alan Fram contributed to this report.___Follow Kellman on Twitter at Kellman, The Associated Press

  • Millidgeville apartment plan fails to get green light from Saint John PAC

    Millidgeville apartment plan fails to get green light from Saint John PAC

    Saint John's Planning Advisory Committee surprised the people backing a Millidgeville apartment project by recommending against the proposal.The plan, by developer Charles Bird, would see two, four-storey buildings placed on a former church property on Millidge Avenue.It is being recommended by city planning staff who say the location is in an "intensification" area dedicated to greater density.But opponents crowded the two small rooms being used for the committee hearings Tuesday evening.The PAC also received 37 letters about the project, the vast majority opposed.Many raise concerns about the density and height of the project, which would be placed on a 1.9 acre lot.       Neighbour Hazel Kerr described the profile the buildings would create as "a blot on the horizon," when compared to the single family homes surrounding it. "It's great that the city needs apartments, but there's a right place and a wrong place," said another opponent, Yuriy Klitinskiy.Gary Sullivan, Saint John Council's representative on the PAC, is also a Millidgeville resident.He made the motion to recommend against the 88 unit development. "I've had a really hard time with this," said Sullivan. "I know it will be a quality project, I just don't think it's the right thing for that area."The amount of opposition caught the developers completely off guard."We didn't expect 37 people to show up against this .... We had knocked on all the doors, we thought we understood how the community felt," said engineer Andrew Toole, who was representing the proponent on the application.Toole said he would reach out to some of the neighbours to address their concerns before the proposal goes to a city council vote on Feb. 10.A second apartment project, planned for the Gothic Arches site on the city's Central Peninsula got a unanimous recommendation for approval from the PAC.A series of supporters spoke in favour of the proposal, which would see a seven-storey building with 83 high end units constructed on the Wentworth Street property.

  • News

    Antigonish council passes bylaw to restrict number of rental rooms in a home

    The Town of Antigonish, N.S., is trying to crack down on landlords who rent out several rooms in a home.At a council meeting on Monday night, the elected members voted unanimously to limit the number of rooms landlords can rent to four, but there are some exceptions."Over the last few years, we've been getting quite a few complaints from our residents," said Mayor Laurie Boucher."We were asked by the community to try to do something about it. And what we decided on as a council is, 'Can we limit the number of rooms that are being rented?'"The answer is both yes and no.The new lodging home bylaw only applies to new home or "lodging" construction. Landlords who already own homes and rent out to multiple tenants will be unaffected.Some buildings will be grandfatheredThere are more than 90 old Victorian-style homes, with multiple units inside, in the downtown area of Antigonish that will be "grandfathered in," or listed as legal/non-conforming.Boucher said those landlords will continue to be allowed to rent as they choose, but the new bylaw will require they be registered with the town, which will trigger a fire and safety inspection.Boucher said that should address the concerns of students who have complained in the past of living in unsafe buildings.Balancing concernsAs for neighbours who complain about party houses, Boucher said council is trying to balance their concerns with those of landlords and students."Being a university town, we absolutely need places and residents for our students to live. In September, our population doubles in size," she said."But it's our due diligence to make sure that people in our community are safe and that people have the right to live in their homes and communities without being disturbed."We have two bylaw officers that are very knowledgeable within the town and know what's going on."Boucher said the town is working on an education campaign for students to remind them of the existing noise bylaw.MORE TOP STORIES

  • City's hands tied by LRT maintenance contract

    City's hands tied by LRT maintenance contract

    Four months into a 30-year contract with Rideau Transit Maintenance to keep the Confederation Line running smoothly, some city officials say the relationship is already faltering.One outspoken transit commissioner is even calling for the city to break the $1 billion long-term deal, and bring the maintenance of the trains in-house."Because clearly, holding back the money is not enough incentive for them to do their job," said Sarah Wright-Gilbert, one of the commission's four appointed citizen members.Since the Confederation Line launched in mid-September, the city hasn't paid Rideau Transit a cent. Its monthly payments are supposed to be $4.5 to $5 million, so the group is currently out up to $20 million.Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) is an arm of Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the partnership between ACS Infrastructure, SNC-Lavalin and Ellis Don that built Ottawa's $2.1-billion Confederation Line.RTM is in charge of maintaining the entire LRT system, including the Alstom Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles. RTM actually subcontracts the maintenance of the trains themselves to France-based Alstom, which did not respond to questions Tuesday. Not yet the 'last straw'In the last week alone, one train somehow pulled down 80 metres of overhead electrical cable, and other trains had issues with their wheels, causing them to skid and smoke. Switch issues over the weekend caused hours of delay.When RTG handed over control of the LRT to the city last August, the system was supposed to come with 17 double-car, fully tested and commissioned trains. It's now unclear whether all 17 ever worked.These last few days, so many trains have had issues that, at times, only eight or nine have been available to carry passengers.Transit chair Coun. Allan Hubley pinned the recent problems on RTM not meeting the city's expectations for maintaining trains and dealing with winter-related issues.Hubley and his colleagues will be looking for answers from Rideau Transit CEO Peter Lauch, who is set to appear at an emergency transit commission called for Thursday afternoon.But unlike Wright-Gilbert, Hubley doesn't believe the LRT's issues have become so dire that the city should go through the complicated legal process of breaking from RTM."That's bad news if we have to go that route. To me, that's the last straw [when] we're absolutely convinced they don't have the expertise to do what they're supposed to do."Mayor Jim Watson agreed that it is too early to be talking about the possibility of pulling out of the maintenance contract. "I think most members of the public want us to deal with getting the damn trains fixed, first and foremost, and then deal with repercussions with the consortium," said Watson, adding he has had no discussions about possible litigation.City blaming Rideau TransitIn recent days, the city has made a point of emphasizing how it's RTG that is failing commuters, and not the city.It appears OC Transpo boss John Manconi is less willing to speak for RTG — at the news conference last Thursday to address the collapsed 80 metres of electrical cable, Manconi stood at the back, behind reporters. At the next day's news conference, Manconi sat at the table with other officials, but said little.Instead, it appears that the city is insisting that Rideau Transit's Lauch, who has rarely spoken to the media over the years of this project, be on hand to answer questions.While city officials are at pains to focus the blame for the problems on RTM, it is difficult to see what the city can do at this point to improve the system other than holding back maintenance payments — a strategy that doesn't seem to be fixing the trains any faster.As Hubley said: "It's big money. Wouldn't you love to be making $5 million to do a job? Get to work and do the job." Watson is still confident that withholding payments is effective leverage because it hits RTM "in the pocketbook and also hurts their credibility and reputation both nationally and worldwide."But my concern and my preoccupation and that of our staff has been to get these problems resolved find the root causes of some of the problems that continue to happen."

