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The House of Commons law clerk says public servants went too far in redacting the WE Charity documents released to MPs last week — and warns the cuts may have violated a production order from the finance committee to hand over all internal correspondence related to the summer student grants program.The government released thousands of pages of documents related to the WE matter, as the committee requested last month. But rather than have the independent law clerk redact certain information, such as cabinet confidences and personal information, the various departments responsible for this aborted program did the blackouts themselves — an apparent contravention of the committee's request.The end result was hundreds of blank pages and blacked-out content — information only known to the public servants who red-penciled the material.> "They deliberately ignored the committee's will in order to cover up the truth and protect Justin Trudeau's reputation." \- Conservative finance critic Pierre PoilievreThe finance committee requested all memos related to the WE Charity contribution agreement and clearly stipulated that any redactions should be "made by the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons" — not government censors.Last week, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office told CBC News that the redactions were done by the parliamentary law clerk, who was following the committee's direction to remove documents covered by cabinet confidentiality and personal information about Canadian citizens.But that law clerk, Philippe Dufresne, said in a confidential August 18 letter to the clerk of the finance committee that the vast majority of the blackouts had been done by government bureaucrats — and some relevant information relating to the $912 million deal with WE may have been withheld, something which could constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege.Ottawa-based news outlet iPolitics first reported on Dufresne's letter.Dufresne raised red flags about the redaction process, saying his office did not have a chance to review the written material in its original form as the committee had intended. He also said the redactions his office did were limited to the personal information of public servants working on this file."The documents had already been redacted by the departments to protect personal information and on other grounds. As my office has not been given the opportunity to see the unredacted documents, we are not able to confirm whether those redactions are consistent with the order of the Committee," Dufresne said in his correspondence with David Gagnon, the finance committee clerk."The departments made certain redactions to the documents on grounds that were not contemplated in the order of the committee. We note that the House's and its committees' power to order the production of records is absolute and unfettered as it constitutes a constitutional parliamentary privilege that supersedes statutory obligations, such as the exemptions found in the Access to Information Act."(Provisions of the Access to Information Act are commonly used to justify releasing censored material to journalists and the general public.)"The House and its committees are the appropriate authority to determine whether any reasons for withholding the documents should be accepted or not," Dufresne added.The opposition parties have said that the documents that have been released so far call into question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's claim that he first learned that public servants were recommending that WE Charity administer the grants program ahead of a cabinet meeting on May 8.Emails released show that senior members of his office — including Rick Theis, the director of policy and cabinet affairs — had meetings with the charity about its proposal to administer the program before that date.An April 20 email from Michelle Kovacevic, a senior Finance official, said the "PMO was weighing in" on WE's pitch to dole out student support.That same official called senior members of former finance minister Bill Morneau's staff "besties" with WE Charity administrators in a May 7 email. Members of Morneau's team were working with WE in April on how best to craft the grants program.Craig Kielburger, the co-founder of WE, later thanked Ben Chin, one of Trudeau's senior advisers, in a June LinkedIn message for his "kindness in helping shape our latest program with the government."Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative finance critic, said today he believes the government directed bureaucrats to hide key information related to this scandal to shield the prime minister from further scrutiny."They deliberately ignored the committee's will in order to cover up the truth and protect Justin Trudeau's reputation," Poilievre said in an interview with CBC. "The law clerk was tasked with combing through all the material and redacting any cabinet confidence or other information that needed to be kept from public view. Instead, the Trudeau government did its own redacting."I think the plan, Trudeau's plan, is to try and cover up the facts in this scandal until the fall when he will force an early election, in the hopes that none of this, none of the truth comes to light before Canadians go to the polls. This government, under his direction, is going to such lengths to bury it all until after Canadians vote."After Morneau's abrupt resignation on August 17, Trudeau prorogued Parliament until the end of September, shutting down the Commons committees studying the WE matter. The prorogation means the committees are powerless to challenge redactions to the WE documents.The opposition parties will have a chance to vote down the government — and force an election — after a Sept. 23 speech from the throne by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.Poilievre said the government should immediately hand over the original documents in question to the law clerk so he can decide what can or cannot be released to parliamentarians.A senior government official, speaking on background Thursday, conceded both bureaucrats and the law clerk made amendments to the documents delivered to MPs.But the official said the government released a number of memos to cabinet related to the WE matter — even though the committee explicitly called for the exclusion of such documents — as a show of good faith.The PMO referred all questions on the matter to the Privy Council Office (PCO), the arm of government that serves the prime minister and cabinet and coordinates the work of the various federal departments.Pierre-Alain Bujold, spokesperson for the PCO, side-stepped a question about whether the government would hand over the documents — in their original state — for review by the law clerk.He did not say why bureaucrats assumed responsibility for the redactions, despite the committee's order."Every effort was made to release as much information as possible to the committee, and indeed cabinet confidences pertaining to the Canadian Summer Student Grant program were disclosed," Bujold said in a statement."A limited amount of information was protected." In fact, more than a quarter of all the documents provided to the finance committee were redacted in whole or in part.
