RICHMOND HILL, Ont. – The man accused in a van attack that left 10 people dead in Toronto was briefly a member of the Canadian Armed Forces last year, a government spokeswoman said.Alek Minassian was a member of the forces from Aug. 23, 2017 until Oct. 25, 2017, a spokeswoman with the Department of National Defence said.“He did not complete his recruit training and requested to be voluntarily released from the CAF after 16 days of recruit training,” said Jessica Lamirande.Minassian, a 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., was charged on Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.Ten people were killed and 15 people injured after a van mounted a sidewalk and drove into pedestrians along a busy stretch of a north Toronto street on Monday afternoon.Minassian had attended Thornlea Secondary School in Richmond Hill, graduating in 2011, according to school officials, who declined to provide further details.A LinkedIn page with Minassian’s name and photograph lists him as a student at Seneca College from 2011 to this year.The area surrounding Minassian’s Richmond Hill, Ont., home, just 20 minutes north of where the van incident took place, was cordoned off with police tape on Tuesday morning, with officers entering the home a few times to speak to someone inside.The few neighbours that were around said they didn’t know the family well, but had noticed that its members kept to themselves.
OTTAWA – A Senate committee says Ottawa should put off legalizing marijuana for a year until Canada and First Nations can negotiate tax sharing, produce culturally appropriate education materials and ensure First Nations are able to regulate for themselves whether they want pot to be legal in their communities or not.The Senate Aboriginal Peoples committee released a report Tuesday after studying the impact the government’s legalizing pot bill could have on Indigenous communities.While Ottawa plans to make pot legal sometime this summer, the committee says Indigenous communities need more time.It cited as its main concerns “an alarming lack of consultation” with Indigenous communities in developing the bill, evidence there are no culturally appropriate educational materials ready to ensure Indigenous peoples understand the new law, or appropriate addictions and mental health programming available.The committee also said it didn’t agree with Justice Department officials who argued the Criminal Code, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Cannabis Act will override any bylaws passed by individual first nations which would bar or otherwise restrict the use and sale of marijuana on reserves. First Nations have the right to enact bylaws and many already do regarding alcohol sales to the point some reserves bar the presence of alcohol entirely, but justice officials argued bylaws on pot wouldn’t stand up in court against federal legalization laws.The committee was also concerned with a lack of clarity around taxation of cannabis on reserves. First Nations deserve an economic share of pot taxes said the committee and it is one of several things the committee says Ottawa has to put in place before pot becomes legal.This committee is the latest voice calling for Ottawa to delay its marijuana legalization plan, with everyone from premiers to police asking for more time to prepare. Earlier this week the Canadian Real Estate Association told the Senate social affairs committee it wanted to put the brakes on allowing people to grow pot at home until the government can better regulate it to prevent property damage and higher risks of crime and fires.The cannabis bill would allow individuals to grow up to four pot plants at home as long as they are below a certain height, but association CEO Michael Bourque says there are too many risks from home grow-ops that haven’t been addressed yet.
TORONTO – A man who says he was sexually assaulted as a child by the man at the heart of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal testified Wednesday that he repressed memories of the trauma for decades.The man, whose identity is under a publication ban, told a Toronto court that seeing Gordon Stuckless a few years ago triggered his memory and pushed him to attempt suicide shortly afterward.Now, taking the stand at Stuckless’s latest trial related to the alleged sexual abuse of young boys, he described first meeting the former Maple Leaf Gardens employee while trying to sneak into the famed Toronto arena with friends in the late 1970s.WARNING: Graphic details follow.Stuckless befriended the boy, who was 12 or 13 at the time, taking him and the others inside the arena, sometimes close enough to get players’ autographs, the man testified.But he would also take the boys to a sauna room, a camera room and even the manager’s office, where he would fondle them, perform fellatio on them and at times penetrate them anally, the man told the court.“He said it was a natural thing to do, that everyone did it,” he said. The man said he didn’t talk about what happened with anyone, not even the other boys, who have since passed away.Stuckless, 67, is accused of sexually assaulting three boys between 1978 and 1984. He is charged with three counts of sexual assault, four counts of buggery, four counts of indecent assault, six counts of gross indecency, and two counts of threatening death.He has pleaded not guilty at the judge-alone trial, though his lawyer said the charges for buggery — a charge that no longer exists and refers to sodomy — are the sticking point.The trial that began Wednesday is the latest legal proceeding for Stuckless.He pleaded guilty in 2014 to more than 100 charges for the crimes he committed against 18 young boys between 1965 and 1985.He was also convicted of two additional charges of gross indecency linked to two of the victims but cleared on two counts of buggery. The trial judge said that while Stuckless had “probably” committed buggery, that was not enough to convict him on those charges.He was sentenced last year to 6.5 years in prison, but was given credit of six months for time served under house arrest. Prosecutors are appealing the sentence.The former assistant teacher and volunteer coach had also previously pleaded guilty in 1997 for sex assaults on 24 boys while he worked as an equipment manager at the Maple Leaf Gardens between 1969 and 1988.He was sentenced to two years less a day in that case, but that was later increased to six years, less a year for pre-trial custody. He was paroled in 2001 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.He was convicted on three other occasions of sex offences against a total of nine underage boys, according to court records.
HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government has narrowed the definition of cyberbullying in a replacement law for pioneering legislation struck down by the province’s top court nearly two years ago.The original Cyber-safety Act, the first of its kind in Canada, was struck down in late 2015 after the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that it infringed on Charter rights.Justice Minister Mark Furey said Thursday the court ruled the previous law infringed on freedom of expression and violated the principles of fundamental justice by failing to provide notice to respondents.“That’s why it was so important that we introduce a piece of legislation that protects victims of cyberbullying while preserving our fundamental freedoms,” said Furey.He said the proposed Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act would create civil remedies in cases involving cyberbullying and the distribution of images without consent.“There is an existing process that would capture criminal behaviour and some civil behaviours. This piece of legislation is intended to close the gap between those two existing elements.”The bill redefines cyberbullying as an electronic action that is “maliciously intended to cause harm” or as an action carried out in a reckless manner “with regard to the risk of harm.”The previous law was passed in 2013 by the NDP government as part of the response to the death of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, a Halifax-area girl who was bullied and died following a suicide attempt.Her mother, Leah Parsons, said a new law was “long overdue.”“I’m very glad to see that three justice ministers later it’s still a priority and they are going to be bringing it forward,” said Parsons. “I realize it takes time, but I’m pleased that it’s happening.”Parsons said only time would tell whether the narrower definition would be suitable for the courts and whether the overall law would provide adequate protection for those who are bullied.“I hope so, because that is what is required right now and that’s what a lot of people are missing. They don’t feel safe … it’s vital to have this.”Furey said the government’s plan is to seek more feedback before passing the legislation next spring, something Parsons said is understandable, but only to a point.“I was hoping this was coming the spring that just passed,” she said. “I’m very anxious to see it in place, but I want it to stick.”Under the new legislation, victims or parents would be able to go to court to obtain a protective order to take down a web page or to prohibit an alleged offender from further contact with the victim.Victims would also be able to seek dispute resolution through the province’s CyberSCAN unit and would be able to seek an order for financial compensation for damages.However, the act changes the role of the five-person CyberSCAN unit which was created by the previous law.Previously the unit could act on behalf of victims by pursuing their cases in court, but now it will provide a support function, assisting victims through the process of getting online images or posts removed.Unlike the previous legislation, parents will not be held responsible for cyberbullying by their children. The law will also require that notice be given to alleged bullies so they can respond to accusations.Dalhousie University law professor Wayne MacKay, who chaired the province’s task force on cyberbullying, said the government consulted him on the new law.“I think they’ve done a good job of avoiding a future Charter challenge,” MacKay said.While satisfied with the narrower definition, MacKay said he was concerned the law didn’t go far enough in providing possible remedies to victims that could withstand a court test.Specifically, MacKay said the removal the CyberSCAN unit’s investigative function would put the onus for complaints on victims or their parents.“That raises I think potentially a significant access problem because raising a civil action … is an expensive business.”MacKay also said there was no reason why the government couldn’t pass the law during the current fall session of the legislature, because “there’s a pressing need for it now.”The province has been under added pressure to produce something following three student suicides earlier this year in Cape Breton.But Furey said the government believes it would be prudent to allow an expanded law amendments process through the fall before moving ahead.“I want to be satisfied that we have addressed those issues and concerns that are important to individuals, families and communities that have been victimized,” he said. “I want to ensure that we are diligent and we are thorough.”
Seven stories in the news for Thursday, Feb. 22———U.S. ENDS CANADIAN GOLD MEDAL STREAK IN WOMEN’S HOCKEYCanada’s drive for a fifth straight gold medal in women’s hockey ended early today when the U.S. won 3-2 in a shootout. The win was redemption for the Americans, who lost in overtime to Canada four years ago in Sochi. Marie-Philip Poulin — who scored the winner for Canada — and Haley Irwin scored for Canada. The silver medal raised Canada’s to 22 — nine gold, six silver and seven bronze.———PMO RESCINDS EMBARRASSING INVITATION TO SIKH EXTREMISTThe prime minister’s office has rescinded an invitation to a reception in Delhi to a man who was convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986. A senior official from Justin Trudeau’s office says an invitation to Jaspal Atwal issued by the High Commission to India for Thursday’s reception was a mistake and was corrected as soon as it was found out. But the error wasn’t caught until after Atwal had already attended a reception with Trudeau on Tuesday evening.———PATRICK BROWN CLEARED TO SEEK ONTARIO PC LEADERSHIPPatrick Brown’s quest to regain the leadership of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives has cleared a key hurdle. The 39-year-old politician, who had resigned last month amid sexual misconduct allegations, received the party’s stamp of approval for a run in the spring election. Party members will start voting for the new leader on March 2, with the winner to be announced eight days later.———SEARCH CONTINUES FOR TODDLER SWEPT AWAY IN FLOODOfficials continue searching for a three-year-old boy swept away by a swollen river in Orangeville, Ont. Police say the boy was in a car with his mother when the vehicle plunged into the waters, but she lost her grip in the fast-moving water and the boy was swept downriver. Flooding along the Grand River also forced about 4,900 people from their homes in Brantford, Ont., until further notice.———JURY TO RESUME DELIBERATIONS IN CORMIER MURDER TRIALJurors in Winnipeg will continue deliberating today at the trial of the man accused of killing 15-year-old Tina Fontaine and dumping her body in the Red River. Raymond Cormier, 56, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2014 slaying of Fontaine, whose death reignited calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.———VERDICT EXPECTED TODAY IN TRIAL OF DOG OWNERA Quebec judge is expected to hand down his verdict today for a man whose pit bull-type dog allegedly mauled a young girl. Karim Jean Gilles stood trial near Montreal this week on a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. On Monday, the girl’s mother testified that the dog attacked her daughter Vanessa in the face in September 2015 and dragged her several metres across a park. Gilles faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.———BECCA LAID TO RESTA New Brunswick teen who inspired a movement dedicated to spreading acts of kindness was remembered Wednesday as a courageous, big-hearted person who never let her terminal diagnosis get in the way of celebrating the generosity of others. A funeral was held in Riverview, N.B. yesterday for 18-year-old Rebecca Schofield, who died of brain cancer on Saturday. The #BeccaToldMeTo hashtag went viral, attracting heartfelt responses from around the world.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Statistics Canada will release retail trade figures for December.— The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives will release its 2018 Alternative Federal Budget.— Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will speak to volunteers and supporters in London, Ont.— Robert Kerr appears in an Edmonton court, charged with threatening Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.— Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray will make an announcement about whistleblower protection.— Alberta auditor general Merwin Saher will release his latest report.
