Why did the Sask. Hockey Association cut the Beardy's Blackhawks? A look at the rationale

Why would the Saskatchewan Hockey Association decide that a First Nation's "one-of-a-kind" hockey program should no longer exist?

It's the question that has been vexing many in the Saskatchewan and Indigenous hockey communities following the Nov. 12 announcement from the SHA that the Beardy's & Okemasis Cree Nation, located approximately 80 kilometres north of Saskatoon, will no longer have midget AAA and midget AA boys teams starting next season.

The First Nation was not the only Saskatchewan community to learn it will lose a team. The midget AAA Notre Dame Argos will also be no more — and Unity will no longer have a midget AA club after this season.

However, Beardy's was the only community to learn it will lose teams at both levels.

The Beardy's Blackhawks, a team in existence for 25 years, was also the only First Nations-run midget AAA team in the country.

That has many in this era of reconciliation asking why the SHA would end a program that was not only unique in Canada, but also well-regarded in the Indigenous community and beyond.

As of Saturday, almost 5,800 people had signed an online petition calling for the midget AAA Blackhawks to be reinstated.

While SHA general manager Kelly McClintock has said the association's decision can't be appealed, he got into some specifics behind it — something the league had previously declined to do — during an interview on CBC Radio's Blue Sky on Thursday.

But first, there are some potential factors that have been ruled out publicly by one side or the other.

Not a case of racism

To replace the Blackhawks and Argos, the SHA has decided to establish new midget AAA teams in Estevan and Warman.

In a situation involving predominantly non-Indigenous communities benefiting from an announcement made by a predominantly non-Indigenous entity at the expense of an Indigenous community, it would be tempting to think that racism played a role in the decision-making.

But Beardy's spokesperson Rick Gamble told CTV News while he didn't know the rationale behind the decision, he was careful to note he wasn't saying it had anything to do with racism.

Rink size and age not factors

Both Estevan and Warman have arenas built in the last eight years that are large enough to accommodate Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League games.

However, McClintock told CBC News that neither rink size nor age were factors when the association made its decision.

"We based it on the criteria we outlined," he said. "So, no. It didn't play a part."

Recent team performance not an issue

While the Blackhawks have a league title in their history, they have not finished higher than seventh in their 12-team league since the 2011-12 season, when they finished third.

Meanwhile, since the Argos' 2013-14 championship season, they have finished no higher than 11th — and have been last in four of the five seasons since then.

According to McClintock: "No, we didn't look at that."

With those possibilities being eliminated, let's look at other statements McClintock has made regarding the SHA's process.

Criteria for having a team

The SHA's stated criteria for keeping or acquiring a midget AAA team beyond this season included:

  • Local coaching resources.
  • Billeting options for players.
  • A billeting co-ordinator.
  • An educational consultant.
  • A written working agreement with a local high school for the players to attend.
  • A midget AA team to provide a source of affiliate players.

McClintock said the SHA evaluated the applications based on those criteria.

"We want to make sure that if we are approving teams, that those things are taken care of," he said. "The 12 selected were the ones that were ranked higher than the two that weren't."

When asked by Peter Mills on CBC's Blue Sky to explain why the SHA chose to eliminate Beardy's from the league, McClintock provided two reasons.

He said the Beardy's minor hockey system "hasn't flourished that much" below midget hockey in the last few years.

He said the SHA was "concerned" there were under 100 players and only one team below midget registered in the entire Beardy's minor hockey association last year — although Beardy's officials say there were actually three teams registered below midget.

Secondly, McClintock said the SHA looked at whether teams provided billeting options in the community where they play.

He said Blackhawks players have been billeted in communities such as Warman, Martensville, Rosthern and Prince Albert — and that the Blackhawks were the only team in the league with this type of arrangement.

He said midget AAA teams can use players from anywhere in the province, but that Beardy's in recent years has only drawn players from the Saskatoon to Prince Albert corridor.

"They live at home and they drive to practices and games," he said.

"So that's a concern.… That was one of the requirements, that you provide billeting options."

In their application to keep the team, he said the Blackhawks proposed a "hybrid" model that they had been using.

"We would prefer to see kids not driving, if possible, on highways to practices and games at the AAA level," McClintock said.

Concentration of players

When CBC first reported in August that the SHA was requiring midget AAA teams to reapply for standing, McClintock said in an interview the association's board felt it was time to review its system to determine if teams "are in the right places."

There had been a redistribution of where players are registered in the province, he said at that time, "so we want to address that."

As well, he said, there have never been so many players registered in lower levels of minor hockey in the province.

"So we want to make sure that there's opportunities for the better players as they're coming through the system, that there's teams in their areas — or close enough to home — that it's a positive environment for them."

He said the largest number of midget AAA players are from Saskatoon. The number grows from around 50 players to about 70 if you include all players within a 25-kilometre radius of the city, he said.

McClintock said the second-largest zone was Zone 1, in the province's southeast.

"So it means with a team down in that area that players won't have as far to move away from home to play AAA," he said after the SHA's decision was announced.

Competing definitions of opportunity

It's fair to wonder how much that desire to "make sure there's opportunities for the better players" played a role in the SHA's decision.

McClintock said the process that led to the realignment came about after member minor hockey associations from across the province told the SHA that it needed to re-evaluate its elite levels of hockey.

"I think we've got to look at what's in the best interests of all the members of Saskatchewan, and not just one particular community," McClintock said in August.

It's possible that the very attribute that Beardy's officials are holding up as the main reason why they should be allowed to keep a team — opportunities for Indigenous and northern players who wouldn't otherwise get them — stands in the way of one of the SHA's main goals.

If you're giving chances to players that wouldn't normally get them, then it follows that other players won't get those opportunities.

The SHA might agree that both objectives are worthy goals — but it's difficult to achieve both without increasing the number of teams.

We already know that increased opportunity is top of mind for the SHA. McClintock has repeatedly said the elimination of the Argos will open up more spots for Saskatchewan players to play midget AAA, since only the Notre Dame teams have been allowed to use out-of-province players.

We also know that having more than 12 midget AAA teams in Saskatchewan is a non-starter for the SHA.

McClintock said the association didn't want to affect the chances of Saskatchewan AAA teams winning the Telus Cup national championship.

"We have what's considered one of the best leagues already and we wanted to maintain that," he said.

If the SHA isn't willing to entertain a 13-team league, then it has to choose one definition of opportunity over another — unless it decides that the new spots opened up by the elimination of the Argos is enough to increase opportunities for all Saskatchewan players, without eliminating Beardy's.

No room for Beardy's midget AA team

But why did the SHA also feel it needed to eliminate the Beardy's midget AA team — one of 25 in the province?

Seventeen midget AA teams located in and around communities with midget AAA teams were automatically granted standing because of affiliation requirements. That left eight teams that could be situated in non-AAA settings.

According to McClintock, the SHA decided Shellbrook would be a better place for a midget AA team because it was closer to where Beardy's was drawing its AA players.

He said many of them are from north or west of the North Saskatchewan River, and that significantly extends travel time for those players.

Obligation to work on reconciliation

When asked on Blue Sky if the SHA had an obligation to work on reconciliation through hockey, McClintock said "absolutely. And we do."