Nearly 13 years after directing the hit that would result in B.C.'s worst gangland slaying, Jamie Bacon will face a reckoning Friday.The Red Scorpions gang leader will appear before the families of the victims of the so-called Surrey Six killings as a B.C. Supreme Court justice begins the process of sentencing him for conspiracy to commit the murder of a rival, Corey Lal, one of six people killed at a highrise in Surrey, B.C. in 2007. Bacon, who pleaded guilty to the charge last month, will also be sentenced for counselling someone to commit the murder of an associate in a separate case.But it is his role in the Surrey Six killings that is expected to take centre stage at the proceedings — as loved ones of the dead recount the pain wrought by their loss.'I can cry myself to death'The three underlings sent to carry out Bacon's orders on Oct. 19, 2007, killed Lal, who was the subject of the hit. But they also murdered Lal's brother and two more of his associates. And they killed Ed Schellenberg, a gas fitter who happened to be on a service call in the highrise apartment where the killings took place, and Christopher Mohan, a 22-year-old who lived with his mother across the hall from the scene of the crime.Two days have been set aside for the sentencing, but Crown lawyers indicated at Bacon's plea hearing that they will be seeking a combined sentence of 18 years for the two crimes. Bacon has been behind bars since he was arrested in 2009. His lawyers estimate that he could be free in five to six years.Mohan's mother, Eileen, will read her victim impact statement while Bacon watches. She says she's hoping Justice Kathleen Ker will ignore the deal the lawyers appear to have reached in crafting Bacon's plea agreement. But she believes the chances are slim."Honestly, I have no hope at all that the judge will change the plea deal agreement between the Crown and Bacon's lawyers," Mohan said."I can cry myself to death, that will not change … Even though I don't agree, I'm not happy — I have to accept what the courts have put forward."Rival 'had to be killed'As part of the sentencing proceedings, the Crown is expected to elaborate on two short summaries of fact they entered into the court file when Bacon pleaded guilty.According to those statements, Bacon and Lal were both involved in the Lower Mainland drug trade in October 2007 when a dispute arose between them.Lal was told he had to pay Bacon a $100,000 tax, which he refused to do."At a Red Scorpions meeting that same evening, Mr. Bacon told his fellow Red Scorpion gang members that Mr. Lal had to be killed because of his failure to pay the tax," the summary of fact says.A plan was hatched, but the person who was originally supposed to carry out the hit withdrew. And so Bacon directed two associates to kill Lal at his "stash house." They were joined by a third man, and the three carried out the murders together.Bacon's second guilty plea concerns a plan to kill Dennis Karbovanec, a Red Scorpion who Bacon believed had been "slacking" at his job, "doing pills and sleeping with girls" and threatening the gang leader's profits.According to the agreed statement of facts in that case, Bacon developed a plan that saw Karbovanec lured to Mission on the pretext of participating in a marijuana grow operation rip-off.Instead, one of the men with whom he arrived started shooting at him. Karbovanec escaped with an abrasion to his scalp and a bullet wound in his back.'This is my opportunity'A total of six people have been charged in relation to the Surrey Six murders.Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston were given life sentences in 2014 for six counts of first-degree murder. They are both appealing.The other killer — known by court order as Person X — pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.Two more men pleaded guilty to breaking and entering to help the killers gain access to the suite. Michael Le, who co-founded the Red Scorpions with Bacon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for testimony against Haevischer and Johnston.Mohan says she has written her victim impact statement."This is the only time I get to say something in these proceedings, the only time," she said."This is my opportunity. I have had no opportunity at all — no say. Christopher now belongs to the state. He belongs to the courts and the laws of our country. He doesn't belong to me anymore."Ker is expected to hand Bacon's sentence down on Sept. 11.
Former Conservative leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis says the Liberals should worry more about sorting out their own house and less about the fate of Conservative MP Derek Sloan.Lewis and Sloan were both unsuccessful in their recent bids to become the next Conservative Party leader. After Ontario MP Erin O'Toole won that contest earlier this week, Liberal MP Pam Damoff called on the new leader to turf Sloan from caucus over a series of controversial statements the MP made.In April, Sloan published a video on his Facebook page in which he questioned whether Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam — who was born in Hong Kong — was working for China. Before that, Sloan came under fire for saying that "the cause of sexual orientation" was "scientifically unclear." He also has said he wants Canada to pull out of the UN's Paris agreement on climate change and withdraw all funding from the World Health Organization. "Mr. Trudeau should worry about his own caucus," Lewis told host Vassy Kapelos on CBC News Network's Power & Politics Thursday evening. "Derek Sloan was elected and if ... his constituents feel that they no longer want him, it's up to them to vote him out.""I believe that an election will decide that. I don't believe that leaders should be telling people in the electorate who is worthy of that particular seat when they've been voted in. And as I said, the Liberals have their own issues to contend with."Lewis, a social conservative lawyer who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica as a child, impressed many during the leadership contest, finishing first in Saskatchewan and second in Alberta. Since losing to O'Toole, Lewis has said that she intends to run for the Conservatives in the next general election. "I knew in my heart that there was work that I started that I wanted to complete, and that the only way to do that was to run again," she said. "But I did have that discussion with Mr. O'Toole also, and he was very encouraging."Lewis said that riding associations in both Alberta and Saskatchewan have reached out to her to ask her to be their candidate but she has yet to decide where she will run."I've narrowed it down and I think I'll be making a decision next week. But I have to talk to my children and work a few things out related to my family. And I'll make the best decision for my family and for the party and for the country," she said.'I should earn it': LewisLewis said that she has not been promised a high-profile position in the party should she win her seat, and she's not the type of person to ask for one. "I believe that everything that I gain, I should earn it," she said. "I even said to [O'Toole] that I'm open to running a contested nomination and I didn't want to be granted a seat. I wanted to work for whichever riding I picked … and I would welcome anybody who wishes that they want to challenge me in that riding."In his first press conference after becoming leader of the Conservatives, O'Toole emphasized his pro-choice position on abortion. Lewis was asked if she has any concerns about her views being represented by the O'Toole leadership."People are individuals and they're entitled to their opinions and Mr. O'Toole is a professional," Lewis said. "I see his opinion is no different than how I would see myself having an opinion and making sure that I implement the best policies for the country. I have no doubt that Mr. O'Toole is going to do that."Asked what she would like to see her party do about systemic racism in Canada, Lewis said that proper policing training could go a long way and she would like to see her party push that idea forward."I believe that my party believes that all professionals should have proper training," she said. "If there is a point in time or incidents occur where we believe that the training needs to be improved in whatever aspect, whether it's use of force, we could always invest in that and make sure that police officers have proper resources and proper training to deal with various [incidents] ... including the heightened tensions around COVID and racialized situations."For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
