Wendy Williams apologizes for mocking Joaquin Phoenix's appearance

Wendy Williams is apologizing for mocking Joaquin Phoenix's appearance — but not everyone, including Cher, is accepting. On the Jan. 7 episode of her show, the talk show host referred to the actors scar on his upper lip, causing a social media frenzy, with Cher chiming in.

  • Toronto Raptors Pay Tribute To Kobe Bryant
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Toronto Raptors Pay Tribute To Kobe Bryant

    They honoured the basketball icon during a game against DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs.

  • Health officials expect more coronavirus cases, but say risk of outbreak in Canada remains low
    News
    CBC

    Health officials expect more coronavirus cases, but say risk of outbreak in Canada remains low

    Federal health officials expect more cases of the coronavirus, but say the risk of an outbreak in Canada remains low.Health Minister Patty Hajdu said officials at all levels of government are working with hospitals and international partners to prevent and respond to potential infections. "We're working actively to limit the spread of the virus," Hajdu said at a news conference in Ottawa Sunday morning after the first "presumptive" case of coronavirus was reported in Toronto.Hospitals have an "incredibly strong" system to prevent and control infections, she said.Hajdu said much has been learned from the SARS virus in 2003. Since the first cases of this novel coronavirus were reported in China in December, the federal government has been in close contact with the provincial health authorities and international players to share information in a "collaborative, responsive" approach.WATCH: Health Minister Patty Hajdu on the federal response to coronavirusHajdu said there is considerable misinformation being spread about the virus which "belies the reality" that the risk to Canadians remains extremely low.CBC News has reported that misinformation and unverified claims about the virus have been circulating on social media.While the government does not expect a chartered plane is necessary to evacuate Canadians from the Wuhan region where the outbreak began, Hajdu said Global Affairs Canada stands ready to provide support services for any Canadian trying to leave China.CBC News has learned that one Canadian will be on board a flight chartered by Washington to fly diplomats and Americans out of Wuhan. A government official said 67 Canadians are registered as being in the affected region, but because registration is voluntary, the figure does not give a complete picture of Canadians in Hubei or in China.Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said despite the fact the number of cases in China is increasing, the export to other countries remains low and the risk remains low in Canada.Tam said the reported case Saturday was "not unexpected."Canada confirmed its first "presumptive" case of coronavirus in Toronto on Saturday after receiving lab results. The patient, a man in his 50s who had recently travelled to Wuhan, China, is isolated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is now in stable condition."The health system is on alert to detect potential cases and to respond promptly when they are confirmed," Tam said. "It shows that our systems are working."The case is "presumptive" until it is formally confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Tam said she expects the formal results of the test to confirm the virus within 24 hours.She said the man experienced symptoms on board China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311, but he apparently did not report those symptoms. Health officials are now tracing fellow passengers who were seated close to the patient — in a two-metre radius — to determine if others are affected.Family members of the patient are also being closely monitored and in self-isolation.WATCH: Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam on the coronavirusAccording to the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others by air through coughing or sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.Coronaviruses are a family of diseases that range from a common cold to more serious diseases such as SARS.The federal health department's website says symptoms of most coronaviruses are usually mild to moderate and can include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and/or fever, as well as a general feeling of being unwell.Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, agreed that the first case in Canada was not unexpected, and that other cases in Canada are likely.He said it's possible that other passengers on board that flight could have transferred to flights to other provinces. The health agency's protocol is to follow up on those persons for possible symptoms over the next 14 days.The number of infections worldwide now exceeds 2,000 cases, most of them in China, which reports 56 deaths.Dr. Jerome Leis, an infectious diseases specialist at Sunnybrook, said people who are acutely ill should go to hospital, but said those with mild symptoms should reach out to public health authorities."We completely understand that there's a lot of anxiety and questions in the general public, and that is very understandable. I want to be absolutely clear that individuals who have questions or anxiety, the first reflex should not be to go to an emergency department," he said."The first point of contact should be with public health if there are questions or concerns."Air Canada announced Sunday it is extending its "goodwill policy" to allow passengers to make alternate travel arrangements during the affected period. People can change their flight free of charge to another date or another destination, or can cancel a flight for a full refund.Risk mitigation measuresRisk mitigation measures now in place include messaging on arrival screens at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports reminding travellers to advise border officials if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.WATCH: Why finding viral cases is easier now:"While the risk of an outbreak of novel coronavirus in Canada remains low, I encourage Canadians to tell your health-care professional if you have travelled to an affected area of China, and develop flu-like symptoms," Hajdu said.Officials said the man took a flight on Jan. 21 from Wuhan to Guangzhou, then from Guangzhou to Toronto, arriving on Jan. 22.He is believed to have travelled "privately" from the airport to his home. Officials do not believe he took public transit. They have not said what part of the city the man lives in.Upon arriving, he told family members he felt ill and called 911. Officials say paramedics took all necessary precautions "right from first contact" until the hand-off to the hospital's emergency department on Jan. 23, officials say.It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which results in 12,200 hospitalizations and about 3,500 deaths in Canada annually.Ontario Premier Doug Ford said provincial health officials are putting full resources to the virus, and will be staying vigilant and informing the public "every step of the way.""It's something I feel we have a good handle [on] and we're ready, but we want to see the extent of this," he said Sunday in Toronto.Avoid non-essential travelForeign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne issued a statement Sunday reminding Canadians to pay attention to travel advisories warning against non-essential travel to Hubei, China, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou.Canadians already in the region should register with consular officials, which will give them access to the latest updates from the government, he said. "We understand the concerns of Canadians in the region and those of their families and loved ones. We are in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground," Champagne said in the statement."Canadian consular officials are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with local authorities and our international partners to gather more information and provide support to the extent possible. Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan."Emergency co-ordination centreTransport Minister Marc Garneau's office said the department has set up a dedicated team to support and respond, and has activated the Emergency Co-ordination Centre.On Friday, Transport Canada officials held a teleconference with the Public Health Agency of Canada and airline representatives, and reminding the carriers they are required, under the terms of the Quarantine Act, to report ill passengers.Transport officials have also been in regular contact with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to discuss contingencies and readiness plans.

