Windshield wiper blades: Is it a good idea to leave them up before a snowfall?

Nathan Howes
Windshield wiper blades: Is it a good idea to leave them up before a snowfall?

Should we leave our windshield wiper blades up or down before a snowfall or ice event? It is a common question that is frequently asked in Canada during the winter.

It is also not a bad discussion to have prior to the start of winter, as significant snowfalls and/or ice buildups are not uncommon in the late fall. Doing some research on the matter and trying to find a conclusive answer has uncovered arguments for and against lifting them up.

LEAVE THE BLADES DOWN

While some The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) recommends keeping the wiper blades down because raising them is likely to reduce their pressure against the windshield over time, resulting in possible visibility issues, especially in snowy conditions.

As well, one or both wipers could snap back suddenly and create a crack in the windshield, especially if it happens on a particularly cold winter day. To ensure your wipers remain efficient, the CAA says the best thing to do is treat them right.

In a 2015 article posted on the Weather Network website, Jeremy Elliot, who worked for BeatTheTraffic.com at the time of the post, also suggested that keeping the blades upright does not reduce the wear and tear significantly. In fact, keeping them elevated tires out the wiper arm springs -- and it looks "silly."

While he acknowledges that lifting your wipers prior to freezing may reduce some wear on the rubber, the vast majority of wear happens while actually using the wipers, so longevity may not increase or decrease.

LIFT THEM UP

Several wiper blade manufacturers such as Rain-X recommend pulling the wiper blades away from the windshield during the winter months to prevent ice buildup on the rubber squeegee and to eliminate the possibility of them sticking to the windshield.

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Elliot also provided some insights that favour lifting up the blades before a snowfall or ice event.

"Lifting the wiper blades makes it easier to scrape your windshield when you get out to your car. It also reduces wear and tear on the rubber wiper blades because they are not freezing to the glass and being scraped off by your scraper," said Elliot.

In the article, he also stated that leaving your wipers up does not fatigue the springs, as the metallurgy is designed to handle this stress. The lifted wiper arm is not exceeding the yield strength or dynamic range of the spring.

After sifting through the facts, Elliot came to the conclusion that it comes down to convenience and preference.

SEE ALSO: Avoiding a pileup rests on remembering these driving tips

"If you find that lifting them up before it gets icy works for you, feel free to keep doing it. If you don’t think it makes any difference, or you are concerned that it looks foolish, then you don’t need to," said Elliot.

ALTERNATIVES TO PROTECTING THE BLADES

If you&aposre not convinced for one way or another, Weather Network digital writer Daniel Martins provided some advice on methods to weather-proof your wiper blades.

An alternative to lifting the blades up is to coat the wipers with rubbing alcohol using a cloth, as the liquid has a freezing point of around -88°C and will keep the blades from sticking to the window.

If that fails, you can always cover the blades with your old wool socks.

"You may not be using them anymore on your feet, but they can (be) very handy for protecting your wipers from any ice or snow build up. The night before a storm, layer up your wipers with the socks and either stand them up or keep them laid down," said Martins. "The ice will stay off and your windshield will be clean and clear."

WATCH BELOW: FOOTAGE SHOWS THE DANGERS OF WINTER DRIVING, ESPECIALLY FOR EMERGENCY OFFICIALS

  • Joe Biden leads in South Carolina, but Bernie Sanders still the favourite to win Super Tuesday
    News
    CBC

    Joe Biden leads in South Carolina, but Bernie Sanders still the favourite to win Super Tuesday

    In a matter of weeks, former vice-president Joe Biden lost his status as the front runner for the Democratic nomination. That title now belongs to Sen. Bernie Sanders — and could be written in stone after Tuesday's string of primaries across the United States.But first, Saturday's South Carolina primary will give Biden one last chance to make himself a contender again.The next few days will be decisive in the Democratic primaries. Only 2.5 per cent of the 3,979 pledged delegates that will head to the Democratic National Convention in July have been awarded so far.The South Carolina primary will add 54 delegates to the total, but the big prize will come on Super Tuesday, when 14 states and American Samoa vote. After the results are in, nearly 38 per cent of delegates will have been allocated. Up to now, the three votes that have been held in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada have been more important for setting the narrative for the campaign than for their contributions to the delegate count.Biden's poor performances in the first two states knocked him from the top of the polls. A tie in Iowa, a close win in New Hampshire and a big victory in Nevada resulted in a Sanders surge.In polls conducted at least partly after the Nevada caucuses, Sanders is averaging 29 per cent support nationwide. That puts him well ahead of Biden, who trails with an average of 18 per cent support among Democratic primary voters.Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has yet to contest a state in the race, trails in third with 16 per cent, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg at 11 per cent each.Sen. Amy Klobuchar, billionaire Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard follow with between two and four per cent apiece.Sanders' momentum appears to have continued post-Nevada. He's picked up an average of three points since polls conducted before the state's caucuses. Biden, however, appears to have halted his decline; though he has dropped significantly from where he stood in January before the first ballots were cast, he has held steady in the polls over the last week or so. Instead, Warren and Klobuchar have dropped slightly.But while he holds a sizeable national lead over Biden, Sanders is not yet in a dominant position. That leaves the door open to a contested convention in July if Sanders fails to secure a majority of delegates by then. What happens in South Carolina could have a bearing on that.Biden's turn for a big win in South CarolinaWith his strong support among African American voters, Biden was always counting on South Carolina to give him a boost. What he wasn't counting on was a fourth-place finish in Iowa and an embarrassing fifth-place showing in New Hampshire. That made his second-place result in Nevada look good by comparison, even though Sanders had more than twice as much support as him.He desperately needs a win in South Carolina. The polls suggest he's likely to get one.Surveys conducted in the last week give Biden a big lead, with 35 per cent support on average to just 19 per cent for Sanders. Trailing in third with 14 per cent support is Steyer, who has spent millions of dollars of his own money on campaign ads in the state (he did the same in Nevada, though that didn't help him crack double-digits in support).No other candidate is averaging over nine per cent support in South Carolina. As the rules of the Democratic primaries only award delegates to candidates who achieve at least 15 per cent support statewide (or in congressional districts), that might mean only Biden, Sanders and potentially Steyer could come out of South Carolina with any new pledged delegates.Biden does seem to have turned around his campaign in the state. Polls conducted before the Nevada caucuses but after Iowa voted had put Biden and Sanders in a close race, with only four percentage points separating the two. Now, the gap is 16 points.This is in large part due to Biden's support among African American voters, who make up about 60 per cent of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina. An average of three recent polls with demographic breakdowns gave Biden 43 per cent support among those voters, more than double Sanders' 19 per cent.A big win could certainly give Biden's national poll numbers a jolt — results in the three states that have voted have had an obvious and significant impact on the polls. But only three days separate South Carolina's primary from Super Tuesday. Is that enough time for Biden to turn his campaign's negative trajectory on its head?Sanders poised to rack up delegates on Super TuesdayThe latest polls suggest that Sanders, not Biden, is likely to do quite well next week. Among states with polling available, Sanders is leading or is in contention in eight of them, compared to just four for Biden, three for Bloomberg and one apiece for Warren and Klobuchar.While Sanders is leading in small states like Vermont and Maine that are in his own backyard, he also has a sizeable lead in California — the biggest prize, with 415 delegates — and is ahead in Virginia and Colorado. He appears to be in a close race with Biden in Texas and with Warren in her home state of Massachusetts, while the latest numbers suggest he is in a three-cornered contest with Biden and Bloomberg in North Carolina.Sanders is likely to secure delegates in every state. No other candidate can claim the same thing. Both Biden and Bloomberg might do well in the South. Klobuchar might win her home state of Minnesota and Buttigieg might be able to win delegates in a handful of states.But without a big shift in the next few days, it will be difficult for any candidate to catch Sanders. In Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Sanders averaged just 28 per cent of the popular vote but 45 per cent of the delegates. That is still not a majority, but if he keeps that rate of success up for the rest of the primaries, it will be difficult to deny him the nomination at the convention, even if he doesn't have a majority.And, as primaries have often shown, voters like backing a winner. So far, that's what Sanders looks like. On Saturday, Biden finally gets his shot to be one — for now.

  • Indian police detain hundreds after Hindu-Muslim clashes in New Delhi
    News
    Reuters

    Indian police detain hundreds after Hindu-Muslim clashes in New Delhi

    Indian police said on Friday they had detained hundreds of people and were keeping a heavy presence in northeast New Delhi, days after the worst bout of sectarian violence in the capital in decades. At least 38 people were killed in Hindu-Muslim violence this week, police said, amid mounting international criticism that authorities failed to protect minority Muslims. Delhi police spokesman M.S. Randhawa said police were collecting evidence, reviewing video footage of the violence and had already detained more than 600 people.

