Will a public transit tax credit actually get people to drive less? | Fact Check

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer wants to bring back a Harper-era transit tax credit that he says will increase ridership and help the environment, but will it actually help encourage people to drive less, or just help people already using transit? Evan Dyer checks the facts.

  • An unapologetic Don Cherry and a button-loving toddler; In-The-News for Nov. 12
    News
    The Canadian Press

    An unapologetic Don Cherry and a button-loving toddler; In-The-News for Nov. 12

    In-The-News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 12.What we are watching in Canada ...MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Don Cherry is refusing to apologize for his controversial rant about new immigrants not wearing poppies, saying he could have kept his job as co-host of "Coach's Corner" if he'd agreed to become "a tame robot who nobody would recognize."Sportsnet has cut ties with the long-time co-host of the Hockey Night in Canada segment, saying in a statement that following discussions with Cherry, it was decided it was the "right time for him to immediately step down."Cherry told The Canadian Press in an interview that he meant what he said when he made the remarks on Saturday night, and still says everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour fallen soldiers.He says he wasn't directing his comments to minorities, and that what he said applies to English, Scottish or Irish immigrants or any newcomer.In his remarks on Saturday, Cherry singled out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where he lives, for not wearing poppies.He says he doesn't have any immediate plans, and adds he's receiving many phone calls and texts of support.\---Also this ...OTTAWA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has three things on his wish list when he talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a meeting set for today in Ottawa.Moe wants to see overseas oil markets opened by completing pipelines, the reworking the equalization formula and a one-year hold on the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan so officials can re-evaluate the province's climate change strategies.Moe made the demands in a statement the day after the Oct. 21 election that returned the Liberals to power with a minority mandate and no seats in Alberta or Saskatchewan.He's reiterated them ever since as part of a new deal he says is needed with Ottawa.Moe has said actions speak louder than words if Trudeau wants to improve relations with Western Canada.Talk of western separatism has increased since the federal election, but Moe has said he believes Saskatchewan should be in a strong and united Canada.\---ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...EDMONTON — An couple are going on a holiday to Tokyo thanks to their toddler who loves pushing buttons.Lee and Amy Tappenden thought it was a scam when they got a call saying they had won the free week-long trip.The caller was from their cable company and the prize was for ordering "Alita: Battle Angel" — an action movie based on a Japanese comic series and produced by Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron.But neither Tappenden nor his wife had seen the movie.It turns out their 20-month-old son Anthony had "ordered" it — twice — in August, which made them eligible for the giveaway. Lee Tappenden says Anthony loves anything with buttons, and will play with any phone or remote he can get his hands on.The trip is valued at 85-hundred dollars and includes four-star accommodation, airfare and a bit of spending money.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...WASHINGTON, D.C. — The view among the national security officials was unanimous: Military aid to Ukraine should not be stopped. But U.S. President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff thought otherwise.As the aid was being blocked this summer, Ukraine officials began quietly asking the State Department about the hold-up. The concern was clear for the young democracy battling an aggressive Russia."If this were public in Ukraine it would be seen as a reversal of our policy," said Catherine Croft, the special adviser for Ukraine at State, who fielded the inquiries from the Ukrainians."This would be a really big deal," she testified. "It would be a really big deal in Ukraine, and an expression of declining U.S. support for Ukraine."Croft's remarks were among the transcripts released Monday from the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. And they begin to chisel away at a key Republican defence of Trump. Allies of the president say Trump did nothing wrong because the Ukrainians never knew the aid was being delayed.Eventually, the White House released its hold and the funds were sent to the ally.The impeachment inquiry is looking at whether Trump violated his oath of office by holding back the congressionally approved funds while he asked the new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favour— to investigate political rival Joe Biden's family and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.Transcripts of testimony from closed-door interviews with Croft and another Ukraine specialist at State, Christopher Anderson, as well as the Defence Department's Laura Cooper, come as House Democrats are pushing ahead to this week's live public hearings.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...GAZA, Palestinian Territories — pair of Israeli airstrikes targeted senior Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza and in Syria early on Tuesday, escalating Israel's confrontation with Iran across the region and threatening to unleash another devastating round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants.In eastern Gaza, the Israeli strike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife, setting off a furious barrage of rocket attacks reaching as far as the Tel Aviv heartland as Islamic Jihad vowed further revenge. The Israeli military said Abu el-Atta was the mastermind of recent attacks against it.Meanwhile, Syrian officials said an Israeli airstrike in the capital, Damascus, targeted another Islamic Jihad commander, Akram al-Ajouri, who was not harmed.Syria's state-run news agency said Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at al-Ajouri's home, killing his son and granddaughter. The Israeli military had no comment.The sudden surge in violence looked to awaken Israel's increasingly open conflict with Iran and its proxies in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about alleged Iranian aggression.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 12, 2019.The Canadian Press

  • Jason Kenney Still Silent On Alberta’s Controversial ‘Conscience Rights’ Bill
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Jason Kenney Still Silent On Alberta’s Controversial ‘Conscience Rights’ Bill

    As doctors and medical associations speak out against Alberta's controversial conscience rights bill, which would allow doctors to refuse referrals for services they're morally or religiously opposed to, such as abortion or assisted dying, the province's premier remains silent. The private member's bill introduced by United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA Dan Williams passed first reading last week, with unanimous support from the party's MLAs in attendance for the vote. It will now move to a second reading, which involves debate in the Alberta legislature.Alberta premier Jason Kenney has not come out in favour of or against the bill, which has been widely criticized as a "back-door" way to reopen the abortion debate there. When campaigning ahead of last spring's provincial election, Kenney promised his party would not engage in any debates around abortion."A United Conservative government will not address this issue, will not engage in this debate, will not initiate legislation," he said in February. RELATED * Alberta Bill Many Fear Will Reopen Abortion Debate Passes 1st Vote * PM Can Have Personal Views Without Imposing Them On Canadians: Scheer * How Legit Is Wexit And All This Alberta Separation Talk? University of Calgary political science professor Melanee Thomas says Kenney's silence on the bill and allowing it to pass first reading represents a "broken promise." "I think it's fair to say this is a broken promise, where the premier says during a campaign, 'we are not even going to have a debate about reproductive rights'. This is a this is a debate about reproductive rights," she told HuffPost. Will some please stand up?If made law, the bill would let doctors refuse treatments or to refer patients for treatments they are "morally" opposed to. These could include things like abortions, gender-affirming surgery or contraception.It is a private member's bill, meaning it was not introduced by the premier or cabinet, but rather a back-bencher MLA, so it has a much more difficult path to become law. However, Thomas says Kenney's silence on it, coupled with the unanimous voting support from UCP MLAs in attendance, points to inherent support from the premier. Thomas compared Kenney's silence to similar legislation during Stephen Harper's federal government, when Kenney was a cabinet minister. While private members were permitted to introduce legislation related to abortion or conscience rights, Harper would come out strongly against it. "Stephen Harper as party leader and government leader would stand up right away and say 'I don't support this, this isn't a priority of our government'," she said.Kenney himself voted in favour of anti-abortion legislation while an MP under Harper. Thomas noted that Kenney's silence could also be an attempt to throw a bone to more socially conservative factions of the party. "I think it's reasonable for the public to infer that he thinks that this is a good idea, either because of the content of the policy or because he is helping him manage potential internal divisions within the party," she told HuffPost Canada.The UCP formed in 2017 after the Progressive Conservative Party and the more socially conservative Wildrose Party merged under a single banner. WATCH: Jason Kenney aiming to 'bury the hatchet' with Wildrose Party. Story continues below. The premiers' office did not respond to HuffPost's request regarding Kenney's stance on the bill. A representative from the premier's office reasserted that it was a private member's bill and that conscience rights are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.They also denied that votes were whipped for the first reading. "Private member's bills are typically free votes, and our party explicitly committed to that in our platform," the statement read.However, Thomas says all the signs point to the bill passing. "If the premier was speaking about this differently, and if they were sending cues and signals that were different, I could, with confidence, say like a typical private member's bill, this will probably fail on the second reading," Thomas said. "But I am seeing none of that." Opposition growsAt the Alberta Section of Neurology Annual General Meeting over the weekend, there was a motion calling on the Alberta Medical Association to formally "take a strong stance" in opposition to the bill."This legislation opens the door to allowing physicians to discriminate freely and deny care along any number of "conscience" lines such as gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation," the motion read. Alberta Section of Neurology has spoken out against Bill 207. Doctors are standing up and standing together. Bill207abpoliWMTY@FionaMattatall@MedEdintheMtnspic.twitter.com/FPcAbOdIJo -- Katie Wiltshire (@MDforChange) November 11, 2019The Alberta Medical Association did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost. Multiple online petitions have popped up protesting the bill, with one garnering close to 5,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon. In a letter posted to Facebook and emailed to UCP MLAs over the weekend, Alberta physician Jillian Maxine Demontigny said she was "gravely concerned" about the bill."Refusal to provide care falls far below standards of care," she wrote. Thomas acknowledged that even if the bill does pass into law, it likely would not withstand a court challenge. Earlier this year, an Ontario court ruled against a similar conscience rights appeal. However, while legal challenges are ongoing, many vulnerable populations could be without vital services. "In the amount of time that would take for, like a delay to happen between like this legislation passing and a court challenge coming, I worry about what that means, especially for folks in rural parts of the province," she said.

