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Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish
2018-05-23    0 views
VICTORIA—A new scientific study says more needs to be known about the impact on oyster farms of microplastic pollution that has been found in waters off Vancouver Island.

The report's authors say it would be prudent to assess the extent to which shellfish ingest microbeads, microfibres and microfragments after the pollution was found in the Baynes Sound, Lambert Channel and in areas off Denman and Hornby islands.

The study from researchers at Simon Fraser University says evidence of microplastics was found at 16 sites that were tested in the Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel areas, which are home to about 50 per cent of the province's shellfish farms.

The report says sources of the microplastics in the area include the shellfish industry itself and possibly towns near the Comox Estuary.

Prof. Leah Bendell is a co-author of the study and says oysters and clams serve as the ocean's filters.

She says Canada should adopt a zero tolerance policy for plastics getting into its waters, given a growing awareness about their impact on marine ecosystems.
G7 and European Union unite to reject recent election in Venezuela
2018-05-23    0 views
OTTAWA—Canada and its fellow G7 countries along with the European Union issued a joint statement today saying they are united in rejecting and denouncing the recent presidential election in Venezuela.

The May 20 election of Nicolas Maduro has already attracted widespread condemnation, with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland earlier calling the vote “illegitimate and anti-democratic.''

The joint statement says by “failing to meet accepted international standards and not securing the basic guarantees for an inclusive, fair and democratic process, this election and its outcome lack legitimacy and credibility.''

The G7 and EU add that while the Maduro regime “solidifies its authoritarian grip, the people of Venezuela continue to suffer human rights abuses and serious deprivation.''

The statement calls on Maduro to restore constitutional democracy in Venezuela, schedule free and fair elections, immediately release all political prisoners, restore the authority of the National Assembly, and provide for full, safe and unhindered access by humanitarian actors.

On Monday, the Canadian government applied some pressure on its own by saying it would not seek to replace its ambassador in Caracas and would ``downgrade'' its diplomatic ties with the South American country.

Ottawa also imposed a ban on formal military co-operation with Venezuela and ensured the Canadian embassy in Caracas is only headed by a charge d'affaires rather than an ambassador.

Fishermen scrambling after endangered whales' arrival in Gulf of St. Lawrence
2018-05-22    0 views
MONCTON, N.B.—The arrival of two endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has thrown several lucrative fisheries for a loop.

Federal authorities ordered fishermen in certain parts of the Gulf off northern New Brunswick and Quebec to get their gear out of the water by late afternoon Tuesday as part of an effort to prevent the slow, lumbering animals from getting entangled in fishing gear.

Marcel Godin, director of procurement for the Island Fishermen Cooperative Association Ltd., in Lameque, N.B., said fishermen are “scared'' because they don't know what will happen next.

“You can see a whale here tomorrow and they close a zone for 15 days. Two days after they are in another zone and they close that for 15 days.''

Godin's concerns were voiced amid a report of up to 40 layoffs at the Ichiboshi fish plant in Caraquet, N.B. The CBC quoted a union official as confirming the layoffs, although the company did not immediately return a request for comment from The Canadian Press.

Godin said the latest area closures come as snow crab landings are down by about half over the last two years.

“Now with the zone they just closed ... we have boats in that area and what those will do is go to another area,'' said Godin.

“If they close another zone there will be less and less. The more boats you have in the same area the less will be the catch because of too many traps.''

Godin said the average catch per boat so far this season is about 10,000 pounds—a figure down from normal years, which saw anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of crab per trip.

He is worried about the potential for further area closures, he said.

“If we go that way and they close areas and the catch is low the (processing) employees will be doing less hours,'' he said.

As things stand, Godin said the cooperative's plant in Pointe-Sapin, N.B., is doing better with higher landings of lobster to process.

A total of 18 North Atlantic right whales were killed in Canadian and U.S. waters last year—mainly due to vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

In an email, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said a conservation and protection surveillance flight reported two right whales swimming just north of the 14,000 square kilometre area that had already been closed to fishing for the season.