  • Day 2 of Wet'suwet'en meeting and old sewer systems; In The News for Feb. 28
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Day 2 of Wet'suwet'en meeting and old sewer systems; In The News for Feb. 28

    In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 28 ...What we are watching in Canada ...SMITHERS, B.C. — Hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en are scheduled to meet for a second day with senior federal and provincial ministers today as they try to break an impasse in a pipeline dispute that's sparked national protests and led to disruptions in the economy.Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and British Columbia Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser began the long-sought talks Thursday afternoon.They wrapped up after about three hours with Fraser saying the talks were productive and the mood in the room was respectful.Bennett said it was a "very good start."Hereditary Chief Na'moks left without making a statement.Fraser says it wouldn't be appropriate to release details of what was discussed.\---Also this ...OTTAWA — The latest reading on the how the Canadian economy fared at the end of last year is due out this morning and it's expected to show that growth slowed to a crawl for the final three months of 2019.Statistics Canada is scheduled to release its reading on gross domestic product for December and the fourth quarter.Economists on average expect the agency to report that growth in the fourth quarter slowed to an annualized pace of 0.3 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.Statistics Canada reported in November that real gross domestic product growth slowed to an annualized rate of 1.3 per cent in the third quarter of last year compared with a reading of 3.5 per cent in the second quarter.The GDP report comes amid worries about the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak that began in China and its impact on the global economy and ahead of an interest rate announcement by the Bank of Canada next week.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...RICHMOND, Va. — Bernie Sanders doesn't need to win Virginia to have a successful Super Tuesday, but he probably can't afford a big loss there, either.The state is a key test for the Vermont senator's ability to consolidate his position as clear front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary.Virginia is leaning increasingly blue but has long favoured moderates over populists. It also could still flip back to U.S. President Donald Trump in November, making it one of the few major swing states voting among the 14 casting ballots Tuesday.Weak Virginia results could reinforce fears that Sanders will struggle to win over legions of centrists he'll likely need against Trump.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...TOKYO — Japan's schools prepared to close for almost a month and entertainers, topped by K-pop superstars BTS, cancelled events as a virus epidemic extended its spread through Asia into Europe and on Friday, into sub-Saharan Africa.The expectation that Japan would close all its elementary, secondary and high schools will send nearly 13 million children home and leave few people untouched by the virus in the world's third-biggest economy. Sporting events and concerts in Japan have already been cancelled, and Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea said, too, they would close until mid-March.But the COVID-19 illnesss caused by a new coronavirus that emerged in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan has now stretched well beyond Asia and taken on a distinctly global character. Saudi Arabia cut travel to Islam's holiest sites as cases in the Middle East reach into the hundreds. Italy's surging outbreak was causing illnesses in other countries, including Nigeria, which confirmed the first sub-Saharan case on Friday.The global count of those infected exceeds 83,000, with China still by far the hardest-hit country. But South Korea has surged past 2,000 cases, and other countries have climbing caseloads and deaths. Iran, with 26 deaths and more than 250 cases, has the most in the Middle East and travel there was connected to cases in countries as far away as New Zealand.\---ICYMI (In case you missed it) ...OTTAWA — Canada's old-fashioned city sewer systems dumped nearly 900 billion litres of raw sewage into this country's waterways over five years, enough to fill up an Olympic-sized swimming pool more than 355,000 times.Data Environment Canada posted to the federal government's open-data website earlier this month shows in 2018, more than 190 billion litres of untreated wastewater poured out of city pipes that carry both sewage and storm water.That is 14 per cent more than in 2017, and 44 per cent more than in 2013.Mark Mattson, president of Swim Drink Fish Canada, said the amount should shock people."It shows you the problem," he said. "It should wake people up."Among the data that was released is the total amount of effluent, or untreated wastewater, that escapes from combined sewer and storm systems like those found in major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. These systems are often release untreated sewage when storms overwhelm them, to prevent backups and floods. Between 2013 and 2018, the data says 890 billion litres of effluent escaped.In 2018, 10 cities were responsible for more than 90 per cent of the venting, led by Port Alberni, B.C., which pumped out nearly 47 billion litres, followed by Richmond, B.C.'s 42 billion litres.\---Weird and wild ...LOS ANGELES — Authorities have recovered a stolen hearse with a casket and body inside after a police chase Thursday morning on a Los Angeles freeway.The Lincoln Navigator was stolen from outside a Greek Orthodox church in East Pasadena on Wednesday night.The Los Angeles Police Department says one male is in custody.Local media have reported that the body was left in the vehicle while a mortuary attendant brought a different body into the church and that's when the vehicle was stolen.Authorities say the body did not appear to have been disturbed.\---Know your news ...On this day in 1996, Canadian singer Alanis Morissette and her album "Jagged Little Pill" were honoured at the Grammys. How many awards did she win?(Keep scrolling for the answer)\---On this day in 1988 ...The 15th Winter Olympic Games closed in Calgary. Canadian athletes won two silver medals and three bronze.\---News news ...TORONTO — CBC News says its editor-in-chief and general manager is stepping down at the end of this week after more than 10 years with the public broadcaster.Jennifer McGuire has held the post since May 2009, overseeing English language news content and programming on radio, television, and online.A CBC News story quotes a staff announcement in which McGuire says it's time for her to "imagine a life outside of the CBC."Under her watch, CBC integrated its TV, radio and digital news operations, and overhauled its flagship evening TV newscast, "The National."During her time the broadcaster also weathered several scandals, most notably the downfall of radio host Jian Ghomeshi amid a scathing inquiry that excoriated managers for their handling of inappropriate workplace behaviour.\---Entertainment news ...A Nanaimo, B.C., teen is set to appear on "American Idol" on Sunday.Lauren Spencer-Smith says she auditioned for the show in early November in Oregon.The 16-year-old performed in front of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan.She sang the songs "What About Us" by Pink and Lady Gaga's "Always Remember Us This Way," from the 2018 film "A Star is Born."Spencer-Smith can't reveal details about the episode but says she bonded with the other contestants during the experience.The Grade 11 student went viral online last year with a video of her singing "Always Remember Us This Way" and is nominated for a Juno Award for adult contemporary album of the year.\---Know your news answer ...Four. Album of the Year and Rock Album of the Year as well as Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, both for her single "You Oughta Know."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Over 20 years ago, we had a plan to repair the Crown-Indigenous relationship. What happened?
    News
    CBC

    Over 20 years ago, we had a plan to repair the Crown-Indigenous relationship. What happened?

    "The time seems opportune; indeed, the cracks in the existing relationship are coming starkly to the fore all across the country, and it should be apparent by now that trying to preserve the status quo is futile."Those words are almost a quarter-century old now. They could have been written yesterday.That quote comes from the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) which sought to examine Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples and offer some proposals for reform.The commission itself was born at a time when many thought the wheels were coming off Confederation. Commissioned by then-prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1991, it began its work following the death of the Meech Lake Accord (which was rejected in part by First Nations because they were left out of the process) and the alarming 78-day standoff in Oka, Que., between Mohawk protestors, police and the army.By the time the commission's 4,000-page final report was published, other conflicts had popped up — in Ipperwash, Ont. and Gustafson Lake, B.C.The recent eruptions in the Crown-Indigenous relationship — over pipelines, territorial sovereignty and the use of rail blockades as a protest tactic — don't mirror the situation that faced the commission back in the 1990s.But at a time when many Canadians are wondering where a path forward for that relationship can be found, it's worth remembering that we've been here before. And some of the proposals that have been gathering dust for 24 years are worth a second look.'A new beginning'Over four years, the members of the commission visited 96 communities and held 178 days of public hearings to produce a massive document that outlined a strategy to build what the commission called a "new beginning with Indigenous peoples.""In just 20 years," the report said, "the revitalization of many self-reliant Aboriginal nations can be accomplished, and the staggering human and financial cost of supporting communities unable to manage for themselves will end."That was over 20 years ago now. In the years since, little has changed for Indigenous people in Canada. Partly that was due to a lack of political will; partly it was due to a federal fiscal situation that put deficit-cutting at the top of the priority queue.There were moments, over those two decades, when it seemed to some that a new Crown-Indigenous relationship was within reach. The Kelowna Accord, championed by then-prime minister Paul Martin in 2005, sought to close funding gaps and bring all parties to the table to negotiate new agreements. It died with Martin's government in 2006; the accord itself was never supported by Stephen Harper and his Conservative government.Another window opened in 2008 when Harper delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons for the residential school system. That apology, itself a direct response to the RCAP report, was followed by the establishment of a federal program for compensation of former residential school students and the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.But RCAP was far more ambitious and comprehensive than any of that.It called on Canada to build an entirely new framework to recognize Indigenous rights through the negotiation of modern treaties, treaty renewal, new agreements on independent or shared jurisdiction and new fiscal arrangements.Still 'relevant'When asked about RCAP around the 20th anniversary of the report, one of the commission's co-chairs, George Erasmus, said the "recommendations are still very, very useful" and still "relevant." The current Liberal government clearly agrees; it has said it's using RCAP as a blueprint. Its attempt to legislate a Rights Recognition framework in 2018 was built on the report's recommendations and on the notion that Indigenous rights should be recognized as a starting point for any negotiations. After some behind-the-scenes friction between then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and other cabinet members over timing, and complaints about a lack of Indigenous consultation, the legislative project was shelved.Which brings us up to mid-February and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's statement in the House of Commons on the blockades. In it, Trudeau pointed out a painfully obvious fact: the dire state of the Crown-Indigenous relationship is the result of decades of government inertia and indifference."It is past time for this situation to be resolved," he said. "However, what we are facing was not created overnight. It was not created because we have embarked upon a path of reconciliation recently in our history. It is because for too long in our history, for too many years, we failed to do so."The idea of rights recognition didn't vanish entirely with the failure of the framework. Ottawa joined forces with British Columbia and First Nations to provide a space to talk about rights and self-determination. Right now, some 23 First Nations in B.C. are engaged in some sort of discussions about their future. Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett has said she still believes those discussions could provide a template for other First Nations across the country.But the RCAP report contains hundreds of detailed recommendations that could transform this country and the lives of Indigenous Peoples. None of it could happen quickly; much of the hard work is starting decades late. That's something all sides likely would be willing to acknowledge.The authors of RCAP knew what they were suggesting was ambitious, but possible. "What we propose is fundamental, sweeping and perhaps disturbing — but also exciting, liberating, ripe with possibilities," they wrote.The best time to start working on this was over 20 years ago. In the current fraught climate, getting started won't be any easier now than it was back then.