  • Snags, successes in Ottawa's efforts to recruit Indigenous public servants: docs
    The Canadian Press

    Snags, successes in Ottawa's efforts to recruit Indigenous public servants: docs

    OTTAWA — The federal government invited a group of Indigenous elders to Ottawa last spring to seek their guidance on how to address barriers faced by Indigenous federal employees, but the well-intentioned gathering hit an unexpected snag.The elders were told they could not perform a smudging ceremony, a tradition to many First Nations and other Indigenous cultures that involves burning plants, such as sage and sweetgrass, considered to be sacred medicines.According to a new elder protocol guide developed by Employment and Social Development Canada, federal building regulations are such that advance notice for smudging ceremonies is required.It is just one example that highlights some of the challenges Ottawa faces as it tries to become a better employer to First Nations, Metis and Inuit working as federal public servants in departments and agencies across Canada.The Canadian Press has obtained several documents through the Access to Information Act that show the federal government has been making efforts to attract, retain and promote more Indigenous civil servants.The documents, which date from May to September, 2019, show bureaucratic red tape can often get in the way.This has forced some departments to come up with creative new approaches.The new elder protocol guide is an example. Indigenous elders are being increasingly invited to participate in government activities and events, so the department recognized the need to educate its employees in the proper ways to engage with elders in a culturally sensitive way.The guide explains the role of elders in Indigenous communities and lays out the appropriate ways to treat and interact with them. But it also details some careful manoeuvring through federal rules that become necessary in dealings with such things as offerings usually extended to elders. Elders are traditionally presented with a small gift and a "financial gesture of gratitude" to thank them for sharing their knowledge.The usual Treasury Board guidelines would mean getting them to sign a service contract in order to receive the gift.But elders aren't service providers or businesses, so asking them to do so "would be highly inappropriate," the protocol guide notes.So, a workaround was developed.Employment and Social Development Canada, which is the department that produced the internal documents, does not have the authority to offer gifts. But it does have wiggle room in its hospitality policy to offer small tokens of appreciation worth $50 or less. That's how it now covers the costs of small gifts like tobacco, tea or jam.When it comes to the financial stipend, which typically ranges from $250 to $550, a step-by-step process with pictures is now included in the protocol guide explaining how to properly account for this in federal paperwork as "other costs."These issues are just a small peek behind the curtain of a massive undertaking by the federal government to make its departments and workplaces more inclusive and culturally sensitive to the needs of Indigenous employees.These efforts are in response to a 2017 report that found Indigenous civil servants face numerous barriers within their workplaces, including discrimination and harassment and limited training or opportunities for advancement. The report also revealed managers and workplaces were insensitive and ill-informed about Indigenous experiences, cultural traditions, histories and traditional languages.A scorecard developed to measure results across departments shows good progress, according to a briefing note prepared for the deputy minister.Many challenges remain, notably when it comes to the federal government's French language requirements, which were "identified as a major barrier to the recruitment and advancement of Indigenous employees." This is a particular barrier when it comes to Indigenous talent being promoted to senior ranks, the documents say.As for progress, government departments and agencies were applauded for their recruitment efforts and what they have done to address discrimination and racism in the workplace.A total of 437 Indigenous employees, excluding students, were recruited as of May 2019, according to the documents, and 57 government organizations said they had retained all their recruits.Indigenous mentors, ambassadors and advisers have also been established in several departments. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada became the first government department to hire a full-time elder on staff.The briefing note also noted that meeting longer-term targets for reforms is proving to be more challenging."Organizations continue to report higher levels of harassment and discrimination for their Indigenous workforce, and more emphasis needs to be placed on developing cultural competencies," the document notes.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2020.Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

  • Sherbrooke nurse suspended for complaining about working conditions in private online chat group, says union

    Sherbrooke nurse suspended for complaining about working conditions in private online chat group, says union

    The union that represents health care workers in the Eastern Townships says employees who don't respect "a code of silence" within the workplace risk facing disciplinary measures.The regional health agency, the CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS, suspended a nurse after she complained about working conditions on a Facebook Messenger group chat with co-workers, according to the Syndicat des professionnels en soin des Cantons de l'Est.President Sophie Séguin said the local health board should listen to employees' concerns instead of punishing them for speaking out.Séguin said the nurse, who asked the union to preserve her anonymity, created a chat group with some colleagues last December and reported "well-known issues" within the health network.One of her co-workers likely shared the content of those messages with administrators, said Séguin. The nurse was then suspended for one month.During the same period, another nurse, Jean-Sébastien Blais, was also suspended for three weeks after he published a public message on Facebook describing a lack of resources for mental health services in the region.The union has filed grievances in both cases."What we want to denounce is the Omertà" within the region's public health board, said Séguin. She said employees feel the need to speak out publicly because management "doesn't move fast enough to solve the problems" that exist in certain sectors, she said.'No Omertà'"There is no Omertà within our establishment," a spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS responded.Geneviève Lemay said the board cannot comment on individual situations regarding employees.However, in an emailed statement to CBC News, Lemay said "staff members entirely have the right to express themselves on social media regarding their working conditions and work environment, without exposing themselves to the risk of disciplinary measures."If "disciplinary measures are taken, it is because the comments made do not respect the rules and regulations that apply in our establishment," she said — for example, the health agency's policy on harassment and its rules on social media usage.The office of Health Minister Danielle McCann said personnel issues are confidential but said the minister spoke with CIUSSS officials about these kinds of situations and called any "code of silence" "unacceptable."Séguin said the union fears this kind of precedent will lead to workers not coming forward when problems surface."If people are afraid of speaking out and no longer want to give their opinion, how will we find solutions to these problems?" she asked.The union will be holding a meeting with management at the end of January to address some of these issues.'No such thing as privacy'The professional order representing Quebec nurses said it is important that overworked health care workers go to the right place with their concerns."If the workflow doesn't allow nurses to provide adequate care, they should turn to their internal nursing committees to share their opinions," said the order's president, Luc Mathieu.Sophie Brochu, a Montreal lawyer who specializes in labour relations, said this kind of situation is happening more and more often in the workplace, because people "assume Facebook is not in the public domain and is their own space to communicate with their friends and family."But whether the comments are made publicly or within a private platform, she said employees should know "there is no such thing as privacy on Facebook."For health care workers, balancing their obligations to their employer and respecting their own code of ethics "can come into conflict.""They are in a very tight spot," Brochu said.Conversations that used to stay at the dinner table after a hard day's work can be traced back to an employee, she warned."You have a duty of loyalty to your employer. You cannot harm or damage their reputation in any time, and that applies everywhere."