“Temporary fisheries closures are pending and will be in place in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, east of Miscou Island and north of the area closed to fishing for the season,'' the department said.

As a result, the snow crab, toad crab, rock crab, lobster and whelk fisheries are being closed in five areas known as “grids.'' Closures would also be in effect for fixed gear winter flounder and Atlantic halibut fisheries, except in cases where gear is not left unattended, the department said.

The newly closed area would remain closed for 15 days, a measure that could be extended if whales remain in the area.

Ottawa announced measures last month to protect right whales, including possible closures, restrictions on the amount of rope used and mandatory reporting of lost gear and whale sightings.

Moira Brown of the Canadian Whale Institute in Campobello, N.B., said researchers will start their surveillance work a little earlier than scheduled, probably in mid-June, because of suggestions the whales' primary food source—plankton—may be more plentiful sooner than previously thought.

Brown said the whales are showing up in the region earlier than they have in the past, when they would start to be seen around the end of July or early August.

“Some of the plankton work is showing that plankton is more prevalent in the Bay of Fundy earlier in the season,'' she said. “The whales are responding to what they need to do to find food.''

She said that mirrors what researchers have seen in the last few years, with the whales turning up in the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence weeks ahead of their traditional schedule. She hadn't yet heard of any being in the Bay of Fundy.

“The Canadian government has really stepped up its surv
Man arrested in double shooting of pregnant woman, man in Vancouver
2018-05-22    0 views
VANCOUVER—A witness to the double-shooting in Vancouver that caused one woman to lose her unborn child says she's relieved that police have made an arrest in the case.

Dollie Middleton said she punched the man she alleges shot a pregnant woman and her friend, as he fled the scene of the shooting Friday morning.

Vancouver police have arrested 37-year-old Carleton Stevens of Surrey, B.C., for what they called a “targeted'' shooting.

They have previously said it is not gang related.

Stevens has been charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of possession of ammunition or firearm contrary to a prohibition order. Investigators said they expect more criminal charges to be laid.

Police made the arrest Sunday night and Stevens remains in custody.

The 31-year-old woman who was shot was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, police said, and remains in serious but stable condition. The 23-year-old man from Langley, B.C., is recovering from his injuries.

Middleton said she works at the print shop below the apartment where she said the female victim was staying and knows the male victim.

She said she heard a “ruckus'' Friday morning, saw some people she didn't recognize, then called to her own boyfriend for help.

Middleton said she heard a “pop'' and saw the woman, who said, “he shot me.''

“I could see her belly and a bullet hole and it really scared me. I was freaking out,'' Middleton said.

Middleton said the pregnant woman and the Langley shooting victim were friends.

When Middleton saw the man who she believed was responsible for the shooting, she said she started yelling at him.

“I needed him to know what he really was. You can't do this to women and children. You can't do this to anybody,'' she said.

“I just decked him and he decked me back.''

Middleton said he aimed a gun at her, too, but shot it at the ground.

Vancouver police have not confirmed Middleton's allegations and said no further information will be released, as the matter is before the courts.
New Ticats QB Manziel excited to play in ‘offensive-minded’ CFL
2018-05-20    0 views
New Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Johnny Manziel says he relishes getting the chance to “play ball again.” The former Hesiman trophy winner and NFL draft pick said on Saturday he’s “excited” to play under head coach June Jones.
Brandon, Man., residents tell harrowing stories of downtown fire
2018-05-20    0 views
A resident of a Brandon, Manitoba, apartment building that caught fire in a downtown blaze on Saturday says she was scared as smoke filled the halls. Leanne Marlow says she lost her cat and her home in the fire. (May 20, 2018)
U.S. trade czar contradicts Trudeau, says: NAFTA deal 'nowhere close'
2018-05-18    0 views
WASHINGTON—The United States says the NAFTA countries are nowhere close to a deal.
It has issued a statement that appears to douse hopes an agreement might be just a few minor adjustments away.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and several high-ranking staffers were in the U.S. on Thursday urging a quick deal before the American statement landed.