  • News
    CBC

    Education minister concerned about suspension numbers at Hants East Rural High

    Nova Scotia's education minister says suspension rates at Hants East Rural High School and comments from Indigenous students about feeling disproportionately disciplined are "very concerning."Churchill made the comments following a story by CBC News showing the school suspended more students than any other high school in the province last year. Officials at the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education acknowledged Indigenous students and African Nova Scotian students are being suspended at higher rates than other students."My job as minister is to make sure that they're not feeling that they're being targeted," Churchill told reporters at Province House on Thursday."We have some work to do, obviously, to make those kids feel that they're learning in an inclusive, safe environment and we're committed to doing that."Several Indigenous students told CBC that recent discipline they received was much harsher than what was handed out to non-Indignious students and that they don't always feel safe."We have to take that seriously and investigate," said Churchill.A need for more educationThe minister said his department's Mi'kmaw service branch, which was created last year, is already looking into the situation at Hants East. He said the branch is best positioned to work on the issue and it includes support workers.Students, teachers and the entire school community need to come together on the issue, said Churchill."The best way we can deal with situations like this where there is accusations of racism is to educate — to educate our employees, our teachers [and] staff on the best approaches to deal with situations like this," he said.Churchill said those efforts have already been happening and he's pleased to see some positive steps, such as the use of healing circles and provincewide treaty education in schools. But the minister said the work needs to continue and there needs to be a particular focus on the school community in Hants East to understand what's happening there.MORE TOP STORIES

  • N.S. areas prone to sinkholes highlighted in interactive online map
    News
    CBC

    N.S. areas prone to sinkholes highlighted in interactive online map

    The provincial government is urging Nova Scotians to consult an online map to reduce their risk of suffering damage from sinkholes. The map shows risk levels across the province and where the province's more than 1,000 known sinkholes are located.Officially called the "Karst Risk Map of Nova Scotia," the online map was built by combining provincial geology data with a database of known sinkholes.Karst is a geological term for terrain that includes running water and dissolvable rocks such as gypsum and limestone, leading to the formation of sinkholes and caves."The first step towards reducing your risk is to understand where there's a higher chance of sinkholes occurring, and that's what the map does," said John Drage, a senior geologist with Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry.Users can zoom in on the map to look at a particular community, or search by street address.It shows if an area has a low, medium or high risk for sinkholes.Drage said in this context, risk is a relative term because high-risk areas have on average one sinkhole per 100 square kilometres of land."The risk is still low," he said.Drage said in the past 10 years he's been working on sinkholes, he hasn't seen anyone suffer injuries because of sinkholes, but he's seen buildings damaged by them."I've only seen two cases in the last five years where there has been damage to infrastructure," he said. "So it doesn't occur very often, but when it does, it can have expensive implications. So it's still worthwhile trying to reduce those risks if you're in a high-risk area."Oxford exampleDrage said he started to develop the sinkhole map in 2014, four years before a sinkhole appeared in Oxford, N.S., shut down the local Lions Club Community Centre and made national headlines.Drage said nine per cent of the province's land mass is in the high-risk zone, which contains 96 per cent of the province's sinkholes. Areas where sinkholes are most probable are the Windsor area and the landscape around Oxford."Within the high-risk areas, there are areas that are higher risk and the best way to see that on the map is to look where there are a number of sinkholes," he said.Drage said the best way to protect existing buildings from sinkholes is to keep rainwater and other runoff at a distance."What you don't want to do is concentrate your stormwater runoff in one place," he said."That leads to dissolving the bedrock, which leads to sinkholes. So what you want to do is first try to disperse it as much as possible."Drage said the solution can be as simple as installing pipes that carry water from downspouts away from a home's foundation, but the ideal solution is to direct the water into an existing natural watercourse.In the case of new construction, Drage said it's wise to inspect the property for signs of caving or sinking, or in the case of a large project, to pay for a geological inspection.He said it's possible to design buildings to be sinkhole resistant."Sometimes they'll extend foundations larger than you would need, but large enough to span a sinkhole so the whole building wouldn't fall into the sinkhole," he said.He said it's also possible to repair a sinkhole by plugging a drainage channel in the underlying bedrock with concrete.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Scientists discover 1st animal that doesn't breathe oxygen
    News
    CBC

    Scientists discover 1st animal that doesn't breathe oxygen

    Scientists have discovered something they didn't think existed: an animal that can't breathe oxygen, and obviously doesn't need to.That animal is a parasite called Henneguya salminocola, distantly related to jellyfish. It lives in the muscles of salmon and trout, causing unsightly little white nodules known as "tapioca disease." The parasite has just 10 cells and is smaller than many of the cells in our bodies, but it has an extraordinary superpower — the ability to live without the machinery to turn oxygen into energy, researchers reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."In a way, it changes our view of animals," said senior author Dorothée Huchon, a zoology professor in the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University, who worked with collaborators in Israel, the U.S. and Canada.While many microbes have evolved the ability to live without oxygen, animals tend to be much more complex, with many different kinds of cells and tissues combined in one organism. As far as scientists knew until now, all animals were powered by organelles called mitochondria, which convert sugar and oxygen into energy through a process called respiration, and have their own "mitochondrial" genes.Huchon was sequencing the genomes of Henneguya extracted from a Chinook salmon and related fish parasites when she noticed Henneguya's mitochondrial genes were missing."At first I thought, 'Oh, we made an error,'" she said. But when the cells were stained with a dye that makes DNA fluorescent, only the cells' nucleus was stained — no mitochondria appeared, as they did in related fish parasites.The mitochondrial DNA wasn't the only thing missing. So were genes for many enzymes involved in respiration normally found in the nucleus.But where does the energy come from?The cells still had organelles that looked like mitochondria and made other enzymes that mitochondria make. They just didn't do respiration anymore.What the researchers don't yet know is how the organism gets energy without breathing oxygen.Some microbes that don't breathe oxygen breathe hydrogen instead, but there's no evidence Henneguya does this.Some parasitic microbes don't breathe themselves, but steal energy molecules called ATP from their hosts. "We believe this is what our parasite is doing," Huchon said.Henneguya and its relatives spend part of their life cycle in a fish and part of their life cycle in a worm, although each organism is specialized in terms of what kind and part of the fish it chooses and what kind of worm it lives in. In the case of Henneguya, it lives in the muscles of coho, chinook, pink, sockeye and chum salmon as well as rainbow trout.While it's related to jellyfish, it doesn't look anything like one. In the spore stage, it is somewhat tadpole-like."Otherwise, it's just a big blob," Huchon said.The parasite doesn't appear to bother the fish much, she said, but tapioca disease can make its meat unmarketable and also cause the meat to spoil more quickly, making it a nuisance for the seafood industry: "No one wants to eat salmon full of white dots inside."She suspects that both the salmon muscle and Henneguya's host worm are low-oxygen environments, making the ability to breathe oxygen useless to the organism.Andrew Roger, a Dalhousie University biology professor who was not involved in the study but was part of a team that discovered the first eukaryote (organism with complex cells) without mitochondria, said he was surprised by the discovery, but found the evidence convincing."There was a belief that all animals should have mitochondrial DNA and be able to do aerobic metabolism," he said. "This one can't. It changes the textbook account of what you see in the animal kingdom."However, he believes "it's inevitable" that scientists will find more animals like Henneguya among those that are adapted to living in places with almost no oxygen, such as the bottom of the ocean.In fact, scientists have already proposed that one such group of animals called loriciferans can do that, though it hasn't been proven.Roger says animals can actually use an oxygen-free process to produce energy from sugar, but it's far less efficient. He suspects this may be what Henneguya is doing.Patrick Keeling, a biology professor at the University of British Columbia has also studied parasitic microbes that don't breathe oxygen, but wasn't involved in the research.He said it's hard to prove that something doesn't exist, but said Huchon and her team have done that.He added that the ability to live without breathing oxygen has evolved many times among microbes in environments with little or no oxygen."In a way, it's not surprising," he said. "But it's pretty cool that animals can do it too."