  • CHEO bursting at the seams

    CHEO bursting at the seams

    Ottawa's children's hospital, CHEO, operated over capacity two out of every three days during the first half of 2019, more than than any other acute-care hospital in the city.  That startling statistic comes from data obtained from Ontario's Ministry of Health through an access to information request by CBC.From January to June, CHEO took in more patients than it had room for on 121 of 181 days, or 66 per cent of the time. On seven of those days, the children's hospital was operating at over 120 per cent capacity.By comparison, Toronto's Sick Kids was only over capacity 41 days during the first six months of the year.The data comes as the provincial government promises health reforms it vows will put an end to "hallway medicine" — when hospitals become so crowded patients have to be assessed and treated in corridors because there are no beds.Dr. Lindy Samson, chief of staff at CHEO, said the reasons are many: a busy flu season, a growing population and the hospital's status as the only one in the region dedicated to children."When you're the only facility, it really impacts us significantly," she said.An increase in the number of young people seeking care for mental health issues also put a strain on the hospital's emergency department, Samson said.The pressure on the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit is hitting some of the hospital's sickest children especially hard, Samson said."When those most critically ill children need care and if it's full, we have no choice but to send them out of the region," she said. "It's the solution of last resort."Elective surgeries — everything from tonsillectomies to spinal and even heart surgeries — are also being postponed as a result of the overcrowding."These aren't just things that can wait for months and months," Samson said. "It is so hard, and our hearts go out to the children and their families, and we never take it lightly and we work hard to try and reschedule it." Family health teamsRose Anne Devlin, a professor of economics at the University of Ottawa whose research has focused on health care in Ontario, believes the province could ease the pressure on hospitals by creating more family health teams — doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who work together to provide primary care to patients outside the hospital setting, typically in the evenings.The province created 184 of the teams between 2005 and 2012, and added another three last year. Devlin is calling for more to ease the strain on overcrowded hospitals."Something has to happen," she said. "A hospital is a very expensive place to treat conditions that primary doctors could provide."Trying something differentIn anticipation of this year's flu season, CHEO has used a one-time, $1.5-million bailout from the province to open nine more beds, but the funding runs out at the end of March.In an attempt to boost efficiency, the hospital has also hired a "flow coordinator" to oversee admission and discharge. Since December, department heads have been convening for a morning huddle in a newly created command centre where they, too, try to manage admissions and coordinate tests so patients can be discharged as quickly as possible at the other end.It's led to fewer cancelled surgeries and faster admissions, Samson said."This year felt like the year we had to try something differently," she said. "Coming together as a command centre was the best way, and we're seeing some early positive results."

  • St. John's airport opens, relieves stranded passengers

    St. John's airport opens, relieves stranded passengers

    After five days without commercial flights flying in or out of the St. John's airport, travellers are happy to finally be able to take off and touch down.The City of St. John's has agreed to allow the St. John's International Airport to resume operations as of 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.The announcement is somewhat bittersweet for Beverly Steele whose sister who lives in St. John's missed a surgery that could only be done in Halifax. The 12 hour surgery would be critical in removing some of the cancer in her abdomen."The sooner she gets the surgery the better," said Steele, who is concerned about the cancer getting worse as she waits. It's good to be back at work and seeing people's smiling faces. \- Patrick HanlonSteele said the surgery was booked for Wednesday but the hospital needed her sister there by Tuesday, which didn't happen due to so many cancellations. "There is nobody to blame, it is just the luck has not been in our corner as of right now," she saidSteele said it has calmed her family's nerves to secure another appointment for surgery and to see those flights back up and running."I am relieved, yes, because it's not just my sister in this situation, there are a lot of people that have to leave for many other reasons," Steele said."We just really need the airport, don't we."Krista Mulrooney, who lives in Edmonton, was among the first passengers to land Wednesday morning.Her father passed away Sunday."We're home for his funeral," she said. "I've been trying to get home for my mom and my family."Heading homeSome of those crowding around the departures board Wednesday had been trying to leave the island for days.Dean Blotto Gray, a photographer for snowboarding company Burton on his way to Japan, wasn't frustrated about being stranded.His crew had "never seen anything like this," he said. "Being in a hurricane made out of snow --it was quite thrilling. And it made our trip actually better because we stayed a little bit longer hung out with the community more and did some more snowboarding."Sherry Stinson nearly made it out ahead of the storm Friday, but ended up stuck at a hotel. She said staff and guests all came together in — even grabbing shovels to help hotel workers clear out cars."The people that I've met [are] really going to be the shining part of the entire situation," she said.Stinson's friend Karen Gray said, despite the exhaustion and intermittent feelings of isolation, she found the entire experience fantastic."We all kind of bonded together, hung out, played cards, drank some beer," Gray said."I don't think I'd want to be stuck anywhere else."Additional flights Peter Avery, CEO of the St. John's Airport Authority, told CBC Radio that the airport is prepared to open Wednesday morning and get back to business as usual."We're in pretty good shape right now. All of our main facilities, and our airfields, parking lots and roadways are cleared. So, we're ready for the go-ahead tomorrow morning," Avery said.Avery said St. John's International Airport is expecting at least 2,000 passengers inbound on Wednesday, with the same amount looking to fly out. Air Canada said in a tweet that the company plans on adding capacity to and from the St. John's Airport once it re-opens to get passengers to where they need to be as quickly as possible. Taxis back on the road Taxis were allowed to resume full operation Tuesday evening to not only get people to and from the airport but to also get people to grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and doctors offices."It's good to be back at work and seeing people's smiling faces and being part of the community," said Patrick Hanlon, owner and operator of Independent Taxi NL.Hanlon who was out helping people get their groceries Tuesday said the road conditions were "rather rough" but is hoping the conditions will improve for Wednesday. "All day [Tuesday] everybody was very courteous, pedestrians were also understanding of the vehicles … and vehicles were yielding to pedestrians," he said.While the city has kept taxis off the roads to help with snowclearing, Hanlon said that means time he didn't get paid. "[It's] difficult, I am out of work just like many people.""Over the last number of days I have received a good number of calls looking for service and I have been unable to service my customers … so it provides me a little more relief now."The city is asking residents to try to carpool or take a taxi to reduce traffic on the roads if possible.Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • News