  • Deputy prime minister asks Opposition not to delay new NAFTA deal
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Deputy prime minister asks Opposition not to delay new NAFTA deal

    OTTAWA — The minority Liberals made another pitch Sunday for cross-partisan co-operation on a key priority for the government in the upcoming sitting of the House of Commons: passing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade deal.Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called passage of the new NAFTA a pivotal moment for Canada in a letter she sent Sunday to leaders of the Opposition parties.She said while no one expects anything other than a "full, frank, and vigorous debate," she urged them not to hold up the deal. "Canadian parliamentarians understand that, politics aside, the interests of Canadians come first, last, and always. I am confident this applies to you and to every member of your caucus, as it does for the Prime Minister, me, and every member of our caucus, too," she wrote in the letter. "Therefore, I ask that we work together, as colleagues, to put Canada and Canadians first, and get this important work done without undue delay."Freeland's letter comes as the House of Commons resumes Monday for its first lengthy sitting since the October election returned the Liberals with a minority government. Legislation to ratify the trade deal is expected within days.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed to his MPs this week that the new mandate is not like their last, and they'll need to work hard to win the support of their opponents to get anything done."Bickering, grandstanding, petty politics — none of these things create jobs. They don't make anyone's retirement safer, or our environment cleaner. Collaboration, dialogue, and constructive debate, however, can," he said. "Common ground does exist in this Parliament, but it's up to us to build on it."On the new NAFTA, the Liberals do have common ground with the ardently pro-trade Conservatives, who control the most Opposition seats.The party's international trade critic said it doesn't intend to play games with the trade deal bill as businesses need it to get ahead.But that doesn't mean it gets a completely free pass, said Randy Hoback. Previous trade deals have left some industries behind, and that shouldn't happen again, he said."We're going to focus on the results of this deal. We can't change it, the reality is we can't make amendments to this type of legislation because they'd have to go back and renegotiate," he said."But what we can do is look at the sectors and industries that are negatively impacted by this deal and not make the same mistakes we've made in the past."Hoback said the Tories want to hear from those groups, and figure out what the Liberal strategy is to mitigate the issue. Whether that work happens before the deal gets signed will be open for negotiation, he said, but it needs to be done.With Conservative support, the bill could sail through, but the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats say they won't make that easy.The Bloc has raised concerns the deal does not provide the same protections for Quebec's aluminum industry as it does for the steel industry and Ontario's auto-manufacturing sector and wants the text fully studied and debated.The New Democrats say the fact that the deal was negotiated behind closed doors means due diligence needs to be done."We're still meeting with industry and workers and talking to Canadians about what this deal will mean for them," said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.While the new NAFTA will headline the legislative calendar, the Liberals' agenda also includes action on a promised ban on military-style assault rifles, strengthening health care, battling climate change, and seeking meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he has appreciated that the Liberals have reached out on major recent developments, like the spread of coronavirus and the deaths of Canadians in Iran following a plane crash.But he's not committing to the same overall tone of co-operation the Liberals are pitching. "The Liberals will try to buy off the support from the other parties," he said, after meeting with his MPs on Saturday."That means a lot of wasteful spending. It means an even bigger government that's more and more involved in the economy and making decisions for people's lives. So we will oppose those types of things."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.— with files from Mike Blanchfield Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

  • Unintended consequences and the change to Alberta post-secondary funding
    News
    CBC

    Unintended consequences and the change to Alberta post-secondary funding

    At Mount Royal University in Calgary, there are two courses that regularly appear on the Top 10 list for most fails, withdrawals and poor grades. The micro- and macro-economics courses are required for those wishing to go into business, economics or policy studies. Both are hard. So if the Alberta government ties funding to completion rates, what would MRU do in order to protect its budget?"If you remove those courses, it's going to make it a lot easier to graduate," says Duane Bratt, a political science professor at MRU. "Do we just remove all of the really tough courses to make it easier to graduate? What is the purpose here?"New model for AlbertaOn Jan. 20, Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides stepped up to a podium and announced that starting on April 1, the UCP government would tie funding for the province's universities and colleges to a set of yet-to-be determined performance metrics. It would start with 15 per cent of funding on the table, before ramping up to 40 per cent by 2022-2023.Each school would be able to establish their own priority metrics, conforming to their strengths. But the minister did have a list of what the government would like some of the system-wide measures to be, from completion rates to post-graduate employment to enrolment. If you only achieve 80 per cent of your targets, you only get 80 per cent of your funds. Shape up, or face cuts. Standing on that stage Nicolaides took pains to point out that this wasn't unusual, that 35 U.S. states have implemented some form of performance funding, as have the U.K., Norway, Hong Kong and others. But much like the metrics he was proposing, Nicolaides was measuring the wrong thing, citing quantity as an inherent good.When it comes to the province's places of higher learning, the impact of looking at quantity over quality is, well, immeasurable. The measurablesBratt's fears about the fate of the dreaded first year economics courses is not just idle speculation. Kevin Dougherty, a professor of higher education and education policy at Columbia University in New York City, wrote a book on performance-based funding in the U.S. and says institutions made changes after the funding model comes in.Some reported being more selective of the students they enrolled, typically meaning more advantaged students that are easier to graduate, as well as removing courses that were seen as "impediments" to graduation. "Some of those courses that were being removed had the effect of reducing the academic quality of their programs," he said.Dougherty said the European experience hasn't resulted in improvements in student performance but that the overall impact on research has been positive. And when it comes to saving money? At least in the American experience, the data didn't support the idea of an improved bottom line. In short, there are unintended consequences whenever a government decides post-secondary performance is something that can be distilled on a spreadsheet, or that the value of a university education is in its contribution to the workforce, to the future earnings of its grads.Are social workers less valuable to society than geologists? Should the government get a say in the answer to that question?Lessons from elsewhereIf the government is to have a say, at least it appears to be taking some lessons to heart from other jurisdictions in applying performance-based funding. It has reached out to institutions and student groups and wants them to be part of the process for establishing which metrics to apply. It's allowing different metrics at each university and college. It says it will look at blending metrics to reduce the unintended consequences. It's not making post-secondaries compete with one another. It's allowing time for institutions to grow into the new reality by phasing in the model. And yet, the move is coming fast. April 1 is a tight deadline for proper consultation with all stakeholders and institutions in the province and finding the right mix of metrics will take time, patience and tweaks.Even those supportive of the move, like the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council, want to ensure institutions aren't immediately punished for not meeting targets. The group also stresses the need for meaningful consultations.In the current political context, that could be a challenge. The UCP factorSince being elected last year, the United Conservative Party government has shown an insatiable appetite for enforcing structural change in Alberta. It has cut budgets, gone after public sector unions, slashed corporate taxes, tore up a years-long curriculum review to establish its own and threatened post-secondaries with further cuts, just to name a few initiatives. The government has established panels and inquiries with seemingly pre-determined conclusions and is spending $30 million on a war room to aggressively attack critics of the oil and gas industry. It was elected by pounding home three priorities: jobs, the economy and pipelines. By all accounts it intends on sticking to them.The UCP does not pull any punches and has now set its sights on how to transform post-secondary funding in a system that outspends most other provinces."We do fundamentally want to ensure that we are indeed, as government, building a stronger connection between education and jobs," Nicolaides said while speaking to CBC's Alberta at Noon.If the government wants to cut funding and change the priorities of the universities and colleges in Alberta, the short historical record suggests they'll find a way to make that happen. In a system that is, or should be, more than just a factory for churning out good employees, the impact of that is unquantifiable.The immeasurablesBecause university is not just about the job you land. It's not just about your ability to match up column A with row B. It has an immeasurable quality that, yes, does have an impact on someone's ability to function in the world and the workforce. "There is nothing more valuable for a nation than allowing its citizens to explore their potential," said one caller in to Alberta at Noon last week, as the show discussed the looming funding changes.Another told of how he dropped out of university and would register in the performance metrics as a failure but that his university experience helped him, and continues to help him, become a better tradesperson.Even in the context of the workforce, how do you measure critical thinking and its importance to the modern economy?There is, and ought to be, a complexity to universities. Imposing metrics limits what is possible. Once metrics are in place, they become the focus. The metrics come to define us. We stop looking beyond them. "If we're going to have metrics, how do we build those in a way that really captures the complexity of what we want out of universities?" asks Dougherty.To what end?Marcela Lopes, the chair of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council, doesn't believe schools will cheat. They won't make it easier to graduate in order to meet funding targets. She's hopeful the government will listen and be thoughtful in its approach. She says her organization supports more transparency in how institutions are funded.But is that transparency worth the unintended consequences? And what if the UCP government follows its familiar pattern and uses consultation as cover for imposing its own agenda? Is there a price on academic freedom, including the freedom to fail? How much does it cost society to watch a university or college enter a funding death spiral?"Who's going to hold the hammer in establishing the targets?" asks Bratt about final decisions on the metrics. And what strains of thought will be broken off by those swinging it?