  • News
    CBC

    Councillors mull 'divorce' from LRT contractor after streak of bad service

    Some Ottawa city councillors say it may be time to cut ties with Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) after one of the worst performances of the Confederation Line since the LRT network launched five months ago.Transit riders faced several delays in back-to-back commutes Wednesday and Thursday, with some passengers forced to disembark and walk along the rail bed.Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan said the city's been let down by RTM, the maintenance arm of Rideau Transit Group, which built the $2.1-billion line."It's obvious that we've got ourselves a lemon  — a cheap train that is not equipped for our weather," Meehan said."I'm not sure how much this is going to cost us, but I think the cost of continuing with this company is going to far outstrip what we're seeing right now."Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said the escalating problems have him looking to put RTM on notice. He wants a timeline during which either RTM proves itself, or council decides whether to pull the plug. The disruption that this is causing is massive." \- Jeff Leiper"I'm not ready to rush into a courtroom today to say five months later, this is not working, we're going to get a divorce," he said.Leiper said it appears structural engineering and computer system errors — from flattening wheels to falling electric wires — show that the current arrangement isn't working."I think we need to have a timeline where we say it's not working. The disruption that this is causing is massive."Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney said they want to weigh options from an inquiry to city staff on what council can do about its 30-year contract with RTM."I would like to see us out of the contract, at the very least, with a different train," McKenney said. "They have been proven to be completely unreliable in winter conditions."John Manconi, general manager of transit operations for the city, dismissed questions about reopening the RTM contract at Thursday's media availability about service issues."That's not what today's about. Today's about the single most important thing: customers and our staff that are at OC Transpo that are working 24/7 to get people to their destination," Manconi said.A special meeting of Ottawa's powerful FEDCO committee March 9 will include a response to Coun. Shawn Menard's question about how much it would cost to get out of the Stage 1 contract.'We need something better'Bay Ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh, however, also said she'd also like council to explore its legal options."Do you get a separation, an annulment or a divorce in terms of what's happening here? This isn't working and we need something better," Kavanagh said."It's pretty clear that this was not tested as thoroughly as it should've been."Kavanagh said the city may need to ask federal and provincial partners to help pay for getting service up to a decent standard.Meehan, however, believes the city needs to show it can handle big projects."I think it's going to be a very tough sell when we go to the feds and the province, cap in hand, asking for funding for Stage 3 LRT," Meehan said."They're watching us and what we do with this is going to be important, going forward."LRT discussed at Queen's ParkProgressive Conservative MPP Goldie Ghamari, who represents the riding of Carleton, said government members are hearing about the frustration with Ottawa's LRT."They want us to do something. The problem is, aside from us giving funding, this was a totally municipally-led project," Ghamari said."The City of Ottawa bears full responsibility for what they did. I want to let people in Ottawa know we are here and we are listening and the ministry is monitoring Phase 1 and Phase 2."The Ontario NDP raised the LRT's problems during Question Period Thursday, noting it's an example of the failure of the public-private partnership (P3) model."Transit users today are stuck on platforms waiting for trains wondering how transit in Ottawa is ill-equipped to handle snow," said Jessica Bell, the party's transit critic.Bell asked the government to put a mortatorium on "costly and risky" public-private partnerships until there's a review of the model's effectiveness.Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott defended them, however, citing a 2018 report that said the majority of the P3s under the jurisdiction of Infrastructure Ontario were completed on budget and on time.Learning from mistakesThe federal government has also provided funding for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of Ottawa's LRT.Orléans MP Marie-France Lalonde said she was delayed Thursday morning after getting caught behind a train that lost power at Tremblay station."Certainly the delay was certainly not pleasant. I don't think this was the intent of the LRT for the City of Ottawa," she said.Lalonde said the city needs to learn from the mistakes plaguing the current system ahead of the extension that will run deep into her riding."We need to learn [what's causing] all these hiccups that we're seeing impacting our lives."Ottawa West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld said she also hopes mistakes won't be repeated when LRT is extended to Lincoln Fields and the Carling campus of the Department of National Defence in Stage 2."We do want LRT because it's going to take a lot of cars off the roads. It's going to reduce emissions. And for a lot of my constituents, it's going to really make their lives better — but it has to be reliable," she said.Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he hasn't taken the LRT yet and — apart from acknowledging his department is in charge of safety regulations on the system — he declined to comment on the line's current issues.At an exchange at the standing committee on transport, infrastructure and communities Thursday afternoon, NDP MP Taylor Bachrach asked Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna about the problems with the LRT."There are concerns with Ottawa's LRT," she said. "That is fair. And I think that as we reflect on how we move forward on infrastructure investments we need to be delivering for Canadians and all levels of government need to be working together to do that."

  • Who knew? Lower prices trigger higher sales at Cannabis NB
    News
    CBC

    Who knew? Lower prices trigger higher sales at Cannabis NB

    Cannabis NB launched believing low prices were not required to succeed in New Brunswick but after consumers taught it a hard lesson on that point, the Crown corporation has adopted a different approach — aggressive price discounting.And it appears to be working.Last week Statistics Canada reported legal cannabis sales in New Brunswick in December were $4.1 million, an 18.4 per cent improvement over November. It's the fourth straight monthly increase in sales in New Brunswick, where per capita purchases at government cannabis outlets have overtaken those in Nova Scotia.In January Cannabis NB's Tom Tremblay credited lower prices - which the agency initially dismissed as unimportant - for much of the improvement."We've been able to offer competitive pricing and a consistent value offering and this has attracted new customers and more consistent traffic in our stores," he said following the release of positive sales figures in November.Once home to Atlantic Canada's highest prices on almost every cannabis product, Cannabis NB's website is now full of rotating deals, promotions and volume discounts that in many cases offer the lowest prices in the region - if consumers buy enough.  In Nova Scotia this week the best price offered on the Durga Mata 2 cannabis flower by the brand Namaste is $10.33 per gram (tax included) in a 7 gram package. But Cannabis NB has it on sale for $5 per gram (tax included) if consumers buy a full ounce (28 grams) for $140.It's an aggressive pricing strategy aimed  at regular users who care about prices, a major change in the agency's business model.When sales were first legalized in Canada in October 2018, Cannabis NB did not offer a single product for less than $8 per gram, the only retailer in the region to set its lowest price that high.Then-president of Cannabis NB, Brian Harriman, said the Crown corporation was expecting to be undercut by illegal dealers on price but he was betting it would not matter to consumers."We're not going to get into a price war with the black market," Harriman said during a CBC interview the week before legal sales began."For similar reasons people don't go to bootleggers anymore when you have the opportunity to come in to a Cannabis NB store with 250 different products available with an educated person there to help you make the right choices and its legal and it's safe, we think that shopping experience should be better than the current illegal one."The experiment failed early, but for a time Cannabis NB did not accept its high prices were a problem, instead blaming supply problems and product shortages in early 2019 for the lack of consumers.  At the time the cheapest product Cannabis NB carried sold for $8.57 per gram."Price point is not the driver of sales shortages — lack of supply is," Cannabis NB spokesperson Marie-Andrée Bolduc said in a statement in May 2019. That was immediately after first fiscal year end sales were reported to have come in 58 per cent below projections and were well behind neighbouring provinces. That eventually triggered plan B - deep discounts.Cannabis NB now offers multiple deals for consumers who buy cannabis by the ounce - prices between $140 and $160. The up front cost can be significant but the per gram price of between $5 and $5.71 is often the lowest in Atlantic Canada and half the product's regular price.There are also smaller deals on smaller amounts.Pre-rolled joints that could only be bought from Cannabis NB for $7.50 each last year are now often on special for $5.00. This week Cannabis NB had the best price in the region on Indica Aces pre rolls by Aurora at $5.20 each if bought ten at a time. That's 16 per cent cheaper than the lowest price available on the same product in Nova Scotia  On Thursday 308 products were listed for sale on Cannabis NB's website, 121 of which had a promotional price, volume discount or other offer attached.The relationship between product discounts and improving sales is undeniable according to Cannabis NB's Sarah Bustard."We have been continuing to implement a number of competitive pricing initiatives for our customers and are seeing an increase in our sales (primarily flower) that's been generated by these lower price points," Bustard said in an email to CBC News.

  • 'Very unfortunate': Winter Stations art installation in The Beach removed due to damage
    News
    CBC

    'Very unfortunate': Winter Stations art installation in The Beach removed due to damage

    Organizers of the annual Winter Stations art exhibition on Woodbine Beach admit they should have probably "kid tested" one of the installations after they had to remove it due to damage this week.The exhibit, titled Noodle Feed, was taken down when an inspection found the long tubular arms, made from recycled sailcloth and stuffed with straw, began tearing and leaking. "Unfortunately, it was in a state where we thought it would be in our best interests and the interests of the artists that we would remove the piece because it was kind of coming apart," said Aaron Hendershott, organizer of the Winter Stations art project.Hendershott says the damage wasn't the result of vandalism, but "wear and tear" due to its popularity.  As with all the installations, which are designed to encourage people to explore, climb and even jump on the artwork, visitors had been invited to move the arms and turn them into chairs, beds and shelters and share their experiences using an augmented reality app."We decided that it would be in everyone's best interests to pull that piece off of the beach. Very unfortunate," Hendershott told CBC Toronto.This week, visitors looking for the installation only found some piles of straw left behind."Durability was an issue. Maybe we should get it kid tested next time," Hendershott told CBC Toronto.Noodle Feed was designed by three artists from iheartblob, an award-winning Austrian architectural design studio, says Hendershott, an architect with a group called RAW Design."I think maybe that piece may have gotten the hug of death from all the kids who were loving it and playing with it," said Hendershott."I think it might have to do with wear and tear and and people of all ages jumping all over it ... That was somewhat how it was intended to be used, but maybe it was not as robust as we'd hoped."But Noodle Feed will live on in the virtual world, he says. Visitors to the installation uploaded photos and stories of their experiences that can be still be seen by other users. "These things happen with outdoor temporary art installations," said Anna Sebert, the executive director of the Beach Village Business Improvement Area."It just goes to show how many people really liked it. Kids were all over it. It would have been great to see it out the whole time, but it's just the nature of the event."The remaining three Winter Stations installations are Mirage from Madrid; Kaleidoscope of the Senses from Scotland; and The Beach's Percussion Ensemble from Centennial College.They will remain up until March 30.