The statement from U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer says there are gaping differences on intellectual property, agriculture, online purchases, energy, labour, rules of origin, and much more.

“The NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal,'' said Lighthizer.

“There are gaping differences ... We of course will continue to engage in negotiations, and I look forward to working with my counterparts to secure the best possible deal for American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses.''

The reason Canada, Mexico and some in the U.S. want a deal soon has to do with certainty _ with establishing business certainty and with settling the process before elections in Mexico and the U.S. push everything into next year.

Some fear that delaying the process into next year will add a new layer of unpredictability as many of the politicians involved now will no longer be in politics.

Mexico will have a new administration, the U.S. will have a new Congress after midterm elections and several senior U.S. lawmakers are retiring.
Terror suspect loses a legal avenue as Supreme Court declines to hear case
2018-05-18    0 views
OTTAWA—A terror suspect has one less legal avenue to try to stave off deportation after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his appeal.

The federal government is trying to remove Mohamed Mahjoub, 58, using a national security certificate, claiming he was a high-ranking member of an Islamic terrorist organization.

The Supreme Court decision, handed down Thursday without explanation, is the latest setback for Mahjoub in a case that stretches back almost two decades.

Counsel for Mahjoub had no comment and it was not immediately clear what would happen next.

The Egyptian-born man, married with three children, came to Canada in 1995 and attained refugee status.

He once worked as deputy general manager of a farm project in Sudan run by Osama bin Laden, who would later spearhead the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Mahjoub was arrested in June 2000 after being interviewed by Canada's spy agency on six occasions between August 1997 and March 1999, each time denying any involvement in Islamic extremism.

He was arrested in June 2000 under a security certificate—a rarely used immigration tool for deporting non-Canadians considered a risk to the country.

The Supreme Court ruled the certificate process unconstitutional in 2007 and the government subsequently revamped the law, issuing a fresh certificate against Mahjoub the following year.

In 2009, Mahjoub was released from prison on strict conditions, which have since been relaxed.
The Federal Court found the security certificate to be reasonable, a conclusion upheld last year by the Federal Court of Appeal.

The appeal court also agreed with the lower court's refusal to stay the proceedings permanently on account of abuse of process.

Among other things, Mahjoub's counsel had claimed the case was gravely tainted by use of hearsay evidence and unsourced intelligence evidence, information derived from torture, breaches of solicitor-client privilege, and the interception of privileged phone calls.

At one point, several federal lawyers and assistants were ordered to quit the case because the government inadvertently walked off with Mahjoub's confidential legal files.

In its decision, the appeal court said that “these particular security certificate proceedings can only be seen as fundamentally fair in their execution.''

“True, occasionally mistakes and faults happened and often remedies were needed to redress them. But individually or collectively, there is no factual and legal basis upon which the Federal Court could have permanently stayed these proceedings. They properly ran their course to a final decision on the merits.''
Thunderstorms expected to add to flood woes in south central British Columbia
2018-05-17    0 views
GRAND FORKS, B.C. _ Federal help is on the way for flooded communities in south-central British Columbia as they brace for more high water caused by rapidly melting snowpacks and potentially heavy rain.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale issued a statement Thursday confirming federal assistance for communities, including the city of Grand Forks, about 500 kilometres east of Vancouver.

``Officials are working closely with federal and provincial partners on planning the details of this assistance, including support from the Canadian Armed Forces,'' Goodale said in the release.

``Troops are deploying to the affected areas and will provide assistance with evacuations, help protect key assets from flood damage, and bolster sandbagging efforts.''

An exact timeline was not provided, but the minister's statement said help would be provided ``as soon as possible.''

A tweet sent Wednesday night from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said ``the women and men of our Canadian armed forces are always ready to support Canadians.''