HALIFAX – Rules on the handling of corpses will be tightened in Nova Scotia following a bizarre mix-up at a funeral home that resulted in an accidental cremation.The Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors determined Thursday that the funeral director was responsible for the snafu and revoked his licence.The board said David Farmer didn’t check the identities of two women laid out in the same vehicle outside an Annapolis Valley crematorium.As a result, 65-year-old Sandra Bennett was cremated, while 96-year-old Myrtle Wilson was embalmed and presented as Bennett at a family visitation on Dec. 27.The report found the owner of the Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick, N.S., Anthony Facey, was not at fault because he had adequate identification procedures in place.However, the report calls for legislative changes “to ensure that there is a system in place” at all of the province’s funeral homes.The report asks the province to require all funeral home staff to identify a body before its transported, calls for fines that align with other jurisdictions, and recommends more open hearings for professional misconduct.Geoff MacLellan, the provincial minister responsible for Service Nova Scotia, said Friday he hopes to bring in legislative changes during this session.“We’re going to get working immediately on the legislative piece and any other regulatory aspects so we’ve fully implemented what they (the board) have asked us to do,” he told reporters.The confusion over the two bodies began during a stormy winter night on Dec. 20.According to the report, two staff members from the funeral home picked up Wilson’s body from a Digby nursing home after midnight, and another team picked up Bennett’s body early the same morning from her home.After they were taken to the firm’s Port Williams facilities, one of the vehicles was needed for another pickup, and the two bodies were placed in the same vehicle.Bennett was placed on the left, behind the driver’s seat, while Wilson was on the right. An apprentice funeral director said there was a handwritten label for the bodies left on the stretchers.The report states that Farmer believed that Wilson’s body was the one on the left side of the van because the normal practice was to arrange the bodies in the order they had been received, with the earliest pickups placed on the left.Farmer said in a written submission that he didn’t check the written identification, nor did he telephone the two men who transported the bodies to confirm the identities.He cremated Bennett’s body, while Wilson’s was laid out for embalming and placed in a casket, which was later presented to the Bennett family.The home has been prohibited from carrying out cremations for a 30-day period beginning April 1.“This was a tragic situation, one that no family should ever have to experience,” MacLellan said.—Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
OTTAWA – British Columbia’s next lieutenant-governor has a deep background in working with social and government organizations in the province.Janet Austin, who is the CEO of the Metro Vancouver YWCA, will assume the post in the coming weeks, replacing Judith Guichon.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Tuesday, describing Austin as an advocate whose work has helped others.“Ms. Austin is an outstanding leader who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of others,” Trudeau said in a statement.“I know she will work hard to represent the province, and its people, well.”Austin will be the province’s 30th lieutenant-governor.She is an active member of the community, serving on the board of transit operator Translink in Metro Vancouver, as well as the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the Canadian Paediatric Society.Austin was previously the executive director of Big Sisters of B.C. Lower Mainland and worked for B.C. Housing.Guichon has been the province’s lieutenant-governor since 2012.“As someone who has dedicated her career to championing women’s equality and social change, she is a wonderful choice to represent Her Majesty the Queen in this great province,” Guichon said in a news release. “Ms. Austin will continue to inspire and connect British Columbians in this role.”Lieutenant-governors serve as the Queen’s personal representatives in their provinces and fulfil her roles and functions including granting royal assent to provincial laws. They serve terms of at least five years.Austin has been recognized with several awards for her work. She has been named as one of Vancouver’s influential women in business, won the Vancouver Board of Trade Community Leadership Award and the Wendy McDonald Diversity Champion Award.She holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Calgary and an honorary doctorate of laws from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C.After graduating from university, Austin worked in regional planning and ran public consultation and communications projects for the Alberta government in Calgary before going to work for B.C. Housing.Premier John Horgan said Austin is a “change-maker.”“She will ably represent our province as B.C.’s next lieutenant-governor,” he said in a statement.“At this time, I would like to recognize Her Honour Judith Guichon for her years of service. She has performed her duties admirably, and British Columbians everywhere offer her their thanks and best wishes for the future.”
MONTREAL – Springtime in Montreal is synonymous with terrasses, flowers and cyclists, but this year bike lovers will be in for a nasty surprise when the updated Highway Safety Code comes into law.Cyclist groups and the city’s new bike-friendly administration are criticizing a provincial bill that ups fines by over 400 per cent for seemingly mild violations such as not having enough reflectors on pedals.“We are pretty disappointed in this bill,” said city councillor Marianne Giguere, who is heavily involved in Montreal’s cycling projects.Cycling politics are big in Montreal and the city prides itself on its 850 kilometres of bike lanes, half of which are maintained in the winter.While Montreal is upset about the new road rules, the changes aren’t all bad, the city says.Quebec agreed with Montreal’s suggestion to allow cyclists to cross a road when the pedestrian light signal is on. Moreover, the province accepted to end the practice of removing points on someone’s driver’s license when they are caught burning red lights on a bike.But Quebec refused to allow bikers to turn right on a red light, or to use the so-called “Idaho stop,” meaning a cyclist can treat a stop sign as a yield, and slow down before crossing rather than making a full stop and putting a foot on the ground.There is no logic to treating cyclists the same way as car drivers, Giguere said.“I think it scares the authorities in (Quebec City) to give the impression they are favouring cyclists over drivers,” she said.Cyclists who break the road law currently face fines between $15 and $30. With the adoption of the new rules, they will be liable for fines from $80 to $100 — a 433 per cent increase.“It’s a staggering increase,” Giguere said.Magali Bebronne, a spokeswoman for Velo Quebec, a large cyclist advocacy group in the province, said increasing fines by more than 400 per cent and refusing to relax the laws for bikers is “illogical and exaggerated.”But the future for cyclists in Montreal is bright, she said.The city administration is on her side, and Mayor Valerie Plante has promised to make cycling downtown more attractive and bike lanes better protected from drivers.Plante has already shown she is willing to take controversial and strong decisions to limit the use of cars in the city. Her administration is cutting off cars from using a road on top of the city’s iconic Mount Royal Park to drive across the mountain.The decision sparked fierce opposition but she held her ground, and the pilot project is set to begin in a few weeks.Montreal was a North American pioneer for urban biking but has seen cities around the world overtake it in terms of cycling infrastructure and bold new ideas that prioritize bicycles in densely populated areas.Giguere said Montreal has catching up to do and is willing to make the necessary investments — and controversial decisions.