  • Falling Hong Kong markets another example of hardline failure: Don Pittis
    News
    CBC

    Falling Hong Kong markets another example of hardline failure: Don Pittis

    When is the time to take an inflexible stance?As Hong Kong violence risks plunging the Chinese region into something much worse, wiser heads in the Hong Kong government and among demonstrators, and some in the national government in China may be regretting their earlier intransigence.Clearly the escalating battles through the city centre's crowded streets, including newly horrifying scenes of violence, are about much more than money. But in a place where money has always played such an important role, markets tell part of the story.On Monday the Hong Kong stock market, Asia's third largest and the fourth biggest in the world, plunged by 2.6 per cent as hundreds of billions of dollars in value was wiped off share prices.Demonstrators are reacting Tuesday to a new police shooting, photos of a bloody attack and video of a motorcycle cop using his vehicle to run down protesters.Universities and many businesses are closed. For many the main subway system, the MTR, has become a no-go zone after demonstrators accused the listed company of being in league with the government and police.Reprisal targetsYesterday, shares in the MTR Corporation did worse than the market as a whole and are down about 20 per cent in the last four months as the stations have become a target of reprisals including gasoline bombs, damaged pay terminals and smashed windows.A fire aboard a subway car that resulted in injuries and the dangers of panic from smoke and tear gas have made people wary of taking what has been one of the most efficient and most crowded public transit systems in the world. But for many ordinary commuters there are few alternatives.Not just the large listed companies are suffering. Besides the damage and loss of tourism, regular folks are staying home more and spending less in restaurants.Strangely in such a law-abiding community, where muggings for example just don't happen, polls still show most Hong Kongers blame the police and government.It is not unreasonable to say that the escalating violence and its economic cost can be traced back to a single cause, the refusal of Beijing and the Hong Kong government that does its bidding to back off a plan to force the extradition of Hong Kong people to face Chinese courts.For whatever reason, the Hong Kong government of Carrie Lam and her Beijing masters decided that despite strenuous objections from all parts of society to having their common law legal system overruled by Chinese courts, it was time to draw a line in the sand.In these polarized times where people gravitate to contradictory conclusions, taking a hard line may seem like a powerful tool for politicians to invigorate their supporters and demonstrate the strength of their views. But as I pointed out a few months ago in the case of Brexit, taking a rigid stance also motivates your opposition. And the results may be contrary to what you hoped.Precisely opposite effectIn a small way this week's battle over the wearing of poppies, or as commentator Adam Kassam described it, the weaponization of the poppy, was a similar example, which had precisely the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than encouraging people to wear poppies, many of us felt obliged to take them off this year rather than be seen as backers of what seemed like Don Cherry-style racism.Failing to take a stand is often characterized as weakness. Former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain's name has been blackened by history for his supposed failure to take a hard line against Hitler, though the details are far more complex.Undoubtedly there are times to take a stand. But it is a policy to be saved for special occasions when the alternative is extreme. It should also be reserved for times when the result of standing your ground is not worse than, as in the case of Hong Kong, what will happen if your bullheadedness is opposed.In the event, after drawing its line in the sand the Hong Kong government was forced to step back, first suspending and then finally withdrawing the extradition bill as protests mounted. But it was too late.The early and repeated unwillingness to listen, to negotiate, to compromise came at a cost. As violence intensified and demands escalated, reaching out across the gulf is no longer as easy as it would have been when many people would have been happy with simpler concessions.Almost bizarrely, Beijing representatives in the region are calling for harsher laws to draw yet another line in the sand. As if further escalation will calm a popular protest movement that has begun to spray paint the nihilistic slogan "Burn with us" on buildings. Students of Chinese history will know how explosive popular revolts can become.Intervening with force majeure at this stage could well destroy more than it saves, smashing markets, resulting in pain and anger across China and threatening Communist Party legitimacy.Rather than draw more lines, the government must urgently join with moderate demonstrators and business leaders to pursue a path to peace. It will not be easy at this stage. It may require concessions. But it may still be possible, and it is definitely worth the effort for Hong Kong, for China and for world markets.Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

  • 'YOU? Really?': Iran's Zarif scorns EU warning over nuclear deal
    News
    Reuters

    'YOU? Really?': Iran's Zarif scorns EU warning over nuclear deal

    Europeans have failed to fulfill their own commitments to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday, in response to a warning by the EU that urged Tehran to stick to the pact or face consequences. European countries have been trying to persuade Tehran to stick to the deal, under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions, despite a decision last year by U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon it. Iran has long blamed the Europeans for failing to provide the economic benefits it was meant to receive under the deal, known as the JCPOA, and has begun steps to reduce commitments, including producing more enriched uranium than allowed.

  • News
    CBC

    Critics say concerns go unheard after Alberta politicians block them on social media

    Allison Dakin was one of thousands of Albertans who tuned in to a Facebook livestream on Saturday to watch a big announcement from Premier Jason Kenney.The premier announced the creation of a panel that would, among other things, study whether or not Alberta should withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan and create its own police force. Dakin wasn't a fan of those suggestions, so she took to her keyboard to weigh in, typing, "I don't want this. I do not want you in control of our CPP and our police force."Dakin was almost immediately kicked out of the broadcast — and when she refreshed, she found her comment missing and she was unable to post it again. Dakin wrote on Twitter that she believed she had been muted from expressing dissenting opinions, and she received dozens of responses saying she wasn't alone. After her Twitter post, she was told by a government spokesperson her account was unmuted from the premier's page and that it shouldn't have been muted in the first place.Annette Diemert was one of those who responded to Dakin. I am really angry. Our elected representatives have an obligation to listen. — Annette DiemertShe said she remains blocked from Facebook and Twitter accounts of multiple UCP MLAs — including her own MLA, Grant Hunter — and she can't figure out why.She recently discovered she was blocked from Hunter's Facebook when she went to look if the associate minister of red tape reduction would be hosting any town halls — and realized she couldn't message him.CBC News has reached out to Kenney's and Hunter's offices to ask why Albertans were blocked.So far, just Hunter's office has responded, issuing this statement:"If a person comments on the Associate Minister's page with offensive or abusive language they may get blocked. If an account was blocked in error, we will correct it."Diemert says blocking the comments was improper."I am really angry. Our elected representatives have an obligation to listen to and represent every Albertan in their constituency, not just the ones that agree with them," she said."We don't feel like we're being heard, and it isn't because we're threatening or we're vulgar or anything like that. It's because we raised questions and we'd like our questions answered," Diemert said.No legal precedentJohn Gregory is a retired Ontario lawyer who worked for decades in policy development for the province's Ministry of the Attorney General.He said as far as he knows, there's been no judicial decision in Canada over whether politicians can legally block critics online."Certainly, there is case law in the United States because President Trump is a fanatic Twitter user and he blocked some people and they got a court to rule — at an appellate court of appeal level even — saying you can't do that, because his Twitter feed is a public forum, and you can't keep members of the public out of a public forum. But Canada does not have a public forum doctrine … of the same sort," he said.The closest Canada has come to a similar decision was last year, when Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson faced a legal challenge by three individuals whom he blocked on Twitter. The challenge didn't proceed because Watson publicly conceded that his Twitter is used as part of his duties as mayor. He soon unblocked the three applicants.One Calgary MP, Michelle Rempel, is so well known for her office's propensity to block unwanted messages online, she's even sparked the BlockedByRempel hashtag.Her office's Twitter management policy is posted in a flowchart on her website, outlining the steps that lead to an account being blocked.Gregory said the right of freedom of speech doesn't mean social media users are owed a platform to speak to anyone, at anytime they'd like. But he did say there could be concern if the block prevents citizens from seeing government communication."I think there just isn't law on this and yes, sooner or later somebody will care enough and have the money and the legal help to get a ruling on it," Gregory said.He added that nobody, not even elected officials, should have to suffer abusive or threatening messages. But both Diemert and Dakin's messages don't fall anywhere near that camp.Dakin said even though she was unmuted she still has concerns, especially because she doesn't know why her comment was deleted in the first place."I have mixed feelings. I'm glad that I was reinstated and so were others. My comments were put back, but I also feel like in the moment during the livestream when all eyes were on, it was made to look like all Albertans agreed and all Albertans were supportive of the new platform and direction," she said. "[Kenney] said he was looking for the feedback of Albertans but then Albertans that spoke out against the ideas in this new platform were deleted."