Environment Canada issued special weather statements Thursday covering the entire southeastern corner of British Columbia, including the flood-damaged Boundary region, as thunderstorms have the potential to add even more water to already raging rivers.

Forecasters predict as much as 40 millimetres of rain by Friday and there's concern about added damage caused by heavy downpours during localized thunderstorms.

A news release from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said properties along the banks of the surging Kettle River are at risk and more evacuation orders are possible.

School District 51, which operates eight elementary schools, two secondary schools and a development centre in the Boundary region, closed all schools Thursday because of the potential for imminent flooding.

A state of local emergency was in effect across the entire neighbouring Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen which posted on its website that provincial agencies are closely monitoring the levels of Osoyoos Lake and preparing for evacuation orders if required.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, east of Grand Forks, evacuation alerts were expanded along Erie Creek and the Salmo River, while firefighters from across the district were sent to the village of Salmo to help with sandbagging in anticipation of flooding there.

EmergencyInfoBC, the province's online link to emergency information, carried links to eight regional districts and 13 municipalities, communities or First Nations where rising river or lake levels have prompted evacuation orders or alerts in British Columbia.
Federal natural resources researchers forecast long, hot wildfire season
2018-05-16    0 views
Federal researchers say Canada may be heading into a long, hot summer in the forests.
Richard Carr of Natural Resources Canada says wildfire numbers are already ahead of the 10-year average.
He says weather is expected to be hotter and drier than normal in most parts of the country in the coming months.
There have already been evacuations in the three prairie provinces because of wildfires.
Federal fire maps show the risk is already high to extreme almost everywhere in southern regions of the country.
Howie Mandel says comedy festival bigger than Gilbert Rozon
2018-05-15    0 views
MONTREAL _ Howie Mandel says Montreal's Just For Laughs will move forward without founder Gilbert Rozon, stressing the comedy festival is not about one person.

The Canadian-born comedian led an investor group that acquired the festival in March after it was put up for sale.

The new owners include U.S. talent agency ICM Partners.

Just For Laughs was rocked last fall after several women came forward with allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against Rozon, who was also majority stakeholder.

Mandel tells The Canadian Press the comedy festival is ``an amazing feat'' and that he doesn't want to think about what happened in the past.

He adds that everyone involved is energized and wants to make the summer event bigger and more exciting than it already is.

MONTREAL _ Comedian Howie Mandel is promising a bigger and more exciting Just For Laughs festival this summer _ even with founder Gilbert Rozon out of the picture.

``Our whole thrust is moving forward and not thinking about what was,'' he said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

``It's not about one person.''

Just For Laughs was rocked last fall after several women came forward with allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against Rozon, who was also majority stakeholder.

The Canadian-born Mandel led an investor group that acquired the festival in March after it was put up for sale.

The new owners also include U.S. talent agency ICM Partners.

Mandel, 62, described Just For Laughs as an ``an amazing feat'' and that everyone involved is ``really energized'' in moving it forward.

Rozon, who stepped down as president in October, said he would sell his shares in the company in response to the allegations, which he has denied and have not been proven in court.

When asked if the festival's headquarters could be transferred to the United States, Mandel replied that such a move would negate the essence of the event.

``Being in Canada and in Montreal, which is where there are two languages, makes it truly an international festival and gives it more gravitas than if this was some place in Pennsylvania,'' Mandel said.

He also said he wants nothing more than to be involved with Just For Laughs and get it recognized ``as the mecca'' outside Canada.

``Once I started my career, this is probably the first place that embraced me,'' Mandel said, noting he and his wife lived in Montreal for a year in the 1970s.

``I don't think there's anything more powerful in the world of comedy and means more worldwide, as far as discovering and creating careers, than this festival in this town.''

Mandel also stressed no changes are planned to the organization and that he wants the festival to have a greater digital presence on different platforms.

``Maybe even live broadcasts on YouTube or Twitch or any of those platforms. . .these are the kind of things we're talking about,'' he said.

