‘Uncomfortable Mission’: Pentagon Tries to Retreat From Trump’s Call to ‘Dominate’ Protests

Erin Banco, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

Less than 24 hours after President Trump said he was prepared to send troops into cities across America, senior officials in the Pentagon began to try to distance themselves from those words and from the idea itself, underscoring that not one governor had requested additional military assistance from Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Trump has for days pushed state leaders to take a tougher stance against “antifa” protesters, saying on a call with governors Monday that if they did not mass arrest protesters they would end up looking like “a bunch of jerks.”  Then, Monday evening, the president took it a step further.

Police surrounding Lafayette Park in D.C. cleared protesters with tear gas as the president walked through to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for a photo op, with the Bible. He declared himself the “president of law and order” and said he would take all the necessary steps to suppress the unrest sweeping the country. 

“I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers. If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem,” he added.

Protesters Tear-Gassed for Trump ‘Law and Order’ Photo Op

Esper, along with other cabinet secretaries, stood next to the president during the remarks in the park after participating in an hour-long call with governors in which he said they needed to “dominate the battlespace” to quell the protests. 

But three senior Pentagon officials who spoke with The Daily Beast said they viewed the secretary’s comments on the call as a way to publicly show support for the president. They did not expect the department to actually implement a plan that would reflect the president’s rhetoric and force additional troops upon the states. (More than 20,000 national guard troops already have been deployed to assist local law enforcement during protests.) 

These Pentagon officials added that it was the White House, not the Defense Department, that was pushing for active military might in the streets. A senior DOD official said it was the White House that requested military helicopters fly low over protesters in D.C. and that it was part of a broader request from the Trump team that the national guard ramp up its presence in the city. The Associated Press was the first to report about the military flyover being connected to a request from President Trump.

Additionally, the president has pressed aides and Pentagon officials for graphic details on the kind of armored vehicles, military units, aircraft, and even “tanks” that they could potentially send to maintain order in U.S. areas rocked by protests and rioting, according to two people familiar with recent discussions.

One of the sources, a senior administration official, insisted that the president wasn’t ordering tanks to roll down the streets, but was inquiring about “the kind of hardware” that could be used in military shows of force, and at one point Trump threw out the word “tanks.”

“I think that is just one of the military words he knows,” this official said.

The Pentagon did not comment on the record for this story. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The discomfort from inside the Pentagon shows the extent to which Trump’s own Defense Department is trying to actively avoid direct involvement in the administration’s plans to force local authorities to accept active military personnel for increased protest control. It also raises questions about how Trump plans to carry out his promises of coercing states to accept military assistance when officials inside the Pentagon are rebuking the idea, claiming it circumvents the normal process for governors formally requesting assistance. (Normally, one senior Department of Defense official said, a governor files a formal request with the Pentagon asking for active-duty troops to assist. The Defense Secretary evaluates the request and either chooses to accept it, modify it, or reject it.) 

“That would not be something the [Defense] Secretary would be in a position to do,” one senior official said, referring to Trump’s desire for the Pentagon to pressure states to accept active military troops for help in controlling their streets.

“This would go against the norms of how we normally handle requests for assistance during civil unrest,” another senior official said. 

However, if Trump invokes the Insurrection Act, he could unilaterally make the decision to send troops to states. The act empowers the president, in cases of “unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States,” to direct the military “to suppress the rebellion.”

The idea of the president using the Insurrection Act was first proposed publicly by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who seemed to introduce it on a whim on social media. Members of his team on Monday said he had not discussed it with the administration. Another defense official said the Defense Secretary’s team was unaware that the president would be announcing new measures to try to convince local and state officials to accept military deployments. 

“There was no communication within the department that this was something we were going to be working on,” the second defense official said. 

But less than eight hours later, Trump took to the podium in Lafayette Park, seemingly promising to invoke it if he felt it was necessary.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Trump had not invoked the Insurrection Act. And no states had formally requested assistance from the Defense Department. 

But the threat of Trump enacting the Insurrection Act has some state officials on edge. Two officials with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast that at least three governors of states experiencing large-scale protests contacted the Trump administration requesting that it not push them to accept active military personnel, claiming it would only inflame tensions on the ground. In some instances, states have seen clashes between protesters and police slow. In Tennessee, for example, police put down their riot shields at the request of protesters as the group moved slowly toward them.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had pushed back on the president’s request that he take the step to deploy the national guard, saying there was no need for more forces on the ground when the New York City Police Department had enough officers to control the situation. And New York Attorney General Letitia James said the state was prepared to go to court to stop the administration from sending military forces to the state. 

“In rare occurrences in this country has civil unrest resulted in the deployment of active duty military personnel. It has caused huge challenges because those individuals aren’t trained and equipped to deal with quelling civil disorder. And it can cause operational confusion,” said John Cohen, the former deputy under secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. “The military also operates under very different rules of engagement than police. Their job is basically to identify an enemy, engage that enemy and potentially kill that enemy. That’s not necessarily that philosophy you want individuals operating under when they are in the situation we’re in today.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Tuesday said he would offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar the federal government from using the military against peaceful protests.

“The President is trying to turn the American military against American citizens who are peacefully protesting on domestic soil, which they have every right to do. I’m not going to stand for it,” Kaine said. “I never thought we would have to use the NDAA to make clear that the U.S. military shouldn’t be used as an agent of force against American citizens who are lawfully assembling. I thought that would seem obvious to everyone.”

Even without an amendment, the Pentagon on Tuesday insisted that it does not want active-duty troops out on American streets.

Trump has described Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as “in charge” of the administration’s response to the protests, but a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday that Milley merely “remains an adviser to the president.” The official downplayed Esper’s jarring description of American cities as a “battlespace”—one that earned Esper a rebuke from a former Joint Special Operations Command chief—as reflecting no more than his tendency to use military terminology. 

Pentagon officials also suggested that Milley and Esper were “not aware that park police and law enforcement had made a decision to clear the square” of protesters, as one put it to reporters. Esper later reiterated that in an interview with NBC News late Tuesday: “I didn’t know where I was going,” he said. He said he believed they were going to “see some damage” caused by the protests and “talk to the troops.”

In their telling of what happened at Lafayette Park, both men arrived at the White House on Monday afternoon after a meeting of a response task force hosted by the FBI that included Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Trump made the decision to inspect the National Guardsmen deployed to the park, a senior Pentagon official said, and “once they began to walk off the White House grounds, [Milley and Esper] continued with him.”

Both Milley and Esper have been slammed for taking part in the photo op. Milley was accused of acting as a “prop.” And a former defense official accused Esper of violating his oath to defend the Constitution by going along with Trump’s photo-op. James N. Miller, the U.S. undersecretary of Defense for policy from 2012 to 2014, announced in an op-ed Tuesday that he was resigning from the Pentagon’s science board and urged the defense secretary to “consider closely” his actions in the Trump administration.

“All of us would like to stay in a National Guard capacity,” a senior defense official said.

But Pentagon officials cautioned that active-duty forces—a mix of military police and engineering units from Forts Bragg and Drum—are on “shortened alert status” outside the Washington, D.C. area, though not in any states. Late on Tuesday, the Pentagon said those forces include an infantry battalion designated Task Force 504, bringing the troop total to 1,600. Chief spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said the placement of Task Force 504 was “a prudent planning measure,” as the task force is “not participating in defense support to civil authority operations.”

More than 1,200 Guardsmen, mostly from D.C., are currently deployed in the district. Pentagon officials anticipated another 1,500 arriving on Tuesday, with more to come. Additional states contributing Guardsmen to the D.C. protest response include New Jersey, Utah, South Carolina, Indiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Pentagon officials called the National Guard support to the police-led protest crackdown an “uncomfortable mission.”