VICTORIA – Frank Harding is 98 years old and most days he drives his 1990 Volvo sedan to the Comox Recreation Centre where he works out.One summer, the resident of Courtenay, B.C., said he drove across Canada four times from Vancouver Island to New Brunswick to visit relatives, although he doesn’t drive that much any more.But Harding said he recently faced the prospect of losing his driver’s licence under a revamped driver reassessment program geared at drivers in B.C. once they reach 80 years old, which has raised questions about age discrimination.Harding, who learned to drive tractors on family farms and trucks during the Second World War, said he was told to take a road test after undergoing a government-ordered driving fitness exam by his doctor.“I went and I didn’t do so good on my medical,” said Harding. “So, he wanted me to have a road test, so I went and had a road test and I came through with flying colours.”In March, the B.C. government introduced its Enhanced Road Assessment program, which is the second stage of its fitness testing program for driver’s licences. It replaced the former DriveABLE program, which drew criticism from seniors for its reliance on computer tests and road tests in unfamiliar vehicles.RoadSafetyBC, the government agency responsible for road safety, mandates every person at age 80, and every two years following, must undergo a Driver Medical Examination Report. The report serves as the primary tool for the assessment of conditions that may affect someone’s fitness to drive.Harding, who has been through several driver fitness exams since he turned 80, said this was the first time he had to take a road test. He agreed it was time to retest his skills, but he said his life would have changed if he lost his licence.“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “I think it’s a very good thing.”B.C.’s seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the new testing program is less daunting for seniors, but she is concerned about targeting drivers just because they are 80 years old.“Why are we doing it based on age and who picked age 80?” she asked.Driving regulations based on age vary across Canada.In Alberta, drivers 75 and older must file a medical report from their doctor every time they renew their licence. There are no age restrictions in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or the territories.Ontario has a Licence Renewal Program that starts at 80. In Quebec, drivers must submit a physician’s report when renewing their licence at age 75, age 80 and every two years following.Steve Wallace, a long-time owner of a driving instruction business, said the new program in B.C. is much more comfortable for seniors who can now take the exam in their own vehicles and no longer face the test on a computer.But why not look at a driver’s record rather than age when considering testing for fitness, he said.“When every other segment of society is judged on their record, then this group of people should be judged on their record,” he said. “There’s an extreme prejudice against seniors. This is blatant age discrimination.”Recent data from RoadSafetyBC suggests not every driver asked to take the enhanced road test is 80 or older.To date, the agency said it has referred about 1,700 drivers for assessment. About 1,100 of them were 80 or older.The agency said it processes about 60,000 medical exams for drivers who are 80 and older annually.Last year, about 3,450 drivers who were 80 and over took the previous DriveABLE assessment. Of those drivers, 1,400 were found medically fit to drive and 550 were found medically unfit and had their licences cancelled. Another 1,250 drivers had their licences cancelled for non-compliance and 250 voluntarily surrendered their licence, the RoadSafetyBC data says.Mackenzie said the numbers of drivers voluntarily surrendering their licences increases as they age.At 65 years old, 95 per cent of drivers have their licences, but at age 84 only 34 per cent of people have their driver’s licences, she said.
TORONTO – Hours after Sunday’s mass shooting in Toronto’s vibrant Greektown neighbourhood, a groundswell of support began for the victims and local businesses, with many vowing on social media to shop and dine on the strip as soon as possible.Businesses along the normally bustling stretch of Danforth Avenue were shut down Monday as police investigated the scene, where less than 24 hours earlier, a man went on a shooting spree that that left two dead and 13 more injured.Authorities said the suspected gunman fled the area on foot and was later found dead with a gunshot wound.“The Danforth is so silent today, it’s creepy,” said Keiley Routledge, who owns the Danforth staple Small Wonders Pets and lives in the area.“Our store is closed, all the businesses for the most part are closed.”Routledge set up a GoFundMe campaign called Danforth Strong to help the victims and their families. There was also a GoFundMe campaign called Danforth Shooting Victims Fund circulating online.“It’s the Danforth — we always come together,” Routledge said.Meanwhile, social media users shouted out their favourite spots along the Danforth Monday, using the hashtags #TorontoStrong and #DanforthStrong and encouraging others to join in on supporting local businesses.“Hey Toronto! What if this week we all tried to go to the #Danforth for dinner, or for an ice cream, or just for a walk,” tweeted actress Tara Spencer-Nairn of “Corner Gas” fame.“Show support to our neighbours. We are a city of communities and we are nothing without each other!Mark Sanagan, who lives in the area with his wife and twin eight-year-old daughters, said if it weren’t for the yellow police tape, he would have taken his family out for dinner at those same restaurants Monday night.Sanagan said he’s “riled up” about the violence that has rattled the neighbourhood’s close-knit community, and he’s determined not to let the many family-owned businesses in the area be punished for it.“I’m glad people will think about supporting the workers in this community, who were traumatized as well,” he said in an interview. “To not just be psychologically damaged, but financially damaged as well would be a double injury.”Routledge said her daughter was at a local bar when the shooting happened Sunday night and called her to say, “Mom, I’m OK,” adding: “I saw everything.”“She’s coping as you would expect somebody would cope, watching people fall like dominoes in front of her and hiding under a table and holding somebody’s baby,” Routledge said.“The quick response of all the first responders was amazing. I’ve never seen so many police cars in my entire life.”