    St. John's snow removal: Here's where crews will be Wednesday

    City crews continue to move through the city core to clear and widen streets. The work on Wednesday will focuse on streets spreading out from the downtown area. As a public service, we're posting this notice from the City of St. John's. Snow removal is currently taking place in downtown St. John's, and will continue overnight into the morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 22. Crews anticipate completing Hamilton Avenue, Hamilton Ave Extension and Harbour Drive overnight.     These roads are being cleared to provide temporary parking spaces so we can begin snow removal in downtown residential areas; vehicles parked on Hamilton Ave, Hamilton Ave Extension and Harbour Drive should be moved immediately. At this time the City is clearing and removing snow from roads only.   Once those streets are cleared overnight, during the daytime on Wednesday, Jan. 22 City plows will remove snow on: * Monkstown Road * Rennies Mill Road * Queen's Road * Prince of Wales Street * Barter's Hill * Casey Street * Springdale Street * Empire Avenue  To effectively remove snow, parked cars must be moved. Owners of vehicles parked on the streets listed immediately above are urged to clean and remove their vehicles during the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 22. These vehicles can temporarily park on the streets that have been cleared.   Additional downtown residential streets will be added as snow removal operations progress. This will be communicated through a public advisory on the City website, and the City's social media feeds.

  • Fewer LRT trains running again this morning

    Fewer LRT trains running again this morning

    Eleven trains will be operating during this morning's rush hour, says OC Transpo boss John Manconi.  This is the third day in a row the LRT system will run without enough trains to meet rider demand. During rush hours, OC Transpo typically has 13 trains on the tracks, with 11 trains working during slower periods. When all 13 are operational, a train arrives approximately every four minutes to pick up commuters. When only 11 trains run, that frequency drops to every five minutes.It's been a bumpy few days for OC Transpo. While Monday morning also only had 10 trains ferrying Ottawans, Tuesday morning had as few as eight.To help alleviate the crowds, the agency has been running "Special" route buses alongside its trains, which it plans to do again this morning. Those go from Tunney's Pasture station straight to Slater and Albert streets, and from Hurdman station to the Mackenzie King Bridge near the NAC downtown in the morning.In the afternoon, they go straight from Albert and O'Connor streets (the World Exchange Plaza block) to Tunney's Pasture and Hurdman.They will run 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m., like yesterday. A special transit commission meeting is planned for Thursday, allowing the city to receive an update on the Confederation Line and bus service.Officials with both RTG and OC Transpo are expected to attend.This is the seventh straight day with an issue disrupting the schedule on the Confederation Line, the longest such streak since it launched.

  • More untreatable waste expected at Charlottetown sewage plant

    More untreatable waste expected at Charlottetown sewage plant

    Staff at Charlottetown's sewage treatment plant are bracing for trouble when waste water from Stratford begins to arrive.The amount of stuff that shouldn't be there — mostly disposable wipes and cloth rags  — will likely increase, according to the plant superintendent."We fill one dumpster a week," said Steven Stewart. "That could go to three when it all gets going."The city will have a new screening facility up and running in a couple of weeks to help deal with the gunk. It's part of $12 million in upgrades undertaken to handle increased waste at the Charlottetown plant.The new screening facility will be housed in a separate building on the plant's waterfront property on Riverside Drive.'Somebody's Calvin Kleins'The new, finer screen will replace a decades-old machine that currently sifts all manner of items out of the sewage that flows from the homes of Charlottetown residents."This looks like somebody's Calvin Kleins," said Stewart, as he used a pitch fork and gloved hands to pick through a knotted wad of cloth and elastic that turned up in the pipes in recent days. The name of the designer-label undergarment was clearly visible.Over the years, staff have removed many curious items: an animal horn, bones, children's toys, cash. A pair of crinkled $5 bills are kept in the plant as examples of what can turn up. One worker told CBC he once found a $50 bill.  And a set of dentures. Staff estimate they remove a "five gallon bucket" of untreatable items from pumping equipment every day. It takes valuable time, and puts staff at risk, according to Stewart."You get syringes. Sometimes we have razor blades," said Stewart. "It's a hazard to employees because on a daily basis we have to go in and unplug these things from our pumps."Don't put anything in the toilet that isn't toilet paper or number one or number two."Despite the ongoing problems, city residents are "quite conscientous," according to Charlottetown's sewer and water manager."People have educated themselves," said Richard MacEwen. "Island Waste Management does a great job of explaining how the waste-handling system works and people have embraced it."'Not flushable'The advent of so-called flushable wipes has created a new challenge in recent years, according to MacEwen."They're not flushable," said MacEwen.Cooking oil and grease also clog pipes and should not be poured down kitchen drains.The city of Summerside says it's having trouble with people flushing mop heads.They say staff continue to pull mop heads out of clogged sewage pumping equipment on a regular basis.More P.E.I. news

  • As teen recovers from near-fatal accident, his family bonds with teen who struck him

    As teen recovers from near-fatal accident, his family bonds with teen who struck him