For months, Avery Thornbury, 14, has been looking forward to starting Grade 9 at a new school. In fact, she's been so excited that she's had her backpack ready by her front door since June. "I just want the virus to be done," she said."I just want to go to my school." But now — at least for the foreseeable future — that's not going to happen. Avery has epilepsy, so she has to be monitored for seizures. And with her cognitive delays, her mom Lisa Thornbury, says she's working at a Grade 2 level.Because her daughter has to be constantly monitored, Thornbury has decided to opt for Ontario's online learning option come fall. She says there are holes in the province's back-to-school plan for students with disabilities. It's a choice she calls "heart-breaking," but ultimately necessary. "We just thought that the risks outweighed the benefits," Thornbury said. Survey studies impact of COVID-19 on kids with disabilities Thornbury says she's spoken to other parents in the same situation who say "they're really nervous, they're afraid and they just don't see that they have any other option." Parents of children with disabilities have cited issues such as the wearing of masks, questions about transportation for kids who require aid on school buses and the availability of educational assistants to help their kids when they're in the classroom. On Thursday, Statistics Canada released the results of a survey done in June looking at parents' concerns since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who have kids with disabilities expressed higher levels of concern in all areas, particularly when it came to the school year and academic success for their children. And what has made that even worse, Thornbury says, is what she calls "confusion" and "frustration" around the province's back-to-school plans for children like Avery. The plan, which was released on July 31, includes a combination of in-class and at-home learning for high school students, but the province has left room for each school board to tweak its own rules. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is still finalizing plans for children with disabilities, both for online and in class learning, according to Angela Nardi-Addesa, a system superintendent for special education. Nardi-Addesa says the TDSB is collaborating with other boards to ensure students with disabilities "will not be discriminated against," while remaining aware that some may have trouble with wearing masks and physical distancing. Thornbury says the Halton District School Board, which oversees Avery's Oakville school, is also still finalizing its plans, leaving "many questions" around transportation, educational assistants, and wearing masks for students with disabilities."My daughter can't wear a mask for longer than 15 minutes without being completely frustrated," she said. But the alternative — sending her to a school where some students aren't required to wear masks — felt too risky, leading her to choose online learning, despite the fact that her daughter thrives at school."It's kind of like a lose-lose situation." Province allocated $22M for special needs, mental healthThe province has promised more than $22 million for special needs and mental health, some of which is coming from the federal government.But despite that funding, Laura Kirby-McIntosh, a mother, teacher and autism advocate, says the Ford government should have released its back-to-school plans earlier. "Students like my daughter here, who has an exceptionality, they're one in six," Kirby-McIntosh told CBC Toronto Thursday."So you have to be planning with these kids in mind from day one — you can't leave it to the last minute." Her daughter will also be learning online, as her husband is immuno-compromised and is therefore particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Kirby-McIntosh is now pushing for more clarity. "I specifically called the minister of education today to discuss children with special needs," she said."We're going to make sure they're able to get in the classroom safely, [and that] they have the same rights as any other child." Recreating a classroom settingMeanwhile, Thornbury is now preparing to have Avery at home for longer than originally anticipated, which means "basically home-schooling" and sitting side-by-side with her during her virtual lessons. In an effort to recreate the classroom setting, the pair also stick to a rigorous schedule, which includes singing O Canada every day, as well as morning announcements, field trips and recess. "She thrives in a classroom," Thornbury said. And with the added challenge of also fitting her own work into her schedule, Thornbury said it's going to be hard. "It's going to be challenging for sure."
It's not uncommon for Claudio Brunetti to tell rowdy customers to leave the Last Call Liquor Store in Revelstoke, B.C., which he owns.But a burly black bear? Monday was a first.Brunetti was speaking with a customer Monday evening when a bear weighing an estimated 175 kilogram (385 pounds) suddenly walked through his store's front door, which Brunetti had purposefully left open to reduce touch points during the Covid-19 pandemic."It turned right into the store," Brunetti said. "It didn't just stick its head in and look, it barrelled right in." Brunetti, who also owns the aptly named Grizzly Sports Bar and Grill adjoining the liquor store, said he is used to encountering bears in Revelstoke, but to have a bear come into his store and start walking down an aisle was a shock for both him and a customer who was standing only metres away, he said.'Hey, get out! Let's go!'"When the bear came in [the customer] kind of just looked and froze. He almost went into shock," Brunetti said. "He was pretty dazzled about it and he was pretty freaked out."Brunetti yelled at the bear, "Hey, get out! Let's go!"And the black bear did just that, he said, by turning around and walking right back out the door.Bears coming into the city's downtown is not uncommon because of Revelstoke's proximity to the Columbia River and the Selkirk and Monashee mountain ranges, said Revelstoke Wildsafe B.C. co-ordinator Maggie Spizzirri."Unfortunately, it's not the first time that we've had a bear wander into a store of any kind. This spring, we had a bear wander into the pet store, and then a few years ago, we had a bear walk into a retail store," Spizzirri said.Bears attracted to garbage and fallen fruitThe late summer and early fall is when bear activity starts to pick up in the area, she said."Bears are looking to eat about 20,000 calories every single day until they go into hibernation ... in December.The B.C. Conservation Service is tracking the bear that ran into the liquor store, she said, "to see if this bear is going to be aggressive or if it was just a one-time accident."People in Revelstoke should keep their household garbage secure and also clean up fallen fruit from trees, Spizzirri said, in order to eliminate easily available food sources that bring the animals into the city.
Teachers will not be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than other front-line workers as long as they strictly adhere to the newly issued guidance on managing outbreaks in schools, Ontario's top doctor said Thursday. Dr. David Williams said teachers must wear masks, stay home if they're sick, wear gloves, and practice hand hygiene and physical distancing.