  • With anti-Semitism on the rise, Auschwitz liberation commemorated
    News
    Reuters

    With anti-Semitism on the rise, Auschwitz liberation commemorated

    WARSAW/OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) - World leaders join aging Holocaust survivors in Poland on Monday to mark 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops, amid concerns over a global resurgence of anti-Semitism. Set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940, at first to house Polish political prisoners, it became the largest of the extermination centers where Adolf Hitler's plan to kill all Jews - the "Final Solution" - was put into practice. Speaking before Monday's ceremonies, David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, said groups ranging from far-right white supremacists to jihadis and the far-left were fuelling anti-Semitism worldwide.

  • Pompeo lashes out at journalist; NPR defends its reporter
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Pompeo lashes out at journalist; NPR defends its reporter

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out in anger Saturday at an NPR reporter who accused him of shouting expletives at her after she asked him in an interview about Ukraine. In a direct and personal attack, America's chief diplomat said the journalist had “lied” to him and he called her conduct “shameful.”NPR said it stood by Mary Louise Kelly's reporting.Pompeo claimed in a statement that the incident was “another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt” President Donald Trump and his administration. Pompeo, a former CIA director and Republican congressman from Kansas who is one of Trump's closest allies in the Cabinet, asserted, "It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.”It is extraordinary for a secretary of state to make such a personal attack on a journalist, but he is following the lead of Trump, who has repeatedly derided what he calls “fake news” and ridiculed individual reporters. In one of the more memorable instances, Trump mocked a New York Times reporter with a physical disability.In Friday’s interview, Pompeo responded testily when Kelly asked him about Ukraine and specifically whether he defended or should have defended Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv whose ouster figured in Trump’s impeachment.“I have defended every State Department official," he said. "We've built a great team. The team that works here is doing amazing work around the world ... I've defended every single person on this team. I've done what's right for every single person on this team.”This has been a sensitive point for Pompeo. As a Trump loyalist, he has been publicly silent as the president and his allies have disparaged the nonpartisan career diplomats, including Yovanovitch, who have testified in the impeachment hearings. Those diplomats told Congress that Trump risked undermining Ukraine, a critical U.S. ally, by pressuring for an investigation of Democrat Joe Biden, a Trump political rival.Yovanovitch, who was seen by Trump allies as a roadblock to those efforts, was told in May to leave Ukraine and return to Washington immediately for her own safety. After documents released this month from an associate of Trump's personal attorney suggested she was being watched and possibly under threat, Pompeo took three days to address the matter and did so only after coming under harsh criticism from lawmakers and current and former diplomats.Pompeo was rebuked Saturday by four Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said his “insulting and contemptuous comments” were beneath the office of the secretary of state.“Instead of calling journalists ‘liars’ and insulting their intelligence when they ask you hard questions you would rather not answer, your oath of office places on you a duty and obligation to engage respectfully and transparently,” the letter to Pompeo said. It was signed by Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the committee, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey.After the NPR interview, Kelly said she was taken to Pompeo’s private living room, where he shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” using the “F-word” repeatedly. She said he was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine.Pompeo, in his statement, did not deny shouting at Kelly and did not apologize. Instead, he accused her of lying to him when setting up the interview, which he apparently expected would be limited to questions about Iran, and for supposedly agreeing not to discuss the post-interview meeting.Kelly said Pompeo asked whether she thought Americans cared about Ukraine and if she could find the country on a map.“I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing,” she said in discussing the encounter on “All Things Considered.” “I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, ‘people will hear about this.’”Pompeo ended Saturday's statement by saying, “It is worth nothing that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice-president of news, said in a statement that "Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.''Lynn Berry, The Associated Press

  • 'Sesame Street' comforts children displaced by Syrian war
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'Sesame Street' comforts children displaced by Syrian war

    NEW YORK — “Sesame Street” in the past year has tackled everything from foster care to substance abuse. Now its latest effort is trying to help children suffering as a result of the Syrian civil war.Sesame Workshop — the non-profit, educational organization behind “Sesame Street” — has launched a new, locally produced Arabic TV program for the hundreds of thousands of children dealing with displacement in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.“The thing that became very apparent in our work on the ground is how critical the need was for the children of this region and children who have been affected by traumatic events to have the social and emotional skills they need,” said Sherrie Westin, president of Social Impact & Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop.Called “Ahlan Simsim,” which means “Welcome Sesame” in Arabic, the show will feature Elmo, Cookie Monster and Grover, as well as two brand new Muppets — the boy monster Jad, who had to leave his home, and Basma, a purple girl monster who befriends the young stranger. An adorable goat named Ma’zooza adds comic relief.Each 26-minute show will explore emotions experienced by all kids but particularly relevant to those dealing with trauma and will offer coping skills for feelings like anger, fear, frustration, nervousness and loneliness. In one episode, Basma shares her toys with Jad, since he left his behind. Some of the strategies include belly breathing and expression through art.A variety show in the second half of each episode offers creators the chance to bring in local celebrities and attract an adult audience to hammer home the message. “The humour has to be there always, which is the ‘Sesame’ spirit,” said Khaled Haddad, an executive producer.“Ahlan Simsim” will premiere Feb. 2 on MBC3, a pan-Arab satellite network that reaches 20 countries in North Africa, the Gulf and the Levant, as well as YouTube and national broadcasters across the region.Production is based in the Jordanian capital Amman, with input from writers and performers from across the region. Dialects will be diversified, from Jordanian to Saudi.“We know a lot about children and children’s development and what’s needed. But we always want to learn from people on the ground,” said Westin. “We know that when children can see themselves, identify with these characters and when they can relate to the story lines, we are the most effective.”Targeted for children ages 3-8, the show will steer clear of the larger political, social or religious issues. "To the best of our ability we are not making political statements,” Westin said.“The spirit behind ‘Sesame Street’ has always been it doesn't matter if you have purple fur or yellow fur,” said Scott Cameron, a two-time Emmy Award-winning producer who serves as executive producer of the new show. “It's a place where children can feel safe and supported and where real things are tackled — like fear of the dark, frustration or loneliness. We try to always do it with comedy alongside the heartfelt.”The show is at the centre of a wider push together with the International Rescue Committee that includes direct services, including home visits, classrooms and health clinics, all enhanced by Sesame materials like storybooks, puzzles, games and videos. One episode, for example, will show Jad terrified of going to the doctor and then will explore that fear.“It's more than a TV show. It's a massive intervention,” said Cameron. “It's a world where children and their families can feel safe and secure. And it's a world where the media content is meant to be a portal into a fuller, broader set of humanitarian assistance.”The program was initially funded by a $100 million award by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The LEGO Foundation then awarded an additional $100 million to deepen the play-based learning of “Ahlan Simsim” and gave Sesame Workshop the chance to expand to Bangladesh to serve families affected by the Rohingya crisis.Since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, some 5 million children have been displaced internally and outside Syria, according to the U.N.-backed Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Its report this month said the youngsters have been “robbed of their childhood” by violations from all sides."Sesame Street" has had a presence in the Middle East for decades, starting when the show “Iftah Ya Simsim” premiered in 1979 in Kuwait, followed by local Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli versions of “Sesame Street.”This time, to assess which early childhood interventions work best in crisis settings, Sesame Workshop is working with New York University’s Global TIES for Children centre to independently evaluate both the direct services and mass media components of the program.Creators hope the lessons learned in the Middle East can be translated to other regions, just as things “Sesame Street” learned in American inner cities can help all children. "It will reach children throughout the Middle East but the benefits will be to all children,” said Westin.___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press