  • China aims to build its own Yellowstone on Tibetan plateau
    News
    The Canadian Press

    China aims to build its own Yellowstone on Tibetan plateau

    XINING, China — There's a building boom on the Tibetan plateau, one of the world's last remote places. Mountains long crowned by garlands of fluttering prayer flags — a traditional landscape blessing — are newly topped with sprawling steel power lines. At night, the illuminated signs of Sinopec gas stations cast a red glow over newly built highways.Ringed by the world's tallest mountain ranges, the region long known as "the rooftop of the world" is now in the crosshairs of China's latest modernization push, marked by multiplying skyscrapers and expanding high-speed rail lines.But this time, there's a difference: The Chinese government also wants to set limits on the region's growth in order to design its own version of one of the U.S.'s proudest legacies — a national park system.In August, policymakers and scientists from China, the United States and other countries convened in Xining, capital of the country's Qinghai province, to discuss China's plans to create a unified park system with clear standards for limiting development and protecting ecosystems.The country's economy has boomed over the past 40 years, but priorities are now expanding to include conserving key natural resources, says Zhu Chunquan, the China representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a Switzerland-based scientific group."It's quite urgent as soon as possible to identify the places, the ecosystems and other natural features" to protect, Zhu says.Among other goals, China aims to build its own Yellowstone on the Tibetan plateau.Zhu serves on an advisory committee providing input on the development of China's nascent national park system, expected to be officially unveiled in 2020. Chinese officials also have visited U.S. national parks, including Yellowstone and Yosemite, and sought input from varied organizations, including the Chicago-based Paulson Institute and the Nature Conservancy.The ambition to create a unified park system represents "a new and serious effort to safeguard China's biodiversity and natural heritage," Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm says.One of the first pilot parks will be in Qinghai, a vast region in western China abutting Tibet and sharing much of its cultural legacy. The area also is home to such iconic and threatened species as the snow leopard and Chinese mountain cat, and encompasses the headwaters of three of Asia's great waterways: the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong Rivers."This is one of the most special regions in China, in the world," says Lu Zhi, a Peking University conservation biologist who has worked in Qinghai for two decades.While construction continues at a frenzied pace elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau, the government already has stopped issuing mining and hydropower permits in this region.But a key question looms over the project: Can China marry the goals of conservation and tourism, while safeguarding the livelihoods and culture of the approximately 128,000 people who live within or near the park's boundaries, many of them Tibetan?"China has a dense population and a long history," Zhu says. "One of the unique features of China's national parks is that they have local people living either inside or nearby."Yellowstone is widely considered the world's first national park. After it was created in 1872, the U.S. government forced the Native Americans who lived in the area to resettle outside the park boundaries, in keeping with the 19th-century notion that wilderness protection meant nature apart from people. But countries that attempt to establish park systems in the 21st century now must consider how best to include local populations in their planning."Figuring out how to achieve ecological conservation and support for the communities at the same time — that's the most complicated rub you have," says Jonathan Jarvis, a former director at the U.S. National Park Service and now a professor of the University of California, Berkeley, who has toured the Qinghai pilot park, called Sanjiangyuan.China has previously undertaken vast resettlement programs to clear land for large infrastructure projects, such as Three Gorges Dam and the South-to-North Water Transfer Project. These resettlements left many farmers in new homes without suitable agricultural fields or access to other livelihoods.But in developing the national parks, the government is giving conservation-related jobs to at least a swath of people living in Sanjiangyuan to stay and work on their land. The "One Family, One Ranger" program hires one person per family for 1800 yuan a month ($255) to perform such tasks as collecting trash and monitoring for poaching or illegal grazing activity.It's difficult to interview residents in China's ethnic borderlands like Qinghai, due to restrictions on journalists that make it hard to travel widely or freely in those areas. Regions with large ethnic and religious minorities, including all Tibetan areas, are subject to heightened political and religious controls.But a few people living in Angsai, a Tibetan village located within the new Qinghai park, were willing to speak, although it's not possible to determine if their experiences are typical.A-Ta is a Tibetan herder whose income largely comes from raising yaks and collecting caterpillar fungus, a folk medicine taken as a purported aphrodisiac or for respiratory problems. He also leads a team of trash collectors, travelling as much as 34 kilometres (21 miles) a day to comb the hillsides for plastic bottles and other waste as part of the "One Family, One Ranger" program."I am living in this land, my living is relying on this land," he says, as his sister heats a kettle in their modest home. A poster showing the faces of China's past leaders and current Communist Party general secretary, Xi Jinping, hangs on the wall.A-Ta says he is grateful for work that allows his family to stay on their land, even as people in other parts of Qinghai have had to leave. His own son is employed leading a relocation program for "a huge population of nomads" in Dzarto, a county in southern Qinghai."I love this land very much," he says. "I always motivate and encourage people to protect the environment and contribute to the conservation work."Kunchok Jangtse is a Tibetan herder who also earns money cleaning up rubbish through the "One Family, One Ranger" program.He has an additional volunteer position through the Chinese non-profit Shanshui — the name means "mountain, water" — installing and maintaining motion-activated camera traps, which help scientists monitor endangered species in Qinghai.As he affixes a camera trap to a thin tree trunk, he explains, "The reason why it has to be installed in this location is because this is the main migration route of the majority of wild animals."Such camera traps have captured rare footage of snow leopards and Chinese mountain cats, including mothers and their cubs playing near a temporary den.Kunchok Jangtse says the work of protecting the environment, including reporting illegal poaching activity, is important."Our religion is connected with wild animals, because wild animals have a consciousness and can feel love and compassion — therefore, we protect wild-animals," he says.From his main work raising livestock and collecting caterpillar fungus, Kunchok Jangtse says he can make about 20,000 yuan ($2,830) a year. He is grateful for the additional income from the ranger program, but mainly hopes his other livelihood won't be impeded — and that he won't eventually be forced to leave."I'm not a highly educated person, and I am very concerned it may bring many difficulties in my life if I would switch my job and move to another place," he says.The question of local people's culture and livelihoods is one of the top concerns that former U.S. National Park Service director Jarvis says China has to wrestle with, along with establishing laws and funding."They need a legal framework that defines what a park is," Jarvis says. "And they need sustainable funding."The creation of protected areas is not a new idea in China. In fact, roughly 15% of the country's land already is assigned to a bewildering patchwork of local and regional parks. But many existing reserves are simply parks on paper, run by various agencies without enforceable guidelines.In contrast, the national parks system is being designed from the ground-up to incorporate global best practices and new science.In his office in Beijing, Ouyang Zhiyun, deputy director at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, pores over hundreds of carefully shaded maps of mainland China that denote priority areas for protecting threatened and endangered species, as well as "eco-system services," like safeguarding water supplies and limiting soil erosion.The question isn't just how much total land you're protecting, but which lands you're protecting, he notes.Recently, Ouyang was the lead scientist for China's sweeping "national ecosystems assessment," which used 20,000 satellite images and 100,000 field surveys to examine how China's land changed between 2000 and 2010, with some of the findings published in the journal Science in 2016. One resulting statistic: China's urban area increased 28% during that period.Now Ouyang is drawing upon that work, combined with surveys of more than 1,500 species of endangered and threatened plants and animals, to map priority areas for conservation and advise park planners. He is focusing on habitats of endangered species that live only in China."If we lose it here, it's gone," he says.The first parks to be formally incorporated into China's national park system will showcase the country's vast and varied landscapes and ecosystems — from the granite and sandstone cliffs of Wuyishan in eastern China to the lush forests of southwestern Sichuan province, home to giant pandas, to the boreal forests of northeastern China, where endangered Siberian tigers roam.When it comes to ecology, few countries have more to lose, or to save, than China."A huge country like China literally determines the fate of species," says Duke University's Pimm.___Larson reported from Xining and Beijing. Wang reported from Xining and Angsai. AP video producer Olivia Zhang contributed to this story.___This Associated Press series was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.EDITOR'S NOTE: Heroic efforts to revive ecosystems and save species are being waged worldwide, aimed at reversing some of humankind's most destructive effects on the planet. "What Can Be Saved?," a weekly AP series, chronicles the ordinary people and scientists fighting for change against enormous odds _ and forging paths that others may follow.Christina Larson And Emily Wang, The Associated Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Miss Alaska and Miss Alaska Teen winners both from Fairbanks