A Nunavut man has a harrowing story to tell after getting lost for four days out on the land near Pangnirtung earlier this month.Robert Joamie left on foot to go caribou hunting on a clear weekend afternoon, and had already seen several polar bears, when the weather quickly turned foggy. He got disoriented and lost.He was following what he thought was the sound of shots being fired at a nearby family camp, but in fact was the echo of the shots in the mountains, so he headed in the wrong direction. "I had with me a gun, shells, no food, and a knife, and I also had a lighter. But I had dropped it so I had no fire starter to make fire with," he told CBC in Inuktitut.He had only brought a Pepsi with him on the hunt.After two days on the land, he said he fell to his knees from hunger, exhaustion and thirst. Where he fell there was a patch of edible mountain sorrel and he heard dripping. "I climbed uphill to try and find something to give me little bit of energy and found some edible plants and saw a little creek that I drank from."> I was quite worried about the biggest [bear] that might come and attack me. \- Robert JoamieWhen it started to get dark the fog got heavier, he fell backwards, close to the edge of a mountain. Joamie said his gun was hanging off the edge, and he has no idea how he didn't fall. His foot was stuck on a rock — what he says saved him — and he was able to pull himself away from the edge. "When it became dark, I tried to find a suitable shelter knowing I had seen three polar bears earlier in the day," he said."So I was quite worried about the biggest one that might come and attack me."Watch Robert Joamie tell CBC Igalaaq about his night on the land: He said he drifted in and out of sleep. "When I heard a movement nearby, all I thought of was the huge bear I had seen. But luckily it was just a fox," Joamie said."I survived the night."Meanwhile, search and rescue teams were out looking for Joamie, who had headed to the top of a mountain so he might be seen.He could hear the Hercules plane passing overheard. At first he was elated thinking he was safe, but it passed overhead. He counted that the plane flew over him six times. At one point, Joamie said he gave up and asked God to end his suffering, then passed out from exhaustion.When he woke up, he laughed at himself and told God he'd changed his mind, he'd really like to be rescued. Eventually Civil Air Search and Rescue Association spotters in a Twin Otter spotted him. But Lucy Young, Joamie's maternal aunt, said the plane couldn't land on the mountain."So they sent a helicopter to pick him up and found him barely standing from walking too long. He had walked very far and up the mountain to be found," Young said in Inuktitut.Searchers found him curled up with bad blisters on his feet. Young says their family broke into song when they heard he was OK.Joamie, an actor who has starred in a Canadian Heritage minute and in a movie, was airlifted straight to Iqaluit for medical treatment. He still had his gun with him in the hospital — which he said was a first — and said the nurses and security staff were slightly startled. Joamie returned to Pangnirtung, with his gun, in good spirits earlier this week.
Ever since Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party took power in Alberta, they have repeatedly argued the province has a spending problem. That's where they have centred their fiscal focus.Thursday's fiscal update, however, showed just how bad the revenue side of the government's finances has become — the plight of the oilpatch is leaving a giant hole in the budget.Revenue from the oilpatch is expected to be $1.2 billion this year, down from the $3.9 billion forecast and a far cry from better days in the sector, such as 2014-15 when those revenues were $8.9 billion.Revenues from the oil and gas sector haven't been this low since the early 1970s, according to government documents.The oilsands are especially woeful. Bitumen royalties were expected to generate more than $3 billion this year, but instead could now provide just $686 million.Many oilsands projects are generating little to no positive returns this year, according to government documents, since many are unable to turn a profit.Projected corporate income tax revenue has been cut in half.Massive deficitThe oilpatch's struggles, in addition to the impacts of the pandemic, have contributed toward an expected deficit of more than $24.2 billion.That is equivalent to roughly 8.1 per cent of the province's GDP. Not only is that the largest in Canada and the widest shortfall on record for Alberta in several decades, but it would be the "largest deficit recorded by any province over the past 35 years," according to Robert Kavcic, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.Kenney's government will need to figure out where it will find the money to pay its bills."The challenge for Alberta will really show itself over the medium term, with the energy sector likely to remain restrained and some fundamental issues (like revenue sources) possibly needing to be addressed," said Kavcic in a research note.The government's fiscal update on Thursday provided little insight into what choices they will make to help rectify the situation or when the province could eventually return to a balanced budget.Watch | Alberta on track to record-setting $24.2B budget deficit:Instead, Finance Minister Travis Toews explained how it will take a while to return to pre-pandemic levels, when the economy was already sputtering."The road to recovery will be slow and fragmented. Real GDP is not expected to surpass 2019 levels until after 2022. Unemployment is unlikely to fully recover until after 2021," he said in a speech to the legislature.Getting out of the redOn the same day, neighbouring Saskatchewan provided its own fiscal update and, despite similar pressure from depressed oil and gas activity, the government expects to have a balanced budget by 2024.In Alberta, the plunge in oilpatch revenues is "significant" and creates a "sizeable dent in the budget," according to Charles St-Arnaud, chief economist with Alberta Central, the central banking facility for credit unions in the province.The worst of the province's economic hit is likely over, he said, but he would still like to see a plan from the government or expectations for the years to come."With growth coming next year and with the unemployment rate expected to lower next year, should we expect revenues to gain back?" He said in an interview: "With that, you could have probably gauged what to expect on the resource revenue side."The answer to the province's revenue shortfall isn't easy to find. Introducing provincial sales tax is often suggested by economists, but there is little political will by any past or present Alberta government to do it. Moreover, a new sales tax would only narrow the deficit, not solve it.For now, Alberta remains an overwhelming petro-economy and as such, it faces the same uncertain outlook as the oilpatch itself.Addiction to royaltiesSince the pandemic, the sector has struggled with too much oil production and too little demand for fuels. Oil prices have stabilized around $40 US for the North American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate. At that price, some companies are able to turn a small profit, but it is not enough to spur new drilling.That oil price also remains fragile. Companies and countries around the globe continue to limit how much oil they supply to keep the market from being awash in crude and send the price spiralling down again.The reliance on the oil and gas sector is nothing new, as the University of Calgary's Ron Kneebone detailed in a 2013 research paper about Alberta's finances. He compared it to a substance-abuse problem."The substance is fossil fuels, and the province has become hooked on the revenues from oil and gas sales to fund its spending on health, education and social services. As we are so often told, the first step in beating an addiction is admitting that a compulsion has gotten out of control," he wrote.Industry headwindsThe difference today is how bad Alberta's finances have become and the industry's inability to help because of its own poor health.The state of the oilpatch was reflected south of the border this week; Exxon-Mobil is being kicked out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.Exxon was one of the most valuable companies on Earth as recently as 2013, but it's now losing money and its stock price, like many oil and gas companies in North America, has slowly fallen over the last five years.The headwinds facing the sector can't be ignored, according to Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management."We've seen just the beginning of the electrification of the overall transportation system around the globe. And it's hard to imagine that fossil fuels will be leading in terms of market capitalization and profitability going forward, so I guess I applaud the folks at the Dow," he said in an interview earlier this week."You can't just be married to a business or a business model forever. You got to be on top of things, and really recognize: that was then and this is now," said Schwartz. "It's hard to imagine this trend reversing."For now, the capital investment, jobs and government revenue generated by the oilpatch remain restrained in Alberta.Royalties from the oilpatch have cratered and the government will have to figure out where to find money to battle its hefty deficit, let alone pay off the nearly $100 billion in debt the province has accumulated.While Kenney and the UCP have tried to shine a light on government spending, it's becoming increasingly clear they'll need to take a hard look at where they get their money, too.