  • Pacific Division puts aside differences to grab NHL all-star game crown
    Canadian Press Videos

    Pacific Division puts aside differences to grab NHL all-star game crown

    Members of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers put aside their bad blood to join members of the Vancouver Canucks in beating the Atlantic Division 5-4, winning the NHL's 3-on-3 all-star tournament. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk hit Oilers forward Zack Kassian in the teams' last meeting to set off the war of words, but the team put it together to grab the US$1-million prize.

  • R.I.P. Kobe Bryant: NBA legend and daughter Gianna's relationship in photos
    Yahoo News Canada

    R.I.P. Kobe Bryant: NBA legend and daughter Gianna's relationship in photos

    The world is in shock as news of Kobe Bryant’s death spread Sunday morning.The NBA legend and five-time champion was killed in a helicopter crash along with four other passengers, including his daughter Gianna, 13.Gianna was a familiar face courtside and at press conference during her father’s long and esteemed career in the league.Kobe Bryant was 41.

  • Some Canadian superstars looking for Grammy glory tonight
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Some Canadian superstars looking for Grammy glory tonight

    LOS ANGELES — Shawn Mendes, Drake and Shania Twain will offer a dash of Canadian flavour at the 2020 Grammy Awards tonight in Los Angeles.The music industry's biggest night is expected to be dominated by a number of American newcomers — including Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Lizzo — but the Canadian superstars will be playing a major assist.Twain, who already has five Grammys to her name, is among the presenters booked to hand out golden gramophones. And Mendes is nominated for best pop duo or group performance alongside his girlfriend Camila Cabello for their song "Senorita."Drake contends with two nominations for collaborations with Chris Brown and Rick Ross.Most Grammy categories with Canadian nominees will be announced in the "premiere ceremony," before the televised event that's streamed online at 3:30 p.m. ET.The 62nd Grammy Awards main show will be hosted by Alicia Keys, and airs tonight on Citytv and CBS. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • Quebec Court of Appeal to hear Alexandre Bissonnette appeals on Monday
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Quebec Court of Appeal to hear Alexandre Bissonnette appeals on Monday

    MONTREAL — Nearly three years after the massacre that claimed six lives at the Quebec City mosque, the length of the sentence imposed on the man convicted of the crimes will be debated in the province's highest court Monday.Lawyers for Alexandre Bissonnette and the Crown will be at the Quebec Court of Appeal to make legal arguments.There was no trial as Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to all charges against him, including six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder after he walked into the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017 with two firearms and opened fire during evening prayers.The slain men were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.Bissonnette was automatically sentenced to life in prison with the only issue being the amount of time he'd have to serve behind bars before being eligible for parole.Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot ultimately sentenced Bissonnette last year to 40 years behind bars — the harshest prison term ever in Quebec and one of the longest in Canada, which has permitted consecutive life sentences since a 2011 Criminal Code reform allowed for it.Huot opted for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 40 years, saying that a sentence beyond life expectancy would have been "absurd" and a charter violation.But neither the defence or the Crown were pleased with the outcome.Bissonnette's attorneys appealed his sentence, calling the four decade prison term "unreasonable."The Crown and Quebec's attorney general also want the sentence changed — arguing in favour of a 50-year prison term.From the Crown's perspective, the sentence imposed did not reflect the severity of the offences or the respondent's degree of responsibility, which it qualified as "exceptionally high."For Bissonnette, his lawyers argue being allowed to apply for parole after serving 25 years would be just.Having admitted to the crimes, Bissonnette's attorneys have argued the length of time to be served should be in accordance with the principles of Canadian law.Monday's hearing comes on the same week as the third anniversary of the shooting Wednesday.Boufeldja Benabdallah, president of the mosque that was attacked, said many of the victims and the city's Muslim community will be following the proceedings carefully.However, unlike a year ago, when he expressed his disappointment at what he described as a too-lenient sentence, he said he had no desire to get involved in a debate about the sentencing."Now, it's been a year (since the sentencing) and we are resting and will let justice take its course," he said. Benabdallah said the mosque community has had many "highs and lows" in the three years since the shooting, but overall things are better than they were."People have returned to work people are educating their children, families are finding a little bit of serenity," he said.As positives, he cites the announcement late last year of the creation of Quebec City's first Islamic cemetery, as well as long-planned renovations to the mosque to enlarge it and make it safer. The negatives include Quebec's secularism law which bans some civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work — something he says targets Muslims in particular and makes them feel "like a minority and targeted.""As much as we're advancing on a social level, there's been on the political and administrative level a step back," he said.At the heart of the legal debate is a constitutional fight applying to the section of the Criminal Code that applies to multiple murders.The Montreal Defence Lawyers Association has been granted intervenor status in the appeal and will argue that the Criminal Code contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by allowing judges to stack life sentences for multiple murders instead imposing them concurrently.The legal debate is one that will be followed closely by criminal attorneys and judges right across the country.Section 745.51 of the Criminal Code provides for the possibility of consecutive sentences in the case of multiple murders — 25 years in person for each crime.In the Quebec case, the Crown opted to use it and had requested a 150-year prison sentence — 25 years for each of the six victims.The association argues that sentences exceeding life expectancy with no review mechanism is "inconsistent with human dignity'' and a violation of Section 12 of the charter, which grants protection from cruel and unusual punishment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020.\- With files from Morgan LowrieStephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