He said the association partners with SaskSport to provide officiating and coaching development clinics for Indigenous people without cost.

He also said eight Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League teams had players on Team Saskatchewan's boys squad at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships this past spring.

More Indigenous youth are becoming "really good hockey players," said McClintock, and are getting opportunities from coaches throughout the entire league.

"If they're an elite hockey player, they'll get an opportunity to play and they'll make sure that the environment is comfortable for them."

  • Justices keep hold on secret Russia investigation material
    Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Justices keep hold on secret Russia investigation material

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is denying Congress access to secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation through the November election.The justices agreed on Thursday to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower court order for the material to be turned over to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. The high court’s action will keep the documents out of congressional hands at least until the case is resolved, which is not likely to happen before 2021.Arguments themselves might not even take place before Americans decide whether to give President Donald Trump a second term.The delay is a victory for Trump, who also is mounting a Supreme Court fight against congressional efforts to obtain his banking and other financial records. Those cases are expected to be decided in the coming days or weeks.The court’s action also could mean the justices never have to reach a definitive ruling in a sensitive dispute between the executive and legislative branches of government, if either Trump loses reelection or Republicans regain control of the House next year. It’s hard to imagine an administration of Democrat Joe Biden would object to turning over the Mueller documents or House Republicans would continue to press for them.The House wants previously undisclosed details from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the court's decision disappointing.“Unfortunately, President Trump and Attorney General (William) Barr are continuing to try to run out the clock on any and all accountability. While I am confident their legal arguments will fail, it is now all the more important for the American people to hold the President accountable at the ballot box in November,” Nadler said in a statement.The federal appeals court in Washington ruled in March that the documents should be turned over because the House Judiciary Committee’s need for the material in its investigation of Trump outweighed the Justice Department’s interests in keeping the testimony secret.Mueller’s 448-page report, issued in April 2019, “stopped short” of reaching conclusions about Trump’s conduct, including whether he obstructed justice, to avoid stepping on the House’s impeachment power, the appeals court said.The committee was able to persuasively argue that it needed access to the underlying grand jury material to make its own determinations about the president’s actions, the court said.The materials initially were sought last summer, but by the time the appeals court ruled in March, Trump had been impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate.The Justice Department said in its Supreme Court filings that the court’s action was needed in part because the House hasn’t given any indication it “urgently needs these materials for any ongoing impeachment investigation.”The House had opposed the delay on the grounds that its investigation of Trump was continuing and that time is of the essence because of the approaching election. The current session of the House will end Jan. 3, and lawmakers elected in November will take their seats.Democrats have suggested that the grand jury materials could reveal new misconduct that could potentially form the basis of new articles of impeachment, but such a course would have been unlikely so close to the 2020 election even if the court had allowed the material to be turned over immediately.The House impeached Trump for his efforts to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of Biden, but the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted the president in February.It is also unclear how many new, or incendiary, revelations might be contained in the grand jury transcripts. Mueller’s report, though redacted in parts, revealed more than a year ago significant information about the president’s efforts to choke off the investigation and raised substantial questions about whether he had committed obstruction of justice.Besides, many of the witnesses closest to Trump appeared voluntarily before Mueller’s team of prosecutors, and the Justice Department in recent months has released written — albeit redacted — summaries of those interviews. That means the public already has insight into the accounts of key Trump associates, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and advisers like Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks.___Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Mark Sherman, The Associated Press

  • Jagmeet Singh Is All Of Us Who've Been Told To Apologize For Calling Out Racism
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Jagmeet Singh Is All Of Us Who've Been Told To Apologize For Calling Out Racism

    Like many racialized Canadians, I've grown up babysitting the feelings of white people.

  • Canada Day protests against systemic racism draw hundreds in Vancouver
    News
    CBC

    Canada Day protests against systemic racism draw hundreds in Vancouver

    As anti-racism protests shine a spotlight on systemic discrimination across the country, a demonstration in Vancouver took a more critical look at the nation's legacy of racism this Canada Day.Following weeks of protest against police brutality and accusations of systemic racism in health care, hundreds gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to call out what they see as an "ongoing genocide" against Indigenous people in Canada, in an event organized by the Indigenous protest movement Idle No More.Sierra Tasi Baker, who is Indigenous, said it is important to learn the history of Canada and particularly the history of its Indigenous people. "It is our right as Indigenous people to be on our sovereign territory and exert our sovereignty and our title in our territories," Baker said. "Moving forward, know whose land you're on."Later Wednesday evening, a group of protesters formed around the Gassy Jack statue in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood. Activists have been calling attention to the history of Gassy Jack, a.k.a. John Deighton, a bar owner who had operated a saloon in the neighbourhood in the 1860s. Deighton married a 12-year-old Indigenous girl, Quahail-ya, when he was 40 years old, after his first wife's death.Activists delivered speeches and demanded action, saying the statue represents pedophilia.The statue was vandalized with red paint last month. More than 17,000 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of the statue, which is owned by the City of Vancouver.In his Canada Day address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged there are real problems the country has to address like systemic discrimination and the continued marginalization of Indigenous peoples."That doesn't prevent us of from saying, 'wow, we're a great country,' but it does highlight that we need to be even better. We need to make sure everyone benefits from this country," Trudeau said.Another event was held at Vancouver's Trout Lake, where organizers wanted to celebrate Black and Indigenous artists often ignored by the arts industry.Tinthi Tembo, one of the organizers of the event, said the struggles of Black and Indigenous people overlap."We just couldn't stand anymore to commemorate a day that sensationalizes and glorifies colonialism and genocide, and especially being on this particular land here in B.C., being on stolen land, it's a force to be reckoned with," Tembo said.  Organizer Kimani Geoffrey added it's important for people to consider their own role in oppression."Everybody in this country is going to have to ask [themselves] what have I done … what have I done to count?" he said. "Am I going to be counted in this moment in history as somebody who did something?"

  • Photo of toddler sitting on slain grandpa angers Kashmiris
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Photo of toddler sitting on slain grandpa angers Kashmiris