The father of a Calgary girl who was burned in an apparent case of road rage is asking a man who threw hot tea through an open car window to come forward and apologize. "It just happened ... in 30 seconds," said Fahim Mirza, whose seven-year old daughter was burned. Mirza said his daughter is struggling and often asks why she was the one who got burned.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Friday to defend the island with a "solid" air force as she launched a U.S.-backed maintenance centre for the island's fleet of upgraded F-16 fighters amid rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing. Frequent Chinese and U.S. military exercises in the region are raising fears of conflict touched off by a crisis over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory. "It takes solid defence capability, not bowing and cringing, to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of China and maintain regional peace and stability," Tsai told a ceremony unveiling the island's first maintenance hub in the central city of Taichung for its most advanced F-16s.
Collapsing oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic has driven Alberta's deficit to a historic $24.2 billion — more than triple what the United Conservative government projected in its February budget. Fletcher Kent explains on the noon news where the province goes from here.
The Toronto Blue Jays-Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball game was postponed Thursday night in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin last weekend. The Red Sox and Jays put out a joint statement to announce the decision, about 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. The decision was made after Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who is Black, said he would not play.
HALIFAX — A COVID-19 vaccine-development partnership between Canada and a Chinese firm has been abandoned, ending clinical trials that were to be conducted by a Dalhousie University research lab.The National Research Council of Canada said Thursday the CanSino Biologics vaccine intended for phase one clinical trials has not been approved by Chinese customs for shipment to Canada."Due to the delay in the shipment of the vaccine doses to Canada it is evident this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other partners and COVID-19 priorities," the agency said in a statement.Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne downplayed suggestions the vaccine partnership failed because of ongoing political tensions between the two countries."I don't necessarily think so," Champagne told reporters Thursday. "I can only speak for the Canadian side. I would not necessarily link whether that particular opportunity is linked to anything else."Relations have been sour since the Chinese detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation for the RCMP's arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou on an American extradition warrant in December 2018.Despite the tensions, Champagne said "we have issues in terms of global health where we can work together."The Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University was supposed to conduct the trials through a partnership with the NRC and CanSino Biologics. Dalhousie's lab had been ready to start clinical trials as early as June, the NRC said, after Health Canada approved CanSino's proposal.The Halifax lab was one of several in Canada and in the U.S. whose work in 2014 led to an Ebola vaccine that was used in West Africa.Dr. Scott Halperin, the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, said it was disappointing the CanSino project won't be going ahead."The CanSino vaccine is one of the most furthest along of any of the candidate vaccines so it would have been nice to do that study," Halperin said. "It's not the only vaccine that we are working with ... but we certainly don't like to lose access to any one of them because we need multiple vaccines."Halperin said all of the protocols had been written and approved and had his lab received the vaccine its study would have been "well along by now.""We thought the shipment would be coming any day, as did the company," he said. "There was no bad faith on the company — they were trying everything but they could not get (Chinese) government approval to ship it. The request for shipment hasn't been denied it just hasn't been approved."Halperin said the Halifax lab would be working on other COVID-19 studies and is in discussions with at least six different manufacturers. Once approvals are granted he said at least two of the studies could begin as early as next month."Things are moving along. We weren't sitting and waiting for CanSino and doing nothing else."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2020.Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Republicans and Donald Trump rolled out their biggest political guns Thursday on the final night of their national convention, using the south facade of the White House as a backdrop — literally — for the president's largest, highest-stakes Make America Great Again rally since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.The deadly outbreak, which has claimed more than 183,000 American lives since it erupted on U.S. soil back in March, seemed the furthest thing from the minds of the estimated 2,000 guests on the south lawn, crammed in cheek-by-jowl — many without masks — for a first-hand look at Trump's trademark political showmanship.From atop a stage festooned with American flags and flanked by towering Trump-Pence billboards, Trump delivered a 70-minute speech that began with a formal acceptance of the Republican nomination for president and ended with a flourish of American rhetoric, an in-person aria from the White House balcony and a garish fireworks display that spelled "Trump 2020" in the Washington night sky."Despite all of our greatness as a nation, everything we ever achieved is now in danger," Trump said at the outset."At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies or two agendas. This election will decide whether we save the American dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny."His opening acts, which included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, pulled no punches in their depiction of Biden and his party as nothing short of the architects of American destruction."The Democrats are urging you to vote for an obviously defective candidate," Giuliani railed, describing Biden as a puppet of the party's progressive wing. "Biden has changed his principles so often, he no longer has any principles. He's a Trojan horse with Bernie (Sanders), (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), (Nancy) Pelosi, Black Lives Matter and his party's entire left wing just waiting to execute their pro-criminal, anti-police socialist policies."Where Giuliani sought to use New York City as a cautionary tale about Democratic government, McConnell delivered a similar warning to the American heartland, speaking in a pre-recorded message from his home state of Kentucky."Today's Democrat party doesn't want to improve live for middle America," McConnell said."They want to tell you when you go to work, when your kids can go to school; they want to tax your job out of existence, and then send you a government check for unemployment. They want to tell you what kind of car you can drive, what sources of information are credible, and even how many hamburgers you can eat."Other speakers who sang Trump's praises included deputy White House chief of staff Dan Scovino, deputy Trump assistant Ja'Ron Smith, Marine Corps veteran-turned-pipefitter Stacia Brightmon and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.Marsha and Carl Mueller, whose daughter Kayla was taken hostage in Syria in August 2013 by members of the Islamic State group and killed after 18 months of captivity, all but blamed Biden for her death."We put all our faith in the government, but the government let us down," Carl Mueller said. "To this day, we never heard from Joe Biden ... the Obama administration showed more concern for the terrorists in Guantanamo than the American hostages in Syria."Earlier in the day, one of the Republican ticket's chief rivals set out to spoil Thursday's celebration.Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's newly nominated running mate, took to an auditorium stage in Washington to remind Americans about some of the things the president's party has desperately tried to avoid talking about this week: racial unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic."The Republican convention is designed for one purpose — to soothe Donald Trump's ego, to make him feel good," Harris said, accusing the president of a ham-handed response to the viral outbreak that showed "reckless disregard" for the health and safety of Americans.He was preoccupied from the outset with the performance of the stock market, and afraid to confront the crisis head on for fear it would cause markets to decline and damage his re-election hopes, Harris said. "Donald Trump has failed at the most basic and important job of a president of the United States. He failed to protect the American people, plain and simple ... it's his duty to protect us, and he has failed — miserably."Harris was the least of the many distractions threatening to pull focus away from Trump's big moment.Hurricane Laura roared ashore in Louisiana overnight as a category-4 storm, while 1,800 kilometres due north, protesters again took to the streets in the Wisconsin city of Kenosha in the name of Jacob Blake, a Black father of three who was shot seven times in the back by police.There, authorities also say a 17-year-old gunman who admired police killed two demonstrators and injured a third — shootings captured on video posted online.Trump acknowledged the violence and unrest in Wisconsin, but only in the context of promoting his law-and-order mantra, again depicting Biden as a doddering Democratic puppet of the "radical left" whose party would be powerless to re-establish calm on American streets. "I've done more for the Black community than Joe Biden has done in 47 years," he said.Only Housing Secretary Ben Carson, the highest ranking Black American in the Trump administration, made direct reference to the Blake shooting."Our hearts go out to the Blake family," Carson said."This action deserves a serene response, one that steers away from the destruction of a community that moulded Jacob and his family into the kind of man his family and friends know today."Harris, whose father is from Jamaica and mother from India, confirmed Thursday that she and Biden had visited Blake's family, hailing their "extraordinary courage" and promising to redouble efforts to address the deep-seated racial disparity underpinning the protests."The reality is that the life of a Black person in America has never been treated as fully human, and we have yet to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law," she said."We will only achieve that when we finally come together to pass meaningful police reform and broader criminal justice reform, and acknowledge — yes, acknowledge — and address systemic racism."In solidarity, Milwaukee Bucks players refused to play their playoff game Wednesday, temporarily halting the NBA season. They were to resume on Friday. Three Major League Baseball games were delayed because players refused to take the field and several NFL teams cancelled their Thursday practices.Also Thursday, Wisconsin Lutheran College cancelled a planned Saturday commencement speech by Vice-President Mike Pence, citing the unrest.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2020.Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyleJames McCarten, The Canadian Press
When Nancy Riley, who suffers from bronchial asthma, walked into an appointment earlier this month, the building was quiet and the room was still being sanitized.All for her protection amid the COVID-19 pandemic."As I walked through, the person in the office where I was going was wiping everything down," she said. "The scent was just outrageous."I started choking and coughing and I couldn't breathe."> Whenever possible, just use good old fashioned soap and hot water. — Robert MacDonald, P.E.I. Lung AssociationRiley has had asthma for as long as she can remember, but she said this is the worst it's ever been because of the increased use of scented cleaners and antibacterial products."It takes my breath away," she said."Going into a store or a business that uses them constantly, that is what bothers me. I don't even like even leaving the house."'Struggle to breathe'Riley said for her, it's mostly the use of scented cleaners that make breathing difficult. The P.E.I. Lung Association said perfumes, air fresheners, deodorizers, candles and laundry detergents can also have an impact."When it comes to lung health, they can be triggers for people that are dealing with lung diseases such as asthma or COPD," said Robert MacDonald, president of the P.E.I. Lung Association. "Even prior to this pandemic, we've always strongly recommended that people, whenever possible, just use good old-fashioned soap and hot water."MacDonald said while he has not received much feedback about how people are handling the scents associated with extra cleaning, "it's extremely important" Islanders remain aware of the potential implications.There are also websites that provide information on alternate solutions. "A trigger can cause a flare-up, an exacerbation," he said. "Or they struggle to breathe and that is not something we want lung patients to be dealing with when they are around scents."Urging businesses to go scent freeRiley said she doesn't think she'll get used to the increase of smells anytime soon. She is still looking for solutions that could help, beyond carrying her puffer at all times."Well, I try to make myself cough or I just sort of try to hold my breath," she said."Sometimes I think, 'OK I know it's going to smell over there when I walk by again. I just won't breathe while I walk by.'"Riley said some stores are better than others when it comes to strong scents. By sharing her experiences, she is hoping it might convince more business managers to avoid highly scented products."Be cautious of, you know, overusing scented antibacterial products because of your customers and their breathing problems," she said."They have to realize some people can't handle that."More from CBC P.E.I.