  • St. John's area high schools to reopen Monday
    News
    CBC

    St. John's area high schools to reopen Monday

    The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District says it will be phasing in the reopening of schools in the St. John's metro area, with high schools being the first to open on Monday."We're opening just the high schools. The other schools we'll look at [Monday] and make a determination," says Tony Stack, the district's director of education.A further announcement will be made Monday afternoon with respect to all remaining schools in the region.While Stack said the lost days of instruction are "unfortunate," he said he feels a phased approach — opening schools gradually over a period of days — was the best way to get students back to class and limit traffic on city streets. We felt that this was the best, safest approach. \- Tony Stack"I do understand and empathize with parents now that have to struggle with respect to what they do tomorrow when they return to work," he said."But we've got to do things carefully and measured and we felt that this was the best, safest approach."Stack said of the 28,000 students in the St. John's area, high school students make up roughly one quarter, about 7,200 in all.He said because some streets are not yet fully accessible, "significant adjustments" have been made to the majority of bus routes. For example, some students on cul-de-sacs or side streets may have to catch the school bus on larger streets."The primary and secondary routes are OK, but there could be a neighborhood street where there's a crescent or something like that and there may be a bigger road that is accessible, so they'd have to leave their crescent and come out to that main road," said Stack.In a statement Sunday, the NLESD said the adjustments will remain in place until Friday because of ongoing snow clearing, with an update to come at the end of the week.Information on the status of schools and bus routes is available on the district's website.Stack said while the storm was "unprecedented," the district has dealt with multiple day closures before and stopped short of suggesting that the school year will need to be extended."We know that there's ways to adapt how we deliver the curriculum," he said."I'm very confident that we'll be able to manage this situation."The Conseil scolaire francophone said in a statement Sunday that École Rocher-du-Nord will reopen Monday, while École des Grand-Vents will be closed.The CSFP said it is communicating directly with families of students who will be affected by adjustments to bus routes on Monday.Memorial University, Marine Institute and the College of the North Atlantic campuses in St. John's are also expected to reopen Monday.Getting back to normalSt. John's Mayor Danny Breen says city crews are hard at work clearing roads and sidewalks in advance of what will be the first day back to school and work for many in the city."We've done a lot of work on the sidewalks around school zones, we've got a lot of those cleared out and we're continuing to work on those," he said."There's places in the city where you can get off the road to walk, so it's improving."Breen said close to 5,000 dump truck loads of snow have already been removed from the streets, and the city's snow clearing equipment remains on the road around the clock to continue the work.He said dealing with all the snow has been a huge challenge, but it's important to remove as much as possible, because there's lots of winter weather left to come."Right now, we're concentrating on getting the city back to normal operations, and you know, we're only three weeks into winter," said Breen."We're going to have more snow, so we've got to get ready to be prepared for that."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Residents unable to heat homes amid northern B.C. wood pellet shortage
    News
    CBC

    Residents unable to heat homes amid northern B.C. wood pellet shortage

    Darrin Super's heart sinks every time he has to turn someone away who is looking for wood pellets. A wood pellet shortage in northwestern B.C. means suppliers have no pellets to deliver to retailers, which means people who rely on those wood pellets for fuel in their wood stoves are out of luck. Super, the store manager at the Bulkley Valley Home Centre in Houston, B.C., received an email on Jan. 9, days before the province-wide cold snap, saying that the supplier had completely run out of wood pellets and would not be able to deliver any. "Usually I have 50 to 60 tonnes sitting in my yard at any given time," he told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk. "Our community relies on this for their sources of heat.""I would say the majority of people here have wood stoves."The store has been without wood pellets for two weeks. Now, he's turning to suppliers in Alberta, even though his town is surrounded by trees. "There is nobody locally," he said. "The forestry industry is our No. 1 industry here locally and we have to go to our neighbouring province for wood pellets. It just doesn't seem right."Super believes mill shutdowns and curtailments around the province are major contributors to the shortage. For that reason, he said he wants government officials to step in and find a way to keep the forestry industry, which is Houston's largest industry, afloat.   "I'd like to see the mills run at full capacity again, have that fibre being sent to the pellet plants, have our pellets made and I'd still have a full inventory of pellets," Super said.Listen to the full interview here:

  • In China, people wonder how open government is being over coronavirus
    News
    CBC

    In China, people wonder how open government is being over coronavirus

    The 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) left 44 Canadians dead, but it wasn't documented on social media. That's because Facebook, Twitter and YouTube didn't exist back then. "Social media adds a whole new layer to all of this messaging that's out there that I didn't have to deal with when I was reporting on SARS," Maureen Taylor said today on The Weekly with Wendy Mesley. Maureen was CBC's The National health correspondent who reported on the deadly outbreak back in 2003.Fake news about the coronavirus is now flooding the web, and many are taking to social media to discuss the virus, especially in China."It is indeed helping information to flow within the country," said Zhaoyin Feng, Washington correspondent for the BBC's Chinese Service. Double-edged swordBut Feng also called it a double-edged sword. "Social media has also become a hot bed for misinformation." Every day, Feng says she opens her Weibo and WeChat to find an abundance of headlines about the outbreak. But there's almost no way to know whether any of it's true. Officially, people are being told not to panic. Yet, horrifying videos, some of which include doctors and patients collapsing on the hospital floor, are circulating. One viral post claims that setting off fireworks can sterilize germs in the air. That spread so widely, Chinese officials had to publicly debunk it.  According to Feng, some Chinese people are criticizing their own government on social media for not being more open with information about the coronavirus. During the SARS outbreak, it wasn't possible to exert pressure via social media. "There was a lot of criticism against the local authority of Wuhan, saying they delayed the efforts of combating the virus by covering up some information at the early stage," said Feng. "It's also making it hard for the Chinese government to cover up the story."With Twitter banned in China, residents must opt for Weibo and WeChat — messaging platforms known to be monitored by the Chinese state.Online censors are busy scrubbing material the state deems "too alarming" and, according to AFP news, police arrested eight people for posting what it calls "rumours" about the virus.Feng said many in China are asking one question:"Why, why couldn't something be done earlier?"How open has China been about coronavirus?On Thursday, China's President Xi Jinping attempted to reassure the international community China was being open."China stands ready to work with the international community to effectively curb the spread of the pneumonia cases caused by a new strain of coronavirus to uphold global health security," he said.Initially, China was praised for its transparency in combating the virus, something that didn't happen during the SARS outbreak back in 2003. But as more information about the virus unfolds, people are starting to question the Chinese government's initial statements. "Unfortunately now, it's looking a little bit like they weren't as forthcoming as they should have been," said Taylor."They initially said there was no human-to-human transmission... and that it all originated from an animal in the market giving it to somebody who worked there. And that's not true. They said there were no health-care workers affected ... Well now we know there were 14 health-care workers affected.""It's starting to feel a lot like SARS as far as what the Chinese are saying," said Taylor.Now working as a physician assistant at a local Toronto hospital, Taylor says she is confident the disease will be contained quickly "if we have transparency and the right information coming out."