MONTREAL — A group of Canadian missionaries who were trapped in Haiti due to violent street protests is on its way home to Canada.Michelle Guenther of Alberta-based Haiti Arise says the 24 group members were flown out of Port-au-Prince yesterday and most of them will arrive in Calgary this afternoon.Missionaries Wade and Marilyn Fitzpatrick say the group had to be taken to the airport by helicopter because the roads are blocked by burning tires and protesters armed with rocks and guns.READ MORE: Helicopter begins evacuating Alberta missionaries from HaitiThey say they’re happy to be home but are worried about the Haitians who risk running out of food and water if the roads don’t reopen soon.Some 113 Quebec tourists who had been trapped at a Haitian resort by the protests were also evacuated to the airport by helicopter and were flown to Montreal last night on a chartered commercial flight.Protests have taken to the streets to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, spurred by anger about skyrocketing inflation and the government’s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.The Canadian Press
Five stories in the news for Friday, April 26———ELECTION SHOULDN’T BE ABOUT IMMIGRATION: BUSINESSBig business leaders worried about Canada’s aging demographics have been urging political parties to avoid inflaming the immigration debate ahead of this fall’s federal election. Goldy Hyder of the Business Council of Canada says he’s promoted the economic case in favour of opening the country’s doors to more people. The head of the lobby group representing chief executives of Canada’s largest corporations says he’s already raised the issue with political leaders who are shifting into campaign mode for the October vote. Hyder says Canada is 10 years away from a “demographic pressure point,” when the country will desperately need immigrants to fill jobs and keep the economy humming.———QUEBEC WARNS OF POSSIBLE DAM FAILUREQuebec public security officials called for the immediate evacuation of an area along the Rouge River west of Montreal on Thursday because of the risk a hydro dam could fail. Simon Racicot, director of production and maintenance with Hydro-Quebec, told reporters the dam at Chute Bell was built to withstand what he called a millennial flood. He says that means a flood that happens every 1,000 years. Hydro workers discovered earlier in the day the millennial level of water had been reached.———TRUDEAU SLAMS ONTARIO ON CARBON TAX FIGHTThe Ontario government’s attempt to block the federal carbon tax is shortsighted and irresponsible, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an environment conference in Montreal Thursday. But Trudeau’s criticism of those who disagree with his government’s plan to address climate change didn’t stop at Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s administration. Trudeau accused some federal opposition parties of denying climate change even exists and said other provinces joining Ontario in challenging the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act are wasting public money.———1 MILLION RECYCLABLE BOTTLES “LOST” DAILY IN B.C.An environmental organization based in Vancouver says one million recyclable bottles and cans “go missing” every day in British Columbia and it’s calling for higher deposits to discourage consumers from littering or throwing them away. Chloe Dubois, of the Ocean Legacy Foundation, says her organization analysed data from the Brewers Recycled Container Collection Council and Encorp Pacific, the corporation in charge of container management, to compare bottles and cans sold with the number that are returned. The foundation says about 387 million beverage containers, including items like plastic drink bottles and beer cans, didn’t make it back into the province’s regulated deposit refund system in 2017.———KILLER WHALES HUNTING FOR SEALS IN VANCOUVER INLETSeveral killer whales have been hanging out in Vancouver’s harbour, entertaining onlookers and feeding on seals, sea lions and other cetaceans. Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, director of Marine Mammal Research at Ocean Wise, says the predators called Bigg’s killer whales are discovering hotspots with an abundance of harbour seals and Vancouver’s harbour may be one of those areas. The whales have been spotted in the harbour twice, and Barrett-Lennard’s research team has identified a group of five that came in on Tuesday as being a matriarch and her four offspring, between two and 18 years old. The pod that visited the harbour last week was also a mother travelling with three sons born between 1984 and 1997.——— ALSO IN THE NEWS:— The General Council of the Conservative Party of Canada in Quebec meets. Leader Andrew Scheer delivers remarks on the morning of April 27.— Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, convenes a panel discussion, hosted by the Public Policy Forum, on the spread of misinformation about vaccines on social media and the impact it is having on vaccine-preventable diseases in Canada.— Andrew Berry, charged with the second-degree murders of his daughters, stands trial.———The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A Quebec high school French exam question that asked students about adapting to climate change has drawn a torrent of online criticism, as teens used memes and videos to denounce what they see as government inaction on climate issues.The question on last week’s ministry exam for Grade 11 students asked: “Can we adapt to climate change?”It quickly drew the ire of students like 17-year-old Francis Claude, who feels the way the question was phrased suggests the government has accepted climate change.“It’s like they want to abandon the fight against climate change, and just make do and adapt,” said Claude, whose Facebook group dedicated to the exam has exploded to almost 37,000 members in recent days.Claude said the members of his generation are committed to fighting environmental destruction, not adapting to it.“What’s the point of studying for a future we’re not going to have?” said Claude, who attends Mont-Ste-Anne School in Beaupre, 40 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.Claude said he started the Facebook group so students could exchange study tips and share jokes and memes about the exam process. But it has now morphed into a sort of environmental forum, where students direct their anger at the government and its perceived inaction.He said many students find it ironic that the Quebec government is testing them on climate change at all.“I couldn’t believe that they’d dare to give us that question when we are the ones who are most concerned with climate change,” he said.Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge reacted on Twitter last week, saying it would have been better had the exam asked students how to fight climate change, rather than how to adapt to it.“On the other hand, I’m proud that the youth are so sensitized and mobilized on this issue,” he wrote.Olivia Ralston, another student at Mont-Ste-Anne school, said some students found the question confusing since it didn’t really match up to the study materials. She also questioned the use of the word “adapt.”“We are living in this world, and we’re not going to live anywhere else, so why shouldn’t we try to change it?” she said.Ralston said some students put a green dot on their exam to signify climate change, and others have since started wearing the symbol as a call for action.Seventeen-year-old Montreal student Kiaira Morand-Tremblay says many young people are frustrated that older generations don’t seem to feel the same sense of urgency.“We’re able to raise, I don’t know how much money to rebuild the (Notre Dame) Paris cathedral, but for the climate, it’s like they do nothing,” she said.The controversy comes as tens of thousands of students across Canada have been staging demonstrations and school strikes as part of a global youth-led movement to demand action on environmental issues.Claude said many of the students commenting on the exam are planning further action, including another major protest in Montreal and Quebec City on May 17.Organizers’ demands include a government commitment to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius and to partner with environmentalists to establish an education program to sensitize the public to the climate crisis, he said.Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