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Fairbanks has been well represented in pageants this year as the newly crowned Miss Alaska USA 2020 and Miss Alaska Teen USA 2020 both hail from the city, officials said.Hannah Carlile accepted the Miss Alaska USA crown and Jadyn Fraser was awarded the Miss Alaska Teen USA crown Nov. 2, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday.The pageant in Anchorage was a preliminary event to the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, officials said.Carlile is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University pursuing a master's degree in international education policy and management. She serves as an education research consultant in partnership with Columbia Law School's Center for Public Research and Leadership.Carlile also performs research and evaluation for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation education initiative helping students of colour reach academic goals. She hopes to promote international education and cultural awareness on the state and national level.Fraser is a graduate of West Valley High School who hopes to advocate for people with depression, anxiety and other diseases. The 18-year-old suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune system to attack joints and can lead to painful swelling."I live with the consequences of my body, and with that I've had to learn to be confidently beautiful even when I can't be comfortably beautiful," Fraser wrote on social media.Neither winner could be reached for comment.The Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants began in 1954 in Long Beach, California. Miss Teen USA debuted in 1983 in Lakeland, Florida, officials said.___Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.comThe Associated Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Spy agencies must be transparent about new data-crunching, analyst warns

    OTTAWA — Rapid technological advances in data collection and analysis are transforming the way spy agencies work, potentially putting civil liberties at risk, an Israeli intelligence expert has warned the Canadian security community.The organizations responsible for keeping people safe must ensure privacy and basic rights are not compromised in the process or chance losing public faith, Shay Hershkovitz said in a presentation to the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies.Spycraft is being revolutionized by the growing number of smart devices, almost-unlimited data storage and the advent of artificial intelligence, Hershkovitz told the association's recent annual conference in Ottawa."Transparency will be key here, and legislators will have to limit the use of these technologies," he said."If intelligence agencies will not ask these questions and will not lead the public debate, they will be dragged into it kicking and screaming, and everyone will suffer and lose."Hershkovitz, a senior research fellow and former intelligence officer in Israel, attended the conference at the Canadian War Museum, though a sudden illness meant the gathering of security officials and academics saw a pre-recorded, multimedia presentation of his ideas about the future of one of the world's oldest professions."If we really want to learn what intelligence will look like, we must look outside the national-security establishment — that is, we should explore not only what governments are doing but, more important, what is happening in the private sector and in academia," he said.By next year, some 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet, growing to 100 billion devices by 2025, said Hershkovitz, head of research at the XPRIZE Foundation, a non-profit organization in California that manages public competitions intended to encourage beneficial technologies."The inevitable conclusion is that in the near future, in about five years from now, information will be spewing from every street, every car, every house and even from the sky."The price of data storage, meanwhile, is falling steadily. The cost of storing one gigabyte of data in 1980 was about half a million dollars, but just two cents today, he said. At the same time, the flood of data will only speed up the development of artificial intelligence, Hershkovitz predicted.Intelligence agencies have traditionally made decisions to collect information about specific people and groups, taking away resources that could have been used to monitor other targets, he said. Now they can collect and sort information on a massive scale and decide later what information already in hand is most relevant.Agencies will have to decide what information to store, and for how long, and analysts will need to work side-by-side with computers to sift the huge amounts of data, Hershkovitz added.Revelations in recent years by former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden about widespread surveillance of communications created public awareness about the privacy risks of digital technologies and society's increasing reliance on them.Newly enacted security legislation recognizes the burgeoning role of big data, requiring the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to seek a judge's permission to keep datasets that primarily contain personal information about Canadians.During a conference panel discussion, engineer and lawyer Samuel Witherspoon emphasized the continuing need for humans to help make sense of such information. Key decisions, possibly involving life or death, can't simply be left to algorithms, said Witherspoon, co-founder of IMRSV Data Labs Inc., which is teaching computers to read, hear and see. "I think that's an incredibly problematic approach."The intelligence community will have to grapple with the necessary restraints as storing vast amounts of data becomes even less expensive in coming years, said Benoit Hamelin, who has worked as a developer, researcher and manager at start-up companies involved in cyberdefence and threat detection. "Of course there are ethical implications," he said. "We have to set out an ethical framework."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2019.Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    More than 200 crashes in under 12 hours in southwestern Ontario

    During one of the first big snow falls of the season, provincial police reported 213 collisions in less than 12 hours across southwestern Ont., all before the evening rush hour had even begun.OPP Media Relations Coordinator Derek Rogers said police patrolling the West Region had hoped drivers would have adjusted their habits behind the wheel after the first dusting of snow late last week."That has not been the case," he explained pointing to the numbers coming from in an area that spans from Windsor to the edge of the GTA and north to Georgian Bay.The 213 crashes happened between 5:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m, and none of them resulted in life-threatening injuries. In one instance, a 3-week old baby was inside an SUV pushed off the road in Norfolk County by a driver in a pickup truck who fled the scene. While many people were quick to blame the weather for the significant number, Rogers blamed driver error."A lot of these collisions, if not all of them, didn't need to happen," he said.Rogers is urging drivers to slow down and to drive according to the conditions. He said it's crucial to have time to react if something happens suddenly.According to Environment Canada, the snow is expected to end late Monday evening with a small chance of flurries Tuesday morning.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    The Latest: Author grateful inmate didn't face firing squad

    SALT LAKE CITY — The Latest on a Utah death-row inmate who died in prison (all times local):3:55 p.m.Author Jon Krakauer says he's grateful that a Utah death-row inmate who killed his brother's wife and her toddler has died of natural causes and won't be executed by firing squad in what would have been a circus of an event.Krakauer made the comment Monday, hours after Utah prison officials said 78-year-old Ron Lafferty had died of natural causes.Krakauer's 2003 bestselling book "Under the Banner of Heaven" about radical offshoots of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints included Lafferty, who claimed he had received a revelation from God to kill the two because of his sister-in-law's resistance to his fundamentalist belief in polygamy.Krakauer says he hopes Lafferty's death brings some closure to the relatives of Brenda Lafferty, who died in 1984 along with her 15-month-old daughter Erica.The Utah state attorney general's office had expected Lafferty to be executed in 2020 and become the first American executed by firing squad in nearly a decade.___10:22 a.m.Utah prison officials say a death-row inmate whose double-murder case was featured in the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" and who was nearing an execution by firing squad has died of natural causes.Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said in a statement Monday that 78-year-old Ron Lafferty died at the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper.Lafferty was likely only months away from becoming the first American executed by firing squad in nearly a decade after an appeals court rejected his latest his appeal in August.Lafferty was convicted in the 1984 deaths of his sister-in-law and her baby daughter. He claimed the killings carried out with his brother were directed by God because of the victim's resistance to his beliefs in polygamy.___Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.comThe Associated Press