  • News
    CBC

    Rain, warm temperatures on the way for eastern Newfoundland on the heels of huge blizzard

    Just over a week after a historic blizzard dropped more than 75 centimetres of snow on eastern Newfoundland, warmer temperatures and a significant rainfall are now expected.Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for much of eastern Newfoundland, with the Burin Peninsula falling under a rainfall warning with 20 to 30 mm forecast.CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler says the St. John's area will see about 5 to 10 mm, starting overnight Sunday with the heaviest rain starting around 9 a.m. Monday and persisting through the afternoon.That rain, combined with warmer temperatures, could cause flooding in some areas.  It's going to melt pretty fast. \- Ashley Brauweiler"We're going to see that rain, we're going to see those temperatures climb as well," Brauweiler said."There's 115 cm of snow on the ground and that [snow], the rain and the temperatures in the mid-single digits, will lead to quite a bit of melting … at five to six degrees, I'd say that it's going to melt pretty fast."Brauweiler said it's best to be proactive and dig out catch basins and around homes before the heaviest rain begins."Make sure that storm drains are cleared, that if you do have any sort of snow against windows — because we did have a lot of drifting with this storm — just make sure you clean those off," she said."When it does start to rain, you don't want that water to come in."Cooler temperatures to followThe warm temperatures are expected to cool off Monday night, Brauweiler said, bringing some flurries and the possiblity of a quick freeze."The temperatures aren't staying up above zero for very long, and then heading into Tuesday, they're going to be hovering near or around zero," she said."Into Tuesday, it looks like we'll just see some flurries and grey skies, but still, as those temperatures hover around the zero degree mark, we're still going to see some sort of melting."A rainfall warning is also in effect along the south coast of the island, with 20 to 40 mm of rain expected from Port aux Basques to the Connaigre Peninsula.While the snowpack on the south coast is only 14 centimetres, Brauweiler said, there could still be some localized flooding in areas that are prone to flood.All that rain will instead come down as snow along parts of the Northern Peninsula and Green Bay-White Bay, with 10 to 20 cm expected.A freezing rain warning has also been issued for Deer Lake, the Humber Valley and communites south of Green Bay, as well as a blowing snow advisory for Red Bay to L'Anse-au-Clair.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    20 Mali soldiers killed at army camp attacked by gunmen

    BAMAKO, Mali — Gunmen attacked an army camp in Mali near the border with Mauritania, killing 20 soldiers Sunday, the government and armed forces said.The camp in Sokolo in the Segou region remains under the control of Mali's military, the armed forces said in a statement on Twitter.Mali's government said there was significant material damage in the attack, and that reinforcements have been dispatched. Aerial reconnaissance is underway to track down the gunmen, it said in a statement condemning the attack.Souleymane Maiga, a resident of Sokolo, said the attackers temporarily had taken control of the camp."The army camp was attacked this morning by gunmen,” he said. “The attackers temporarily took control of the camp and destroyed everything before leaving. Many of the soldiers who were in the camp took refuge in the village.”The attack wasn't claimed but bears the hallmarks of jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida that are based in the Wagadu forest, located about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the attacked village.Baba Ahmed, The Associated Press

  • 'Have courage': Tony Walsh's sister pleads for witnesses to come forward
    News
    CBC

    'Have courage': Tony Walsh's sister pleads for witnesses to come forward

    Tony Walsh's sister has spent the last five months wondering what happened to her brother.Walsh vanished in August. He was last seen getting into a truck in Truro on Aug. 23.A few days later, his family found his car in a parking lot.Last week, RCMP announced they believe the 35-year-old was the victim of a homicide, even though they haven't found his body."It's hard on all of us," said Sara Walsh Turner. "We don't know what's going on."This is awful for any family to go through."Walsh was the father of a 10-year-old girl. He was also close to his niece and nephew.Walsh Turner said the children deserve to know what happened."To tell the kids when we don't know anything, to have those conversations with them when we don't understand things, it's really difficult."Walsh spent years living out west and in Ontario, but Walsh Turner said he put his family first."If there was anything that we needed help with, he would come down right away and help," she said.When he returned to Nova Scotia, he worked hard to rebuild his connection to the family."He was really wanting to build those relationships up," she said.Walsh Turner was just 15 months older than her brother. They grew up in the small community of Crowes Mills, just outside of Truro."It was always us growing up," she said. "We always hung out with the neighbourhood kids. I never thought anything like this was going to happen."Walsh Turner says police have been supportive through the process, but they're limited in what they can say about the investigation.She's hoping that by talking about her brother, someone will be convinced to come forward with information."We hope that people have the courage to do the right thing and phone the Crimestoppers. It's completely anonymous. And just give us answers."While the family waits for information, she says the community is rallying around her mother while she grieves.This week, someone set up solar lights in her mother's yard."Just so that she knows the community is there and that's been really, really nice."Crimestoppers can be reached at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).MORE TOP STORIES

  • Are coyotes getting bigger?  UNB researchers on quest to find out
    News
    CBC

    Are coyotes getting bigger? UNB researchers on quest to find out

    Two researchers at the University of New Brunswick are collecting coyote carcasses this winter to find out if the canines are getting bigger. Graham Forbes, biodiversity and wildlife professor at the University of New Brunswick, is working with graduate student Max Zhong to compare the size of modern coyote carcasses to ones that died 40 years ago. The pair became interested in studying the topic after hearing trappers and other researchers comment on the size of coyotes in the province. "We thought we'd get some data to try to get a handle on that," Forbes said. Forbes and Zhong receive the coyote carcasses from people who are trapping the animals for pelts. They've collected around 100 carcasses so far from across the province, but are looking to pick up about 50 more."We're doing sort of north to south, east to west just to get good coverage for the spatial extent of the province," Forbes said.The researchers have already begun splitting the carcasses into four categories: adult males, adult females, male pups and females pups. They can tell the age of the animal based on the size of its teeth. Forbes and Zhong have also started measuring the weight, length of the body, tail, hind foot, distance from the shoulder blade to the foot and size of the paw. They'll be comparing those measurements to ones recorded by Gary Moore in the 1980s. Forbes said the size of coyotes may be increasing because the coyotes have an ecological advantage on other species by being bigger.The canines in New Brunswick are actually a hybrid of the smaller western coyote from the prairies and wolves from the Great Lake Region. The species moved eastward and was first recorded in New Brunswick in the 1950s."This group of wolf-like animals are quite complicated genetically and so there's a lot of variety in their genes," Forbes said, adding that variety makes it possible for some New Brunswick coyotes to end up larger.The scientists expect the project will be completed this spring.