    SRINAGAR, India — A photo of a toddler sitting on the chest of of his dead grandfather has outraged residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir after the victim’s family accused government forces of shooting the 65-year-old man during a clash with rebels in the disputed region.Suhail Ahmed, the victim's son, said on Thursday that his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan, was “dragged out of his car and shot in cold blood” in front of his 3-year-old grandson during a gunbattle Wednesday between Indian troops and rebels in northwestern Sopore town. He said troops later placed the child on his father's chest and took pictures.A series of pictures by an unidentified photographer were widely shared on social media shortly after the gunbattle. Hundreds of angry people staged anti-India protests, accusing the government forces of using the child’s images as a PR stunt.Police said the man was killed when rebels fighting against Indian rule shot at paramilitary soldiers from a mosque attic in Sopore. They said the attack killed one soldier and wounded three others.Kashmir's inspector-general of police, Vijay Kumar, denied the family’s account, saying the man was killed by militant firing. He said troops rescued the child during the fighting and accused the family of blaming the government forces under militant pressure.According to the family, Khan was driving in his car with his grandson from his home in the main city of Srinagar.“The police version is a blatant lie. If he was caught in crossfire, his body would have been inside his car or his car would have suffered some damage. There’s not even a scratch or a bullet mark on his car,” Ahmed said, as he wailed. "This is such heartlessness, such cruelty.”One of the photos showed a policeman holding the child in his lap and another showed the crying toddler, blood stains on his shirt and cookies in both of his hands, inside a police jeep.The Indian chapter of Amnesty International criticized the police for disclosing the child's identity, saying it was a violation of juvenile justice and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.Despite the coronavirus outbreak, violence has escalated in Kashmir in recent months as India has stepped up its counterinsurgency operations. Militants have also continued attacks on government forces and alleged informants.At least 143 rebels, 54 government troops and 32 civilians have been killed in more than 100 military operations across Kashmir since January, the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a prominent local rights group, said in a recent report.India and Pakistan both claim the territory in its entirety. Muslim Kashmiris generally support the rebels' goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, with tens of thousands of lives lost, including civilians, militants and government forces.India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the anti-India rebels. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the militants and to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained further over Kashmir since last August, when India stripped the portion of Kashmir it administers of its status as a semi-autonomous state.Security forces imposed blockades and a communications blackout on internet and phone service that officials said were necessary to stop anti-India protests and better integrate Kashmir.The tensions in Kashmir come after a deadly face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers June 15 along the Asian giants' disputed border in Ladakh that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.Aijaz Hussain, The Associated Press

  • Chief raises concerns over heavily armed RCMP officers on Wet'suwet'en territory
    News
    CBC

    Chief raises concerns over heavily armed RCMP officers on Wet'suwet'en territory

    A Wet'suwet'en hereditary chief is raising concerns about police intimidation after RCMP officers armed with assault rifles were pictured outside his smokehouse in mid-June.Police said the smokehouse is a newly constructed building near the Morice Forest Service Road, on the right of way for the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline project. Wet'suwet'en demonstrators and their supporters were arrested along the road in early February, sparking solidarity protests and blockades across Canada.An injunction granted to Coastal GasLink on Jan. 7 blocks anyone from stopping the company's work or interfering with its access to the remote forestry road, south of Smithers, B.C.Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chief Woos said the smokehouse was built in early spring and he was shocked to see photographs of RCMP officers at the site. "That was quite a big surprise. We're at the point in our cultural ways, we're going to be harvesting some moose and elk," Chief Woos said.He said the heavily armed RCMP officers are causing concern among Wet'suwet'en families, who want them to stand down."I think what we do out there is basically our culture and our tradition. We always show respect to [police] but I think it is concerning, this sort of show of force. It is not reasonable at all," Chief Woos said.Smokehouse 'in breach' of injunction: RCMPRCMP verified that the officers in the photos are members of the Quick Response Team, a group of specially trained officers who are familiar with injunction law and are assigned to the nearby Houston detachment to conduct regular patrols and daily checks of the area.In a statement, North District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson told CBC News that the structure is "in breach of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction order" and that Coastal GasLink has posted a notice of the breach on the building.The notice left by Coastal GasLink workers suggested the structure would prevent or impede the company's work in the area on its "permitted construction footprint."Coastal GasLink is stepping up construction across northern B.C, with pipe expected to be put in the ground by September along the 670-kilometre route from gas fields in northeastern B.C. to the Pacific.The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry natural gas to a $40-billion LNG terminal under construction in Kitimat, B.C.Accord between chiefs, governmentsConstruction was stalled after conflict erupted over Wet'suwet'en land rights, which resulted in RCMP raids on the pipeline route and, ultimately, demonstrations and rail blockades across the country as Indigenous people and supporters came out in solidarity.The dispute was over part of the pipeline route, which runs through traditional territory claimed by several Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Work moved forward again after an arrangement was reached in March during talks in Smithers, B.C., involving Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and senior ministers of the federal and B.C. governments. The hereditary chiefs and governments signed a memorandum of understanding in May, setting up timelines on negotiating jurisdiction over land use planning, resources, water, wildlife, child and family wellness and other issues.The elected chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nations have said they don't support the memorandum because it was negotiated behind closed doors. The Wet'suwet'en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils.RCMP says it's checking in weeklySaunderson said the officers were using "standard equipment available to all police officers across the country" and are fully aware that they are being monitored and captured on camera."We continue to check in with the local Indigenous leaders on a weekly basis to discuss any issues or concerns," said Saunderson.Chief Woos said the building may be in the right of way but said he doesn't believe that the area is specified in the most recent injunction that he has been reading.He said he has no plans to move the smokehouse.

  • P.E.I. fishermen surrounded by 'thousands' of jellyfish
    Science
    CBC

    P.E.I. fishermen surrounded by 'thousands' of jellyfish

    Just outside the Tryon River on Prince Edward Island, Brian Campbell's boat motor began to stall as it became surrounded by lion's mane jellyfish. "I've never seen that many before," said Campbell. "They would get caught up in that propeller. There's quite a few of them — I want to say thousands and thousands."Lion's mane jellyfish can grow to two metres in diameter with tentacles as long as 30 metres, roughly the same length as a blue whale. What's more? They sting.High concentration of lion's mane"Wouldn't want to be swimming there that day, that's for sure," said Campbell, who has been a fisherman for 42 years. "It's all right if you got one or two that sting you. But at that point right there, I think you could probably do some harm … if you get 30 or 40 on you."Last Tuesday, Campbell posted on Facebook warning people not to swim in the area. He later added a video of the encounter. Oceanographer Nick Record says the species is common throughout Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine, but this is the first he's heard of such a large group."I'm pretty sure that's the highest concentration of lion's mane jellyfish that anyone has reported to me," said Record, a senior research scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, a non-profit research institution in Maine. 'Just giants'Record said he has noticed a new phenomenon of gigantic lion's mane jellyfish washing up onshore."They're usually about the size of a dinner plate or smaller," he said. "The last 18 months or so there's been a handful, maybe five to 10 instances, where they were like [one and a half to two metres] across — so just giants."Record has been using citizen reports to track the creatures for about a decade. He said it's hard to know whether or not  jellyfish are increasing based on the reports, because while more reported sightings could mean more jellyfish, it could also just mean more people are out on the water.That being said, there are several factors that could impact the population including weather, currents and the food chain. "Partly it's the biology. Jellyfish can reproduce really quickly when conditions are good," said Record. "Partly it's the ocean physics."'I couldn't believe how many there was'"When I first saw it, I thought maybe somebody hit a seal up there just a little ways away," said Chad Gallant, a lobster fisherman in North Rustico, P.E.I."There was a bunch of pink in the water. I thought it might've been blood."It wasn't blood, it was jellyfish. These were moon jellyfish, a different species from those Campbell saw."We just stopped there," said Gallant. "I couldn't believe how many there was."Gallant also posted a video on Facebook. "It's not too surprising to me to see a really high abundance of them," said Record. " But I've never seen a photo where they were that dense before."Moon jellyfish are seasonal and feed on zooplankton, according to Record. He said they "don't generally sting," but some people have sensitivities or allergic reactions to them. "I thought it was kinda cool," laughed Gallant. "It don't bother me from going swimming again." Competing with fish for foodRecord said there are both pros and cons to seeing groups this large. "Some people see jellyfish as a total nuisance and large jellyfish aggregations as an unequivocally bad thing," he said. "Other people see jellyfish as these amazing, beautiful animals and just want to take photos of them all day."They can impact the ecosystem in many ways, too. On one hand, they're prey for sea turtles. On the other, they compete with fish for food. > There's a scientific debate about whether jellyfish are increasing globally or not. — Nick Record, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences"People have tried to get fish stocks to rebound, but because the [jellyfish] are eating the same food that the fish would be eating, it makes it more difficult for fish stocks to come back," said Record. But unlike other living organisms, the jellyfish can survive and thrive in stressed environments with little oxygen and depleted ecosystems. More data needed"There's a scientific debate about whether jellyfish are increasing globally or not," said Record. "In order to answer the question about whether there's a long-term trend, you need decades of data."We don't really have that in Atlantic Canada." According to Record, this citizen reporting program is "really the only long-term survey for jellyfish in our part of the world." In order to track the sea animal, Record has to know where they are. And to know where they are, he needs people to report them. Record said people can send information regarding sightings to jellyfish@bigelow.org.There's little doubt the videos taken around P.E.I. show a significant number of jellyfish. However, whether this means their population is climbing, the response isn't so clear. "We don't know yet," said Record. "It'll take many years before we can answer that question." More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan looms nearer
    Health
    CBC

    Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan looms nearer

    The chances of large parts of Ontario moving soon to Stage 3 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plan are looking bright as the spread of the coronavirus remains slow in most public health units. It's been nearly three weeks since all of eastern and northern Ontario, as well as much of the southwestern part of the province, advanced to Stage 2. That allowed the opening of shopping malls, hair salons, swimming pools, and bar and restaurant patios. Data from those 24 public health units — everywhere but the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Lambton and Haldimand-Norfolk — show the spread of the virus remains largely contained."We hope to be able to move into the next stage as soon as possible," Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday."It's looking very good, but we still need another week's data to really inform the situation, and then decisions will be made about the opening of Stage 3."More than half of Ontario's 34 public health units currently have fewer than 10 active cases (coronavirus cases that are considered to still be infectious). Fifteen health units have three or fewer active cases. The parts of the province that were first to advance to Stage 2 — including Ottawa, Waterloo Region and London — have a combined population of nearly six million. In these areas, since restrictions were eased on June 12:  * The combined number of new cases daily has averaged 27, down from a daily average of 34 in the four preceding weeks.      * The number of new cases reported daily has remained below 35 on all but one day.   The trend in the daily number of new cases is the statistic watched most closely by health officials in determining whether restrictions can be lifted. Provincial-level discussions are currently happening about when to announce Stage 3, Elliott said. She said the decisions to be made include which parts of the province would move ahead and which measures would be relaxed.      "We have to do it safely," Premier Doug Ford said. "We will do it safely, and we're going to do it in steps as we did before. We just have to continue seeing the numbers go in the right direction."  Provincial officials have said any announcements about progressing to the next stage would be made on Mondays. An announcement on Stage 3 could come within the next week or so, according to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for eastern Ontario. He told a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday that officials are looking at increasing the maximum size of gatherings and allowing customers inside restaurants. Specific Stage 3 changes not yet clearThe province has not laid out precisely what changes will come in Stage 3 of the reopening. Its general framework released back in April suggested Stage 3 would mean "opening all workplaces responsibly" and "further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings."Even with a move to Stage 3, mass gatherings such as concerts and spectator sports events would remain prohibited "for the foreseeable future," the framework says.Restrictions currently in place in Stage 2 that could be eased include the closure of playgrounds, the 10-person limit on social gatherings, and the ban on indoor seating at restaurants and bars. While the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is a crucial metric for determining the timing of Stage 3, the other measures that are considered include the availability of hospitals beds, speed of testing, and effectiveness of tracing close contacts of each person who tests positive.    Some public health units see mandatory mask usage in indoor public settings as a key tool in preventing outbreaks and advancing to Stage 3."We want to move to Stage 3," Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's chief medical officer of health, said while presenting evidence in favour of a mask policy during a news briefing on Monday. "We want all the businesses to be open. We want people to be able to continue to get back to work." The public health unit covering Kingston — which previously had among the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the province — ordered masks to be worn in indoor public places in response to an outbreak at a nail salon that is now linked to 27 confirmed cases.Mask wearing, handwashing likely to remainA mask policy takes effect in Toronto on July 7, and it's being considered in Hamilton. The ability to prevent and contain local outbreaks will be one of the province's considerations about whether a public health unit is ready to move to Stage 3, said Dr. Chris Mackie, the London-Middlesex medical officer of health. The province is "watching the data carefully and not rushing into a Stage 3 reopening, which I think is appropriate," Mackie said on Tuesday in a news conference. The province will take the lead on the decisions about Stage 3, according to Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, medical officer of health for the Region of Waterloo, among the first public health units to advance to Stage 2.  "When we reach Stage 3, it is very likely that many of our current heath measures, such as physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing, will remain in effect," Wang said in a statement to CBC News.

  • Mysterious light orbs filmed over Colorado
    News
    Rumble

    Mysterious light orbs filmed over Colorado

    A resident in Hayden, Colorado, USA recently captured footage of apparent light orbs in the daytime sky.

  • Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings

    Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump's new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the group questioned the leadership of Michael Pack, Trump’s pick to head the Agency for Global Media, which runs the flagship U.S. broadcaster Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba-focused Radio/TV Marti.

  • Palestinian-Canadians rally in Halifax to protest Israeli annexation
    News
    CBC

    Palestinian-Canadians rally in Halifax to protest Israeli annexation

    Hundreds of people gathered in Halifax Wednesday to show their support of Palestinians and to voice opposition to an Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel's plan to bring roughly 30 per cent of the territory under Israeli control has drawn condemnation from the United Nations and many of Israel's close allies. The annexation was set to begin Wednesday, but Israeli officials said at the last moment the plan will be put on hold. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he held discussions Wednesday with American diplomats and "additional discussions will be be held in the coming days." Many from the Palestinian-Canadian community in Halifax rallied on the waterfront to speak against the plan. Robin Perry was one of the organizers of the protest, which was designed to send a message to MPs and to the federal government. "I think just really driving home the goal of the demonstration today, which is to show solidarity for Palestinian people and their fight for self-determination and the right to return," she said."Just calling for our government to actively oppose this illegal annexation, which violates international law."Co-organizer Katerina Nikas agreed. "All of our MPs should be signing a pledge and telling PM Justin Trudeau that this is a direct violation of international law," she said. "Annexation is illegal, and in 2020 this is not acceptable."Rana Zaman is a community activist who helped organize the events. She said if Canada is serious about international human rights, it must speak out against the plan. "The Palestinians who live here, who contribute here, consider themselves citizens here. Now every day Canada Day comes, they will have friends, family, countrymen that have been displaced, and they will remember this great atrocity," she said of the proposed annexation. The Palestinian demonstrators were supported by other groups, including Indigenous rights activists and people who support abolishing the police.