  • News
    CBC

    Richmond County chided over no funding to women's conference

    Provincial and federal cabinet ministers in Nova Scotia are weighing in after Richmond County councillors declined financial support for a conference for aspiring women politicians earlier this week.The Leadership School for Women conference is being run by a group called Government FOCUS (Female Objectives Cape Breton Unama'ki Strait). They asked local municipal and First Nation governments for funds to help defray child care and other costs for participants.Six of 16 councils are supporting the cause so far, but Richmond Warden Brian Marchand said women are at no disadvantage compared to men when it comes to campaigning.Coun. James Goyetche said it would be irresponsible and stupid to use taxpayers money to encourage someone to run against him.The lack of support from Richmond caught the attention of politicians, business owners and members of the public.'None of us own these positions'Kelly Regan, Nova Scotia's Minister Responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, said she thought it was a shame when she heard the comments in the news."None of us own these positions," she told reporters in the Legislature."Our constituents lend them to us for a period of time, so I would encourage everyone to do what they can do to encourage more women to run. I can tell you that Status of Women is in fact supporting that particular campaign college."Regan said far fewer than 50 per cent of local councillors are women.She also said she has spoken with one of the conference organizers and offered additional funding if necessary.Bernadette Jordan, a Nova Scotia MP who's also the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, weighed in as well.She tweeted that women face many barriers, and even though some get elected, "it doesn't mean the playing field is level."Jordan used the social media post to call for donations to the Cape Breton Partnership to support participants at the Leadership School for Women conference."It's really disheartening when you're trying so hard to give women a hand up to see councils like Richmond not supporting women running," Jordan told CBC News.She said travel, childcare and paying for things are among the biggest barriers faced by women looking to enter politics.Jordan said only 10 women have been elected federally in the history of Nova Scotia, adding it's "quite disappointing to think that people think that women are getting elected and they don't need extra help."Over Twitter, Jordan put out a call to raise money for women across Canada to go to the conference."We know when women's voices are heard, we're all better off," said the MP.Confusion over decisionNova Scotia's municipal affairs minister, Chuck Porter, also said he supports efforts to increase female representation in politics, adding that his department hosts provincial and municipal campaign schools for women.Porter said the comments from Richmond County council might dissuade women from entering politics."I'm not sure why they have made the decision they have made, but they will be ... held accountable to their electorate when the time comes," said the minister.Municipalities across the province will hold general elections in October.Public reactionFollowing the Richmond County council meeting this week, several local businesses and citizens stepped up to subsidize participants.Bruce Joshua of Arichat wrote a letter to the editor and sent it to several media outlets, including CBC, saying he was appalled by council's decision.In his letter, Joshua said Richmond County is a wonderful, diverse place to live, but it needs progressive representatives at the council table."As a resident, I expect better," he said. "I am hopeful that we may find an interested female or member of a visible minority who is ready, willing and able to run for election in District Number One."I would be willing to collaborate with that individual regarding his or her campaign and am pledging that I will assume the entry fee cost to ensure that such a person is able to run, without barriers, to hopefully bring a voice of reason to our council chambers when future positive initiatives are brought forth for discussion and support." The Leadership School for Women's conference is being held May 1 to 2 at Nova Scotia Community College's Strait Area campus in Port Hawkesbury and includes 10 municipalities and six First Nations in Eastern Nova Scotia.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Wireless repair shop seemingly goes under overnight, leaves this man with no cellphone
    News
    CBC

    Wireless repair shop seemingly goes under overnight, leaves this man with no cellphone

    One Toronto man is looking for answers — and his cellphone — after several Fixt Wireless repair stores seemingly went out of business overnight.Dave Niven had used the phone and laptop repair franchise in January for his Google Pixel phone and "they fixed it fine," he said. So when he brought it in again two weeks ago, he thought nothing of leaving it with the staff. But the day after they emailed to say it was ready, he walked over to the store in College Park at Bay and College streets, only to find the door locked and the lights off. Niven tipped off CBC News about the closure earlier this week, but so far the company has not answered repeated emails or phone calls.He returned twice more on Monday and Tuesday of this week, during scheduled business hours, but again it was closed. "That's when I started calling the head office and other stores, I sent them a message on their Facebook page but they never answered," he explained. There is no note of explanation for the closures either on the company's website or on its social media accounts.On Tuesday, on a hunch, Niven decided to jump on the subway and head over to another Fixt store at the Hudson's Bay Centre at Bloor and Yonge streets, and when he arrived that store was also closed. Besides just wanting his phone back, Niven is a little worried about the fact that the company has his password to get into the phone. "So they could get into some of my accounts. I don't really know what happens if someone goes into the store now and takes it [saying] 'Oh here's a bunch of phones and a bunch of passwords,' so that's a little concerning," he said. 'Reliable, good neighbours'Desiree Maklin owns a ceramics store, The Clay Room, directly beside a Fixt Wireless on Danforth Avenue just west of Chester Avenue. She shares a landlord with the owner and has known the staff for the last three years they've been at that location and "they've always been pretty reliable, good neighbours," Maklin said. "They would replace my [phone] glass for me just as a courtesy for being a good neighbour," she said, adding "there were always people in and out; they were always working on stuff when I went over."The company has not responded to numerous requests for comment from CBC Toronto. At least three of the eight stores CBC Toronto visited were closed during business hours. Nobody answered phone calls or emails at the other five, or at head office.

  • Ratings of South Korea's Moon take a hit from virus outbreak
    News
    Reuters

    Ratings of South Korea's Moon take a hit from virus outbreak

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in's approval rating have dropped to their lowest since November, a poll showed on Friday, amid growing criticism of his government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. South Korea reported 256 new virus cases on Friday, bringing its total to 2,022, the most infections outside China, where the virus emerged late last year. Realmeter, which surveyed some 1,500 people on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Moon's popularity fell to 44.7%, down from about 50% before the country confirmed its first case of virus infection on Jan. 20.

  • Huge Newfoundland takes down giant stuffed bunny
    Rumble

    Huge Newfoundland takes down giant stuffed bunny

    While mom tries to get her daughter Sierra to sleep, Samson the Newfoundland just doesn’t seem ready for bed. In his excitement, he accidentally grabs Sierra’s giant stuffed bunny and pulls it to the floor. Samson is like a hurricane wherever he goes. Hilarious!

  • News
    CBC

    Body cameras coming for municipal officers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

    Newfoundland and Labrador's privacy commissioner says body cameras on Happy Valley-Goose Bay's municipal enforcement officers may be an unnecessary invasion of privacy.Starting March 4, the department's employees will be outfitted with body cameras during their day-to-day tasks, such as conducting investigations and making traffic stops.The town says the cost was $500 to outfit two constables and one animal control officer. Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey says he was surprised the town didn't notify his office of the plan. "When a public body collects personal information, they need to do it in the minimum extent possible," Harvey said. "Our concern with body cameras and other forms of video surveillance is that they collect a maximal amount of personal information."Harvey noted body cameras collect information about the person being recorded as well as the person wearing the device and anyone else around. "We want to be sure that if a public body is collecting that amount of information, then it really needs to be doing it," he said. The use of such cameras by law enforcement has been shown to "protect both officers and the general public" and "ensures transparency," said a news release from the town."All cameras within law enforcement, especially the body-worn cameras, it creates a protection for the citizens as well as the law enforcement officials that are wearing them," said Const. Larry Baker of the town's municipal enforcement.  Baker brought the idea to the town and its enforcement committee. It was then brought to the town's council, where the idea was fully supported. Harvey acknowledges there may be legitimate reasons for the body camera initiative, but he wants the town to ensure no citizen ends up feeling as though they've lost their right to privacy. "Advances in technology … make it easy for public bodies to collect personal information, but just because we can doesn't always mean that we should," he said. "It's important for the town to explain to the public why it's doing what it intends to do, and to get their feedback." Few police forces or enforcement agencies in Canada have adopted body cameras. A recent pilot project in Montreal found them ineffectual, with a report concluding the cameras didn't build trust and left both civilians and officers feeling uncomfortable and overly monitored.. However, Calgary's police force has outfitted hundreds of its officers with the tool, with one sergeant saying constables appreciated having video evidence of their interactions with the public.Video from the cameras aided a police shooting investigation last year.The federal privacy commissioner's office, in a 2015 guide, said the technology "poses serious implications for individuals' right to privacy," citing the ability of body cameras to pick up the conversations or likenesses of bystanders.The report also outlined the benefits of body cameras, such as a decrease in the use of force by law enforcement, but said those improvements should be balanced against the loss of privacy.The report recommended deploying body cameras in a pilot project to better assess implications for privacy rights, while avoiding recording bystanders and maintaining awareness of cultural sensitivities. Recordings should be encrypted, edit-proofed and stored on a secure server with access restricted on a need-to-know basis, according to the commissioner.Baker says only he and the Happy Valley-Goose Bay town manager will have access to any video, which will only be released for the purposes of court trials. The town said it "understands concerns relating to privacy," but did not elaborate further in its statement. Cameras in patrol vehicles have been a staple for years within the town."Enforcement officers work the majority of the time alone, so we think it's important we use these body cams," said Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 'We're at a decisive point': Hospitals ramp up pandemic plans for COVID-19
    News
    CBC