Mandel also appeared to welcome the arrival of the alternative ``Grand Montreal comedie fest'' and its artists.

The sexual-assault controversy involving Rozon prompted the creation of that festival, which was the idea of stand-up comedian Martin Petit.

Several dozen mainly francophone Quebec comedians joined forces to put together the July 1-15 event, while the 36th edition of Just for Laughs and ``Juste Pour Rire,'' its French version, runs July 11-29.

``There's room for everybody, but I don't find that to be competition,'' said Mandel.

``I think there's always room for laughter.''

In addition to the Montreal comedy festival started in 1983, Just For Laughs produces international comedy tours, TV specials and annual festivals around the world including in Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney, Australia.
Horwath has ‘no interest’ in Ontario NDP-Liberal coalition
2018-05-15    0 views
TORONTO _ Ontario's governing Liberals claimed Monday to have found a costing error in the NDP election platform, marking yet another attack on the third party that has been gaining momentum, as the New Democratic leader stood by her plan and ruled out any possibility of a coalition to keep the Tories from seizing power.

The province's election campaign has increasingly seen the Liberals take aim at the NDP after months of focusing their attacks on the Progressive Conservatives led by Doug Ford.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne said just because her party and the NDP have similar values, doesn't mean she won't ask questions about their platform.

``We have to have the same degree of scrutiny applied to all of our plans. That's what this is about,'' Wynne said at a campaign stop in Toronto where candidates who were the province's finance minister and treasury board president outlined what the Liberals called the New Democrats' ``miscalculation.''

The Liberals claimed the NDP platform defunds hundreds of millions in apprenticeship programs, women's shelters and efforts for the implementation of legalized cannabis, among other things.

``I think this is about the NDP making a mistake,'' Wynne said. ``I think the NDP believes that the things they've left out are important. But the fact is they're not included in their plan. There's no way when you look at their plan to be able to discern how they would pay for them.''

The NDP countered that the figures in their platform were accurate, with leader Andrea Horwath saying the Liberals were being ``pretty dishonest'' with their criticism.

``This is a party which has consistently challenged the independent officers of the legislature, not agreeing with the auditor general, not agreeing with the financial accountability officer,'' she said.

``I want to assure people that the NDP numbers are in fact correct.''

Several polls have suggested the Progressive Conservatives have the most support ahead of the June 7 vote and the Liberals, who've been in power for 15 years, are lagging behind the New Democrats.

While neither Wynne nor Horwath want to see a Ford government form next month, the possibility of a coalition between the two left-leaning leaders if the Tories win a minority was ruled out Monday.

Horwath said there is no way she would join forces with the Liberals _ appearing to go further than when she was asked Sunday about the possibility.

``I am unequivocally saying I have no interest in partnering up with that party,'' Horwath said. ``They have consistently made decisions that were in their own political best interest, decisions that were in the best interest of the well-connected Liberals and high-income earners that tend to be their friends.''

Ford, meanwhile, said Ontarians don't want a ``backroom deal'' that would keep Liberals in power.

``They don't want the NDP making a backroom deal to prop up the Liberals,'' he said at a stop in Niagara Falls. ``They're the same. When you look at the NDP who destroyed this province, then you look at the Liberals and how they destroyed this province, people want change.''

Wilfrid Laurier University political science professor Barry Kay said the Liberals' focused attack on the NDP on Monday is a bad sign for the governing party.

``The NDP is moving up in the polls so the NDP is the party the Liberals are losing their votes towards,'' he said.

``They have to start fighting back. At the beginning of the campaign they hoped that it was basically a two-horse race ... between the Liberals and Conservatives, but that is not the way the most recent polls have gone.''

In their scrutiny of the NDP platform, the Liberals said the New Democrats didn't factor in government spending announced between last year's budget and this year's fiscal plan, creating a hole of at least $3 billion in their platform.