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  • Politics
    The Canadian Press

    2020 Watch: Has Trump surrendered to the coronavirus?

    The coronavirus pandemic is raging, family vacations are on hold, cable news viewership is booming and President Donald Trump is inflaming the nation's culture wars to keep his base engaged. Much of the political world, including people we speak to close to the Trump campaign, believes that the Republican president is facing the prospect of a blowout loss in four months unless the political landscape shifts dramatically. Recent history suggests there is time for a turnaround, although Trump is taking no steps to expand his coalition.

  • U.S. Navy carriers conduct South China Sea drills as Chinese ships watch

    U.S. Navy carriers conduct South China Sea drills as Chinese ships watch

    Two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers are conducting exercises in the contested South China Sea within sight of Chinese naval vessels spotted near the flotilla, the commander of one of the carriers, the USS Nimitz, told Reuters on Monday. "They have seen us and we have seen them," Rear Admiral James Kirk said in a telephone interview from the Nimitz, which has been conducting flight drills in the waterway with the Seventh Fleet carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, that began on the U.S. Independence Day holiday of July 4. The U.S. Navy has brought carriers together for such shows of force in the region in the past, but this year's drill comes amid heightened tension as the United States criticises China over its novel coronavirus response and accuses it of taking advantage of the pandemic to push territorial claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

  • First Nations losing oil revenue amid fall in consumption, drilling

    First Nations losing oil revenue amid fall in consumption, drilling

    In a windswept corner of the Blood Tribe land in southwest Alberta is a pumpjack that towers more than three storeys off the ground and reaches three kilometres deep. It's one of only two new wells to be drilled on the First Nation in the last year, as the downturn in the industry has resulted in reduced drilling across Western Canada.The well was drilled in December and began operating in February, less than one month before oil prices crashed further as the pandemic spread across the globe. Fuel consumption has fallen sharply as countries continue to react to the virus, while oil production remains relatively high around the globe.For First Nations that rely on collecting royalties and rent from oilpatch activity on their reserve land, those funds have quickly dried up. In fact, it's becoming costlier to manage oil and gas production on First Nations land than the amount of money collected from industry.Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC) is the federal agency, fully funded by Ottawa, responsible for overseeing oil and gas production on those lands and has a monthly budget of about $1 million. In May, when the most recent data is available, the agency only collected about $740,000."It doesn't make sense," said Chief Roy Fox, with the Blood Tribe. "More money is being spent than what we are realizing."Fox is keenly aware of the financial situation in the oilpatch, considering there are about 300 oil and gas wells on Blood Tribe land, and the First Nation has a working interest in some of them. Compared to the beginning of the year, revenue from oil and gas activity is down 75 per cent, according to Fox.WATCH | Chief Roy Fox on the impact of low royalties:Royalties are down as a result of low commodity prices and some companies lowering production levels as some wells become unprofitable to operate."In March, April, May, we were really hit with this downturn. Things are picking up a bit, but not as fast as what we would like to see," he said.The First Nation uses the revenue to provide programs for elders and youth, improve housing, offer social programs and invest in other business programs, among other initiatives."Because of the downturn we won't be able to help as much," he said.The Indian Resource Council, which represents First Nations with oil and gas reserves on their territory, is calling on the federal government to top up the royalties to a minimum of $4 million per month."These are really troubling times," said Stephen Buffalo, the group's president. "It's very important at this time that our prime minister really look at our communities to see if we can do something extra on the side to offset what has been lost."The council has also asked for a special allotment of the funds earmarked for cleaning up oil oil and gas wells in Western Canada.Revenues for First Nations have fallen by about 80 per cent in the last decade as commodity prices have fallen.The declines "are likely to continue," said Strater Crowfoot, CEO of the IOGC, in an emailed statement.WATCH | Stephen Buffalo on the opportunity to clean up inactive wells:"We have heard how challenging the decline in First Nation oil and gas revenue has been for First Nation communities, businesses, and individuals. The government of Canada is working collaboratively with First Nations and their member organizations to explore initiatives to provide support."In April, the federal government announced $307 million in relief to help Indigenous businesses and $133 million in June toward stimulating the Indigenous economy.

  • Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years after COVID-19 spike

    Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years after COVID-19 spike

    The border between Australia's two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period as authorities scramble to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Melbourne. The decision announced on Monday marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years. "It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

  • On This Day: 6 July 1978
    Canadian Press Videos

    On This Day: 6 July 1978

    Richard Burton movie "The Wild Geese" had a royal premiere in London. (July 6)

  • Theatre star Nick Cordero dies at 41 after months of complications from COVID-19
    The Canadian Press

    Theatre star Nick Cordero dies at 41 after months of complications from COVID-19

    TORONTO — Hamilton-raised theatre star Nick Cordero, who had legions of supporters rallying for him on social media during his harrowing health battle with COVID-19, has died in Los Angeles.His wife, dancer-turned-celebrity personal trainer Amanda Kloots, said Cordero died on Sunday morning, "surrounded in love by his family."He was 41."My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him," Kloots wrote on Instagram. "Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband."The Tony Award-nominated actor, singer and musician first entered hospital in L.A. at the beginning of April with what was seemingly a case of pneumonia, said Kloots.Doctors suspected it was the novel coronavirus and administered three tests for it.The first two tests came back negative and the third was positive for COVID-19.The disease ravaged his body, according to Kloots, who kept the world updated on his situation daily with posts on her Instagram account.She said doctors described his lungs as being riddled with holes and looking as if he'd been smoking for 50 years, even though he wasn't a smoker.He had a lingering lung infection and major complications from the disease, including blood pressure problems and clotting issues that led to the amputation of his right leg.Cordero was in an intensive care unit on various machines to help support his heart, lungs and kidneys.He was in a medically-induced coma but had come out of it before his death.Kloots put on a brave face on her Instagram account, posting positive messages and often appearing with their son, Elvis, who just had his first birthday.She encouraged everyone to play Cordero's song "Live Your Life" to help send positive vibes for him into the universe.Her plea spurred countless Instagram users, including some celebrities and Broadway stars, to post videos of themselves dancing to "Live Your Life" and performing various incarnations of it.Kloots said that on Sunday, she sang the song to him in person, holding his hands.As I sang the last line to him, 'they'll give you hell but don't you (let) them kill your light not without a fight. Live your life,' I smiled because he definitely put up a fight," she wrote.Along with her daily "Nick update" on her account, Kloots also often told heartwarming stories of their relationship and life together.She said they struck up a relationship while they were performing on the Great White Way in "Bullets Over Broadway," which earned him the Tony nomination.Cordero grew up in Hamilton's west end and attended Ryerson University for acting.He was also nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his role in the musical "A Bronx Tale." His other stage credits included "Rock of Ages."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

  • Toronto photo radar units start issuing speeding tickets today. Here's what's happening across the GTA

    Toronto photo radar units start issuing speeding tickets today. Here's what's happening across the GTA