  • French roots of Calgary's Mission marked on Remembrance Day
    News
    CBC

    French roots of Calgary's Mission marked on Remembrance Day

    The home of Calgary's Lilac Festival used to be a French village and that community was named after a family whose son died fighting in the First World War.That's right, trendy Mission used to be Rouleauville, named after two Rouleau brothers, one of whom had a son, Henri Joseph Rouleau, who is better known as Pte. Rouleau."It is such a shame this is not commemorated as it should be. I am hopeful as the years continue, this should be an automatic recognition," Suzanne de Courville Nicol told CBC News."The Mission district was originally Rouleauville, from 1899 to 1907, when it was annexed by the city. Everything French was wiped out. All the street names took on the numerical system that we are familiar with now."As the president of Bureau de Visibilité de Calgary, de Courville Nicol looks to share the history of Calgary, with more diverse roots than many know.She says it started when a judge, Charles-Borromée Rouleau, and his brother Dr. Édouard-Hector Rouleau, moved to the area from what is today Quebec."The doctor's youngest son, he would have been two-years-old in that family photo, became the soldier who went to war, in the First World War and died after fighting at Vimy, Passchendaele," de Courville Nicol said.Ken LaPointe is a researcher and advocate for the history of what is today Mission.In 1998, he became involved in a fight to save St. Mary's High School, slated for closure, and began to learn more about the neighbourhood."From that conflict I learned about Mission and its history that goes back before Calgary," LaPointe said."Pte. Henri Joseph Rouleau is important on not just a community scale, but we feel nationally."de Courville Nicol says there are about 100,000 francophones in the Calgary area, and 300,000 in the province, but sometimes they connection to the province is sidelined."French is not just Quebec. It is Alberta. That's what's important to recognize and somehow, we are not invited to the table. We need to be considered, invited, included."On Sept. 13, 1917, Pte. Henri J. Rouleau of the 46th Battalion died of battlefield wounds.While only 20 years old, Pte. Rouleau was one of 585,000 casualties of which 325,000 were allied soldiers, according to the bureau."He lies buried at the military cemetery in Calais, France."

  • Montreal's new 'proactive' snow-clearing plan comes without big budget boost
    News
    CBC

    Montreal's new 'proactive' snow-clearing plan comes without big budget boost

    Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is promising a series of new, "proactive" measures to help manage ice and snow this winter, but those measures aren't backed by a substantially larger budget.The city has earmarked $166.4 million for the coming winter — $3.1 million more than it budgeted last year. That increase is enough to cover the cost of inflation, but even if if it had been in the budget last year, it wouldn't have been enough to cover the costs of de-icing and clearing snow, since Montreal went about $6 million over budget in 2018–2019. The year before that, the city's snow-clearing budget was $20 million in the red."We are adapting constantly," Plante said at a news conference Monday.After two seasons loaded with citizen complaints and budget shortfalls, the mayor said this year's plan has been in the making for a year, and the city is ready for the coming season with fresh, innovative ways to keep streets and sidewalks safe and snow-free.For starters, she said the city has added 33 new trailers to its fleet for spreading melting agents and abrasives on sidewalks.There will also be 600 observation points to measure the thickness of ice left behind after snow-removal or de-icing operations.A "mobility squad" will be out ensuring foot and vehicle traffic is flowing smoothly, mainly around Metro stations, in reserved bus lanes and on sidewalks that have been designated as priorities.Montreal has also added 15 new weather-monitoring stations — bringing the total up to 25 — so as to better gauge weather conditions and plan operations accordingly, Plante said. The stations will operate in tandem with Environment Canada forecasts.Boroughs to have more flexibility, mayor saysThe city is giving boroughs more "flexibility" when it comes to managing snow, Plante said.Each of the 19 boroughs will have the power to trigger two local snow-removal operations each season, because snow conditions can vary from one borough to the next.Each borough has received an additional budgetary allocation to pay for the removal of snow from the homes of citizens with reduced mobility. This operation is being conducted in collaboration with local organizations.The city will continue to operate services such as its Info-Neige app which lets residents know where snow-removal operations are taking place. And drones will again be flown over snow dumps to ensure space is being optimized, said Coun. Jean-François Parenteau, who is the executive committee member responsible for citizen services."All these innovations will allow us to be more agile and provide the safest possible network for pedestrians and road users," Parenteau said in a statement.The city will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed, he said.No more room for error: OppositionThe Plante administration has had two difficult years when it comes to managing snow operations, said opposition leader Lionel Perez in response to Plante's announcement."They've made a lot of mistakes — a lot of errors — and all we have heard are excuses over the last two years," he said, vowing to keep a close eye on snow operations across the city.For example, last February, Ensemble Montréal's motion to prohibit contractors from leaving piles of snow at street corners was rejected by the Projet Montréal majority, he said. The motion was aimed at helping people with reduced mobility navigate the city, he said.Perez also slammed the Projet Montréal administration for failing to substantially increase the budget, given that last year's was insufficient and the city will likely face a greater number of major snowfalls than in the past, he said."Yet they're not increasing the budget. We think it's a mistake. It's a poor way to manage public funds," he said.Covering extra expenses with reserve funds or surpluses is not "the right way to go about it," Perez said.

  • Study finds emergency department visits jumped after valsartan recall
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Study finds emergency department visits jumped after valsartan recall

    TORONTO — A large recall of contaminated medications appeared to spark confusion among many hypertension patients who were forced to give up the drug last year, with many turning to hospital emergency departments for medical help.The non-profit group Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences says emergency department visits jumped 55 per cent among those affected by a Health Canada recall of some valsartan products.Lead author Cynthia Jackevicius says that while the number of people who went to emergency was relatively small at just 0.17 per cent of affected patients, the increase was still significant.The medications were taken off the market in July 2018 after they were found to contain an impurity known as NDMA, a potential carcinogen that can cause cancer with long-term exposure.Researchers examined the impact on 55,461 affected patients and found that 10.7 per cent did not replace their medication within the three months that followed. Of those studied, 95 per cent had hypertension, while five per cent had heart failure. The average age was 76.It wasn't clear whether the emergency patients were among the 10 per cent who failed to replace their medication, or whether they went to hospital to get a new prescription, or lost control of their hypertension.Jackevicius says the data suggests the need for better co-ordination between Health Canada, prescribers and pharmacists when a recall is announced."While government agencies issued advisories to continue taking medications until contacting their prescribers, there is a high potential for misunderstanding by patients, particularly given the mass media news that may have heightened the alarm regarding the potential negative consequences," said the report, released Monday."Patients may have been willing to risk the short-term potential of uncontrolled hypertension to avoid ingesting a potential carcinogen."Before the recall, emergency room visits by the group studied averaged 0.11 per cent per month. In the month following the recall, the rate jumped to 0.17 per cent.Researchers also found a delayed six per cent spike in emergency department visits for stroke patients taking valsartan, as well as an eight per cent jump in hospitalizations, but most of that jump did not appear until November.Health Canada announced a voluntary recall of six generic valsartan products in July 2018 due to nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA.At the time, the federal agency urged those taking the affected medications to discuss treatment options with their health-care provider while the Canadian Pharmacists Association told affected patients they should not immediately stop their medication.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2019. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

  • Civilian advisers say they were forgotten after Afghanistan war
    CBC

    Civilian advisers say they were forgotten after Afghanistan war

    The Afghan-Canadians who served as civilian advisers for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, helping in some of the most dangerous missions, say they came home to little or no support from the government.