The blaze forced the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to declare a state of emergency on Saturday, but it was revoked Sunday evening.Blower says five BC Wildfire firefighters will be patrolling the area overnight, and the more than 40 personnel that were fighting the flames today will return Monday morning, as well as a helicopter.“The weather is still quite dry,” she says. “The winds have reduced, which resulted in the great progress made today.”District chair Gerry Thiessen told NEWS 1130 he was struck by just how early the wildfire season has started this year.“Well certainly the fire came up quite quickly. It started out small. With the wind it gathered momentum.”Thank you to everyone that has kept the people of the Fraser Lake/Lejac area in their thoughts and prayers during another wildfire event. Very thankful for the RDBN and the BC Wildfire Service for all their work today! pic.twitter.com/VGjx7MOvzg— Mayor Sarrah Storey (@northernstorey) May 12, 2019 A number of communities around B.C. saw record-breaking temperatures over the last week, including Vanderhoof and Burns Lake — which are on either side of Fraser Lake.The area that was burning is described as being a mixture of both grass and timber.Despite some rain in the forecast on Tuesday for the region, Thiessen says “significant precipitation” is needed.“We’ve gone since almost Christmas — very early in January — since we’ve had significant snowfall. So we need to get moisture into the ground.”Thiessen is urging anyone who plans to be in the backcountry to take extra care due to the dry conditions.The wildfire is believed to be human-caused, but that is still under investigation. FRASER LAKE (NEWS 1130) — The state of emergency and evacuation order for a community in Northern B.C. affected by wildfire have been lifted.An evacuation alert is still in effect for part of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.Information Officer Molly Blower with the Prince George Fire Centre tells NEWS 1130 the fire — 236 hectares in size and about five kilometers east of Fraser Lake — has now been downgraded to ‘held’ rather than ‘uncontrolled,’ and is 50 per cent contained.#BREAKING: The #BCWildfire evacuation order for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako near Prince George has been lifted. BUT there’s still an evacuation alert in effect for one area (see map below). The fire is now 50% contained. @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/3lJBapBK30— Lauren Boothby (@laurby) May 13, 2019
VICTORIA — British Columbia’s attorney general says he is pleased with the findings of a court in Oklahoma that found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid crisis as it ordered the company to pay US $572 million, more than twice the amount another drug manufacturer agreed to pay in a settlement.The province filed a proposed class-action lawsuit a year ago against dozens of pharmaceutical companies in a bid to recoup the health-care costs associated with opioid addiction.The untested suit alleges the companies falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain drugs and helped trigger an overdose crisis that has killed thousands since OxyContin was introduced to the Canadian market in 1996.David Eby likened the aim of the lawsuit in British Columbia to the one in Oklahoma.“The lawsuit we launched in 2018 holds pharmaceutical companies similarly accountable for the harm they have done to British Columbians and for the financial burdens they have placed on our health care system,” he alleged in a statement on Monday.“Along with our recently enacted Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, this measure is another example of the work that this government is undertaking every day to address the ongoing opioid crisis and build a better system of care and support for British Columbians.”The civil claim filed by the B.C. government names the maker of OxyContin — Purdue Pharma Inc. — as well as other major drug manufacturers, and also targets pharmacies, alleging they should have known the quantities of opioids they were distributing exceeded any legitimate market.None of the allegations contained in the civil claim has been proven in court.A statement of defence from Purdue Pharma could not be found on the B.C. Supreme Court website on Monday, but in a previous statement the company said it followed all of Health Canada’s regulations, including those governing marketing. The company also says it has adhered to the code of ethical practices as a member of Innovative Medicines Canada, a pharmaceutical industry organization that works with governments, insurance companies and health-care professionals.“Purdue Pharma (Canada) is deeply concerned about the opioids crisis, in British Columbia, and right across Canada,” the company said in a statement after B.C. filed its lawsuit.“The opioids crisis is a complex and multi-faceted public health issue that involves both prescription opioids and, increasingly, illegally produced and consumed opioids, as indicated in Health Canada’s latest quarterly monitoring report. All stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, have a role to play in providing practical and sustainable solutions.”Earlier this year, the Ontario government said it plans to join B.C.’s proposed lawsuit.In Oklahoma, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s ruling followed the first state opioid case to make it to trial and could help shape negotiations over roughly 1,500 similar lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.“The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma,” Balkman said before announcing the judgment. “It must be abated immediately.”An attorney for the companies said they plan to appeal the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.Before Oklahoma’s trial began May 28, the state reached settlements with two other defendant groups — a $270 million deal with Purdue Pharma and an $85 million settlement with Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.Oklahoma argued the companies and their subsidiaries created a public nuisance by launching an aggressive and allegedly misleading marketing campaign that overstated how effective the drugs were for treating chronic pain and understated the risk of addiction.The Canadian Press