  • News
    CBC

    Protesters gather in Saskatoon to demand Canada Day be cancelled

    A large group of protesters gathered together in Saskatoon Wednesday afternoon to protest the country's national holiday.More than 100 people carried signs and gave speeches at the city's Kiwanis Park, demanding that Canada Day be cancelled, due to the country's colonial past."Celebrating Canada Day is celebrating the genocide against Indigenous people that has been committed for the past 400 years," said protester Tanzy Janvier."Celebrating this every year for 153 years is extremely traumatizing for Indigenous people who were forcibly removed from their lands."The protest was part of a larger conversation around Indigenous and racial inequity that has raged across the country for years.Events opposing the celebration of Canada Day were also held across the country, from Vancouver to Halifax, including a live broadcast hosted by Idle No More."I don't feel that pride that I did as a child listening to O Canada, like I used to," said protest co-organizer Colleen Whitedeer. "Now I feel shame. It's embarrassing and I feel we need to do more."The group called for a wide range of changes, including massive reforms to the justice and health care system and to build a more just and equitable country.

  • Indian PM Modi shuts Weibo account after banning Chinese apps
    News
    Reuters

    Indian PM Modi shuts Weibo account after banning Chinese apps

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deleted his account on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, an Indian government source and the company said, as tensions between the two countries continue to simmer over a border skirmish. Since posting on Sina Weibo the first time in 2015 during a visit to China, Modi has been an infrequent user of the Chinese social media platform. Sina Weibo announced the closure of the account late on Wednesday and the removal comes a few days after India banned dozens of Chinese apps, including Sina Weibo and ByteDance's TikTok, following the border clash between the two nations.

  • 24 shot to death in attack on drug rehab centre in Mexico
    News
    The Canadian Press

    24 shot to death in attack on drug rehab centre in Mexico

    MEXICO CITY — Gunmen burst into an unregistered drug rehabilitation centre in central Mexico and opened fire Wednesday, killing 24 people and wounding seven, authorities said.Police in the north-central state of Guanajuato said the attack occurred in the city of Irapuato. Three of the seven wounded were reported in serious condition.Apparently the attackers shot everyone at the rehab centre. State police said nobody was abducted. Photos purporting to show the scene suggest those at the centre were lying down when they were sprayed with bullets.Guanajuato is the scene of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco cartel and a local gang, and the state has become the most violent in Mexico.No motive was given in the attack, but Gov. Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo said drug gangs appeared to have been involved.“I deeply regret and condemn the events in Irapuato this afternoon,” the governor wrote. “The violence generated by organized crime not only takes the lives of the young, but it takes the peace from families in Guanajuato.”Mexican drug gangs have killed suspected street-level dealers from rival gangs sheltering at such facilities in the past. It was one of the deadliest attacks on a rehab centre since 19 people were killed in 2010 in Chihuahua city in northern Mexico. More than a dozen attacks on such facilities have occurred since then.Mexico has long had problems with rehab centres because most are privately run, underfunded and often commit abuses against recovering addicts. The government spends relatively little money on rehabilitation, often making the unregistered centres the only option available for poor families.In addition, addicts and dealers who face attacks from rivals on the streets sometimes take refuge at the rehab clinics, making the clinics themselves targets for attack. Still other gangs have been accused of forcibly recruiting recovering addicts at the centres as dealers, and killing them if they refused.The Associated Press

  • NDP wants United Conservative MLAs to reject idea of Alberta separation
    News
    CBC

    NDP wants United Conservative MLAs to reject idea of Alberta separation

    All 87 Alberta MLAs should declare that they reject the notion of separating from Canada, the NDP says.Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the government's Fair Deal panel report and comments from United Conservative Party MLAs are prompting her to push for an emergency debate in the legislature on loyalty to Canada.She'll ask for MLAs to debate a motion on Monday to reject the idea of Alberta separation."What we would like to hear from the premier, and his cabinet, as well as his members, is that there is a commitment from this government to stop playing games with the idea of Alberta separating from Canada," Sweet said on Wednesday.The Fair Deal panel, struck by the provincial government to study ways Alberta could assert itself within Confederation, recommended the government study an independent provincial police force and consider withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), among other proposals.Premier Jason Kenney has said the government will study those options. He has also pledged to hold referendums on Alberta's participation in CPP and withdrawal from equalization. Alberta could not do either of these things unilaterally.Panel member and Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes issued a dissenting opinion after the report's release last month. He said if Alberta failed to get fairer treatment soon from the federal government, Albertans should have an opportunity to vote on independence from Canada.Also last month, Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan told the legislature Alberta should "liberate" itself from the "mess" of equalization."In the real world a partnership agreement providing structural welfare payments to hostile, parasitic partners would never survive," Stephan said on June 8. "That is equalization."Proposals are scaring Albertans, NDP chargesIn a Wednesday statement, Kenney's press secretary, Christine Myatt, said the premier has spoken frequently about his patriotism and desire to improve Alberta's plight within Canada.Kenney told reporters last month that empty threats about separation are unhelpful to improving Alberta's economy."I completely understand and sympathize with the profound frustration that so many Albertans have with the way Canada has worked — particularly in recent years," Kenney said on June 19. "I understand the frustration that has driven a not insignificant number of Albertans to talk about separation. But I fundamentally believe that that's the wrong path for Alberta."Although he disagrees with some of them, backbenchers in his government are free to speak their minds, he said at the time.Sweet said Kenney is sending mixed messages by entertaining the Fair Deal panel's recommendations and leaving some UCP MLAs' separatist statements unchallenged."When you start talking about getting rid of the CPP and creating your own police force, all of these different things, we know that that makes Albertans nervous, and it makes people nervous to come to Alberta," Sweet said.She went to a physically distanced pancake breakfast at a legion on Canada Day and the first thing people asked her about was the future of CPP, she said.Earlier this week, members of the Freedom Conservative Party and Wexit Alberta also voted to merge into a new Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta.Kenney knows there is separatist sentiment out there, and he may be attempting to appeal to those folks while trying to keep hold of more mainstream, federalist supporters, Sweet said.Myatt pointed to the United Conservative Party's founding principles, which include, "Loyalty to a united Canada, and a commitment for Alberta to be a Leader in the Canadian federation that constructively defends the best interests of the province and its constitutional sovereignty."The NDP would need unanimous support from all MLAs in the chamber to debate their motion.

  • Will And Kate Send Thanks To B.C. Hospital Workers In Video Call
    Celebrity
    HuffPost Canada

    Will And Kate Send Thanks To B.C. Hospital Workers In Video Call

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge called a group of B.C. hospital workers Wednesday.

  • British family moving to Africa's smallest island to save its coral reefs
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    British family moving to Africa's smallest island to save its coral reefs

    The island in the Seychelles, measuring just 400 metres long by 300 metres wide, will play host to the family’s land-based coral farm.