    The warning period is over for speeding drivers captured on camera in school and community safety zones across Toronto. The city's automated speed enforcement program, which includes 50 units that track speed and take photos of licence plates, began late last year with signage notifying drivers that the cameras were there.  For the first three months, the owners of vehicles caught speeding received warning letters, but no penalties. The move into the next phase — issuing speeding tickets — was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but went into effect on Monday.  "We would have preferred not to have to go down this path," Mike Barnet, manager of automated enforcement for the City of Toronto said in an interview with CBC News. "I would have been very happy if just the presence of the signage made a big difference."The automated speed enforcement program is part of Vision Zero — a movement to eliminate deaths and injuries from traffic collisions that has been adopted by municipalities around the world. Toronto, as well many other municipalities in the GTA, have developed Vision Zero strategies that include the use of automated speed enforcement. The goal, transportation specialists across the GTA say, is to change driver behaviour through both fines and public education. It's not, as some drivers might complain, "a cash grab," said Ramesh Jagannathan, director of transportation and field services, for Durham Region, which is in the midst of starting its own camera speed enforcement program.       "If I get ... 100 per cent speed compliance and zero revenue, to me that's a success.  We are not looking for revenue here," Jagannathan told CBC News. Barnet agreed, saying he hopes the cameras will eventually become unnecessary. "We've seen really high speeds and that's why we're moving forward with this next step," he said. "We want people to slow down. And, you know, we hope that this program is so successful that we won't be issuing tickets in the years to come."Jagannathan said traffic engineers across the GTA are hoping for a "halo effect," where drivers who have been slowing down because they think there's a camera watching also get into the habit of reducing their speed on other roads where cameras aren't present.  All 50 automated speed enforcement cameras in Toronto are placed in school zones in all wards, a city spokesperson said in an email. They're also mobile, so will be moved every three to six months "to address a greater number of areas with safety concerns and provide a wider-ranging deterrent effect," the email said. Ontario's Highway Traffic Act only allows the cameras to be placed on roads where the speed limit is 70 km/h or below, and requires signage warning drivers of their presence for 90 days before tickets can be issued.  Toronto is the first city in the GTA to activate the automated speed enforcement cameras, but other municipalities aren't far behind. Studies in other jurisdictions, including other provinces in Canada and in the U.S., have shown automated speed enforcement cameras are effective at reducing speeding and collisions, transportation officials from Toronto, Durham Region, York Region and Peel Region told CBC News. According to a study conducted in Seattle and published earlier this year in the journal Injury Prevention, speed violations decreased by nearly half once tickets were issued, compared to the warning period.Throughout the GTA, the photos of licence plates will be sent to a central processing centre, where provincial offences officers review them and send tickets, including a copy of the image, to the registered owner of the vehicle.Unlike a police officer, the automated cameras can't issue tickets to someone driving another person's vehicle. The penalty is a fine only, with no demerit points.   Here's how — and where — automated speed enforcement cameras are rolling out across other parts of the GTA.  Durham RegionDurham Region is placing four mobile cameras in school zones on regional roads — one each in Pickering, Oshawa, Whitby and Ajax. The cameras will rotate between about 25 designated zones throughout the region, Jagannathan said.  Signage has been installed warning drivers where the cameras are present, and the region is also advertising on buses and on social media to increase public awareness. Durham Region is aiming to start issuing speeding tickets to vehicle owners caught by the cameras at the beginning of the school year.  Pickering is planning to start its own photo radar pilot project on its streets later in the fall, a spokesperson for the city told CBC News in an email. York RegionYork Region has one mobile camera that it will rotate through 12 community safety zones, which cover 19 schools.The two-year pilot project is "tentatively scheduled" to begin in September, said Nelson Costa, York Region's manager of corridor control and safety in an email to CBC News. The automated speed enforcement zones are locations deemed to be highest risk and were chosen in consultation with York Regional police, Costa said. Factors considered in the decision included traffic volume, school population and speed-related collision data. Signs have been posted in all the zones and speeding tickets will be issued as soon as the cameras go live. There is at least one zone in every York Region town and city.  At this time, the individual municipalities are not installing their own speed enforcement cameras on town or city-run streets, Costa said. York Region's automated speed enforcement locations are on the following roads (some roads cross into multiple municipalities):Vaughan *  Rutherford Road *  Weston Road  King Township * King RoadMarkham * Highway 7Richmond Hill * Bayview Avenue * Bloomington RoadAurora * Wellington Street * Bloomington RoadWhitchurch-Stouffville * Bloomington RoadNewmarket * Mulock DriveEast Gwillimbury * Mount Albert Road * Leslie StreetGeorgina * Old Homestead Road   Peel RegionThe first automated speed enforcement in Peel Region will be in Caledon, in a school zone on Old Church Road. It's expected to be up and running in September. The mobile camera will later rotate between five other school zones in the town.  The city of Brampton has put up warning signs in five locations where automated speed enforcement cameras will be used. The zones are on Lawson Boulevard, Avondale Boulevard, Richvale Drive North, Fernforest Drive and Vodden Street East.   It's not yet clear when tickets will start to be issued. Potential addition locations will be considered at Brampton City Council's next meeting on Wednesday, along with an implementation plan, a spokesperson told CBC News in an email.  The city of Mississauga is also in the midst of a plan to install speed enforcement cameras in community safety zones. It will begin in 2021. Before that happens, however, Mississauga is completing its "neighbourhood area speed limit project," a spokesperson said in an email. That project will lower speed limits in the city's "school area community safety zones" to 30 km/h.

  • Two men walking across Saskatchewan to raise awareness of Indigenous suicide

    Two men walking across Saskatchewan to raise awareness of Indigenous suicide

    Two men are walking across Saskatchewan in response to the government's denial of a suicide prevention bill.Tristen Durocher and Chris Merasty left Air Ronge on Thursday and they plan to walk 635 kilometres to the Saskatchewan legislature building in Regina. Durocher said he hopes the journey will take 20 days."We've had Elders joining us from La Ronge for portions of the walk," Durocher, 24, said. "We're listening to our bodies, we're going at the paces of those who come to show their support."Durocher said on Saturday they were 21 kilometres north of Weyakwin, which is 145 kilometers north of Prince Albert.Durocher said unanimous opposition by Saskatchewan Party MLAs in the legislature to a suicide prevention bill sparked his motivation to begin the walk."Several reserves across Saskatchewan have declared states of emergency in the past and nothing has been done," Durocher said. "They owe it to their residents of this province to provide mental health services and we are residents of this province, not some federal responsibility."The bill put forward by Doyle Vermette, the NDP MLA for Cumberland, would have required the provincial government to recognize suicide as a health and safety priority. If the bill passed, the Saskatchewan government would have had to recognize suicide as a public health issue."[The bill] was made in consultation with northern communities, leaders, families that had lost loved ones and so I liked that it kind of came from our communities and wouldn't be some southern bureaucratic umbrella solution," Durocher said. When it comes to addressing mental health problems in northern communities, Durocher said different communities have different needs."Some communities the problem is the gang violence, some communities there's a lot of drugs, some communities we have high rates of lateral violence," Durocher said. "So it can't be umbrella solutions for individual communities whose needs are different, and it needs to be community-based."In May, the Saskatchewan government introduced the Pillars for Life suicide prevention strategy. It aims to improve specialized supports and training in the province as well as increasing research within the province regarding suicide."The Pillars [for] Life plan has been criticized by public health experts in Saskatchewan, Canada and beyond as being so vague it's basically meaningless," Durocher said. "Two weeks ago a mother came to me, she had just buried her daughter, she came to our opening ceremony weeks after the burial of her daughter and so did Pillars [for] Life do anything? No."Durocher said he would like to see the provincial government come forward and take accountability for the inaction regarding suicide in the province."They see us a federal responsibility, although many of us live in their cities, although many of us go to their universities," Durocher said. "We are not a federal burden, we are citizens of this province and we demand every access to any mental health services."The Saskatchewan Coroners Service reported 2,338 people have died by suicide from 2005 to 2019 in the province. Twenty-eight per cent of those people were Indigenous. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 Indigenous people made up 16.3 per cent of the population in Saskatchewan.Hunger strike once in ReginaDurocher said he began playing the fiddle when he was nine years old. Since then, he says he has played at so many funerals, he has lost count. Many of those funerals were for victims of suicide."As a child I've been in gymnasiums trying to play and console families over the sounds of the echoes of grieving mothers burying their firstborns," Durocher said."I've seen too many graves for my young life and I've seen too much indifference and political neutrality and kind of just this really disgusting attitude of not our kids not our problem and that is beyond horrifying."Durocher said once they reach the lawn of the legislature building in Regina, he will walk to the front steps and play Amazing Grace on his fiddle. He said he will also begin a hunger strike."I'm starving in solidarity with our children who are — literally some of them are starving and figuratively they're starving for equality," Durocher said. "They're starving for justice, they're starving for belonging, they're starving for their culture and this is my way of saying I love you and I'm starving too."Durocher said he will be fasting until the Saskatchewan government passes meaningful legislation."If they don't, I'm prepared to let my family bury me because this needs to be shown to Canada, to the world, just the depth of our money-minded politicians' indifference and heartlessness."