Former NFL Pro Tim Carter, Founder of Carter’s Kids, is set to host First Annual Charity Benefit Fundraiser.The First Annual “Carter’s Kids Charity Benefit” hosted by former NFL pro athlete Tim Carter, will welcome VIPs, athletes, celebrities and influencers to the Mosaic Bar & Lounge on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013, from 5:00pm – 9:00pm.The fundraiser will raise monies for the construction of a new multi-purpose enrichment facility for foster youth, designed to support the Carter’s Kids Residential Treatment Center, by providing an enrichment program to include sports involvement, social skill development and character building.Founded by retired professional NFL athlete Tim Carter, and his wife, LaShell, Carter’s Kids was created as an extension of their love and compassion for children. The Carters have always dedicated themselves to serving the community and helping those who are less fortunate. Together, the Carters work to plant seeds in the lives of at-risk boys and girls to expose them to a positive life.“We plan on helping our boys and girls get back on track while at the homes we provide for them, and seeing to it that they stay on track long after they leave our care,” LaShell said.Tim’s mission spreads far beyond the children currently residing in the Carter’s Kids foster homes. Tim is well aware of the life skills one acquires by participating in organized sports. He believes these skills play a crucial role in becoming productive members of society after the children leave the care of Carter’s Kids.The First Annual “Carter’s Kids Charity Benefit” will be hosted at the Mosaic Bar and Lounge (5927 Almeda Road), Saturday, June 22nd, 2013, from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. VIP guests will be welcomed on the red carpet at 5:00pm, followed by guests and patrons at 6:00pm. Media personality Lyndsay Christian will serve as the event’s mistress of ceremonies and celebrity guests will include NFL players Adrian Peterson, Eddie George, Chris Culliver, NBA players Tracy McGrady, Danny Green, Quincy Poindexter, Trey Tompkins, Mike James and more.The evening will include red carpet arrivals, a cocktail hour, a silent auction and live entertainment provided by Celebrity DJ Eddie George, Heisman Trophy winner and Tennessee Titans star running back. Tickets are available for purchase now here.Source:PRWeb.com
The Elders met in Liechtenstein on 5-6 September at the invitation of Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick to discuss proposals on strengthening the United Nations in its 70th anniversary year to ensure it remains “fit for purpose”.Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders, led the delegation together with Lakhdar Brahimi and Martti Ahtisaari, and held wide-ranging discussions with ministers from Liechtenstein and other UN states, including several UN Permanent Representatives and former officials.The discussions follow the launch of The Elders’ Stronger UN initiative at the Munich Security Conference in February 2015, which calls for four fundamental changes to the way the organisation operates: enlargement of the UN Security Council, a new agreement on UNSC veto restraint to prevent mass atrocities, a transparent and accountable mechanism to elect the new UN Secretary-General, and greater involvement of civil society in UN processes and decision-making.Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders, said: “We have held excellent and substantial discussions on all aspects of strengthening the UN with a distinguished and diverse group of experts. The constructive ideas raised and debated should prompt further informed debate at the UN General Assembly later this month.“We are particularly grateful to Liechtenstein for hosting this event, and for its commitment to UN reform as a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT) and its wider foreign policy priorities.“The UN is a vital part of our global security and governance infrastructure but it has to change – its present arrangements are neither normal nor reasonable. We hope that discussions such as these will generate sufficient political momentum that the key players within the UN system will view The Elders’ initiative for formal consideration.”The Elders will discuss their proposals further in New York at the upcoming UN summit on the Sustainable Development Goals and the General Assembly.
Food for Thought with Questlove and Padma Lakshmi – Prolific musician, culinary entrepreneur and best-selling author Questlove brings his love of creativity and boundless curiosity to the Chicago Ideas stage in a culinary Conversation moderated by Top Chef’s Emmy-nominated host and author Padma Lakshmi. This food-focused event will give attendees a taste of what Questlove learned through his conversations with ten of the most innovative chefs in America. Hear all about their creative processes and how they view the world through their art. April 20, 6:30–7:30pm, $15, Venue SIX10. On sale now. Book signings for Questlove’s somethingtofoodabout and Padma Lakshmi’s Love, Loss, and What We Ate to follow.For the full schedule of the Curiosity Series, visit chicagoideas.com/pages/curiosity-series. Chicago Ideas is a year-round platform for turning ideas into actionable results. Featuring globally recognized speakers and interactive experiences, it is a space for innovators, thinkers, doers and interested citizens from across Chicago, the greater Midwest and the world. Its goal is to stimulate new initiatives and ventures, create new connections and collaborations and establish a Community of Curiosity. Chicago Ideas is a 501c3 organization. Chicago Ideas announced this week that Academy Award-winning actress and founder of the lifestyle brand goop, Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO of goop, Lisa Gersh and Top Chef’s Emmy-nominated host and author Padma Lakshmi will join the Curiosity Series lineup. Other confirmed speakers include The Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook, The Root’s Questlove and cultural commentator Chuck Klosterman.The Chicago Ideas Curiosity Series features a program of entertaining and thought-provoking Conversations with speakers exploring a variety of topics, February through June. The series kicked off to a sold out audience at the first event of the season, A Conversation with L.A. Reid, on February 17. Keeping with Chicago Idea’s mission to provide accessible world-class programming, most Curiosity Series tickets cost $15 and events take place at Morningstar, Venue SIX10 and the Museum of Contemporary Art.Visit Chicagoideas.com to purchase tickets to these additional events: Inside goop with Gwyneth Paltrow and Lisa Gersh – In 2008, goop started as a weekly email from Gwyneth Paltrow’s kitchen table. Since then it has grown into a preeminent lifestyle website that seamlessly blends the editorial and shopping experience. Paltrow sits down with the CEO of goop, Lisa Gersh, in an hour-long Conversation to share how they have built a global brand. Get insider access to entrepreneurship and business secrets from the incredible minds behind this hallmark for contextual commerce. April 14, 6:30–7:30pm, $50*, Venue SIX10. On sale now. Ticket price includes a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest cookbook, It’s All Easy.