    As Alex Nelson lies in a dimmed room at the Saint John Regional Hospital, he grips a set of cream-coloured rosary beads. They were a gift from Hanna Bordage, the 16-year-old girl who struck him in the black Honda she was driving earlier this month at the corner of Prospect Street and Duncan Lane in Fredericton. "Alex has not let go of it since," said his mother, Terri Taylor.The crash left the 18-year-old with a serious brain injury, and he spent days fighting for his life."I just keep trying to remind myself of the little bits of light through all this darkness," Taylor said.Although Taylor wishes she could go back in time and change what happened that day, she wouldn't take back meeting the Bordage family.The near-fatal crash on Jan. 8 sparked an unlikely friendship between the two Fredericton families, who otherwise might never have met.The families have supported each other in Facebook messages, a joint visit to the hospital where Alex is staying and a handwritten note about forgiveness."We're going to get through this together," Taylor said.How they metOver the past two weeks, Taylor has used Facebook posts to keep family and friends updated on Alex's recovery from the crash. One of the posts asked readers to pray for the driver who hit him.That's when Hanna decided to reach out to Alex's family.She sent a Facebook message to Julia, Alex's 16-year-old sister. You don't know what to say. You just know you have to be there. \- Joemana Bordage, Hanna's motherHanna introduced herself and asked how Alex was making out in hospital and apologized over and over again for striking him. "She didn't mean to hurt him," Taylor said.The two families decided to finally meet in person.Hanna, her mom, aunt and grandmother met over the weekend at the hospital in Saint John. "You don't know what to say," said Hanna's mother, Joemana Bordage. "You just know you have to be there."Hanna sat outside while her mother went into Alex's hospital room. She wasn't ready to meet him face to face just yet. Both mothers understood.Inside the hospital room When Alex's mother told him Hanna's mother had come to visit, he reached out and squeezed Bordage's hand. Weak and unable to speak clearly, he whispered into his own mother's ear.He asked about Hanna."He is fighting for his life in a hospital bed and he is concerned about Hanna," said Bordage, who held back tears at the time.Then Bordage gave him Hanna's rosary beads, which she'd received after her baptism at six months old. He weaved the beads through his fingers."That's how we get through things," said Bordage. "We pray."'A snowy drive home Hanna, a Grade 11 student at École Sainte-Anne in Fredericton, was driving home from school in a snowstorm on that day in early January.The newly licensed driver knew the roads were poor. And Hanna's father cautioned her to be careful and drive slowly — even if it angered other drivers. The teen even turned the music off inside her car to concentrate.The avid soccer player and straight-A student said she was driving 20 kilometres below the speed limit when she spotted a pedestrian walking in the same direction on the side of the road. There aren't any sidewalks in that area.She swerved into the median of Prospect Street — putting herself in danger — while trying to dodge the pedestrian, who was Alex. But it was too late. Her car hit Alex and sent him into the ditch.Hanna immediately called 911. When paramedics arrived, Alex's face was swollen and covered in dirt. There was blood everywhere.A walk to clear his head Just before the crash, Alex told his mom he was going for a walk to Tim Hortons. The Grade 12 Fredericton High School student battles anxiety and depression, so walking was a way to clear his head."The last thing I said to him was, 'Be careful and I love you,'" said Taylor.About 20 minutes later, she heard sirens about 100 metres from her home.She didn't think anything of it and drove her daughter, Julia, to work at the north-side Dairy Queen.When she returned home, Taylor noticed her son's black Sorel boots weren't in the doorway."I had this sickening feeling consume me."'Moments away from losing him'Instinctively, Taylor ran out of the house, in her navy snowflake pyjamas and white slippers, to the accident scene, where police confirmed it was her son who had been hit.Alex was immediately sent to the Saint John Regional Hospital. He had surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. The surgery lasted just over an hour, but "felt like a million years," Taylor said. "We were just moments away from losing him."Taylor is adamant the crash wasn't Hanna's fault. In fact, she believes the teen's quick reaction is what kept Alex from suffering more serious injury."She is as damaged emotionally as my son is physically," Taylor said.There haven't been any criminal charges following the crash.Alex will be staying at the hospital for several months and will move to the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton after that.Taylor and Bordage have been texting and talking over the phone — especially on the bad days. They share jokes, laugh and cry together."We'll forever be family now," Taylor said.Alex has broken bones on the right side of his skull and his maxillary sinuses are shattered. He is relearning how to walk and eat on his own. The right side of his face is paralyzed. In the future, Alex could struggle to walk and talk — he could even lose his memory and cognitive ability. Doctors still don't know whether he'll be the same person he was before the crash.But he did manage to write his first sentence this week:  "I'll always forgive."

  • 'Historic' change allows transgender girls to enter Eskasoni pageant

    'Historic' change allows transgender girls to enter Eskasoni pageant

    For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the Eskasoni First Nation's annual winter carnival pageant is open to transgender women and girls.The Eskasoni Winter Carnival has been running for decades as a fundraiser for the local Holy Family Parish. The pageant is one of the most popular events of the festival in Cape Breton."To have this as one of the biggest symbols of gender affirmation for people who are trans is a total success and a very historic moment, not only for Mi'kmaw people, not only for people in Eskasoni, but for transgender women and girls all across this world," said Geordy Marshall, who is with Pride Eskasoni.Marshall is also the communications person for the Eskasoni First Nation and sits on the organizing committee for the winter carnival.He said about two dozen participants spend a month working on things like public speaking and confidence for the pageant. They bond as friends to encourage each other and learn from elders."It's an opportunity for young women to learn who they are and learn from the finest women in our community to become women. It's almost like a coming-of-age type of event," Marshall said.So far, one transgender participant has signed up, Bella Marie Poulette. She and her sponsors decided she should wait until after the pageant to do interviews to make sure the pageant is fair for all participants and to allow her to have the same kind of experience as everyone else."She is excited and she's felt overwhelmed by all of this emotionally," Marshall said. "She's just overfilled with joy. This is something she's dreamed of all her life to do."The winter carnival will take place Feb. 20-23.Maryanne Junta, 19, won the title of queen in the 2016 pageant. She said she loves that transgender girls are now allowed to enter."Trans girls are girls and it shouldn't be any other way," she said. "They should be allowed to join pageants, they should be allowed to go in the girls bathroom, because they're girls. They should be able to experience life as a girl, as they want to." Mixed reactionsMarshall said the community's reaction has been mixed. "There were people who celebrated and rejoiced on the wonderful day, but there's also a lot of people who expressed their transphobic beliefs and were totally against it," he said.Marshall said many transgender teens struggle with poor self-esteem, which is one reason being able to enter the pageant with other young girls is important."It's hard to live in a world where it's full of lateral violence and residual effects from residential schools and Indian day schools and colonization. A lot of these young girls deal with a lot of pressure in their lives," he said."This is one of the great things we get to celebrate as a community. We see all of their hard work paid off and we truly honour them on that day. Whether they're a crowned winner or not, they're all our princesses."MORE TOP STORIES