  • The Fraser Blues fly over Remembrance Day ceremonies every year. This is why they do it
    News
    CBC

    The Fraser Blues fly over Remembrance Day ceremonies every year. This is why they do it

    Every November 11, George Miller leads the Fraser Blues as they fly in formation over Remembrance Day celebrations all over Metro Vancouver.Before they take off, he holds an emotional briefing in the hangar at Langley Regional Airport."It brings back a couple of good friends of mine who died in the Cold War," he told his team."Remembrance Day is special."Once the team is briefed, the trio of pilots — George Miller, his son Guy Miller and close friend Ray Roussy — climb into their planes and fly wing-to-wing over ten ceremonies in the Fraser Valley."This is something we love to do," he said."It's very moving for me."Important dayMiller's career in aviation is legendary — he became a pilot in 1953 and spent 35 years with the Royal Canadian Air Force, flying F-86 Sabres and CF-104 Starfighters in Europe.He flew with Canada's first jet military aerobatic team, the Golden Hawks, and went on to become a team leader of the Canadian Snowbirds.Miller put together the Fraser Blues about 20 years ago and the team has participated in countless air shows.It's the Remembrance Day flights, however, that mean the most to Miller."This is probably the most moving experience that we do," he said."This is something we love to do."When he's in the air, looking down on the Remembrance Day crowds, he thinks of his friend and fellow fighter pilot Ronald (Rolly) Rolston.Rolson was killed more than 60 years ago when his plane crashed during a return flight from Morocco to a military base in Germany."That was tough because he was a close friend," he said."His wife was waiting for him on the base in Germany," Miller said.In the bloodMiller's son, Guy, is an accomplished pilot in his own right, who flew CF-18 Hornets for the Canadian military before he became a commercial pilot for Cathay Pacific.He says flying on his dad's wing has helped form a tight father-son bond between the two of them."I was born to fly," he said."It's been a wonderful career and it's really special to fly with these guys and my dad, too."Roussy — another accomplished pilot who has flown all over the world, including 20 years with the Fraser Blues — says the crowds at Remembrance Day ceremonies have been getting bigger in recent years."It's great to see," he said."It's nice to see that appreciation."

  • Mini Mercury skips across sun's vast glare in rare transit
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Mini Mercury skips across sun's vast glare in rare transit

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Mini Mercury skipped across the vast, glaring face of the sun Monday in a rare celestial transit.Stargazers used solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury — a tiny black dot — as it passed directly between Earth and the sun on Monday.The eastern U.S. and Canada got the whole 5 1/2-hour show, weather permitting, along with Central and South America. The rest of the world, except for Asia and Australia, got just a sampling.Mercury is the solar system's smallest, innermost planet. The next transit isn't until 2032, and North America won't get another shot until 2049.In Maryland, clouds prevented NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young from getting a clear peek. Live coverage was provided by observatories including NASA's orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory."It's a bummer, but the whole event was still great," Young wrote in an email. "Both getting to see it from space and sharing it with people all over the country and world."At Cape Canaveral, space buffs got a two-for-one. As Mercury's silhouette graced the morning sun, SpaceX launched 60 small satellites for global internet service, part of the company's growing Starlink constellation in orbit.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district's control
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district's control

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Little Rock teachers will go on strike for one day this week over an Arkansas panel's decision to strip their collective bargaining power and complaints about state control of the 23,000-student district, union officials said Monday.The strike that will take place Thursday will be only the second time teachers have walked out of the job in Little Rock history. The Little Rock Education Association's announcement comes after the state Board of Education in October voted to no longer recognize the union when the contract expired Oct. 31.The union has been calling for the state to give them back their bargaining power. Before the contract ended on Oct. 31, the Little Rock School District had been the only one in Arkansas where a teachers union had collective bargaining power. But union leaders said Thursday's strike was focused more broadly on returning full local control to the district.Arkansas has run Little Rock's schools since the state board took over the district in January 2015 because of low test scores at several schools. The state board has voted to put the district under a local board that will be elected in November 2020, but with limits on its authority. The strike will occur the day the state panel is expected to vote on establishing the zones for the new local board."As educators, we would rather be in the classroom with our students, not on the picket line," Teresa Knapp Gordon, the union's president, said at a news conference outside Little Rock Central High School. "However, this community and the passionate, dedicated educators of this district will do what is necessary to protect the futures of our students."While the union billed it as a one-day strike, Gordon left open the possibility of it stretching beyond Thursday if the panel doesn't return full local control."No options are off the table at this point," she said.The only other teachers strike in the district was in 1987, when Little Rock students missed six days of school before a new two-year contract was approved.Little Rock Superintendent Michael Poore said the district's schools will remain open and buses will continue to run, though some classes may have to be combined. In anticipation of the strike, school officials have been lining up hundreds of substitute teachers and said between 250 and 300 district and state employees can also work as educators."We are going to try to have as normal of a day as we possibly can," Poore told reporters. Poore said officials don't know how many teachers will join the strike.The state Board of Education last month backed off a plan to divide control of the school district after critics said it would return Little Rock to a racially segregated system 62 years after nine black students integrated all-white Central High School.The union, however, criticizes the latest plan because the state would still maintain some authority.State Education Secretary Johnny Key and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who appointed eight of the nine state board members, said they were disappointed with the strike decision."I am disappointed that the union has chosen to lead a strike that encourages teachers to walk out on their students," Hutchinson said in a statement. "Superintendent Mike Poore has made it clear we are going to continue classes and continue education and that we will not let a strike stop the education of our students. We all desire local control and next year's school board election is a major step approved by the state Board of Education."A teachers strike in Little Rock would follow similar actions elsewhere. A strike in Chicago, the nation's third-largest school district, cancelled 11 days of classes for more than 300,000 students before a contract deal was reached on Oct. 31. And teachers in several states, including Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky, protested last year at state capitols over wages and other issues.Those in support of ending the Little Rock union's recognition have said more teachers will be represented by the district setting up a personnel policies committee made up of teachers that would offer advice on salaries and other issues. The state board also voted to reinstate employee protections for teachers in the district that it had waived in December.Wendy Sheridan, a Little Rock parent, said she and her two children will join teachers at the picket line on Thursday before going to the state board meeting."While as parents we want what's best for our children, and that's to be in school, at this point what's best for our children is to support our educators and support others who are trying to do what's right for them in the long run," she said.___Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo___This story has been corrected to reflect that that 1987 was the last time a strike was held in the district, not the state, and that the announcement was made Monday.Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    Sask. solar company considers relocating head office to Alberta after gov't revamped net metering program

    Kevin Bergeron says he's looking to Alberta as his Saskatchewan solar energy company struggles amid changes to the provincial net metering program. "We're trying to position ourselves to pivot into other things that can can allow us to continue moving forward in the renewable space — one being a potential move of our head office to Calgary," said Bergeron, the CEO of Saskatoon's miEnergy. "There's certainly lots of opportunity in this sector in other jurisdictions." Earlier this month, SaskPower launched its "revamped" net metering program. Through the program, customers who produce their own energy can send excess power into the provincial grid and then receive credit for it. SaskPower decided to put the original net metering program on hold in September after it reached the 16-megawatt cap two years before anticipated.The revised program — launched on November 1 — has no cap, or contract term and will credit excess power for customers at 7.5 cents/kWh, which it said reflects the average cost of energy for 2020 and 2021.The province is no longer offering one-time rebates on solar installations and the credit back to customers for excess energy is about half of what the old 1:1 net metering program paid.Bergeron said business has basically come to a halt in the last few weeks, resulting in the company having to lay off tradespeople — dropping from 47 to 21 employees."SaskPower ... through the government's actions here has really put [a] 'business closed' sign up for the solar industry in Saskatchewan," Bergeron said. The Crown corporation has stated that keeping the old program would cost $54 million by 2025, as it was projected to grow by 50 per cent year over year.Bergeron said his team disagrees with the math. He argues a thriving solar industry could have pumped millions — from $450 to $560 million — into the economy while also creating "hundreds of jobs." "There is a real opportunity here for the government to stand up and be a leader in this area and create a couple hundred million dollars worth of economic activity in the energy sector," he said. "Unfortunately the government has chosen to move in the other direction." Minister responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan said in a news release that the program will "provide self-generation opportunities and support local industry for years to come." Duncan added that "while large, utility-scale projects are by far the most economical way to add renewable energy to the grid, Net Metering will remain another tool in the toolbox." Bergeron said any movement toward solar is positive, but the direction of the province doesn't put small businesses in a position to be competitive to compete with other companies that might operate out-of-province. He said he remains frustrated and wants to see Saskatchewan's solar program revisited.