Horwath said the NDP plan was based on new spending programs the Liberals promised in their 2018 budget _ substituted with the party's campaign pledges. She added that her numbers have been verified by a former parliamentary budget off
Emergency alert mobile messages officially up and running in Canada
2018-05-15    0 views
An Amber Alert in Ontario is the first real emergency to appear on phones through a new text message alert system This real alert came after more than a week of tests Tests for the new system originally misfired across Ontario and Quebec, with only some people receiving messages Some cell phone users in didn't receive the real emergency message at all And the French version came through more than 30 minutes later Not everyone is happy with how the system works Some people even complained about receiving the alert The new Emergency Alert system is also meant for natural disasters or terrorist threats
Quebec brewery concocts special G7 beer ahead of summit
2018-05-15    0 views
A brewery in Quebec’s Charlevoix region has blended ingredients from all of the G7 member countries into one beer, ahead of June’s summit. Creator Nicolas Marrant says the main ingredient in La G7 beer is a Canadian barley malt.
Canadian-born Superman actress Margot Kidder dies at 69
2018-05-15    0 views
Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in "Superman" opposite Christopher Reeve, has died at age 69 She went on to become a mental health advocate after revealing she had bipolar disorder She also became a political activist and was arrested in 2011 during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline Kidder was born in Yellowknife and since moved to Montana to live away from the spotlight She also rose to fame for her work in "The Great Waldo Pepper" and "The Amityville Horror"
University condemned for handling of residential schools course controversy
2018-05-14    0 views
A group of Canadian professors is speaking out against a Halifax university's handling of a residential-schools course imbroglio, saying the race or ethnicity of a professor should not be a consideration when assigning a course.

Mount Saint Vincent University found itself embroiled in controversy after assigning a course about Canada's residential schools to a non-Indigenous professor, something activists say undermines reconciliation efforts.

In response, the school called a meeting this week between Indigenous faculty and staff and the professor assigned to the course to determine a way forward.

But the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship said in a letter Monday that the decision to call a meeting undercuts university collegiality and academic integrity.

Mark Mercer, president of the society and a philosophy professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, said it's up to the Mount's history department to consider a professor's expertise and perspectives. He said these matters should be judged on academic grounds alone.

``The race or ethnicity of the professor is not an academic ground and, thus, should not be a consideration,'' Mercer said in a letter to Elizabeth Church, vice-president academic and provost at the school.

``The idea that only Indigenous scholars can teach topics involving Indigenous People is false and pernicious. Mount Saint Vincent University should clearly and forcefully repudiate it.''

The university should stand by its decision to assign the course to a qualified professor, he added.

On Friday, Church said the university has been actively recruiting Indigenous faculty, with the search ongoing for additional Indigenous professors.

``What we've tried to do is listen to the different perspectives and really try to understand how to move forward in a way that is respectful and thoughtful,'' she said. ``It's a very complex issue and we're really looking at what it means to have expertise in the topic and bringing in the perspectives that need to be there.''

The decision to assign a ``settler scholar'' to teach the course was decried on social media last week as a kind of historical appropriation and reinforcement of the systemic oppression of First Nations.

Critics said only Indigenous Peoples have the lived experience to understand the complex and cumulative ways they've been discriminated against, and that they should teach their own history.

``Part of reconciliation is making space for Indigenous faculty members at universities and Indigenous knowledge perspectives,'' Patti Doyle-Bedwell, a Mi'kmaq woman and Dalhousie University professor, said on Friday.

``We're talking about indigenizing the academy.''

But Sherry Pictou, a women's studies professor at the university who is Mi'kmaq, spoke out in support of the history professor assigned to the course.

Despite the outcry on social media, Pictou said she has ``full confidence'' in Martha Walls as both as a historian and an ally to the Indigenous community.

Furthermore, she said the work of decolonizing ``cannot fall just on the backs and labour of other Indigenous academics.''

More than 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were taken from their families--often by force--to attend government residential schools, according to findings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.