  • 'We want to be part of the solution,' Grand Prix president tells inquiry into sexual exploitation of minors

    'We want to be part of the solution,' Grand Prix president tells inquiry into sexual exploitation of minors

    The head of Montreal's Grand Prix sought Tuesday to defend the annual auto race from charges that it drives sexual exploitation and human trafficking, while at the same time signalling he is open to seeking new measures to crack down on the problem."We want to play a role, and we did start to play a role," said François Dumontier after testifying before a provincial commission examining the sexual exploitation of minors. "We want to be part of the solution."Dumontier described the three-day event held every June in Montreal as the "most important tourism event in Canada." He stressed, however, that the Grand Prix organization doesn't control everything that happens over the course of the event, which takes over much of downtown. Many of the events, he said, aren't organized by the Grand Prix itself. "There's so many things going on in the city that we don't know about. We learn those events sometimes at the last minute and most of the time I would say that it's not the image that we want to the Grand Prix to have to or to receive," he said.Still, Dumontier said he recognized the race must play a role in raising awareness among patrons and working with police to prevent sexual violence. Before last year's Grand Prix, police asked taxi drivers and hotel workers to contact authorities if they spotted a possible case of sexual exploitation.The program is called RADAR — a French-language acronym meaning "identify, act, denounce, help and restore."Eve Paré, the director of the Association des hôtels du Grand Montréal, said her industry, too, is taking steps to address sexual exploitation.Hotel staff have been instructed to look for signs of trafficking and prostitution, she told MNAs at Tuesday's hearing.Such signs might include a young girl accompanied by a much older man, clients who insist on paying cash, and clients who repeatedly ask for their linens to be cleaned."It's all about training and making sure they are on alert at all times," Paré said. Stella questions commission's aimsGroups advocating for sex workers have argued such initiatives will render sex workers more vulnerable by driving the industry further underground.The head of Stella, a Montreal-based sex worker organization, delivered that message once again Tuesday.Sandra Wesley, Stella's director, called into question the purpose of the commission itself and questioned what she said were the assumptions that sex workers are helpless, abused by men and unable to make their own choices.She also said that, in her own group's experience, the vast majority of sex workers are over 18. A preliminary report released by the commission last year cited a study that found four out of ten Quebec victims of sexual exploitation are minors. The commission held a first round of hearings in Quebec City in November. It will next head to Val-d'Or, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

  • Fearless scuba diver fends off aggressive shark with her bare fist

    Fearless scuba diver fends off aggressive shark with her bare fist

    Scuba diving opens doors to mysterious and beautiful worlds filled with fascinating and, sometimes intimidating creatures. Sharks are among the most fascinating, as well as the most misunderstood. They are the subject of myths and misinformation, often painting them as villains. While they can pose a threat to humans, it is rare that they chose to do so, and often, encounters that result in injury are the result of improper behavior by the humans involved. These scuba divers were witnessing a controlled feeding of silvertip reef sharks in Papua New Guinea for the purpose of studying and photographing these incredible animals. Tour operations will occasionally use bait to lure the sharks close for observation. While this practice is controversial in some ways, it sometimes accomplishes some very positive things. It allows for closer study and inspection of sharks which provides us with very valuable information about them. Sharks demonstrate the ability to distinguish between food and people, and most species will not attack humans except in cases of mistaken identity. It is advisable, however, to make sure that limbs are not presented in a way that might resemble a fish. Sitting still, remaining in a group, and avoiding quick or panicky looking movements are all basic precautions. Letting a silvertip reef shark get too close, or bump a diver, without being challenged, is also inadvisable. These behaviors may be curiosity-based, or they might be the start of aggressive behavior. These scuba divers had perched themselves on a rocky ledge where they could focus their attention to the front. Kristy, a seasoned diver with a considerable knowledge of sharks, was holding a small action camera as she watched the sharks swimming past. She had no food and was not positioned close to the bait container. But a smaller fish grabbed a chunk of the bait and dragged it near her. Nearby jacks devoured the bait, but the small particles and scent were close to Kristy. A circling silvertip smelled the blood and it turned abruptly, heading right at Kristy's face. Having no other option, she punched the shark on the snout as it almost reached her face. This physical contact could not possibly have harmed the shark or caused any pain, but it did startle the beast which turned and abruptly and swam in another direction. It circled around and continued looking for food, but it kept a respectful distance from that point on. Kristy appeared to be unconcerned for a few moments until the gravity of the situation sank in. She faced the diver beside her who had recorded the incident. Her eyes were very wide as she spoke into her regulator: "Holy s*@#!". Even through the water, her words can clearly be heard. It's obvious that she was surprised with the shark's aggressive approach, as well as her own response to it. Kristy later commented that she was not actually afraid of the shark and she compared its behavior to that of a dog exhibiting dominant "test" aggression. Anyone who understands sharks would probably agree that this kind of approach is somewhat "aggressive" in nature, but that it was not an attack and that the shark did not appear to be trying to bite at that time. Unchecked though, things might have escalated. Understanding sharks is the first step in lessening our fear of them. When we can reduce, or eliminate that fear, we can begin to respect them more. We can also take a better look at their place in our oceans and the vital role that they play in the ecosystems beneath the waves. Quite simply, without sharks, we would not survive. Excessive harvesting, finning, and destruction of habitat must be reduced before they face extinction and we follow close behind.