  • News
    Reuters

    Nearly 50 dead, thousands displaced as storms lash southeast of Brazil

    At least 46 people have died in Brazil and more than 25,000 have been displaced due to widespread flooding following storms and heavy rains that have swept across the south east of the country, authorities said on Sunday. Most of the casualties were in the state of Minas Gerais, including the capital Belo Horizonte, which had its heaviest rainfall over a 24-hour period leading to Friday since records began 110 years ago, O Globo newspaper reported. Local authorities in Minas Gerais said on Sunday that 37 people had died, while more than 17,000 were displaced or evacuated from their homes.

  • How officials are dealing with public fear over coronavirus
    CBC

    How officials are dealing with public fear over coronavirus

    Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the risk of infection to Canadians remains low.

  • Dementia caregivers could access 24-hour support through new app created at U of S
    News
    CBC

    Dementia caregivers could access 24-hour support through new app created at U of S

    Almost one in every four people in Canada are caregiving for a family member or friend, and the stress of looking after someone can become overwhelming.But researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are working on a project to alleviate the pressures of what can sometimes be a 24-hour job, especially for caregivers of people living with Alzheimer's or dementia.They've developed the Caregiver Self-Compassion and Support App, a mobile app for caregivers that's now in the testing phase.The app features a series of podcasts that provide support and resources for caregivers, project lead Donna Goodridge told The Morning Edition on Friday."I think that we've begun to show that it is really helpful for people that are dealing with the day-to-day challenges of being a caregiver," said Goodridge. Podcasts aimed at putting caregivers at ease The app is based on the idea of mindful self-compassion. Nathan Reis, a PhD student in kinesiology and researcher on the project, said this idea is a "kind, understanding way of treating yourself."The podcasts, said Reis, use this idea to walk listeners through steps to achieve self-compassion. "It can be ... a coping strategy or even a self-attitude," he said.Goodridge's participation in the project comes from personal experience. She cared for her mother, who had dementia, for almost 10 years. "We never know when ... we might need a break from caregiving," she said. "I was not prepared at all ... for the overwhelming emotions [and] all of the challenges I faced on a day-to-day basis."Candidates needed for app testing Reis said ideal candidates would be primary caregivers of people with dementia. Participants would test out the app and provide feedback afterward. While technology can be daunting for some, Reis said the group has attempted to make the app as user-friendly as possible. There's also support available to users from Reis and other students if needed. Goodridge said she hopes the app will be of use to people who can't get immediate access to in-person resources, as it's available around the clock. She added that it's been developed with Saskatchewan in mind, as all of the resources available on it are Saskatchewan-based.Anyone interested in participating in the group's research can email Reis at nathan.reis@usask.ca.

  • 'It's been tough': Edmonton's job market limps into new year
    News
    CBC

    'It's been tough': Edmonton's job market limps into new year

    Brian Wolfe was so desperate for a job he took to the streets with a sign reading, "Ready to work."For six hours on Jan. 13, the out-of-work welder stood on the corner of a busy Edmonton intersection at -30 C, pleading for someone — anyone — to give him a job.Wolfe, 49, had been without steady work for nine months."I applied to hundreds of places and there was no response," said Wolfe, who had supported his family with a welding torch for 15 years. "My welding tickets ran out, and the way things fell there wasn't any money to renew the tickets. And there wasn't any steady work to get the money to renew the tickets." By nightfall, Wolfe had hundreds of job offers and is set to start a job doing scaffolding work. He said he knows he's one of the lucky ones. Bruised by a recession, Edmonton's job market is limping into the new year.   That's probably been the toughest thing is seeing how little is out there. \- Daniel StamhuisEdmonton ended 2019 with a jobless rate of eight per cent, the highest in the country and the highest monthly rate recorded in the city for the year, an increase from a rate of 6.3 recorded in December 2018. Nearly 69,000 Edmontonians were unemployed in December. Daniel Stamhuis is one of them. When his employer sent out a notice last month that layoffs were imminent, Stamhuis assumed he was living on borrowed time. He has been applying for jobs for weeks but no one has offered him work."I've never been laid off before in my life," said Stamhuis, 32. "I'm beginning to see now that the statistics ring true. So it's been tough." Stamhuis had been a water meter reader for Epcor for four years. Most of that time, he worked full-time hours but was a temporary employee. He had been made permanent in April."At my age, I still have lots left in the tank," he said. "But I want something with stability, and I thought I had that. So I'm very apprehensive about applying for temporary positions."That's probably been the toughest thing, is seeing how little is out there."Bucking the trendLess reliant on the energy sector than other Alberta cities, the provincial capital has been surprisingly resilient during the ongoing downturn. But that seems to be changing.Growth in Edmonton's real gross domestic product (GDP) hovered around 0.5 per cent in 2019, the lowest it's been since 2015, soon after oil prices started to plunge.Full-time employment has been declining year over year since last September, weakening growth in average weekly wages.The figures show Edmonton is lagging behind other parts of Alberta, and elsewhere in Canada.Alberta lost roughly 1,000 positions in December as the provincial unemployment rate ticked down from 7.2 to 7 per cent. In contrast, the Canadian job market bounced back in December to post a gain of 35,200 jobs and reverse some losses posted in the previous month, which saw the biggest monthly loss since the 2008 financial crisis.  We were insulated at that time and now it's our turn to get hit. \- Raja Bajwa"We seem to be bucking the provincial trend and the national trend," said Raja Bajwa, president of the Economics Society of Northern Alberta and a professor of macroeconomics at NorQuest College."Hopefully it doesn't continue into 2020 and we see some bounce-back, but it might be going on for a little while."Edmonton's labour market has been showing signs of stress for some time, Bajwa said.Growth has been stagnant, oil prices remain volatile, but more than anything Edmonton has been hit by the provincial budget, Bajwa said. "It was a pretty quick hit in terms of the impact," Bajwa said. "There is going to be an adjustment. Hopefully we recover quickly."The city's workforce is dominated by government, public sector and non-profit employers who have been spooked by spending cuts introduced by Premier Jason Kenney's government, Bajwa said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the provincial budget that came out in October," he said. "It was a pretty quick hit in terms of the impact, whether municipal governments or some of the non-profits that rely on provincial funding. And as a result, a lot of the places that were looking to hire full time or had full-time positions coming to end, those didn't get extended. We've also seen a lot of major projects come to an end in town, so a lot of those construction jobs have moved on as well."Post-budget, Edmonton has slipped behind Calgary, which ended 2019 with an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent, Bajwa said."Back in 2017, Calgary was three per cent higher than us with their unemployment and now it's sort of flipped," Bajwa said. "We were insulated at that time and now it's our turn to get hit." 'Pretty darn scary'Charlene Stowe said the level of competition in Edmonton's job market has become "insane." Stowe worked in auto body shops for 10 years but was laid off and can't find a job. She most recently applied to work as a labourer in Edmonton. She said the position had more than 3,800 online applicants. "It's hard," she said. "I've never been unemployed this long. Going on five months, it's starting to get pretty darn scary. "My savings are dwindling down to nothing. EI certainly doesn't give you a whole lot, and when you apply for jobs you're competing against not just hundreds but thousands."  You have more young people that are looking for work, and there are not more jobs for them.  \- Bertand LeveilleYoung people, especially young men, have been among the hardest hit by the employment slump, said Bertrand Leveille, an economist with Stats Canada.The unemployment rate for Albertans aged 15 to 24 for the year increased 3.9 percentage points, to 15 per cent. The rate in Edmonton now hovers around 17 per cent, up from 9.2 per cent in December of 2018."We're seeing an increase in employment for young females but it declined for young males, a significant decline, which ends up giving us a pretty flat employment level for young people," Leveille said. "You have more young people that are looking for work, and there are not more jobs for them."Modest growth, reason to hopeIt's not all bad news, according to the latest quarterly report from the city. While labour force growth outpaced the region's employment gains, Edmonton gained 3,100 positions in December, with most of the growth coming from the trades, finance, insurance, real estate and food services.For 2019 as a whole, employment growth in Edmonton increased by 1.1 per cent from the year before, and average weekly wages for 2019 were almost two per cent higher. The city expects employment in Edmonton to grow by a modest one per cent in 2020. "The unemployment rate is forecast to decline, though the rate is unlikely to move much lower than the seven to 7.5 per cent range," according to the latest quarterly outlook from the city.After being out of work for two years, house painter Aaron Deneiko, 39, is feeling more positive about this prospects.Deneiko sought some professional advice and now plans to return to warehouse work. He was a house painter for 15 years before the work dried up. "The economy dropped," he said. "Lots of places were downsizing staff."Four months ago I was feeling pretty down about finding a job. I'm actually pretty positive right now, and feel like I will be able to accomplish this goal soon."With files from Nola Keeler and Travis McEwan