  • News
    CBC

    Saanich students still out of school on Tuesday as strike enters 3rd week

    More than 7,000 students in Saanich on Vancouver Island will not be returning to their classrooms on Tuesday as job action involving support workers enters a third week. On Oct. 28, educational assistants, custodians, bus drivers and other support staff represented by CUPE Local 441 started picketing at Saanich School District schools. Teachers have refused to cross picket lines, so classes have been out ever since.The main issue at hand is wage parity, as support staff in Saanich are paid less than their counterparts in neighbouring districts like Greater Victoria.Elsie McMurphy, vice chair of the Saanich board of education, said the offer the board is making to support staff is "one of the best possible offers in the province."      "At this point we are hoping that the CUPE members will take another look at the offer the board has made," she said. Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 441 president Dean Coates said the union hopes the board will return to the negotiating table."Just as you we have children here, we're just as worried about their education," he said."But we're frustrated with this employer for wasting opportunities to meet to negotiate to find a settlement, especially over this long weekend would have been a perfect opportunity, but the employer is refusing to even reply to our emails."Coates said that low wages are a decades-old problem that causes recruitment and retention problems with staff.

  • Windsor was 'fully prepared' for snowfall, says public works department
    News
    CBC

    Windsor was 'fully prepared' for snowfall, says public works department

    The City of Windsor has been ready for snowfall for a few weeks, according to the City's public works department operations manager."We've got all the salt loaded up and all our equipment are all calibrated and ready to go," said Phong Nguy.Still, some Windsorites likely won't notice major snowplow presence on certain streets, because the City is primarily focused on clearing expressways, toll roads and major arteries. "If it's a residential street, most likely we're not going to [plow] unless the conditions change," said Nguy. "Right now, we're monitoring the situation. We probably will not go into residential [areas]."Though Nguy and his team were ready for snow, he acknowledged that Monday's snowfall was "a little early for the season."'No room for error,' says mechanicWhile some lucky Windsorites were likely able to avoid going out into the cold, snowy outdoors, many others were forced to brave the weather — and the roads."It's a little slick out there, so accelerate, decelerate slowly, be prepared to stop," said Nguy. "Just be aware of the surroundings and driving conditions."Dave Santing, owner and manager of OK Tire on Walker Road, spoke with CBC News on Monday afternoon. Santing said he knew it was going to be a busy day at his shop as soon as he looked out the window this morning. "We have several people that have already been booked for their winter tire changeovers, and of course, the phone's been going off nonstop [with] people trying to get in here," he said. "We're so overwhelmed, we actually have no room for error."According to Santing, most customers are visiting his shop for winter tires, battery checkups, as well as cooling/heating system checks. Santing recommended that drivers pay attention to one another while on the road."Be careful on the roads until you know exactly what you've got in the way of a tire underneath you," he said. "And by all means, think about putting a proper tire on for winter use. It's the only thing between you and the road and your family."According to Environment Canada forecasts, snow will to continue falling in Windsor throughout the late evening, with a chance of flurries on Tuesday.

  • She fled domestic abuse. Now she and her daughter are victims of the housing crisis
    News
    CBC

    She fled domestic abuse. Now she and her daughter are victims of the housing crisis

    Her bare feet were freezing by the time she made it through the snow to Tim Hortons, nine blocks from the home she had just fled.Her back ached from where he had broken an ironing board across it. Her shoes, phone, and baby girl were still back there with him.Her plan was simple: phone a friend, get her 18-month-old daughter and find somewhere safe to live. She soon realized that last step was anything but simple.The mother, who CBC News is calling Dawn C. (D.C.) to protect her child's identity, is one of many women in B.C. who have left a violent home and struggle to secure housing in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.  Advocates say emergency shelters are full, subsidized housing wait lists are long and market rents are too high for most single mothers.Nowhere to runThree years after she left her New Westminster apartment that winter night in 2016, D.C. is still living in Metro Vancouver with her daughter, but has no stable housing to raise her in. "Every place, every shelter, every house had wait lists that just went on forever," said D.C.Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women's Support Services (BWSS), says lack of affordable housing is one of the main reasons why women don't leave abusive relationship. She said the organization responds to up to 1,800 calls a year from women with limited housing options, some of whom are considering returning to their abusers.MacDougall said the problem has worsened in Metro Vancouver in recent years as rents soared and housing stocks plummeted.According to the most recent data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the overall vacancy rate in Vancouver is one per cent and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,649."With the housing crisis that we have, survivors of violence are dealing with the reality of no housing, no escape," said MacDougall.The aftermathThe first time D.C.'s partner was violent with her she was pregnant with their daughter and he headbutted her in the face in their kitchen. The night he beat her with the ironing board, she was still on leave after giving birth when she decided enough was enough.After she left, she returned home with a photo of her bruised back and threatened to show her partner's family if he didn't leave. He left.D.C. thought it would be okay. She had a daycare spot for her daughter, and planned to return to work at her full time job that paid decently — when she was laid off. She collected employment insurance until it ran out, took temp work, sold her car, drained her savings and stole the occasional tomato from a community garden. Anything to keep her child fed, housed and in care so D.C. could search for steady work. Eventually, she moved to Vancouver, where she rented an apartment, and where she thought there would be more employment and social services.But with an ex who refused to pay child support, D.C. was mostly reliant on social services. It was not enough for rent and she was evicted from her apartment.In a scramble, she found a new place out of her price range in East Vancouver. She has to move out at the end of the month, and expects to be homeless before Christmas.Stop the vicious cycleAccording to MacDougall, about 200 women and children are turned away from homeless shelters every night in B.C. "What we haven't done as a province and a country is prioritize housing," said MacDougall, adding when housing is available, it is not affordable. She said another issue is some vulnerable women do find an affordable unit, only to experience sexual violence from predatory landlords.MacDougall wants to see sustained government investment in temporary and long-term housing so women don't have to choose between being abused or being on the streets."Women are dealing with insurmountable hurdles trying to get housing when they are leaving an abusive relationship," said MacDougall.  "Homelessness becomes the direct result of leaving."Where to get help:VictimLinkBC is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual telephone service available across B.C. and the Yukon 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-563-0808.Service is provided in more than 110 languages, including 17 Indigenous languages.VictimLinkBC is TTY accessible. Call TTY at 604-875-0885; to call collect, please call the Telus Relay Service at 711. Text to 604-836-6381. Email VictimLinkBC@bc211.caSafe Home is a CBC Vancouver series on domestic abuse and housing affordability. It can be heard on The Early Edition at 7:10 a.m. PT starting Nov. 12 as well as local morning radio shows across the province. You can also watch for coverage on CBC Vancouver News at 6 weekdays and read stories online at cbc.ca/bc.

  • News
    CBC

    UNBC classes cancelled Tuesday, but both sides agree to return to negotiations

    Classes are again cancelled on Tuesday at the University of Northern British Columbia as faculty continue to strike after months-long negotiations broke down last week without an agreement.The UNBC Faculty Association, which represents all teaching staff, is striking over what it calls "rock bottom wages."The strike — and class cancellations — began last Thursday.UNBC Faculty Association vice president Paul Siakaluk says both parties have agreed to return to the negotiation table on Tuesday afternoon.But he warned that more classes could be cancelled as staff "will continue picketing until we reach an agreement at the table."In a statement, UNBC said it's "committed to continuing negotiations and reaching an agreement at the bargaining table."Negotiations first started after a working group was created to compare salaries to those at other universities, such as the University of Lethbridge, Thompson Rivers University and Trent University in Ontario.Siakaluk says faculty at UNBC currently have the lowest wages out of the sampled universities.