  • Fox News fires Ed Henry after sexual misconduct allegation
    Entertainment
    The Canadian Press

    Fox News fires Ed Henry after sexual misconduct allegation

    NEW YORK — Fox News on Wednesday fired daytime news anchor Ed Henry after an investigation of sexual misconduct in the workplace.The network said it had received a complaint last Thursday from an attorney about the misconduct. An outside investigator was hired and, based on the results of that probe, Fox fired Henry.Fox offered no details of the complaint that resulted in Henry’s firing, only to say that it happened “years ago.” A lawyer for Henry, Catherine Foti, said he denied the allegations “and is confident that he will be vindicated after a full hearing in an appropriate forum.Henry, who co-anchored “America's Newsroom” between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon on weekdays, had slowly rehabilitated his career on Fox following a four-month leave of absence that ended in 2016. That followed published reports of Henry's extramarital affair with a Las Vegas cocktail waitress.Meanwhile, HarperCollins said Wednesday that it would no longer publish a book by Henry that had been scheduled for September. Titled “Saving Colleen: A Memoir of the Unbreakable Bond Between a Brother and Sister," it was about Henry donating part of his liver to his sister.The alleged victim is represented by noted sexual harassment attorney Douglas Wigdor. He also would not provide any details of the case.Henry's former co-anchor, Sandra Smith, announced the firing on the air. Fox said she'll continue in her role with rotating co-anchors until a full-time replacement is hired.Henry, a former White House correspondent for Fox, was only recently elevated to the role on “America's Newsroom.” He got the job after Bill Hemmer moved to Shepard Smith's afternoon time slot.In a memo to staff, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace reminded employees of Fox's 2017 overhaul of its human resources operation and the avenues they can follow with a sexual harassment complaint.Fox's late former chairman, Roger Ailes, was fired in 2016 following harassment allegations made by former anchor Gretchen Carlson. Prime-time anchor Bill O'Reilly lost his job a year later following the revelations of settlements reached with women who had complaints about his behaviour.David Bauder, The Associated Press

  • Amid a housing crisis, should Montrealers be allowed to convert duplexes into single-family homes?
    News
    CBC

    Amid a housing crisis, should Montrealers be allowed to convert duplexes into single-family homes?

    When Hugo Levasseur bought a duplex in Villeray three years ago, he figured that as his family grew, he would be able to renovate the building into a single-family home.But he says new rules aimed at predatory landlords and large developers mean he can't transform his 800-square-foot apartment into a 1,600-square-foot family home, and that the regulations will drive more people to the suburbs.Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension is among several Montreal boroughs that are moving to ban property owners from transforming duplexes, triplexes and larger buildings into a single-family homes, due to a growing housing crisis in Montreal.With vacancy rates at a 15-year low, the borough has halted issuing renovation permits as it moves forward with the regulation change."It's kind of like trying to fill a large sinkhole with a few pebbles, and the pebbles happen to be families like ours," said Levasseur on CBC Montreal's Daybreak."We're not taking five blocks and turning it into a single-family home of 3,000 square feet," he said. Levasseur says he recognizes that the housing crisis is a severe problem, but measures like these are not an effective way to tackle the crisis.If he is unable to convert his apartment to suit his growing family, Levasseur says he likely will have no choice but to consider moving off the island, because it will be hard to find a home that meets his family's needs, at a price that is affordable.But housing advocates say that families are already being forced out by landlords looking to renovate their homes, and then rent them out again for higher rents: a practice they say the new regulations would help curb. "Which families do we want to keep in Montreal? Is it only the ones who have the means to acquire property and to carry out a major renovation, or is it also the longer-term tenants who are low income and who face being pushed out of their neighbourhoods altogether?" asked Amy Darwish, a community organizer with Comité d'Action de Parc-Extension. The same regulations preventing Levasseur from transforming his duplex, she said, gives those tenants a fighting chance to remain in their homes. Evictions are on the rise, said Darwish, and many landlords are not occupants of the properties they wish to renovate. She said those who are most affected end up being those who live with lower incomes, or are immigrants."Should people be forced onto the streets in the midst of a global pandemic because somebody wants a larger home?" she said.The debate also comes in the context of widening wealth gaps between owners and renters, according to a study released Tuesday by not-for-profit research group Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques (IRIS).Speculative practices over the past 20 years in the housing market drove up property values, says the report, reducing access to housing. It concludes government intervention, such as revising how property tax is calculated, is needed to protect affordable housing.Vacancy rates are unlikely to rise unless fewer people move to the city, according to the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC). Levasseur says he's open to working with others to find a solution."The best way to solve the crisis is to sit together and collaborate to find constructive solutions that will satisfy all parties involved," he said.

  • Epstein friend accused of recruiting girls for sex arrested
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Epstein friend accused of recruiting girls for sex arrested

    British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday on charges she helped recruit three girls — one as young as 14 — to have sex with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of girls and women over many years.According to the indictment, Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent companion on trips around the world, facilitated his crimes by "helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse" girls.Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.Maxwell has, for years, been accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges. The 58-year-old was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where the FBI said it had been keeping tabs on her.“More recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” William Sweeney, head of the FBI’s New York office, told a news conference Thursday.The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and perjury.“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said.She called the charges against Maxwell a “prequel” to charges prosecutors brought against Epstein a year ago.Messages were sent Thursday to several of Maxwell’s attorneys seeking comment. She has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some claims against her “absolute rubbish."Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by Virginia Roberts Giuffre that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain's Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Maxwell that she said was taken at the time.Andrew denied her story and Maxwell said in a deposition that Giuffre was “totally lying."He was not mentioned by name in the indictment, and the charges covered Maxwell's dealings with Epstein only from 1994 through 1997, a period well before his alleged encounters with Giuffre in 2001.Strauss said she would “welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us,” but did not answer further questions pertaining to these charges and Andrew.Brad Edwards, an attorney representing Giuffre and several other Epstein victims said his clients were relieved by the charges. “Today is a very good day," he said.The indictment focused on Epstein's alleged abuse of three specific girls at his Manhattan mansion and other residences in Palm Beach, Florida; Santa Fe, New Mexico, and London. Their names were not revealed in court filings.The allegations in the indictment mirrored many claims from civil lawsuits against Maxwell, saying she would “entice and groom” minor girls by asking them about their lives, their schools and their families.“Through this process, Maxwell and Epstein enticed victims to engage in sexual activity with Epstein. In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” according to the indictment.Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, it went on. She was accused of committing perjury in 2016 in a deposition in a civil lawsuit, in part by denying knowledge of Epstein's scheme to recruit underage girls.At the time the alleged crimes, Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein and also was paid by him to manage his various properties, according to the indictment, which included a photograph of Epstein with his arm around Maxwell and his head nuzzling hers. Strauss, at the news conference, stood silent, pointing at the picture as film crews and photographers captured the moment.Strauss promised the investigation was continuing and urged other victims to come forward. She said prosecutors would seek the detention of Maxwell.Epstein was initially investigated in Florida and pleaded guilty to state charges in 2008 that allowed him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was free a little after a year in prison.At the time, a federal prosecutor in Florida signed off on an agreement, initially filed in secret, that barred the federal government from charging “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.” Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump's former labour secretary, resigned last year after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan until he was fired last month, argued that federal prosecutors in New York were not bound by that agreement and brought a sweeping indictment against Epstein. Berman vowed to continue seeking justice for Epstein's victims even after the financier's death.Maxwell's indictment was celebrated by lawyers for some Epstein accusers.Jennifer Araoz, a woman who says Epstein raped her in his New York mansion in 2002 when she was 15, said she feared the financier’s ring of conspirators for years.“Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can’t be hurt anymore,” Araoz, now 33, said in a statement. “Day after day, I have waited for the news that Maxwell would be arrested and held accountable for her actions. Her arrest is a step in that direction, and it truly means that the justice system didn’t forget about us.”Spencer T. Kuvin, who represents some of the women, said Maxwell was “hopefully ... the first of many co-conspirators to face the consequences of this horrific crimes.”Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking enterprise. She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.___Associated Press writer Curt Anderson contributed to this report from Miami and Danica Kirka contributed from London.Jim Mustian And Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press

  • Border town pays price for Sweden's no-lockdown as Norway reopens
    News
    Reuters

    Border town pays price for Sweden's no-lockdown as Norway reopens

    The Swedish border town of Stromstad is paying a heavy price for Sweden's decision not to lock down its economy like neighbouring Norway and other Nordic nations to halt the spread of COVID-19. Stromstad is just a two-hour drive from Oslo and popular with Norwegians who shop for cheaper consumer goods in Sweden, but Norway's lockdown, imposed in mid-March, put a stop to that.