  • Yukon's only church pipe organ, damaged by fire, gets a new lease on life
    News
    CBC

    Yukon's only church pipe organ, damaged by fire, gets a new lease on life

    Members of Whitehorse's Trinity Lutheran Church believed their beloved pipe organ was beyond repair. It was damaged in a fire at the church in 2017.But Jason Barnsley, a restoration specialist from Calgary, says it can be rebuilt. It needs a new console and wiring, but the rest of the organ's parts survived the fire. This past week, Barnsley and his small crew of three were at the church in Whitehorse dismantling and boxing up the many pieces of the mechanically complex, century-old organ. They'll spend the coming months restoring the various parts in Calgary."It's like a jigsaw puzzle constructed by a crazy person," said Barnsley."I actually know where everything goes, but if a layperson were coming into this they would go, 'I think you're nuts trying to put this all together ... there are a million and one pieces here.'"Barnsley can even guess what started the fire inside the organ — its aging control centre."Those are all modern now, using solid-state control systems versus the original hardwiring and a lot of electricity, which is ultimately what caused it to catch fire — because there was so much wiring inside," he said.He says the pneumatic pipe organ's inner workings are as complex as those of fine Swiss watch.Barnsley says the organ's analog electrical systems were ahead of their time when it was built in 1926. He compares it to "very early, early computing."From Pennsylvania to WhitehorseThe pneumatic pipe organ's 762 individual pipes plus numerous parts originally made their journey from Pennsylvania to Whitehorse 40 years ago.Whitehorse church members had seen an ad in a magazine, and ended up buying the organ for a dollar. The organ's previous owner, a church in Pennsylvania, wanted the organ to have a northern home.The organ filled Trinity Lutheran with glorious sound for decades — and it's hoped that will continue soon.Once all the parts are at Barnsley's shop in Calgary, he'll fix it up with modern wiring. It will likely be returned to Whitehorse and rebuilt in about a year."We are hoping that by revitalizing the pipe organ we will be able to offer a really fine instrument in an intimate concert venue to the larger Whitehorse community," said Deb Bartlette, a minister at Trinity Lutheran Church.

  • Pope asks Catholics to say 'Never Again' to the Holocaust
    News
    Reuters

    Pope asks Catholics to say 'Never Again' to the Holocaust

    Pope Francis on Sunday asked the world's 1.3 billion Catholics to stop for a moment of prayer and reflection on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and say "Never Again". More than one million people, most of them Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp during World War Two. Overall, some six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

  • Simmons doc, sans Oprah, receives huge ovation at Sundance
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Simmons doc, sans Oprah, receives huge ovation at Sundance

    PARK CITY, Utah — Without Oprah or Apple, the Russell Simmons documentary “On the Record” went ahead with its premiere Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, where the women who came forward with sexual assault allegations against the hip-hop mogul received one of the festival's most roaring receptions.The lead-up to Sundance was especially rocky for “On the Record." Oprah Winfrey, an executive producer, on Jan. 10 withdrew from the film because she felt it needed more reporting. Her exit, which stunned the directors, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, also meant “On the Record” no longer had a distributor in Apple TV Plus.Ahead of the film's premiere, Ziering thanked Sundance “for standing strong and never blinking.”“On the Record” is centred on the story of Drew Dixon, a former music executive for Def Jam Recordings, the record label co-founded by Simmons. It chronicles her decision to come forward and go on the record in a 2017 New York Times article, along with numerous other women, in accusing Simmons of harassment and rape.Simmons has denied any wrongdoing. The filmmakers said he declined to be interviewed for the film.More than a dozen other women, many of whom also appear in “On the Record,” have also come forward with allegations of assault or harassment against Simmons. Along with Dixon, in attendance Saturday were Sherri Hines, a member of the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies who alleged that Simmons raped her in his office in the early 1980s; and Sil Lai Abrams, who has said Simmons raped her in 1994.In the crowd in Park City was the actress Rosanna Arquette, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Arquette stood up during the Q&A to salute the women in the film. “I'm so proud of you,” she said.“On the Record” also delves into the place black women have in the MeToo movement and the racial dimensions of sexual assault. One audience member noted that the film, despite being about black women accusing a black man of rape, is directed by two white people.“A lot of this is about power and ecosystems of power,” Dixon said. “And all of us have kept our stories to ourselves for decades, and there are people within that ecosystem who knew our stories."“Some of those people are filmmakers,” she continued. "It’s an entertainment industry story after all, right? But nobody told our story. Because the people who knew our story were subject to the same ecosystem. And to me, this is where allies matter. Allies who are not subject to that same dynamic. They have traction that they can use to pull you forward.”Ziering and Dick have made several documentaries before about sexual assault. Their “The Hunting Ground" focused on rape on college campuses. “The Invisible War” scrutinized sexual assault in the military.“On the Record” depicts the personal struggle of coming forward and the years of pain and self-doubt that can follow sexual assault. Dixon says she ultimately retreated from the music industry after she said she was again harassed by another executive, L.A. Reid. Reid has denied it.Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, an attorney and civil rights advocate, after the film alluded to the history of black women who have accused public figures of assault, citing the treatment of Anita Hill and Desiree Washington, who accused Mike Tyson of rape.“You’ve seen this film. The question is will anyone else see it?" Crenshaw said. "So whatever can be brought to bear to make sure that this doesn’t get snuffed out — think of all the history of what has already happened and say never again.”Jake Coyle, The Associated Press