  • Nearly a million Canadian bank records sent to IRS
    News
    CBC

    Nearly a million Canadian bank records sent to IRS

    The number of banking records the Canadian government is sharing with U.S. tax authorities under a controversial information-sharing deal has increased sharply, CBC News has learned.The Canada Revenue Agency sent 900,000 financial records belonging to Canadian residents to the Internal Revenue Service in September — nearly a third more than it sent the previous year. The records were for the 2018 tax year.It also has updated the number of records shared for the 2017 tax year to 700,000 from the 600,000 originally reported."That's a lot," said John Richardson, a Toronto lawyer and co-chair of the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty, which is fighting the information-sharing deal. "That's a lot of files."The number of financial records of Canadian residents being shared with the IRS has risen steadily since the information sharing agreement began — from 150,000 in 2014 to 300,000 in 2015 and 600,000 for the 2016 tax year.To date, Canada has shipped 2.6 million records of Canadian residents who could be subject to U.S. taxes south of the border.However, the number of records doesn't necessarily correspond to the number of Canadian residents affected. Some people may have more than one bank account, while some joint accounts could have more than one account holder — including Canadians who don't have U.S. citizenship. Etienne Biram, spokesperson for the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), said the agency does not know why the number of accounts being flagged by Canadian financial institutions is changing from year to year."The CRA is currently analyzing the data to gain a better understanding of the fluctuations in the number of records being reported to the CRA."The information transfer is the result of a controversial information-sharing agreement between Canada and the U.S. that was negotiated after the U.S. government adopted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).The law, adopted in a bid to curb offshore tax evasion, obliges foreign financial institutions to report information about accounts held by people who could be subject to U.S. taxes.Unlike most countries, the United States levies income taxes based on citizenship rather than residency; some Canadians end up facing U.S. taxes because of an American parent, or because they were born in a hospital on the other side of the border.One of those Canadians whose banking information could have been shared with the U.S. is Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S.Following the adoption of FATCA, the Canadian government concluded that an information-sharing agreement would be better than forcing Canadian financial institutions to deal directly with the IRS.Under the agreement, Canadian financial institutions send the CRA information on accounts held by clients with U.S. indicia (the fact that the account-holder was born in the United States, for example). Then, once a year, the CRA sends that information to the IRS.People whose account information is shared with the IRS (names, addresses, account numbers, account balances, interest payments, dividends and other income) are not automatically notified by either their financial institutions or the CRA.Under the agreement, the IRS is supposed to send the CRA information about U.S. bank accounts held by Canadians. However, the CRA refuses to reveal how many records it has received from the IRS."The CRA cannot disclose the number of records received from the IRS under intergovernmental agreement as this is considered treaty-protected information and is subject to the confidentiality provisions of the Canada-U.S. Tax Convention and Section 241 of the Income Tax Act," said BiramBiram said the CRA is currently examining the way the information is being collected."While the CRA monitors the number of records filed each year by Canadian financial institutions, it is still currently developing a compliance program which will allow it to gain a better understanding of this data, including trends and fluctuations in the number of records being reported to the CRA."Richardson said the number of records being shared with the IRS is likely rising in part because banks and financial institutions didn't initially have to report some kinds of accounts. While the agreement is supposed to apply only to accounts with balances of at least $50,000, Richardson said he believes some institutions are reporting accounts with lower balances.While Richardson said he hasn't seen any indications the IRS has been taking action based on the information it has received from Canada, it is resulting in some Canadian residents realizing they were expected to file U.S. tax returns."There is no doubt that it is pushing a lot of people into U.S. tax compliance," he said. "It's also pushing a lot of people, when they become aware of this, into straight renunciation (of their U.S. citizenship)."In July, Federal Court of Canada Justice Anne Mactavish ruled the information-sharing agreement does not violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.In September, the group challenging the agreement filed an appeal of that ruling.Court challenges to bank record-sharing in the wake of FATCA have been launched in the United Kingdom and the European Union.Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

  • Tim Baker, Shallaway ready to welcome former U.S. president Barack Obama in song
    News
    CBC

    Tim Baker, Shallaway ready to welcome former U.S. president Barack Obama in song

    When former U.S. president Barack Obama takes to the stage at Mile One Centre in St. John's on Tuesday, he'll be given a warm, musical welcome.Singer-songwriter Tim Baker will be performing three songs from his debut solo album, songs that describe life in Newfoundland and Labrador."I felt I was supposed to be a musical ambassador, or an interpreter, so I thought I would play a few songs about the place that we were welcoming him to," he said.Baker said he was supposed to be recording in a studio in Montreal this week, but cancelled those plans when he was offered the chance to sing for Obama."I figured I would probably never get another opportunity to meet [Obama], and I'm a huge fan," he said."It's very exciting — probably, there's no one famous I'd rather meet."Baker will also be joined by the Shallaway Youth Choir for two of his songs, a group that he was a member of himself when he was younger.Shallaway artistic director Kellie Walsh says she and the choir have been hard at work on Baker's music — as well as the Canadian and American national anthems — but they've also been discussing the significance of the performance.Walsh said this will be "one of the most extraordinary experiences" the choir has ever had, one that goes beyond music."It talks to everything this choir is about, which is about building community, about culture, about leadership," she said."When it comes to music making and what Shallaway's all about, this is probably on the very, very top of anything we've ever done."Walsh said it's inspiring for both her and the young singers to see a "big thinker" effecting positive change in the world.Erica Budden, 17, says it's an "invigorating" feeling to get to sing for the former president."It's a very 'you're never going to get to do this again' kind of feeling, so [I want] to relish it," she said.Eli Quinn, 17, says it ranks highly among the special opportunities he's gotten with the choir."We've done so many cool things, travelling to Africa, singing with the Tenors.… [This is] pretty close to the top," he said.Claire Donnan, 16, says it will be exciting just to hear Obama speak, let alone perform for him."We get to be there, and that's amazing, and I'm just so blown away," she said.Alan Doyle will also be performing as part of Tuesday's event. Obama is visiting St. John's as part of a speaking tour across Canada, telling the story of his two-term presidency and offering insight into the current state of affairs in the United States. "It was a bit of a dream" to book Obama for St. John's, said Janis Byrne, chair of the St. John's Board of Trade, which arranged the event.Obama was making appearances in Montreal and Halifax, Byrne said, and they figured it was worth a shot to ask for a stop in St. John's. The board submitted an application that got approved just last month."And voila, it got accepted," Byrne said. "We were delighted."The discussion will be moderated by Zita Cobb, chair of the Shorefast Foundation, which Byrne said should make for some "fascinating" conversation."Like president Obama, she's a visionary, so we thought, what better match to be on stage?"In today's geopolotical climate, it's just to wonderful to have a statesman and a visionary like president Obama come and speak to us."Mile One Centre lists ticket prices ranging from $100 to $325, plus taxes and surcharges.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Family of Syrian immigrants mourn for father killed by falling bricks in Parc-Ex
    News
    CBC

    Family of Syrian immigrants mourn for father killed by falling bricks in Parc-Ex

    On Nov. 1, howling winds blew down trees and knocked out power all over southern Quebec.And in Parc-Extension, those winds dislodged bricks from the façade of a building, killing a man in his 50s who had just missed his bus and was standing near a bus shelter, waiting for his daughter to come pick him up.The man was Hanri Sabbagh, a Syrian immigrant who had arrived in Canada with his family just last year.Originally from Aleppo, Sabbagh came to Montreal to start a new life with his wife, Rima Bidan, and their two grown daughters. "We wanted to reunite and live as a family again, in a safe place, in a nice place," said Bidan.She described her husband as a very positive person. He started taking French lessons as soon as they arrived in Montreal. He encouraged his family to explore their new home and its culture, taking them to visit Mont-Tremblant and to a sugar shack."He loved this country. For him, the future of the girls was safe and was better than any other place," said Bidan.Bidan said she and her daughters have been inundated by messages of sympathy from her husband's fellow students in French-language class.At such a difficult time, she said, she and her daughters have been touched to hear stories of her husband's kindness and good humour from people they'd only just come to know.Mirelle Sabbagh, Hanri's younger daughter, said she thinks of her father as a friend as well as a parent, recalling "how lovely and how funny he was.""I know I will go on, and life will go on, but I won't be the same. No one will be the same. We're broken, even in our happiest moments in the future, there will be pain because he's not here," she said.Building awaits repairsThe wind ripped several rows of bricks from the façade just below the roofline of the building at the corner of Saint-Roch Street and Champagneur Avenue. People living in the building were temporarily evacuated. As of Monday, 10 days after the incident, the intersection was still closed to all traffic.The borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension told CBC that it's checking the area daily, and the building owner is making the necessary repairs.In the meantime, Sabbagh's family is considering legal action — and trying to fathom how to move forward."It's really a strange accident — to suffer all these things in our country and in Dubai, and to come here to the safest and nicest place in the world and to die like this — it's not easy," lamented Bidan. "I don't think we can recover."The family heads back to Syria Tuesday, to bring Sabbagh's body back to the place of his birth.