  • Nunavut's gov't, Inuit organization renew promise to work together

    Nunavut's gov't, Inuit organization renew promise to work together

    Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the government of Nunavut have renewed their commitment to work together with the signing of the Katujjiqatigiinniq Protocol. The signing happened Tuesday in the Koojesse room of the Frobisher Inn. The government's cabinet and NTI's board witnessed the signing. This isn't the first time NTI and Nunavut's government have recommitted to each other. The organizations have reaffirmed their partnership twice since 1999: first in 2004 and again in 2011, with the Clyde River Protocol. Why now? — NTI's president Aluki Kotierk quipped: "It's a new decade." This time, questions focused on how the two parties are handling what has appeared to be a fraught conversation on the future of education in the territory. Nunavut's government is in the midst of updating the territory's Education Act and Inuit Languages Protection Act, via Bill 25. NTI had asked to have a larger role in the creation of the bill. "Certainly we have a difference of opinion, in terms of how we've worked together and whether or not it's been a partnership approach, in terms of Bill 25 specifically," Kotierk said.   One of the Katujjiqatigiinniq Protocol priorites is continuing to implement Article 32 of the Nunavut Agreement, which provides Inuit the right to have a say in the government's social and cultural policies. "I think it's very interesting how the public perception might be that there are things that we're not working well on and that's where the interest often lies, but I think we have many examples where we work well together," Kotierk said. She gave examples she was proud of, such as the tripartite agreement on health with the federal government, and issues related to poverty reduction. Nunavut's premier Joe Savikataaq added the agreement-in-principle on devolution to that list. "I think the timing is just right," Savikataaq said. "We have ... a new minority government, which seems to be a lot more willing to work with partners. It's just something we felt the timing was appropriate."If NTI and the territory can be united in their requests to the federal government, Savikataaq says he feels they will be more successful.   We have many examples where we work well together. \- Aluki Kotierk, NTI presidentThe agreement reaffirms structures that are already in place, including quarterly meetings between the premier and the president of NTI, and the goal of biweekly meetings between the CEO of NTI and the deputy minister of Nunavut's Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs. NTI is the organization responsible for implementing the land claims agreement, now known as the Nunavut Agreement, and for representing Inuit in the territory. As Inuit are the territory's majority population, Kotierk says, it makes sense that the two collaborate on issues. Savikataaq says the two groups will continue to have disagreements, but will work through them with meaningful consultation. "The land claim spells out our obligations and this is just to reinforce our obligations and our commitments to work together for the betterment of Nunavummiut," Savikataaq said.

  • News

    She Is Indigenous campaign highlights women's accomplishments, challenges negative stereotypes

    Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin. Author Cherie Dimaline. Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller. Lawyer Pam Palmater. Surgeon Donna May Kimmaliardjuk.These are some of the women a national awareness campaign wants people to know and recognize for being strong, resilient, inspiring, wise, nurturing and trailblazing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women across Canada.The campaign is called She is Indigenous.Funded by the Province of Ontario, the campaign is led by Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak, the national organization representing Métis women, and supported by a number of provincial and national Indigenous organizations."We really want to re-write that narrative that Indigenous women are vulnerable and at-risk individuals. Instead, we see Indigenous women as profoundly kind, ambitious, and inspirational," said Tamsin Fitzgerald, senior policy analyst at Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak.Close to 100 women have been featured since the campaign launched in June 2019 online with the goal of reducing violence against Indigenous women and girls.It launched the same month as the release of the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak issued its own report in the fall.With She is Indigenous, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak wanted to work toward the same goal of reducing violence against Indigenous women and girls but from a different approach. Fitzgerald said the campaign challenges negative stereotypes, educates Canadians about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis issues, and supports Indigenous women by honouring their unique strengths and accomplishments."The main goal is to support everyday Indigenous women and highlight their contributions," she said.One of those women is Celeste Beauchamp.The 20-year-old Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawake works as a youth reconciliation initiative co-ordinator at Canadian Roots Exchange in Ottawa.She said she likes that the campaign focuses on the inherent strengths of Indigenous women."We're empowered in just being women," said Beauchamp. "We get really caught up in our resilience, constantly fighting for our community, constantly fighting for our land and our languages, that we forgot that we're whole in ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves and honour our own power."Tenille Campbell, the Dene/Métis poet of IndianLovePoems and photographer behind Sweetmoon Photography, is another woman profiled in the campaign. "I really like the idea of visually taking up space," she said.Every other day, She is Indigenous posts a profile of an Indigenous woman on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The plan is to continue indefinitely, and encourage others to participate by nominating themselves or an Indigenous woman in their life."So often, one of the main narratives about us is our struggle, which is important, but there's also joy, strength, intelligence, and kinship. There's so many other aspects of being an Indigenous woman other than just surviving," said Campbell."I like the idea that it was positive-based — highlighting our strengths and not what we overcome to become who we are but celebrating who we are."

  • Search underway after snowmobilers go through ice in Quebec

    Search underway after snowmobilers go through ice in Quebec

    One man is dead and five others are missing after their snowmobiles went through the ice along Quebec's Lac Saint-Jean between the towns of Saint-Henri-de-Taillon and Alma last night. Members of Sûreté du Québec's snowmobile team, the Alma fire department and Canadian Armed Forces searched the area overnight.

  • 'I thought we did everything right': Why a bar owner was forced to pay for customer's false fire alarm

    'I thought we did everything right': Why a bar owner was forced to pay for customer's false fire alarm

    Refusing to serve a few intoxicated patrons is now costing bar owner Kristine Lukanchoff nearly $1,500 because she says those rowdy visitors pulled the fire alarm, causing the city to slap her with a faulty fire alarm bill. The incident happened last November when Lukanchoff says her staff at The Old Nick on Danforth Avenue asked some men to leave. "One of the guys started flipping out and swearing and causing a big scene," said Lukanchoff. "He went outside and started smashing the window and then came back in, pulled the fire alarm and ran away." Immediately, Luckanchoff says servers called 911 to let them know the alarm was false, but the operator didn't call off the crews. Calling police could have waived the bill Toronto Fire Services spokesperson Stephan Powell, says crews respond to all incidents whether requests are cancelled or not, adding in an email to CBC Toronto that "it is not possible to remotely determine whether the incident is a nuisance/malicious false alarm, or a real emergency."That night, Lukanchoff says only one truck arrived at the bar but the bill she got on Jan. 7 was for three — $477 per vehicle. She says the city told her it sent out three trucks and when the first discovered it was a false alarm, the other two were turned around.However, if Lukanchoff had called police to report that the alarm was pulled by angry patrons, she likely wouldn't have had to pay the fee, since it would have been considered vandalism. "It's really frustrating," said Lukanchoff. "I would have preferred a warning." Bars and homeowners used to get warnings Ten year ago, people did get initial warnings and weren't charged if it was the first time crews arrived at a false alarm at that location.But those false calls cost the City of Toronto too much money so the bylaw was changed. Now if firefighters are dispatched to a false alarm, homeowners or business establishments are hit with the bill, which is a maximum of $1,431 or the cost of three trucks. Toronto Fire Services spokesperson Stephan Powell says the fee can be disputed by emailing the city but Lukanchoff says she's already done that and her claim has been rejected. "I've been here 17 years and this never happened … I thought we did everything right."