Fears of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Ontario after bars and other indoor spaces were reopened have not panned out — at least so far.Four weeks ago today, Toronto and Peel Region joined the rest of Ontario (with the exception of Windsor-Essex) in Stage 3 of the province's pandemic reopening plan. That means 97 per cent of Ontario's population has been living under looser restrictions for at least four weeks, enough time for trends in new coronavirus infections to emerge. Despite that, the provincial average number of daily new cases has increased only slightly since early August, when the trendline hit its lowest point in months.While it would be absolutely premature for the province to declare victory over the coronavirus, the absence of a spike in new cases suggests it's fair to call the first month of Ontario's Stage 3 reopening a success. "The province is actually doing much better than I would have expected as we moved into Stage 3," said Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health.WATCH: Why one epidemiologist believes Ontario is faring better than expected in Stage 3:"Given the businesses that were reopening and the activities that we were allowing, I was expecting an increase," Tuite said in an interview with CBC News. "We have seen an increase, but that increase has not been as rapid as I would have thought.""In absolute terms, it's a relatively small amount of increase," said Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University and an infectious disease consultant at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. "To me, that seems like things are going relatively OK," Chagla said in an interview. "There is a small rise, but certainly not this catastrophic rise that we've seen in certain places." Since the number of new cases fluctuates from day to day, epidemiologists stress it's important to look at the overall trend, such as the average number of daily new cases over a week-long period. That's the "curve" represented by the blue line in this graph.On that measure, Ontario's "curve" has stayed below 110 throughout August. That daily average of cases is actually lower than what it was consistently through July, when bars and restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area were still not allowed to serve customers indoors.Health experts attribute Ontario's relatively successful reopening to a range of factors, including local bylaws requiring masks in shops and on transit; physical distancing and occupancy restraints on indoor businesses; and summer weather that allowed people to spend time outdoors, where the risk of transmission is at its lowest. Experts also credit the bulk of the population's general adherence to public health advice. Ontarians "got the message relatively early that COVID was a problem," Chagla said. He believes most everyone in the province has realized the potential consequences of failing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus."We are in Stage 3 of reopening, but everybody is still behaving in general in a way that recognizes that COVID is still with us and that we still need to take precautions," Tuite said. Efforts to "flatten the curve" of COVID-19 cases have not worked out perfectly across the province. Public health officials have expressed some concerns about case counts in recent days in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.Regional differences are important to watch for because the pandemic manifests differently in different places, said Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa's faculty of health sciences. "Overall, Ontario is doing well," he said in an interview. "Not as good as it could be doing, but well."Deonandan said he is concerned about evidence suggesting that people in their 20s and 30s are accounting for a growing proportion of COVID-19 cases in the province."It tells me that we are not getting the message across to a variety of people, a variety of demographics, that this is still a serious disease," he said. The daily case count is not the only metric for weighing the province's efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. * The percentage of tests with a positive result gives some indication of the infection rate. The international benchmark is to keep that rate below five per cent. In August, Ontario has been far below that, with just 0.4 per cent of the nearly 700,000 tests conducted giving a positive result. * The number of people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 has dropped steadily since the peak in early May, a clear sign of success at keeping the health system from being overwhelmed, * The number of deaths is also down significantly, averaging just one a day this month. Since Aug. 1, Ontario has reported 26 deaths related to COVID-19. By comparison, there were 101 deaths reported in July, and 383 in June. The virus has been linked to the deaths of more than 2,800 Ontarians since March. Asked for his assessment of Ontario's performance in Stage 3, Premier Doug Ford gave credit to local medical officers of health. "Everyone's moving forward, they're doing a great job," Ford said Thursday in Brockville, Ont., during his daily news briefing. "I really have confidence in our public health system."None of Ontario's success in August guarantees that the province will continue to see low case counts or escape a second wave of infection in the fall. Clearly, risks remain in the weeks ahead as school resumes, workers return from holidays, cooler weather pushes people indoors and flu season arrives. "Everything rides on whether schools can be opened up safely," Deonandan said.Schools can be breeding grounds for spreading the coronavirus if proper preventive measures are not taken, he said. "Are young people taking it home to their parents and grandparents? When that happens, then I'll start to panic."Tuite said she is wary about what happens next month and is keeping a close eye on what she describes as "a bit of an upward creep" in the number of cases in recent days."We know that this is a disease where it grows exponentially," she said. "If we continue to see this upward trend, we can anticipate that those numbers will increase fairly rapidly, once they start increasing."
British Columbia reported one new community outbreak of COVID-19 on Thursday at a construction site for a water treatment facility in the Interior Health region. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are seven cases in the outbreak, and that six of the workers live in Alberta. B.C. now has 5,372 confirmed cases while 4,253 people have recovered from the infection.