  • Overdose deaths increase by 93 per cent among B.C.'s First Nations
    The Canadian Press

    Overdose deaths increase by 93 per cent among B.C.'s First Nations

    VANCOUVER — The First Nations Health Authority says 89 members of its community fatally overdosed from illicit drugs across British Columbia between January and May, an increase of 93 per cent compared with the same period last year.The authority's acting chief medical officer, Dr. Shannon McDonald, said Monday that measures to control the spread of COVID-19 have led to people overdosing alone as they are less likely to access harm-reduction services, whose operations have been limited by the pandemic.Sixteen per cent of all overdose deaths in the province up to May of this year involved people from First Nations, which represent only 3.4 per cent of B.C.'s population, she said.Overdose deaths among First Nations have been climbing steadily since 2016, when the province declared a public health emergency, compared with the general population."First Nations people had been experiencing overdose deaths 3.8 times more than other residents in 2019, and in 2020, First Nations have experienced overdose death 5.8 times more," McDonald said."We're hoping we can change that in the next few months," she said, adding 6,315 kits of the overdose-reversing medication naloxone have been delivered through First Nations sites and Aboriginal friendship centres.Seven community health centres are delivering the opioids substitute suboxone and seven more are planned for this year and into 2021, McDonald said, adding that 98 new sites are providing mental health and addiction services.Five Indigenous wellness educator positions are being established to facilitate community conversations about harm reduction, the First Nations Health Authority said."When people have attempted to access health care there have been many stories of systemic racism as a barrier to that access," McDonald said.Stigma has also prevented First Nations from using health services, she told a teleconference call, a sentiment echoed by Chief Charlene Belleau, chair of the First Nations Health Council, as well as the chief coroner and provincial health officer.Belleau said mental health issues among First Nations people who are experiencing addiction, including youth, require community-driven and culturally appropriate assessment and treatment."Throughout our work we've noted that self determination is a critical determinant of the overall health of our people," she said. "When our people have their authority and autonomy recognized and are supported with adequate services our health improves."Both the First Nations Health Authority and the province each contributed $20 million in funding a year ago for treatment and support services for First Nations to build two new treatment centres and renovate others, Belleau said, adding the federal government has also been asked to provide the same share of money.Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said overdose deaths have increased overall in B.C. during the pandemic as increasingly toxic substances contaminated with fentanyl have hit the streets."So all of those who use substances are at risk now in this province, and it's quite frankly terrifying" Lapointe said.The possibility of facing charges for small amounts of drugs for personal use hinders people from getting the medical help they need, Lapointe said."When we're asking people to seek support and to feel free to go to health-care facilities when there's a fear of being arrested or losing a child or losing a job, that is a very difficult thing to do. So we encourage governments to continue to adopt a comprehensive, evidence-based, non-stigmatizing approach."Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she's concerned about the increase in overdose deaths among First Nations, noting the province had a record monthly death toll of 170 people in May."First Nations people are routinely differentially impacted by these deaths and we need to know how we can do better to support Indigenous people."This report by Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

  • 'It's painful,' says N.S. MP of string of abusive calls, veiled threats
    The Canadian Press

    'It's painful,' says N.S. MP of string of abusive calls, veiled threats

    HALIFAX — A Liberal member of Parliament says she is installing a home security system in response to abusive online and telephone comments received after she advocated for increased gun control and a feminist analysis of the Nova Scotia mass shooting.Lenore Zann said she noticed an increase in the vitriol after she supported her government's introduction of a ban of many assault-style guns and joined a call for a probe into the role hatred of women played in the April 18-19 shootings that claimed 22 lives.Zann's part-time constituency assistant, Darlene Blair, says after the MP supported the gun ban, there was a steady flow of calls through May referring to the MP for Cumberland-Colchester with "unkind, vile, disgusting" language that on at least 15 occasions specifically targeted her gender.Blair, says one caller left the Nazi anthem on the phone and another man warned Blair that people he was friendly with had firearms, and "he wanted to warn me there was going to be blood spilt on the ground."More recently, a Truro resident who said he'd grown upset with Zann's policies directed an obscenity at her on his Facebook account and said he wanted "her head on a platter."Zann said her office contacted the RCMP about the call regarding blood being spilt, and she directly contacted the Truro police about the Facebook post, adding that last week she took the first steps towards installing a security system in her home.Truro police Chief David MacNeil confirmed that police advised Zann to consider a home security system after she reported the Facebook comments on June 27. MacNeil said Zann did not want police to follow up with the individual, so they did not contact him.Bradley McLellan confirmed in an interview on Friday that he had posted the Facebook comment — which has since been deleted — and said he now regrets it. The account is not under his own name.He said in a text message that he had sent an apology to Zann, "confirming with her that I feel terrible for scaring her, and I also assured her that she would never have any kind of violence from me."He also said his comment wasn't driven by her call for a feminist analysis in a potential public inquiry into the mass shooting or by the Liberal government's position on gun control.Rather, he said, he had grown angry over what he said was her focus on those topics, rather than on issues such as rural poverty, addictions and a lack of community economic development in Truro and surrounding areas."I'm not attacking feminism .... I'm asking her on numerous occasions, 'Are you sure your time is being used wisely?'" he said during a telephone interview.However Zann said the post, coming on the heels of her comments on local television in favour of feminist analysis of the shootings, was unacceptable and made her uneasy."It's painful. It's a frightening image and I felt it was done in anger and to intimidate," Zann said in an interview.Zann said it was brought to her attention by Cheryl Paris, the chairwoman of the Lotus Centre, a women's centre in Truro.Paris said in an email that abusive language directed towards women in politics has become too commonplace, and that citizens should understand that the incidents aren't isolated."A threatening post (nuanced or otherwise) gives power to the reader and allows others to follow suit with the group's approval," she wrote in an email."It provides a platform for which a woman becomes the target of hate and anger and places her in an extraordinarily vulnerable position."Further comments McLellan made regarding Zann's home, including a statement he lived nearby, increased her concerns, and she says she called the Truro police to raise the issue.She said she didn't request Truro police contact McLellan directly, and he said during an interview he had not been contacted.Zann said the comments online and the veiled threats to her office reinforced her view that women in politics frequently endure hateful comments.The MP also said she believes that U.S. President Donald Trump's use of social media to make angry comments has emboldened citizens to make excessively crude comments to politicians."People can feel it's okay to be callously cruel," she said.Blair said she has been a part-time constituency assistant for six years and she has never before seen such an outpouring of hateful comments in calls to the office."It's very notable. I often take calls from people who are angry, but I've never experienced anything like this," she said, adding that the calls to the office have died down in recent weeks.She said police contacted the man regarding his comment on spilt blood, and he was instructed to stop calling the MP's office.The 67-year-old constituency assistant estimated at the height of the string of abusive calls, about 15 different men used obscenities directed against women."I grew up in the generation where we worked hard to create equality between men and women, and we made some tremendous strides," she said."Now I see some cracks and I believe we're going backwards a bit."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