    'We're at a decisive point': Hospitals ramp up pandemic plans for COVID-19

    Canadian hospitals are gearing up their disaster preparedness plans in anticipation of the next phase of the COVID-19 epidemic, from containment to mitigation. Current efforts to control the epidemic focus on keeping community spread at bay. If it's declared a pandemic, that will shift to slowing down the spread of the virus in populations where it's taken root.In a pandemic, large numbers of people fall sick, though the disease may or may not be severe.The World Health Organization is calling on governments, health care and other institutions as well as individuals to prepare."We're at a decisive point," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Thursday. "For the past two days, the number of new cases reported in the rest of the world has exceeded the number of new cases reported from China."Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist and chief of staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto, is a veteran of SARS and H1N1 and is watching this outbreak closely."The tone has changed," Gardam said. "We need to shift our thinking into this is going to become a problem within Canada within a matter of weeks to months."Currently, health care workers in Canada screen people who show up with flu-like symptoms and say they've travelled to any of seven places  — China, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Singapore and South Korea."At some point we'll have to shift into just screening people that are travelling, and it doesn't necessarily matter to where they're actually travelling from," Gardam said.WHO said China's experience shows aggressive early measures can prevent the virus from gaining a foothold, and there hasn't been widespread community transmission — the spread from one person to another when there was no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with an infected individual.But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a case of COVID-19 in California suspected of being the first person-to-person transmission in the general public in that country, which has alarmed U.S. health officials because it raises the possibility of widespread transmission, already suspected in Italy, Germany and South Korea.WATCH:  Infectious disease doctor explains what's happening with global spread of COVID-19"This suggests the virus is out there in the community," said Dr. Dean Blumberg of University of California Davis Medical Center. "We don't know who might be carrying it. We don't know who we could get it from."There's probably other cases in the community that we don't know about."Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said the province is preparing for the possibility of community transmission."Right now, we're doing 30 to 40 tests," Williams said. "Our lab can do 1,000. But we can't rest on that. What if we have to go to 2,000 or 3,000? How do we prepare for that?"Gardam said it is time to expand testing."I think at this stage, we should be testing people without a travel history who are sick enough to be admitted and who do not have another obvious cause of their illness. This is what they eventually did in California that allowed them to find their case."Medical facilities also have to take stock of their facilities, equipment and supplies to see where they are lacking: masks, gloves and gowns for health care workers; testing supplies; the ability to isolate patients. Federal pandemic stockpiles include medical equipment and supplies, such as ventilators and masks, as well as standard medications like antibiotics and antivirals, the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a statement to CBC News. Bracing for resource strain  Dr. Anand Kumar teaches medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba and works as a critical care physician in Winnipeg, where he sounded an alarm about lack of ventilators to care for patients during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.Kumar expects the risk in terms of severity of illness in the potential COVID-19 pandemic will be similar to H1N1.In 2009, many places found a major "choke point" was a lack of resources in intensive care units, including nurses. "The pressures on the health care system in terms of resources are likely to be similar," Kumar said. Although H1N1 and Ebola offered head starts in developing contingency plans, most hospitals already operate at full capacity, particularly during flu season. Gardam said if an epidemic were to go on for several months, hospitals would have to start looking at how to free up beds by putting people in "unusual places" and stopping elective procedures. Hospital preparations should also include additional training: having staff practise putting on and taking off preventative equipment safely, said Nancy Johnson, a retired occupational health and safety specialist with the Ontario Nurses' Association in Sudbury."Safety of health care workers right now is not negotiable," Johnson said. "If they're not safe, none of us are."Masks and gloves in short supplySome family physicians have already found supplies running short, including masks to put on sick patients. I "check the mail every day for N95 masks, which have yet to arrive," said Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a family physician in Toronto. "[And] more gloves, hopefully. We don't have them or hand sanitizer."Health Minister Patty Hadju encouraged Canadians to prepare as they would for a storm."First of all, making sure that you do have enough supplies so if someone in your family becomes ill, if you yourself become ill, that you have what you need to survive for a week or so without going outside," Hadju said.To help, individuals can do their best to stay healthy and keep up to date as the epidemic evolves. The standard prevention measures include washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, getting a flu shot, staying home when sick and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.

  • Fallout from coronavirus outbreak triggers 25% decrease in China's carbon emissions
    News
    CBC

    Fallout from coronavirus outbreak triggers 25% decrease in China's carbon emissions

    In the midst of China's COVID-19 epidemic, the conditions for an unprecedented climate experiment have emerged.Climate researchers can measure in real time what happens to carbon emissions when one of the world's largest economies is suddenly stalled, with entire cities locked down, highways emptied, airplanes grounded, factories shuttered and millions of people confined to their homes.A continent away, from his base in Helsinki, Finland, Lauri Myllyvirta was able to piece together industry and financial data sources and satellite imagery to calculate the epidemic's impact on emissions: a decrease of about 25% in three weeks."In terms of the absolute volume of emissions, this is absolutely unprecedented," he said.As a climate analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Myllyvirta keeps a close eye on China's economic activity.His analysis showed how reduced demand for coal from Chinese power plants combined with the slowing of production in oil refineries and steel plants created a decline in the country's major industrial sectors."In terms of global emissions, it's the biggest story of the year. There's no question about that," he said.To support his analysis, he also studied satellite images of China's nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, a pollutant that is emitted through the burning of fossil fuels. "That actually showed an even larger reduction of around 35 per cent in NO2 levels, so it gave us confidence that we're at least not overestimating when we say 25 per cent or more," he said.13,000 fewer flights a dayAnother significant contributor to the emissions decrease was the dramatic decline in China's domestic and international air traffic, which account for about 15 per cent of global air travel emissions.An analysis by the flight data agency Flightradar24 shows that since late January, 13,000 fewer flights are landing and taking off each day from Chinese airports."In general, air traffic originating in China is down 80 per cent since the beginning of the year," Flightradar24 spokesperson Ian Petchenik said in an email.The paradox of airline travel is one of the most intriguing aspects of the epidemic for Ann Dale, director of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University in Victoria. "We've got a virus that is spreading more rapidly because of our advances in airline travel. Ironically, it's also resulting in a decrease in that airline travel."She said it raises questions about how much international travel is sustainable."What are the limits and optimal scale of travelling? How many greenhouse gas emissions do you want to consume?" she said."Maybe it's time we started addressing questions about limits and scale on human consumption."An economic shock that affects carbon emissions this dramatically is rare. Experts point to the 2008 global financial crisis as another moment when an unintended series of circumstances resulted in major reductions in carbon emissions. "What it shows is that emissions are closely linked to economic growth," said Klaus Hubacek, an ecological economist at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. "Once economic activities decline, you have a reduction of associated emissions."'De-coupling' growth from carbon The entanglement of economic activity and carbon emissions is one of the most vexing aspects of climate change mitigation.For years, experts have debated how to separate growth from carbon emissions, a concept known as de-coupling."The economy grows, the emissions grow, unless we have decoupling," said Hubacek, whose research has shown that reducing carbon emissions in one country often results in a shift of carbon-intensive production to another country.The task is also complicated by the challenge of lifting much of the world out of poverty while trying to reduce emissions. Hubacek points out that half of the world's population is still living on $3 a day.Some academics are also studying the concept of degrowth, a school of thought where economic activity is deliberately reduced to slow climate change. The research is geared toward policies that would gradually scale back economic growth to the point where it's in sync with global resources. The idea is to use local resources and change the way people work so that less time is spent on economically oriented activity."I find it quite sympathetic and interesting but it's really, within academia, a niche. I don't think it has any political traction at this point," said Hubacek.The various carbon mitigation strategies being considered around the world right now are based on a planned and co-ordinated approach to reducing emissions. So the empty highways and silent streets of Wuhan, China, are not some stark glimpse of a carbon-controlled future."Economic activity has to be reduced in some sectors and overall emissions have to decrease, but this is not in any way planned or a healthy way of reducing emissions," said Hubacek.Myllyvirta had a similar assessment of what's happening in China. "A plan to bring down emissions, even very rapidly, would not look like this," he said."Millions and millions of people are suffering in different ways because of what's happening in China. People are unable to access health care, people are unable to work. Many of them are losing income."Having said that, some aspects of China's response to the coronavirus — such as the construction of Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in just 10 days — could be used as a model if the world decided to move rapidly to a green economy, he said."It would look more like that construction site for the hospital, mobilizing a lot of resources to build clean energy on a scale that would enable us to ditch fossil fuels in the span of a decade or two."Myllyvirta said his colleagues in China who have been forced to work from home during the epidemic have already adapted."I have so many friends and contacts who have logged on to a proper video conferencing system for the first time because of this," he said. "Will we see more remote working in China going forward? That's something that has been adopted very rapidly."Rapid recovery could increase emissionsThe climate implications of COVID-19 are still evolving. More flights are being cancelled as the epidemic spreads to other countries. And the outbreak is already being factored into global oil demand projections.The International Energy Agency's  oil market report this month stated that "global oil demand has been hit hard" by the virus and China's economic slowdown. The report predicts demand will fall in "the first quarterly contraction in more than 10 years."But those contractions in fossil fuel consumption are viewed as temporary. There are concerns that carbon emissions could rise sharply if China pushes for rapid economic recovery when the epidemic subsides.Chinese officials could choose to stimulate the economy through large-scale, carbon-intensive construction projects as has happened in the past, said Myllyvirta."If [China] actually wants to grow the GDP six per cent after what's happened during the past few weeks, that would mean an enormous amount of spending on new construction. And that would mean a lot of emissions."When the country raced to recover from the previous financial crisis by building infrastructure, the amount of emission-intensive cement used between 2011 and 2014 was staggering. "In those three years, they consumed 50 per cent more cement than the U.S. in the whole of the 20th century," said Hubacek. "It's just mind-boggling."

  • Vatican says pope 'slightly unwell', dismisses speculation
    News
    Reuters

    Vatican says pope 'slightly unwell', dismisses speculation

    The Vatican moved on Friday to dismiss speculation that Pope Francis was anything more than "slightly unwell" as the 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader canceled official audiences for the second day. The Vatican has not specified what the pope is suffering from. At his general audience on Wednesday he appeared to have a cold and spoke with a slightly hoarse voice, and he coughed during an afternoon Ash Wednesday service in a Rome church, his last appearance outside the Vatican.