  • Boost in support for Liberals the biggest for a minority government in 60 years
    News
    CBC

    Boost in support for Liberals the biggest for a minority government in 60 years

    Governing parties across Canada are enjoying a surge in support as they confront the COVID-19 pandemic. Justin Trudeau's Liberals are no exception.But for a party heading up a minority government to be in such a position is rare. The Liberals' polling bump is the biggest for a minority government in over 60 years.The Liberals were in a state of post-election stagnation in late February and early March, averaging about 33 per cent in the polls. That's exactly where they were on election night nearly nine months ago.Since then, however, the Liberals have seen their support increase significantly. It has risen to between 39 and 42 per cent support among decided voters, according to a monthly average of national polls.That's a big increase of between six and nine percentage points compared to the last election. To understand how remarkable that is, you have to go back through decades of Canadian political history.Since modern political public opinion polling began in Canada in the 1940s, 10 elections have ended with minority governments. Most of the time, the first nine months of a newly elected (or re-elected) minority government do not see wide swings in public opinion.The increase in support for the Liberals — which seems to have settled around 7.5 points — eight to nine months after an election is the largest for a minority government since John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives surged by 11.5 points in 1957-58.That's the only case of a minority government experiencing a larger increase in support than the one lifting up the Liberals now.Minority governments since the end of the Second World War have had a mixed record of political success — three were re-elected with majorities, three had to settle for subsequent minority mandates and three were defeated. But Diefenbaker's first minority ended with the biggest majority win in Canadian history.From minority to majority governmentsDiefenbaker rode a wave of popularity into election day in 1957 that continued into the first months of his new minority government.The PCs kept up a frenetic pace in the early days, following through on popular election promises. After three months in office, support for the PCs ballooned from 38.5 per cent to 47 per cent, according to Gallup. Between six and eight months after the 1957 election, the PCs were polling at 50 per cent among decided voters.Diefenbaker's support was boosted by the lacklustre performance of the newly-minted Liberal leader, Lester Pearson, who clumsily suggested the PCs willingly hand power back to his party. With the wind in his sails, Diefenbaker dissolved Parliament and called a new election. It delivered him 54 per cent of the popular vote and the highest share of seats in the House of Commons ever won by a party.After being reduced to a minority government in the 1972 federal election, Pierre Trudeau had to govern with the support of the New Democrats. He introduced new social welfare policies that helped boost Liberal support.The gains weren't enormous — four points after eight months — but it was enough to put the Liberals back into majority territory. After being defeated on a budget vote in 1974 when the NDP withdrew its support, Trudeau increased his party's share of the vote by five points over 1972 and returned to Parliament with a majority government.Stephen Harper, re-elected with a minority government in 2008, did see a short-lived boost in support in the early months of his second term when the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois tried to form a coalition to boot him from office. But before long, Harper's Conservatives were down in the polls again, slipping as much as 7.5 points seven months after the 2008 election.Harper's minority government hung on, however, and it wasn't until 2011 that the opposition finally defeated the Conservatives in the House and forced an election. The result was a Conservative majority government.Pearson, Harper re-elected with minoritiesThe Pearson minorities and Harper's first term in 2006-08 featured few big swings in the polls. After ousting Diefenbaker in 1963, Pearson's Liberals retained their support over the next few months and, when Pearson decided to call an election, the result in 1965 was scarcely different from the outcome in 1963.The polls wobbled back and forth during the first months of Pearson's second term. It wasn't until Pearson stepped aside and was replaced by Pierre Trudeau that the Liberals were able to break the logjam in 1968.Harper's first term had a similarly stable polling trend line and his minority government lasted for nearly three years. By 2008, when Harper called an election, the Conservatives had done a good job of undermining Liberal leader Stéphane Dion — but it only got them another minority government.Going from minority to defeatThere are a few minority government horror stories, of course.After five years in office, Diefenbaker's PCs were unpopular and had been reduced to a minority government in 1962. The once-active Tories were now looking incompetent. The cabinet was in revolt and support for the PCs had dropped four to five points. Diefenbaker's weakened minority government lost a vote of confidence in the House and the election in 1963.Joe Clark, who won a shaky minority government in 1979 despite finishing significantly behind the Liberals in the popular vote, could not fulfil his election promises once in office. Support for Clark's PCs plummeted by nine points after only eight months. In 1980, they were defeated and back on the opposition benches.Paul Martin, once seen as the head of a Liberal juggernaut, was significantly damaged by the sponsorship scandal and held on with only a minority government in 2004. The Liberals managed to retain a lead in the polls going into the 2005 election campaign but it could not be sustained. By January 2006, the Liberals were out and Harper was in.When to pull the plugTiming matters with minority governments. Had Martin become prime minister earlier and called an election in late 2003, he might have secured a majority government that would have been in a better position to survive the sponsorship scandal.Had Diefenbaker not cashed in on his popularity very quickly in 1958, he might not have won his historic majority government. Had Clark handled his minority in the House better, he might have staved off defeat in 1980 long enough for Pierre Trudeau to make his planned retirement from politics.Not surprisingly, minority governments that decide their own fates have tended to fare better than those forced to call elections due to defeats in the House. The record is not perfect, however — which shows why campaigns still matter.There's also no guarantee that the trend in the polls after less than a year in a minority Parliament will continue indefinitely. The records of the past nine minority governments show that on only four occasions did the trend line after nine months (positive or negative) stay the same straight through to election day.When an election is called well after a minority government's first eight or nine months in office are over, the polling trends can be more unpredictable. Opinions shift over time, so troubled governments tend to get quickly defeated by opportunistic oppositions — and popular ones tend not to hesitate to renew their mandates.That brings us to today.The surge in support for Trudeau's Liberals is historically abnormal. The unprecedented pandemic is one reason for that — but if COVID-19 prevents an election call despite the government's strong support, that also would make for an abnormal situation.