At a poolside press event over the weekend, hosted at a Boys & Girls Club in Chicago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign and the Michael Phelps Foundation announced a new partnership focused on addressing a serious public health crisis: child drownings.Michael Phelps – Pool SafelyPool Safely and the Michael Phelps Foundation will collaborate to promote each other’s efforts to help prevent fatal and non-fatal child drownings in swimming pools and spas across the country. The Michael Phelps Foundation joins more than 1,000 Pool Safely partners that work together to educate individuals and families nationwide about the importance of being safer in and around the water.“CPSC is excited to collaborate with the greatest swimmer in the history of the sport and his Foundation to help educate millions of Americans and their families about the simple water safety steps that can save lives,” said CPSC Commissioner Joseph Mohorovic, who participated in today’s event. “By working together in a public-private partnership, Pool Safely and the Michael Phelps Foundation’s im program will help kids have a safer time in and around the water, this summer and beyond.”“We are pleased to partner with CPSC’s national drowning prevention campaign and continue to raise awareness for water safety initiatives,” said Michael Phelps, President of the Michael Phelps Foundation. “Our im program reaches thousands of youth and young adults year-round with water safety, wellness and goal-setting programming. The progress we have made to date is very encouraging, but we have more work to do. We are committed to helping people have a better understanding of how to be safer, yet still have fun, in and around the water. Join us – and other Olympic swimmers – in taking the Pool Safely Pledge!”“New data from the Pool Safely campaign shows a 17 percent decline in fatal drownings in pools since 2010 among the most vulnerable population: children younger than five,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle. “We are making progress, but we need even more kids taking swim lessons, more adults serving as Water Watchers, more fences installed, and more people trained in CPR. Today’s swimming lesson with Michael and his Foundation serves as a reminder of the importance of all children learning how to swim — no matter where they live or what their circumstance.”At the partnership event, clinic participants received swim instruction, as well as learned about the importance of water safety. Children also took the Pool Safely Pledge, which affirms that they will: never swim alone, ask parents for swimming lessons, and stay away from drains in pools and hot tubs.Since its inception in 2010, the Pool Safely campaign has developed a network of partners that serve as the lifeblood of the campaign. These groups include local safety organizations to national entities, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Walmart, the American Red Cross, YMCA of the USA, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Boy Scouts of America. Pool Safely partners have played a critical part in the campaign’s effort to increase awareness of water safety and prevent fatal and nonfatal child drownings and drain entrapments in pools and spas.Pool Safely is CPSC’s public education and outreach effort to prevent drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. The campaign provides a number of resources to help parents teach their children about water safety, including a new Kids Corner on the campaign’s newly designed website where parents will find: • the Pool Safely Song, written and recorded by children’s performer Laurie Berkner; • “The Adventures of Splish and Splash” smartphone app, available for free download on Android and Apple products; and • the Pool Safely Pledge, with Pledges specifically designed for kids (adults should take their version as well).
Anne Geddes, world-renowned photographer and global advocate of children’s causes, has teamed up with KidzStuff, Nicklaus Children’s Health System’s retail brand of innovative children’s products, as a brand ambassador.Kidzstuff apparel is the latest advancement in children’s clothing, offering comfort with added functional features such as sun protection, insect protection, and fabric that changes color to indicate when a baby is getting too warm. These products, available for purchase on shopkidzstuff.com and now on Walmart.com, aim to support parents in caring for their children.“It has been my lifelong mission to advocate for the protection of all children, and I am proud to team with the KidzStuff brand to bring safe and practical apparel options for all parents,” said Anne Geddes.“We are honored to join forces with Anne Geddes to help further our mission of inspiring hope and lifelong health for children everywhere,” said Dr. Narendra Kini, CEO of Nicklaus Children’s Health System. “Anne’s iconic photos truly capture the innocence and vulnerability of babies. We are proud to collaborate with her to create a safer world for these precious little ones.”KidzStuff was launched in 2013 as part of Nicklaus Children’s Health System, a global leader in pediatric care and medical innovation. The products are designed with input from pediatricians with Nicklaus Children’s Health System, leveraging more than 60 years of medical knowledge to offer families effective, practical and safer resources for young children. One hundred percent of KidzStuff proceeds go towards providing world-class pediatric care and research at Nicklaus Children’s. Sun Blocker This lightweight garment is specially designed to prevent harmful UV rays from damaging a baby’s gentle skin. Rated Excellent UV Protection, the KidzStuff Sun Blocker offers a chemical-free and lotion-free defense against the sun. Insect Shield clothing has patent-pending technology to protect infants from insects, including those that carry insect-borne diseases. KidzStuff All Natural Greenfirst Technology apparel repels mosquitoes, dust mites, ticks, flies and midges. TempEze clothing is printed with specially formulated ink that turns white as a baby’s temperature starts to rise. A simple glance at the TempEze will help a parent know if the baby is too warm.More information about KidzStuff is available on www.shopkidzstuff.com.