  • Air fresheners in stinky Parliament station being removed
    News
    CBC

    Air fresheners in stinky Parliament station being removed

    At least 22 air fresheners normally intended for bathrooms at the Parliament LRT station, notorious for its sewage-like smell, will be removed.On Thursday, CBC found 12 of the continuously running fresheners installed above the westbound and eastbound platforms, while 10 more were attached to pillars and ceilings around the station and in the tunnels.CBC reached out to the City of Ottawa and Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) Thursday afternoon for comment about the installation of the air fresheners, including when and why they were installed.Friday morning, after CBC published its stories, OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said he'd asked they be removed immediately.City media relations had said the LRT's maintenance company RTM would answer questions. RTM has not yet responded.For citizen transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert — who raised the issue of the station's stomach-turning sewage smell at a transit commission meeting in December — the air fresheners don't go far enough, however."I'm concerned that they're now pumping artificial scent and chemicals into the station. That's not helpful," Wright-Gilbert said Thursday."Masking the problem is not a solution. Finding the source of the problem and solving that — that's the solution."Advisories neededRiders have complained about a foul odour at Parliament station for months, with Twitter user @LRTstank bringing it up in a tweet in October.Wright-Gilbert said she hasn't been in the station recently, but knowing there are air fresheners installed would lead her to avoid the station.She said artificial smells can trigger her asthma and headaches."I'd like them to advise the public of that because people can get really sick if they are sensitive to scents," she said.CBC did not see any type of warnings posted about the fresheners.Designed for low ceilings, good airflowThe air fresheners are made by Citron Hygiene and appear to be the company's EcoAire model. This model, according to the manufacturer's website, works best in washrooms with one to five toilet stalls.The ones installed in Parliament station provide a sweet, citrusy smell."The EcoAire ... is an ideal choice for rooms with low ceilings and good airflow," says Citron's website. In December, the city made repairs to a sewer line near Parliament station in an effort to close a leak discovered in August that was thought to be one cause of the stink.At the time, the city said it could not promise the fix would eliminate the smell. As of Thursday, in areas a few metres away from the air fresheners, the station continued to have a musty odour.

  • Shortcomings in private seniors care related to funding model, B.C. advocate says
    News
    CBC

    Shortcomings in private seniors care related to funding model, B.C. advocate says

    B.C.'s senior advocate says the news that Interior Health has appointed an administrator to oversee operations at a privately owned Okanagan seniors home is troubling, but points to the financial model for these care homes as a possible reason that private care homes fall short.Summerland Seniors Village is the fourth B.C. seniors care home owned by Retirement Concepts to be taken over by the local health authority because of ongoing infractions in standards of care for residents. Licensing staff from Interior Health had been checking in with the facility periodically over the past year, each time finding the home to be lacking in several areas, including care planning, staffing shortages and hygiene. "It's very, very unusual to see so many of what we would call concomitant kinds of issues and violations," Isobel Mackenzie told Daybreak South host Chris Walker. "And while that time is lapsing — in the case of this care home I'm looking at complaints and reports stemming well back into 2018 — those residents are receiving substandard care."Meanwhile, she said, Retirement Concepts has continued to receive full funding from Interior Health.British Columbia-based Retirement Concepts, which operates about two dozen supportive living facilities, was purchased by a subsidiary of Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group in 2017. In 2018, the Chinese government sentenced Anbang's founder to 18 years in prison for fraud and seized the company's assets.  Mackenzie said the funding model for private care facilities like those run by Retirement Concepts needs to include incentives to be good operators."Part of the problem right now is you have no incentive to be good or bad, because you get paid the same," she said. Mackenzie released a report earlier this month that concluded public money is being given to for-profit operations that aren't delivering on the required level of care. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters earlier this week that this is not a debate about whether seniors care facilities should be public or private, adding that Retirement Concepts is failing to meet standards of care while other for-profit companies in B.C. are operating without incident. "It's our expectation that those running Retirement Concepts ... will start to take responsibility," he said. "In the meantime we're doing what we have to do to intervene to protect the interests of seniors."

  • News
    CBC

    Members of Liberal riding executive resign over handling of Hugh MacKay allegations

    Two members of the Chester-St. Margaret's Liberal district association have resigned following concerns about how allegations of drunk driving against MLA Hugh MacKay were handled.Katherine Williams, the association's treasurer and official agent, resigned Thursday.In her letter to the executive, obtained by CBC News, Williams expressed concern that details of the allegations against MacKay, contained in an email to executive members Andre Veinotte and Richard Hattin and a member of Liberal Party staff, were not shared with the rest of the local executive."Officers and the executive should have been informed and have been given the opportunity to have input on how the matter was handled," she writes.Williams could not be reached for comment.Serious allegationsRon Meagher also resigned on Thursday."In my opinion, the wait and see position taken by the executive of the association can also be perceived as part of a continuing coverup," he wrote in his notice of resignation, also obtained by CBC News.Meagher declined further comment when contacted Thursday night.On Friday at Province House, Premier Stephen McNeil thanked Meagher and Williams for their service."They've obviously made a decision based on what's happening with the riding association and the riding association now will rebuild and move forward," he told reportersMcNeil said it would depend on the circumstances as to whether all members of an executive should be made aware of an allegation like the one from last May.MacKay to speak next weekMacKay resigned from the Liberal caucus last weekend after it was learned he was charged earlier this month for drinking and driving. The charge relates to an alleged incident on Nov. 22, 2018, the same date referred to in the email Veinotte, Hattlin and a member of the Liberal Party staff received in May.The email includes startling allegations that MacKay drove drunk with open liquor in his car, weaved along the road as he drove through his constituency and ultimately hit a lamp post in Upper Tantallon, damaging his car.The allegation, which according to Williams's letter was made by Michael Lawless, also said there are text messages and video evidence to support his claim that he followed MacKay on that night in an attempt to get him to stop driving. Lawless alleges he was discouraged from contacting police in order to protect MacKay's job and those of people who worked for him.At the time of the alleged incident, Lawless was married to MacKay's constituency assistant. They subsequently separated.The premier said it's his understanding Lawless was not disclosing the evidence he alleged he had to the Chester-St. Margaret's association."At no time was any of that presented at all."In an email to CBC News, MacKay said he would be making a public statement next week, "which will provide clarity on the incident alleged by Michael Lawless."Hot topic at Province HouseThe issue has dominated discussion at Province House this week after the email was made public on Tuesday.McNeil has said he didn't learn of the charges or allegations against MacKay until last week, but that his chief of staff, Laurie Graham, was made aware of the situation in May when the email was received. McNeil said Graham did not tell him about it, a decision he has supported.McNeil has refused to say who contacted Graham about the allegations.On Thursday, McNeil told reporters that Graham looked into the allegations at the time and determined they had no merit. But McNeil said Graham only discussed the claims with MacKay and his constituency assistant and did not contact Lawless.The premier has said anyone who receives such allegations should take them to the police.MacKay pleaded guilty to drunk driving in November in relation to an incident that happened last October. Even after that, Graham elected not to share the 2018 allegation with McNeil.When MacKay revealed he'd been charged in October, he issued a statement saying he had "struggled with alcohol addiction issues for several years … I have always been open about the fact that I am a recovering alcoholic, and that I have been actively undergoing treatment since 2004."On Friday, McNeil said he was unaware MacKay had a problem until that statement."We vetted people for cabinet. He never disclosed it when we were vetting for cabinet."Help for MacKay could have come soonerIn her resignation letter, Williams writes that "if the matter had been handled differently in May 2019, the events of fall 2019 could have been potentially avoided."Further, matters concerning the potential safety of the public would have been addressed at an earlier date and Hugh MacKay may have sought support for his alcohol addiction sooner. If the alleged November 2018 incident had indeed occurred, police should have been immediately contacted at that time."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Edmonton man pleads not guilty to U.S. terrorism charges
    News
    CBC

    Edmonton man pleads not guilty to U.S. terrorism charges

    A Canadian accused of robbing an Edmonton jewelry store to fund his cousins who fought for ISIS in Syria has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in California.According to a court document filed on Feb. 25, Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi has entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists from August 2013 to November 2014. Abdullahi, 35, is awaiting trial after being extradited to the United States from Edmonton last October.It's believed three of his cousins, Mahad Hirsi and brothers Hamsa and Hersi Kariye, traveled from Edmonton to Syria in 2013 and died fighting for ISIS a year later. In Syria, the Edmonton trio were joined by another cousin, Hanad Mohallim, and friend, Douglas McCain, both from the United States, who also reportedly died in 2014.In the court document filed in February, Abdullahi's lawyer Marc Carlos requested results of scientific tests done on drugs seized in the case, to determine if they are the drugs listed in the indictment.This is the first time drugs have been publicly linked to the case.Carlos has also requested fingerprint testing and any evidence that government witnesses may have motives to falsify testimony. One key government witness is Abdullahi's cousin, a former co-conspirator and ISIS supporter turned FBI informant, court documents show.   U.S. government authorities say an Edmonton police officer will testify that a partial palm print lifted from the counter of the Edmonton jewelry store matches Abdullahi.According to a court document filed on Dec. 11, the multi-year international terrorism investigation amassed a discovery that includes thousands of pages of reports from the investigation, data, subpoenaed documents and records from internet service providers."The United States has thus far provided approximately 13 gigabytes of discovery and expects to provide at least seven more gigabytes in the coming weeks," the document said.Among the evidence, authorities say they have recovered draft emails that show Abdullahi communicated with and transferred money to foreign fighters.Carlos and District Attorney Shane Harrigan did not respond to CBC's requests for comment.