  • With rolling protest, Black Montrealers denounce the challenge of 'driving while Black'

    With rolling protest, Black Montrealers denounce the challenge of 'driving while Black'

    Convoys of luxury and other vehicles driven by Black drivers hit the streets of Montreal Sunday as part of a demonstration to denounce racial profiling, and to bring awareness to the phenomenon of "driving while Black," in which members of the Black community are frequently stopped by police. Kenrick McRae, whose racial profiling complaint led to a police ethics committee decision in December that found two Montreal officers acted unlawfully when they detained and arrested him, participated in the demonstration. He said he's been stopped by police so many times in Montreal, it's like a routine. "I ask them if they're racially profiling me," said McRae, who drives a Mercedes-Benz. "Sometimes they ask me where I got money to buy this car, or what kind of job I have."The demonstration took place a few days before the SPVM is set to unveil its new policy on street checks, in response to an independent report published last October that found visible minorities are more likely to be stopped than white people by Montreal police officers. The report found there were "significant, widespread and persistent disproportions" of racialized people who are stopped by police officers, and pointed to the "presence of systemic biases" linked to race during police interventions.It included five recommendations for the police department, including creating a policy around stopping individuals and addressing the issue of racial profiling in its plans, programs and practices.The new policy is set to come out Wednesday. 'It has an impact on our wellness'Tiffany Callender, a community worker in Côte-des-Neiges, said many Black mothers she works with are scared to let their sons and husbands drive due to the dangers of being racially profiled. "They actually try to recommend that the young drivers in their family take public transport, and that's not normal," Callender said. Callender hopes the street checks policy will be effective, hold the SPVM accountable, and create a process that people can trust. "We need something that is going to be concrete and has real impact to change that experience that black drivers have, because it has an impact on our wellness, on our mental health," Callender said, adding that it's also a financial burden to fight these instances in court.It's time for action, borough councillor saysThe two convoys, one that left from the west and one from the east end of Montreal, gathered near Namur Metro station at 3 p.m.Several city and borough councillors, including Marvin Rotrand, Nathalie Pierre-Antoine and Josué Corvil, also attended the demonstration. Pierre-Antoine, borough councillor for Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, said it's time for action to combat systemic racism in the city's police force. "There have been charters, reports, many committees that have put down reports, made recommendations to stop racial profiling and discrimination and racism. But enough is enough. We are tired with words," she said. Pierre-Antoine said in order for change to happen, there needs to be better representation of racialized communities in city council. A more recent report by the city's public consultation office says major changes are needed to combat racial profiling in Montreal's police force. It calls for two experts on racial profiling to be added to the city's public security committee and for changes to police training.The report says an "understanding of the phenomenon of racial and social profiling" and "the necessary skills to bring about a change in the culture of the organization" should be requirements for hiring the city's chief of police.

  • What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, July 6

    What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, July 6

    Recent developments * Masks become mandatory in indoor public settings in Ottawa and the surrounding region as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. * Eight new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa Monday, but the death toll remains unchanged at 263. * Summer day camps start today in Ottawa, while city rinks and pools begin to reopen, all with physical distancing restrictions.What's the latest?Residents of eastern Ontario, including the City of Ottawa, will be required to wear non-medical masks in indoor public places to prevent the spread of COVID-19 starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, according to the medical officers of the four local public health units.Local health officers can set the rules for businesses under Stage 2 of Ontario's reopening framework. Summer day camps reopen across Ottawa today, though they'll be smaller and simpler than originally planned due to the pandemic. Municipal pools are also opening, as are five city rinks.Drivers who've been enjoying the lax parking rules should know that starting today, the city plans to resume ticketing anyone who exceeds posted time limits for on-street spaces.Once again, the pandemic is providing an opportunity to perform maintenance work on the problem-plagued Confederation LRT line.This time, the problem involves defective wheels. There will be fewer trains in service and longer waits at LRT stations.How many cases are there?There have been 2,118 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and 263 deaths. The vast majority of cases in the city, 1,801, are classified as resolved. Public health officials have reported more than 3,300 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, of which nearly 2,900 are resolved.Kingston now has 39 active cases of COVID-19. Most are linked to three nail salons: Binh's Nails and Spa, where the recent outbreak started, Kingdom Nails and Georgia Nail Salon. The Amherstview Golf Club has also seen new cases. Clients at all four businesses are being asked to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19.COVID-19 has killed 102 people outside Ottawa: 52 in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 17 in other parts of eastern Ontario and 33 in the Outaouais.What's open and closed?Eastern Ontario is in "Stage 2" of the province's recovery plan, allowing more activities and "circles" of up to 10 people that don't have to distance.Some streets in Ottawa's ByWard Market have now turned into patio space, including parts of Clarence Street, William Street and a section of the north side of York Street.Ottawa's pools will start to reopen Monday, as will five city rinks.As of Monday, drivers are once again subject to tickets if they violate posted time limits at on-street parking spaces.The National Gallery of Canada reopens Thursdays to Sundays starting July 18. Quebec now allows indoor, distanced gatherings of up to 50 people, including in places of worship and indoor sports venues, and has relaxed rules at daycares.The province has also allowed bars, spas, water parks and casinos to reopen.Quebec's back-to-school plans bring older students to classrooms again. Ontario has put three options for next school year on the table, while post-secondary schools are moving toward more online classes in September.Distancing and isolatingThe coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People don't need to have symptoms to be contagious.That means physical distancing measures such as working from home and in Ontario, staying at least two metres away from anyone they don't live with or have in their circle.The City of Ottawa has made cloth face masks mandatory in indoor public settings. Anyone who has symptoms or travelled recently outside Canada must self-isolate for at least 14 days.Specifically in Ottawa, anyone waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate at least until they know the result.The same goes for anyone in Ontario who's been in contact with someone who's tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly urges self-isolation for individuals who have weakened immune systems and Ottawa Public Health recommends people over 70 stay home as much as possible. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pinkeye. The Ontario government says in rare cases, children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can now be tested at one of three sites.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.Testing has also expanded for local residents and employees who work in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area.There is a drive-thru test centre in Casselman and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don't require people to call ahead.Others in Rockland and Cornwall require an appointment.A COVID-19 assessment centre will open in Alexandria next week, running Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only.In Kingston, the Leon's Centre is now open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, replacing the previous location at the Kingston Memorial Centre. Find it at Gate 2.Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call for an appointment.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to get tested if you have a symptom or concerns about exposure.It has a walk-in site in Brockville open seven days a week at the Memorial Centre and testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment.The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people to call it, their family doctor or Telehealth if they have symptoms or questions.You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre, or in Picton by texting or calling 613-813-6864.Renfrew County is also providing pop-up and home testing under some circumstances. Residents without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 to register for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.If you're concerned about the coronavirus, take the self-assessment.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents should call 1-877-644-4545 if they have symptoms for further assistance.First Nations:Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.Akwesasne has opened a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to Akwesasne who's been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. The community's reopening plan that's now underway.Kitigan Zibi is planning for an Aug. 29 election with changes depending on the status of the pandemic at that time.For more information