  • White-throated sparrows change their tune from a three note to a two note
    Entertainment
    The Canadian Press

    White-throated sparrows change their tune from a three note to a two note

    VANCOUVER — White-throated sparrows are changing their tune — an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note.Ken Otter, a biology professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, whose paper on the phenomenon was published on Thursday, said most bird species are slow to change their songs, preferring to stick with tried-and-true tunes to defend territories and attract females.But the shift to this new tune went viral across Canada, travelling over 3,000 kilometres between 2000 and 2019 and wiping out a historic song ending in the process, he said."The song is always described as being 'Oh My Sweet Canada Canada Canada Canada — so that Canada is three syllables. It's a da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da sound. That's the traditional description of the song going back into early 1900s," Otter said in an interview Wednesday.But now, the song has changed."The doublet sounds like Oh My Sweet Cana-Cana-Cana-da. They are stuttering and repeating the first two syllables and they are doing it very rapidly. It sounds very different."From British Columbia to central Ontario, these native birds have ditched their traditional three-note-ending song for a two-note-ending variant, he said, adding researchers still don't know what has made the new tune so compelling.Otter drew a comparison to people picking up the accent, phrases and pneumonics of a new area they move into."This is actually the opposite," he said.Male sparrows are showing up singing atypical songs but then others are starting to adopt that, and over time the dialect is actually changing within that site to the new type and replacing the old tune, he said."So it's like somebody from Australia arriving in Toronto and people saying, 'hey, that sounds really cool,' mimicking an Australian accent and then after 10 years everybody in Toronto has an Australian accent," he said."That's why, at least within the scientific community, it's getting so much interest. It is completely atypical to what you would predict around all the theories that you have about dialects."Otter and a team of citizen scientists have found that the new tune is not just more popular west of the Rocky Mountains, but was also spreading rapidly across Canada."Originally, we measured the dialect boundaries in 2004 and it stopped about halfway through Alberta," he said in a news release."By 2014, every bird we recorded in Alberta was singing this western dialect, and we started to see it appearing in populations as far away as Ontario, which is 3,000 kilometres from us."The scientists predicted that the sparrows' overwintering grounds were playing a role in the rapid spread of the two-note ending, he said.Scientists believed that juvenile males may be able to pick up new song types if they overwinter with birds from other dialect areas, and take them to new locations when they return to breeding grounds, which could explain the spread, he said.So they fitted the birds with geolocators — what Otter called "tiny backpacks" — to see if western sparrows that knew the new song might share overwintering grounds with eastern populations that would later adopt it."They found that they did," he said in the release.Otter said he does not know what has caused the change, and his team found that the new song didn't give male birds a territorial advantage over others."In many previous studies, the females tend to prefer whatever the local song type is," he said."But in white-throated sparrows, we might find a situation in which the females actually like songs that aren't typical in their environment. If that's the case, there's a big advantage to any male who can sing a new song type."The new song can be chalked up to evolution, he said in the interview.Otter said he prefers the two-note song because it sounds smoother."But I'm not a sparrow so it doesn't really matter which one I prefer," he said with a laugh.But the tune may be continuing to change, he said adding scientists were supposed to study it this year but COVID-19 has put a damper on the field season."The two note is not the be all and end all because in the last five years we noticed a male that was singing something slightly different than the standard two note doublet song," Otter said."And when we recorded it we noticed he was modifying the amplitude of the first note. And more of them are doing it now. We could be seeing waves of these things that we just never noticed before."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

  • Canada's Supreme Court dismisses appeal of long-delayed Trans Mountain oil pipeline
    News
    Reuters

    Canada's Supreme Court dismisses appeal of long-delayed Trans Mountain oil pipeline

    WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Supreme Court removed an obstacle to expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline on Thursday, dismissing an appeal of a lower court decision that had backed Ottawa's approval of the project. The pipeline has put Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, which bought it in 2018 to ensure the expansion overcame legal and regulatory hurdles, in a political quandary. The ruling ends seven years of legal challenges, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said, adding that most Canadians, including many indigenous communities, want to share Trans Mountain's economic benefits.

  • Lives Lost: Brazilian toddler was saying her first words
    Celebrity
    The Canadian Press

    Lives Lost: Brazilian toddler was saying her first words

    RIO DE JANEIRO — Vitoria Gabrielle crawled all the time and was starting to walk this year with a little help, hanging on to her 4-year-old brother's arm while exploring her mother's small apartment on a cobblestone street in Rio de Janeiro's working-class Piety neighbourhood.The girl with a constant smile celebrated her first birthday in February, slept and ate well and was enthusiastically saying her first words: “mamãe" and “vovó” (mama and grandma), said her mother, Andréa de Sousa.But after recovering from viral meningitis, Vitoria Gabrielle suffered gastrointestinal problems that sent her from her mother's barely furnished hilltop home back to the hospital several times for treatment. It was during an April hospital stay that de Sousa suspects her daughter was infected with the coronavirus that was just starting to circulate in Rio and Brazil.Vitoria Gabrielle died last month — 1 year, 2 months and 21 days after she was born — as COVID-19 cases surged in Latin America's largest and most populous nation, which is now the hardest-hit country globally after the U.S. for virus cases and deaths.___EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people who have died from the coronavirus around the world.___Only de Sousa and the child's stepfather were allowed to attend Vitoria Gabrielle's funeral in a cemetery where the gravediggers referred to the child and others recently buried there as “little angels" because their lives were cut short long before they could sin. No words were said at the event, kept brief to avoid more infections; the only sounds were de Sousa's sobs.“My heart is destroyed with the loss of my daughter,” de Sousa, 20, said later in an interview. “You are not ready to lose anybody but, a child? I’m not used to being without her. I miss her a lot.”At home these days, de Sousa loses herself as if she were in another world, spending much of her time gazing at a slideshow on her phone of pictures of her daughter set to the song “Law of Life” by Brazilian pop music star Sabrina Lopes.“Everything that is born, dies. Everything that comes, goes. Today a dream died ... On the road of life, we are passengers. But God protects every extra star in the sky,” Lopes sings.It was on April 9 when Victoria Gabrielle was admitted to Jesus Municipal Hospital to undergo tests to determine why she had been vomiting.By April 20, de Sousa said she realized that her daughter was constantly tired and having difficulty breathing, a condition she had never suffered before. The child was put in intensive care on April 24, diagnosed a short time later with the coronavirus and died on May 4.A death certificate that de Sousa showed to The Associated Press said her daughter's causes of death were “Bilateral pneumonia, infected by COVID-19" along with a buildup of fluid in the brain and swelling of the liver and spleen.While de Sousa is convinced her daughter was infected at the hospital, Rio's Municipal Health Secretariat said in a statement said it wasn't possible to identify the origin of infection because the virus had been spreading throughout Brazil when Vitoria Gabrielle was infected. The statement added that the child received proper care while hospitalized.De Sousa said her son, Gabriel, had always been very close to his sister and doesn't understand why he hasn’t seen her for so long. He just wants to play with her.“He asks about her all day. He says, ‘Mom, I miss Gabrielle, why is she living with Jesus Christ?’"De Sousa added: “And I say to him, ‘God took her, God wanted her close to him.’ Then he says, ‘Wow, but I want to go see my sister.’"“I'm asking God for strength and it's not easy," de Sousa said. “So I'm looking at her photos and I'm really missing her.”____Clendenning reported from Rio de Janeiro. Associated Press senior television producer Yesica Fisch contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.Leo Correa And Alan Clendenning, The Associated Press

  • Jack Russell sad to see kittens on display in store window
    News
    Rumble

    Jack Russell sad to see kittens on display in store window

    Ari is very sad to see a kitten displayed in a very small place during a walk. So sweet!