  • New benches installed, more fixes planned for Alton C. Parker Park

    New benches installed, more fixes planned for Alton C. Parker Park

    When Cherie Steele-Sexton found out about the poor condition of Alton C. Parker Park, she was heartbroken.After all, the park is named after Steele-Sexton's grandfather, a Windsor police officer who became Canada's first black detective in 1942."We just have such pride in that park," she said, adding that her family would host annual summer parties with more than 1,000 children in attendance.She was made aware of the park's state after reading a CBC News article on local residents addressing concerns about the space.She said she was "very proud of the residents who brought it to CBC's attention and that they felt very connected to the park and wanted improvements to be made."Steele-Sexton — who lives across the border in Detroit, Mich. — said she called the City of Windsor to find out more about the park."It's one thing for me to grumble and complain, but let me try doing something," she said.Steele-Sexton said the city got back to her immediately and informed her about updates made to the park, including the installation of new benches. She was told about plans to continually maintain the area, as well as plans to revamp the trail in the park.James Chacko, senior manager of parks and recreation with the City of Windsor, said he's happy the park holds sentimental value for Sexton-Steele and the community at large."Alton C. Parker certainly played an important role not only in the city's history, but from providing to a certain community group from the police force ... [and] the community as a whole," he said.Still, the new benches aren't enough for local resident Connie Vozza, who has lived near Alton C. Parker Park for approximately 15 years. "I appreciate .... that they put new benches, but is that all they want to do?" she said. "There's no flowers. ... there's nothing to draw people to the park."Alton C. Parker Park is one of 202 parks in Windsor. Chacko said the city is still planning to install a new playground sometime between 2022 and 2024."I think that's a little long," Vozza said, adding that she'd rather see the playground installed sooner for the convenience of local children."I'm happy they're making the attempt at dressing it up a little, but I think they can do more."Steele-Sexton said she and her family are excited about the new playground installation that's still to come.She plans to visit the park this week and is planning on hosting a family picnic there in August.

  • News

    Driver follows streetcar into Queens Quay tunnel, makes it 600 metres to Union Station

    The 510 Spadina streetcar was forced to turn back on part of its route early Wednesday after a driver drove into the Queens Quay tunnel and travelled about 600 metres all the way to Union Station. The incident began just after 2 a.m., said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, when the compact SUV made it past the gate, flashing lights and rumble strips installed in 2018 to prevent just such incursions from happening.It's believed that the vehicle was "tucked in closely behind the streetcar" and that's how the driver was able to avoid the automatic gate before it closed.He then followed the streetcar more than half a kilometre, through Queen Quay Station and into Union Station, where he got stuck on an elevated concrete pathway that streetcar operators use to reach a bathroom."It's hard to know where they thought they were going or how they thought that was a roadway. It's clearly marked that it's not a roadway, it's gated," Green saidThe driver remained on scene and spoke to Toronto police, Green said.TTC crews used heavy equipment to tow the vehicle out of the tunnel, he added. There was no damage to the tracks and service on the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes resumed around 6 a.m.Green said that, since 2014, there have been about 26 such incidents in the tunnel. The automatic gate was finally installed in October 2018, and this was the first driver to make it into the tunnel since then."We're sort of hard pressed to think of any other measures we can take at this point, short of closing the tunnel and that's not an option," Green lamented."Hopefully it doesn't happen again."

  • The Ballad of William Wenaus: How a Regina musician wrote a K-pop 'global anthem'

    The Ballad of William Wenaus: How a Regina musician wrote a K-pop 'global anthem'

    'Wrote a ballad for one of the world's biggest K-pop artists' is a line Regina musician William Wenaus can add to his resume.Wenaus, 27, penned and produced the song Dear Me — recorded by South Korean artist Taeyeon for the re-release of her album Purpose — and the ballad climbed to the number one spot in 24 countries on iTunes as more ears tuned in.Taeyeon was a member of South Korean group, Girls' Generation, for eight years before going solo. Wenaus said he thought Taeyeon would be the ideal artist while writing the song."[Dear Me] gave me a bit of a platform to express feelings and ideas that I couldn't get through rock music," said Wenaus.It was a Girls' Generation song, Mister Mister, that first introduced the composer to K-pop in 2014. Wenaus soon found himself writing more ballads and K-pop seemed like a good fit due to the sensitivity of the lyrics, he said."There's just really, really beautiful emotive stuff," he said about K-pop. "I had things that I wanted to say and that was the medium through which I had to say those things."Wenaus wrote and recorded the song in Regina with local musicians hired for instrumentation and vocals while he played piano. He shopped the composition around before it eventually found its way to the K-pop star.Taeyeon liked it.Her album, Purpose, was originally released in October and re-released last week with the addition of new songs, including Dear Me. That idea of really trusting yourself and the direction that you're on ... that's how I did this. -William Wenaus, speaking about the songWenaus calls the song's success "surreal," although he had a feeling the song would succeed because of Taeyeon. Most of the song was translated from English to Korean, but Wenaus said Taeyeon's version captures the essence of the original — and a key part of the song was recorded in English."The hook in the chorus where it says 'I love myself. I trust myself,' that's from the original," Wenaus said."It's pretty cool because that's kind of become a global anthem. "That's pretty special and it seems to mean a lot to a lot of people which is also really, really fantastic."Wenaus said his belief in himself, the inspiration for the song, is what got him to the point of pitching the song itself. "That idea of really trusting yourself and the direction that you're on ... that's how I did this.""That message is what got me there and that's pretty special."The video currently has more than 11,500 comments on YouTube, which has more than 2.5 million views since it was released Jan. 15."I see pop music as at its best a form of care," said Wenaus. "You're reaching out to millions of people, and even if it's three-and-a-half minutes out of a person's day, to pull them out of the hustle and bustle and craziness that we live in ... and to bring them joy is a special thing."Since the song's release, Wenaus has received lots of support from family, friends and people in Saskatchewan who don't even know him but are proud of his success. Wenaus hopes to write from more K-pop acts and one day compose for films.