  • News

    Former Nunavut nurse is appealing a decision to take away his licence to practise

    A former nurse in Whale Cove, Nunavut, is fighting a decision from the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to take away his licence to practise. Willy Tchuilen Ngatcha is appealing a decision made in January 2019 by a board of inquiry— appointed by the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut — on allegations made against him about his competence as a nurse. The appeal hearing was held over a zoom call for two days on June 16 and 17. Tchuilen Ngatcha is appealing the decision to have his licence to practise nursing cancelled saying he was a victim of harassment, discrimination and racism based on his race, gender and language. Tchuilen Ngatcha is a Black man whose first language is French. "Yes I'm fighting, maybe I would not continue to act as a nurse," said Tchuilen Ngatcha. "But no one will remove the nursing spirit."Tchuilen Ngatcha represented himself in the appeal hearing and submitted a 32 page document to the panel making his case for why the allegations against him are "frivolous and vexatious."  He spent six hours speaking to the appeal board making a case that the nurses he was stationed with in Whale Cove were part of a "blatant conspiracy well orchestrated" against him to end his nursing career. "It's not a belief, it's real," said Tchuilen Ngatcha, about the alleged conspiracy. Ngatcha was hired as a nurse by the government of Nunavut in December 2016 and was stationed in Whale Cove on Dec. 22. Over the course of the 37 days he was there, the local community nurses made 42 complaints against him. These complaints led to the board of inquiry panel where Tchuilen Ngatcha nursing licence was cancelled. "Being a nurse is something that comes from the bottom of my heart," said Tchuilen Ngatcha. "In my family caring for other people it's a trademark." The complaints were about his competency as a nurse. During the submissions made by Gregory Sim, the Registered Nurses Association's lawyer, Sim read out some of the complaints he believed were the most serious. These complaints were among the ones he was found guilty of by the board of inquiry in 2019. Some of the allegations read by Sim against Tchuilen Ngatcha included: that he took a long time to give an injection to an infant causing excessive pain; that he was unable to differentiate between certain kinds of medications such as the difference between Tylenol 500 and Tylenol 3; that he allegedly offered an inappropriate amount of fluid to rehydrate an elderly patient who was suffering with cardiac issues; and that he was allegedly unable to conduct a neurological assessment of a patient with a head injury. "They [nurses in Whale Cove] became concerned that Mr. Tchuilen Ngatcha just did not have the knowledge, skills or judgment to practise nursing in that community," said Sim during his submissions.  The board of inquiry found Ngatcha guilty of 22 of the complaints. An additional complaint was made for failing to co-operate with the investigator when the allegations were made, said Sim in the appeal hearing.  Sim also said there is no evidence to support Ngatcha's belief that he was conspired against based on his race. CBC was unable to obtain a copy of the decision made by the board of inquiry despite requesting it from Denise Bowen, executive director of Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Bowen said she was unable to share information that is before the appeal panel. She also denied a request for an interview because the appeal is ongoing. CBC also requested an interview with Sim but he referred the request back to his client. The appeal panel has 30 days to make its decision. If the decision isn't appealed further, the findings will be made public through the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    A look at COVID 19 travel restrictions in each province and territory

    If you're looking to explore Canada this summer, you'll first have to navigate the fluctuating patchwork of travel restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus throughout the country. Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region are still required to self-isolate for two weeks and adhere to local entry requirements. If all goes well, Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball has suggested that restrictions on out-of-region travellers may be further relaxed in his province on July 17.

  • Health

    What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for July 6, 2020

    THE LATEST: * There have been 31 new cases across B.C. since Friday. * 6 people died from COVID-19 between Friday and Monday. * There have been 2,978 positive cases in B.C. since the pandemic started. * There are 166 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. * 16 people are being treated in hospitals, including 4 in ICU. * 183 British Columbians have died because of COVID-19 as of July 6. * Benefits have been extended for low-income seniors and those on disability and income assistance. * Over the weekend, Providence Health Care announced three new deaths at Holy Family Hospital.B.C. health officials announced Monday afternoon there have been 31 new cases of COVID-19 and six new deaths since the last provincial update on July 3.In the three days since Friday, nine people tested positive between Friday and Saturday, 15 between Saturday and Sunday and seven between Sunday and Monday.Health Minister Adrian Dix says all six deaths occurred in long-term care facilities."To lose 6 people, all in long-term care, is a source of enormous grief for the families involved and the community involved."Of the 166 active cases of the virus in B.C., 16 people are being treated in hospitals, including four in intensive care units.Cautious new normalProvincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as the province has transitioned to Phase 3 of its reopening, more people have been increasing social contacts.She says while it's important to remain cautious and follow public health rules, people should not rush to judgment about visitors to B.C. who are required to quarantine for 14 days."We need to show understanding. Let's assume the best, rather than offering judgment."Dix also gave an update on plans to reinstate visits at long-term care facilities saying that visitations could start at some facilities as early as next week.He expects the majority of operators will submit plans for visitations this week.Benefits for seniors extendedThe province said Monday it is extending benefits for low-income seniors and those on disability and income assistance. The previously announced program adds a monthly benefit of $300 to assistance cheques as part of the provincial government's $5-billion COVID-19 financial aid plan.The program was set to end in June but will now continue through Aug. 26.The province will be providing an exemption to clawbacks on federal employment insurance benefits for the next three months, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The exemption will now last as long as the federal benefits do.Over the weekend, more deaths were announced at a long-term care facility in Vancouver.Officials with Providence Health Care said three more residents have died at Holy Family Hospital, bringing the total number of deaths at the facility to eight since the pandemic began.The COVID-19 outbreak at Holy Family was announced on June 9. To date, 42 residents and 24 staff have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.Holy Family Hospital is one of three long-term care or assisted-living facilities currently dealing with active COVID-19 outbreaks. There is also an outbreak at one acute care facility.Friday, Henry announced 162 active cases in the province, with a total of 2,947 positive cases since the pandemic began.READ MORE:Top COVID-19 stories todayImportant reminders:B.C.'s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the risk of contracting coronavirus in B.C. communities remains low. Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.What's happening elsewhere in CanadaAs of Sunday, Canada had 105,536 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 8,728.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca

  • News

    Ontario to end 'discriminatory' practice of academic streaming in Grade 9

    After years of calls from some educators and advocacy groups to end the practice, the Ontario government says it will do away with academic streaming in Grade 9.Streaming — in which students must choose to pursue either an "academic" or "applied" track when they begin high school — has been shown to disproportionately affect Black and low-income students when it comes to graduation rates and the chance of going to a post-secondary institution.Details of the province's decision were first published in the Toronto Star on Monday morning. In an exclusive interview with the newspaper, Education Minister Stephen Lecce called streaming a "systemic, racist, discriminatory" practice.Lecce echoed those sentiments in a statement issued to CBC Toronto Monday."It is clear there is systemic discrimination built within the education system, whether it be streaming of racialized students, suspensions overwhelmingly targeting Black and Indigenous kids, or the lack of merit-based diversity within our education workforce," he said. He said students and teachers deserve an education system that is "inclusive, accountable and transparent, and one that by design, is set up to fully and equally empower all children to achieve their potential." TDSB had already begun phasing out streamingA spokesperson for the minister said the full plan to eliminate streaming will be rolled out shortly, and is expected to take effect by the 2021-2022 school year. Ontario is one of the few places in Canada that continues to separate students into the hands-on applied stream and the post-secondary-track academic stream as they start high school.A 2017 report led by York University professor Carl James found that Black teens in the Greater Toronto Area were being streamed into applied course tracks at significantly higher rates than other students.Fifty-three per cent of Black students were in academic programs as compared to 81 per cent of white and 80 per cent of other so-called racialized students, meaning those who are part of other visible minorities. Conversely, 39 per cent of Black students were enrolled in applied programs, compared to 18 per cent of other racialized groups and 16 per cent of white students.Meanwhile, a 2015 report from the group People for Education found that students taking applied courses in Grade 9 were much less likely to go to university and that students from low-income groups were more likely to enrol in applied courses. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB), which began phasing out streamed courses in Grades 9 and 10 in recent years, previously found that only 40 per cent of students who took an applied course in Grade 9 graduated within five years. Streaming ingrained into education culture, researcher saysJohn Malloy, director of education at the TDSB — Canada's largest school board — applauded the province's decision in a series of tweets. He called the change "necessary and complex" and said that it will require "much support and accountability" to ensure success for students.Meanwhile, in an interview this morning, James said the change has been "a long time coming," noting that his own research and that of others has shown that biases about race and the socioeconomic backgrounds of students have had an outsized effect on how students are placed. He added that parents are often unaware of the full consequences of streaming on their children's education and futures.James also cautioned that streaming has been so ingrained in Ontario's secondary school system, it will take time and work to ensure it doesn't continue in more subtle ways."Since, culturally, there is the whole idea of streaming, we're going to have to have teachers —  and students and parents, as well — start to rethink what it means to place students into a classroom where we're trying to capitalize on their abilities and strengths, and not be streamed into what teachers and others think are their abilities and strengths," he said.Ontario's NDP, the Official Opposition, also tentatively lauded the news. NDP education critic Marit Stiles called the move "an important first step." She added that her party will be "watching closely for details" as the policy is rolled out.Ban on suspensions for younger studentsThe Ministry of Education also says it will implement a ban on suspensions for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 3, another practice that has been shown to disproportionately impact Black students.The 2017 study by James reported that 42 per cent of all Black students in the Toronto, York, Peel and Durham school boards had been suspended at least once by the time they left high school. The issue was also highlighted in a recent third-party review of the Peel District School Board that painted a damning picture of dysfunction among administrators who are ill-prepared to deal with anti-Black racism directly affecting students.The review found that Black students make up only 10.2 per cent of the secondary school population in Peel but represent about 22.5 per cent of the students receiving suspensions. Further, reviewers heard anecdotally that some principals "use any excuse" to suspend Black students, including wearing hoodies or hoop earrings.The ministry says it will also work to ensure that there are appropriate penalties for educators who make racist comments or behave in a discriminatory way.

  • Turkey warns it will respond if EU takes fresh measures against it

    Turkey warns it will respond if EU takes fresh measures against it

    Turkey will respond with its own steps if the European Union imposes further sanctions on Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday after meeting the EU's top diplomat. France's foreign minister said last week EU ministers would discuss Turkey on July 13 and said new sanctions on Ankara could be considered in addition to steps taken over Turkey's drilling in the Cyprus economic zone.

  • Don't criticize China's treatment of Hong Kong, Beijing warns Canada
    The Canadian Press

    Don't criticize China's treatment of Hong Kong, Beijing warns Canada

    OTTAWA — China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.In a Monday news conference, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry said Canada had "seriously violated international law and basic norms governing international relations, and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs."Zhao Lijian said Hong Kong's affairs are internal Chinese business and other countries have no right to get involved, and China reserves the right to further react."China urges the Canadian side to immediately correct its mistakes and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's other internal affairs in any way so as to avoid further damage to China-Canada relations," Zhao said in a translated transcript posted to the Chinese foreign ministry's website.The new security law gives Beijing much tighter control over protests and other forms of dissent in Hong Kong, on the grounds that these activities are outside threats to China's security.Last week Canada joined other countries in restricting exports to Hong Kong and complaining that the new law violates the principle of "one country, two systems" that is meant to govern Hong Kong's place in China. Canada also suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong.Trudeau said Canada would look at more measures, potentially including moves related to immigration. Britain, for instance, has created a path to citizenship for Hong Kong residents who have certain documents dating from when it was a British territory, prior to 1997.Tensions between Canada and China have already been high, with China accusing Canada of malfeasance in detaining high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant and Canada accusing China of arbitrarily detaining Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor since late 2018.Canadian exports of canola and meat to China have also been obstructed.Bob Rae, newly tapped as Canada's next UN ambassador, said Monday that working to get Kovrig and Spavor freed is a top priority. He said he supports Trudeau's position that no swap of Meng's freedom for theirs is reasonable, partly because it would reward China's behaviour.And he brushed off talk that China will warn its citizens against travelling to Canada."I'm a great reader of George Orwell, and I think to really appreciate the world today you have to read 'Nineteen Eighty-Four.' Some strange things are going on," Rae said."For some country to suggest that this is a bad time to come to Canada is, frankly, bizarre. They have their own reasons for saying it, I don't think we should take it entirely seriously. Sometimes humour is a good relief when you're facing these moments."Canada has had a relationship with Hong Kong for centuries, he said, including defending it from Japanese attack in the Second World War."We have a stake here and we have interests. We have many Canadians of Hong Kong origin. So it's not, we're not meddling in anybody else's business. We're talking about our business, our relationships, which are important to us, and we shouldn't shy away from expressing those thoughts," Rae said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Saddledome needs $48M+ in repairs but most work may never happen