Nova Scotia's measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are about to be tested by an influx of university students from outside the Atlantic bubble.Most universities have opted to focus on online learning, but others, like Acadia University in Wolfville and St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, have chosen a combination of virtual and in-person classes."We have a community, a demographic that's considered vulnerable," said Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell. "We cannot allow an outbreak in this community. We have to mitigate any kind of outbreak that's gonna take place. We are taking this very seriously."He said an outbreak of COVID-19 would be devastating for another reason."If Acadia is put at risk and they have to go full-time online, or they have to shut down for a while because there's a significant outbreak and they can't hold classes, that probably will also lead to the shutting down of the businesses again like we had in March or April," Cantwell said."That's gonna be absolutely devastating for this community."To help minimize the spread of COVID-19, strict guidelines are in place for testing and isolating out-of-province students. In addition to self-isolating for 14 days upon arriving in the province, they will be tested three times for the coronavirus before they can attend class or go out in the community.People accompanying students are also expected to self-isolate themselves for 14 days, but there's less oversight.Asked about ensuring that people who accompany students also self-isolate, Cantwell said he's aware of people coming into the region and wearing their failure to isolate as a "badge of honour."On Tuesday, a student in Antigonish was issued a $1,000 fine for violating self-isolation rules.Both Wolfville and Antigonish have been working with the universities and other stakeholders to ensure students and their families are aware of the regulations."We've been working very closely with the town, as well as the local RCMP," said Elizabeth Yeo, the vice-president of students at St. FX. "We have a working group, we've been calling it the community coalition, and that has been meeting every second week for the last number of months."And through the collaborative work of that committee, we've developed a strategy that we're calling the good neighbours strategy."Brendan MacNeil, president of the Acadia Students' Union, said students and their families need to be aware of the community they are in."This isn't just a young millennial town or something where it's just a bunch of students," he said. "It is a very real risk that we live amongst a large elderly population."First-year students often rely on an accompanying family member to help them settle into an unfamiliar environment.Madeleine Stinson, president of the student union at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said having familiar faces around can help ease the transition to university life."Having my parents here was definitely very supportive, " she said. "It was great having them drive me ... and help me move in."But that may no longer be the norm at universities amid COVID-19."That traditional university goodbye, some of those things won't be able to happen in the same way," said Chad Johnstone, the director of residence and student life at Acadia.MORE TOP STORIES
Seeing all five Toronto police officers cleared in Regis Korchinski-Paquet's death was a "slap in the face" for some in her mother's home community of North Preston, N.S.Miranda Cain, a North Preston resident and community advocate, was with Korchinski-Paquet's mother, Claudette Beals-Clayton, and other family members in a local restaurant when they heard the news.Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced Wednesday no criminal charges would be laid against the officers in the death of the 29-year-old. She fell to her death from her 24th-floor apartment balcony on May 27 while police were in her home, after her family called police to get her proper help."We shed a couple of tears. A lot of frustration, anger," Cain said Thursday."I was just there to comfort her and to lend her my support. She anticipated this."Cain said Beals-Clayton is originally from North and East Preston, historic Black communities just outside Halifax. Korchinski-Paquet lived in the province until she was a teenager. It was important for Beals-Clayton to leave Ontario and come back to Nova Scotia to be with family right now, Cain said. Korchinski-Paquet's death has raised many questions around how police respond to wellness checks, especially involving people of colour.Her death came just two days after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, with that timing connecting her death with the worldwide movement against police brutality.In a statement, SIU director Joseph Martino said their evidence shows that no one other than Korchinski-Paquet was on the balcony when she scaled over the railing, tried to move along the ledge to her neighbour's balcony, lost her balance and fell.The director said he found no grounds for criminal liability over the police's decision to leave Korchinski-Paquet alone on the balcony.Although the officers might have acted more proactively by trying to reach Korchinski-Paquet on the balcony, Martino said police didn't want to startle her further.Unanswered questionsCain said the report leaves unanswered questions, like how five officers in a small apartment allowed Korchinski-Paquet to access the balcony."I'm stunned. To have zero charges, it's a slap in the face," Cain said.The SIU report shows that it's vital to pay attention to what's going on and keep pushing for police accountability, Cain said, especially given the results of the outside investigation."We're not going to just sit back," Cain said.The family's team of lawyers, including former SIU director Howard Morton, believe the evidence supported criminal charges for the officers "who burst into the apartment."Morton said Wednesday he believes one or more officers could have been charged with failure to provide the necessaries of life, or criminal negligence causing death.Cain said the reality is police officers get the benefit of the doubt in such a situation, while Black families are left to "fight for what we need, and what's right."Halifax's Kate Macdonald, a Black activist and educator, told CBC's Information Morning in Halifax on Friday she objected to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders's statement that he would have never sent a nurse to the apartment because of phone calls that said a knife was involved."What's really interesting is that he didn't want to send a nurse, but he did want to send eight fully strapped cops to deal with a young woman in possible mental distress," she said.Macdonald called for non-police mental health crisis units, a reallocation of funding from police forces to community initiatives, and a hard look at organizations like the SIU."What's the point of SIU? If not to be a community advocate, if not to provide an impartial account of what happened, then what is the point?" she said.A CBC News analysis of 461 police deaths in Canada between 2000 and 2017 revealed 70 per cent of people who died during encounters with police suffered from mental health or substance abuse problems. It also found Black and Indigenous people were over-represented in these deaths.A family lawyer said that Korchinski-Paquet did not have mental illness, but suffered from seizures that caused erratic behaviour. He said that by the time police arrived, she had calmed down.Cain said while the conversations and rallies brought about after Korchinski-Paquet's death are important, a key piece that many are glossing over is a "life has been lost."Beals-Clayton has lost a daughter, and Cain said nobody could relate to the pain and anguish she's going through unless they'd also lost a child.Celebration of lifeThe community is holding a celebration of life this Saturday for Korchinski-Paquet."[Her mom] doesn't want anything angry, she doesn't want anything [with] frustration. She just wants to celebrate her daughter," Cain said.MacDonald said she never met Korchinski-Paquet, but that her death hit home for her."I'm the same age as Regis, and I think that I would be remiss to believe that this couldn't have been me," she said. "This very well could have been me. Regis is me, is you, is us, is our family."All are welcome to the memorial on Saturday, which will be held in Africville from 5-8 p.m.The Black community was expropriated and demolished by the city of Halifax in the 1960s, forcing hundreds from their homes.For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.MORE TOP STORIES
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