  • Einstein the talking parrot demands a slice of pizza
    Rumble

    Einstein the talking parrot demands a slice of pizza

    Einstein is in the mood for some pizza! He begins by chanting; pizza, pizza, pizza pie! Followed by the sounds of delicious lip-smacking, the pizza must be very tasty. He asks, "Is that good?" Then, "There ya go!", as if he was offering his guest another slice. "Ooooh! There's a lot here!" No worries, there's enough for everyone! Enjoy! Pizza should never be part of a parrots diet. It is too high in fat and sodium. However, a small part of the crust is fine to give a parrot as an occasional treat. Einstein likes to dip his crust in water before eating it. Einstein the Talking Texan Parrot is a silly, smart, and popular parrot who loves to talk and entertain! He knows the names of several animals and likes to make their sounds. In addition to his silly vocalizations, he likes to have conversations with his owners, talking, doing animal sound imitations and acting silly. He also enjoys singing and dancing in some of his video compilations. With his amazing talking abilities and funny antics, Einstein the talking parrot’s videos will keep you entertained for hours! Einstein parrot is also famous for some of his silly quotes and sayings. Online, Einstein, the talking parrot is popular across many social media platforms. Einstein's favorite places to talk at home is perched on the shower wall, in the kitchen on his drawer, and on his screened-in back porch. As stated on his website, Einstein's mission statement: "To entertain and bring joy, to foster the human-parrot bond, and to convey that parrots are deserving of immeasurable amounts of patience, nurturing, and companionship." Einstein's website, einsteinparrot.com is designed to inform you about the care of parrots and also entertain you. As previously mentioned, Einstein is popular on many social media sites such as YouTube @einsteinparrot, Instagram @einsteinparrot, Twitter @einsteinparrot, and Facebook @einsteintexanparrot. Living with a parrot is a big commitment. Parrots live a very long time. A parrot such as Einstein can live to be 50 or 60 years old. Many larger parrots like Macaws can live to be 100 years old. They all require a lot of care, proper nutrition, training, time and patience. Parrots need a lot of attention and lots of toys and activities to keep from being bored. Parrots are also expensive, a large cage is an investment and plenty of play perches to spend their out of cage time. Specialized veterinarian care is also required. Most of all they require your companionship and a forever home. Many people decide after the first few years of parrot ownership that the responsibility is too great and the parrots become neglected and sometimes abandoned. When that happens they are sent to parrot rescue facilities to be adopted by a new family or some spend their lives in sanctuaries. It is often said, "Having a parrot is much like raising a 2 or 3-year-old child for the rest of your life!"

  • News
    CBC

    Ring-necked pheasant takes Cape Breton mail carrier under his wing

    Whether it's love or territoriality, a mail carrier in Sydney, Cape Breton, is perplexed by the attention he's been getting over the last few weeks from a male ring-necked pheasant."Maybe I'm annoying, maybe I'm in his territory. I don't know. It's quite the sight," John Ross told CBC's Maritime Noon. "I thought it was pretty unusual to see because I'll be doing the mail for 16 years, thereabouts, and never had anything like that happen before."Ross said the pheasant he has nicknamed Brownie has been a regular companion along his route for the past month or so. "The first time I seen him, I didn't know what to make of it. I was like, 'Do I run?  Oh, wait now, it's not a dog, it's a bird.' So anyway he's just kind of was more curious, I guess, than anything," said Ross. The pattern is the same during each encounter.The pheasant approaches Ross, usually along the second half of the route. Then he'll follow Ross for several blocks, waiting patiently at the end of each driveway. However, as time goes on, Brownie seems to be getting a little more bold. "I just noticed every time after that he seemed to get a little more aggressive," said Ross."He'd come a little closer and peck at your feet, you know, and then there's one time there he actually flew up and tried to peck at my arm."Andrew Horn, a research adjunct in Dalhousie University's biology department, said similar birds like grouse are known to be aggressive to humans from time to time. "Males compete intensely in the spring, and can rely on fairly simple cues to pick out other males to attack, so these cases are probably males that are just overdoing it," Horn said in an email, adding something similar could be happening with this pheasant.'He seems pretty tame'According to Cornell University's website on ring-necked pheasants, the birds are native to Asia and have been extremely successful as an introduced species across North America. Ross said a few people in the neighbourhood have mentioned a local man raises the pheasants and then releases them into the wild when they're old enough to take care of themselves. He said there's two females and about six or seven males around."I mean he seems pretty tame. That's for sure," he said. Horn said it's possible the bird may have imprinted on humans early in life. "Many precocial birds (the kinds in which the young are walking and feeding themselves soon after hatching, like chicken chicks) treat whatever parent-like thing they see after hatching as their own species," said Horn."That helps them follow their parent (usually the mum) to safety right away, but if they see something else first (like a human) it can go horribly wrong."As to why this bird is attracted to Ross, he has one theory. "I was thinking, I could be wrong, but you know when there's ice on the ground we usually use the cleats on the bottom of our shoes. And it kind of makes a clicking noise," he said.Perhaps that's what's got Brownie's attention. Maybe the bird is interested in a job as a mail carrier, said Ross. "I was thinking about putting a satchel on his back. See how that goes," he said.Regardless of the pheasant's motivations, the videos Ross has been posting on have been drawing people's attention. "There's one lady, she said she watches it every morning, the video, because she said it makes her laugh so much … she said it was so cute."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Judge reserves decision in fatal hit-and-run trial of Maurice Johnson
    News
    CBC

    Judge reserves decision in fatal hit-and-run trial of Maurice Johnson

    There are too many unanswered questions to find Maurice Johnson guilty in connection with the hit-and-run death of Brady Francis, his defence lawyer told the Moncton Court of Queen's Bench during closing arguments Friday.Gilles Lemieux alleged the RCMP ignored evidence that didn't fit their theory and used tactics to pressure his client into a confession, but Johnson maintained he believed he had hit a deer.The Crown failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, argued Lemieux.Johnson, 57, of Saint-Charles, has pleaded not guilty to failing to stop at the scene of an accident that caused a person's death.Francis was 22 when he was struck and killed on Feb. 24, 2018, at around 9:40 p.m., while waiting for a drive on Saint-Charles South Road.Crown prosecutor Pierre Gionet countered that despite the case being based on circumstantial evidence, it had to be Johnson's truck that struck and killed Francis.Gionet replayed security video of the four vehicles that drove past Francis during the timeframe he was hit.He reminded the court the first two drivers testified they saw Francis walking along the road, the third vehicle was a light-coloured truck — which Gionet contends was Johnson's, and the fourth driver testified to seeing a person on the ground.No one else mistook Francis for a deer, said Gionet.Experts confirmed the damage to the accused's truck was consistent with a collision with a pedestrian, he added.Justice Denise LeBlanc will deliver her decision on April 28.Lemieux suggested to the court the only possible decision is not guilty, as Johnson and about 10 of his supporters looked on.How can you decide beyond a reasonable doubt that Johnson intentionally hit or intentionally left the scene knowing that he had hit a person?, Lemieux asked the judge in French.The position of Francis's body was not consistent with the damage to Johnson's truck, the defence lawyer said.The blood found on the truck did not match Francis's DNA, he said.And glass fragments found in Francis's clothing could have come from multiple sources, including his cellphone, the truck or the road, said Lemieux.About 20 members of the Francis family and people from the Elsipogtog community followed the French proceedings from an adjacent courtroom, where a volunteer has been providing translation.No one offered any comments outside the courthouse.Closing arguments were initially scheduled to be presented Feb. 7, but the proceeding was postponed due to inclement weather.The Crown's caseThe Crown called 32 witnesses.Several of them testified that a broken GMC logo was found on the road close to where Francis was found.RCMP Const. Ricky LeBlond was one of the officers who seized Johnson's truck the day after Francis was killed.He testified that Johnson's truck was missing part of its GMC logo and there was damage on the passenger side.The court heard the damage was consistent with a collision with a pedestrian.Cpl. Richard Belliveau, a forensic identification specialist based in Moncton, told the court that black pieces of plastic found at the scene could have come from Johnson's truck.But no witnesses were able to confirm they were a perfect match.  Inconsistencies in the evidenceThe defence called three witnesses to raise inconsistencies in the evidence.Kimberly Kenny, a civilian member of the RCMP with a PhD in analytical chemistry, examined some of the clothes that Francis was wearing the night he died.She told the court the tests found no link between Johnson's truck and Francis's body or the clothing he was wearing.No blood, tissue, hair or even fibres from his clothing were found.Collision reconstructionist Michael Reade dwelled on another mystery. He told the court if a pedestrian was struck on the passenger side, as the damage to Johnson's truck shows, the body would either go straight forward or to the right — toward the ditch in this case.He said Francis's body was found on the west-bound lane, on the opposite side of where the damage suggests it should be."[The] evidence just does not match that scenario," he told the court.Accused did not testifyJohnson did not testify in his own defence. His only account of what happened the night of Feb. 24, 2018, was a four-hour videotaped interview with the RCMP three weeks after Francis was killed.The court watched as Johnson was interviewed by Cpl. Nicholas Potvin at the RCMP detachment in Richibucto.Johnson said he and his wife were talking while he drove that night and he turned his head to look at her for a moment. When he turned back, there was a deer in front of his truck and he didn't have time to brake, he said.He stopped and looked back, but didn't see anything, so he thought the animal had run off and they kept going."If I thought it had been a person, I would have stopped," he said. "I saw a deer."Beyond a reasonable doubtWayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the Crown has to demonstrate Johnson was involved in the accident and knowingly left the scene of an injury."And that's always a pretty difficult case with strictly circumstantial evidence," he said.MacKay said the hardest part of the Crown's case will be to show that Johnson intended to leave the scene,"Obviously the consequences for Mr. Johnson are very large if this conviction is proven," he said. "The beyond reasonable doubt standard is always a difficult standard, as it should be because we don't want to have innocent people convicted."MacKay said in cases with circumstantial evidence, it can be complicated but "that doesn't mean it can't be done."