    Saddledome needs $48M+ in repairs but most work may never happen

    Even before city council voted in 2019 to pay half of the cost of a new $550-million downtown arena, it knew the Scotiabank Saddledome needed major repairs to keep it going.A building condition assessment report from December 2018 obtained by CBC News under Alberta's Freedom of Information legislation concluded the Saddledome needs $48.7 million in repair work over the coming decade."The recommendations in [this] report are provided based on keeping the building in an acceptable standard for the people using the facility," states Entuitive, the engineering consulting firm which wrote the report for the City of Calgary.The list of repairs is extensive.The 119 suggested projects cover all aspects of the building and its surrounding structures, like a parkade and the LRT walkway.Crumbling concrete, rust, water leaks, sealants giving way and even pesky squirrels working their way into the building are all mentioned in the report.Roof problemsHowever the bulk of the recommended repairs, $38.5 million, would be for fixing the Saddledome's structural issues and the building envelope.The condition of the building's roof is a key concern. While the report notes there has been deterioration, there is no suggestion the dome is unsafe. An acoustic monitoring system was set up in 1998 to detect any failure of the cables and the post-tensioned strands which are part of the roof system.The report indicated that 10 post-tensioned strand failures have been noted. Precast concrete panels are suspended from the cables and the assessment found them to all be in good condition.However, pieces of concrete have been falling off of the perimeter ring beam which forms the outline of the Saddledome's distinctive roof shape.The report recommends a drone be used to regularly inspect the beam to help observe any trouble spots.What isn't known is what's going on inside the roof structure itself."Most of the building's internal structural systems are not visible, and no attempt was made to expose them for review. Hidden defects may be present and not observed," notes the document.The report breaks the needed work into seven categories, and details the cost for each over 10 years. Here are the estimates, rounded up: * Architectural, $33.8 million. * Building envelope, $1.7 million. * Structural, $3.1 million. * Mechanical, $3.5 million. * Refrigeration system, $1.7 million. * Electrical, $4.9 million. * Elevator, $90,000. Dome is still safeAn engineering professor at the University of British Columbia, Shahria Alam, reviewed the report. He said the building is safe to continue using."Although it's a concern, it should be OK to be used. Obviously, it will need constant operation and maintenance over the years that it will be used," said Alam.The challenge with the building's roof is that its design is relatively unique so Alam said there really aren't many other similar buildings to compare the Saddledome with in order to understand how the passage of time will affect it.Spending millions of dollars to repair or replace the roof won't likely be part of the building's future.Under the terms of a cost-sharing agreement between the City of Calgary and the owners of the Calgary Flames, construction of a new event centre in Victoria Park is slated to begin in August 2021.It is scheduled to open in May 2024. As part of the agreement, the Saddledome will be shut down soon after that and then be demolished.The condition assessment report does suggest that $1,377,500 in repairs to the Saddledome across 30 different projects are needed through 2024.The list includes repairing crumbling concrete steps, work on the roof's ring beam, repairs to the parkade, fixing chillers and replacing heat exchangers.Necessary work will go aheadThe Saddledome Foundation is the body that ensures the building is properly maintained. City council's representative on the foundation's board said work required to ensure the safe operation of the arena will get done even though the Saddledome's expiry date is approaching."If there's any safety issues, then we have to do [the repairs]. From the time the new building starts, it'll take three years to build it so the responsibility of the Flames is still there," said Coun. Ray Jones.Although the Saddledome is owned by the city, he said the Flames oversee and pay for repairs through a fee that's collected on every ticket sold for events in the building.Neither the city nor the Flames would comment on how much money that fee brings in annually.The problems uncovered by the assessment report have been discussed by the Foundation and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the Flames."We're all in agreement that we can't have concrete falling off the building because it's a safety issue," said Jones.'A great building'The president and CEO of the Calgary Flames, John Bean, tells CBC News that the team still considers the Saddledome to be "a great building". He said ensuring the health and safety of patrons and staff will guide decisions on maintenance."We work collaboratively with the City of Calgary, with structural engineers and other consultants and we'll look at a variety of topics that present themselves," said Bean."We'll come up with a plan to make sure we deal with it in an appropriate fashion."The Saddledome opened in 1983 and is the second oldest arena in the NHL.The new arena will be built just north of the Saddledome and is expected to be a key piece of the planned culture and entertainment district. The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation is overseeing the building of the event centre which will have up to 19,000 seats.The design of the new building should be unveiled by the end of 2020.

  • U.S. Supreme Court bolsters law banning 'robocalls'

    U.S. Supreme Court bolsters law banning 'robocalls'

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld and strengthened a law banning the broadly unpopular but ubiquitous telemarketing practice known as robocalls, striking down an exemption to the measure that had allowed automated calls for collection of certain money owed to the government. The court's 7-2 ruling, written by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was a defeat for political and polling organizations seeking to use autodial technology to contact the cellphones of potential voters. Kavanaugh wrote that the exemption for government debt collection, added to the law in 2015, violated the First Amendment because it favored government speech over political speech by private entities without sufficient justification.

  • Ontario to end streaming in Grade 9, early years suspensions
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario to end streaming in Grade 9, early years suspensions

    TORONTO — Ontario will soon join the rest of Canada by doing away with an educational practice that perpetuates racism throughout the system, the provincial government said Monday as it announced the looming end to streaming in high schools.The practice, which asks students to choose between pursuing academic or applied courses upon entering the secondary-school system, has drawn criticism at home and abroad for decades. Critics argue streaming disproportionately funnels Black and other racialized students into applied streams, limiting their future prospects and entrenching inequity into the province's education system.Education Minister Stephen Lecce did not reveal details of the plan to scrap streaming, as well as an accompanying proposal to end school suspensions for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 3, but said the moves are necessary to address long-standing imbalances."It is clear there is systemic discrimination built within the education system, whether it be streaming of racialized students, suspensions overwhelmingly targeting Black and Indigenous kids, or the lack of merit-based diversity within our education workforce," he said in a statement. "This government will move quickly and decisively to combat systemic racism so that every child — irrespective of colour of skin, heritage, faith or ability — can have a fighting chance at success."Premier Doug Ford said scrapping streaming would bring Ontario's education in line with the rest of the country while ending a discriminatory practice."We're the only province in the entire country that does this, and it's really not fair to certain groups of students," Ford said at a news conference.Ford said the practice of streaming was "almost stigmatizing" for students pursuing the applied track of study, which traditionally does not allow participants to graduate with the qualifications necessary to pursue university studies.Figures provided by the province highlight some of the current disparities plaguing the system.At the Toronto District School Board, Canada's largest, data showed 47 per cent of Black high school students take applied-level courses compared to about 20 per cent for non-Black pupils.The government also pointed to lower graduation rates for Black students compared to the rest of their peers.Madison Milanczak said she experienced what she perceived to be systemic discrimination first-hand. She said teachers and guidance counsellors pressured her to pursue applied courses as she was enrolling in her east Toronto high school, but were overruled by her parents who pushed for the academic stream.Milanczak, now 18 and a student at Western University in London, Ont., said educators often seemed less willing to reach out to Black students like her or believe them capable of high academic achievement. Abolishing streaming, she said, could help level the playing field for students of colour and those coming from lower-income households."I was lucky enough to have access to tutors that my parents were able to provide for me," Milanczak said, noting the costly extra support may not be available to poor students who could otherwise get overlooked during school hours.Several published academic papers have raised concerns about streaming and its effects on students from a range of marginalized communities.The United Nations also sounded the alarm in a 2017 report from its Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. The report addressed what it described as ongoing, institutionalized racism in the education system and its long-lasting consequences."Race-based stereotypes about African Canadian students’ scholastic ability have had a devastating impact," the report read, noting Black students were more likely to be directed away from academic streams. "The quality of education received and the outcome of their educational experiences affects the employment and income potential of African Canadians."Ford pointed to another frequently raised concern about the practice, noting students are being asked to make choices with life-long ramifications too early on their educational paths."You're asking a 14-year-old child to make a decision in Grade 9 about their high school career and post-secondary schools that they're going to," he said. "I just don't think it's right. It's a broken system."The government said streaming in Grade 9 also flouts a recommendation from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which advises students make such academic decisions later in their high school years.Even without details in place, praise poured in for the preliminary announcement.People for Education, a group that advocates for an inclusive public education system in Ontario, said academics and advocates have been calling for an end to streaming for years."(The practice) closes doors for thousands of students — more likely to be Black or Indigenous (or who) attend school in lower income neighbourhoods," the group said in a tweet where it went on to describe the government's plan as "good news."Ontario Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also offered words of approval."I support any decision to end discriminatory practices and build anti-racism into the fabric of our school system," he said in a statement. "I am glad the education system is being re-evaluated through an anti-racist perspective so that we do a better job of closing the gaps between students."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020. Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

  • Wasaga Beach working on ways to control crowds
    Yahoo News Canada

    Wasaga Beach working on ways to control crowds

    Officials in Wasaga Beach are working hard to maintain physical distancing on the town’s namesake beaches, after hoards descended onto them over Canada Day.

  • U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran's Soleimani an 'unlawful' killing

    U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran's Soleimani an 'unlawful' killing

    The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Monday. The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani's convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

  • Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Trump's leadership is tested in time of fear, pandemic

    Not long after noon on Feb. 6, President Donald Trump strode into the ornate East Room of the White House. The night before, his impeachment trial had ended with acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate. “It was evil," Trump said of the attempt to upend his presidency.

  • News
    Canadian Press Videos

    AP Top Stories July 6 A

    Here's the latest for Monday, July 6th: Florida counts 200,000 coronavirus cases; Planes collide over lake in Idaho; Body of missing Ft. Hood soldier identified; Brush fire north of Los Angeles.