Canada dives deep into data to make case to US on NAFTA

first_imgOTTAWA – The federal government is using a deep mine of digital data to map out what it says are the economic benefits to the United States of its unfettered trade with Canada, says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.Freeland told an audience in Mexico City on Tuesday that the government’s trove of data drills down into individual U.S. congressional districts to show the local upside of the trading relationship with Canada.The data is all part of the Liberal government’s full-court press on the Trump administration to demonstrate the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Donald Trump has savaged NAFTA and threatened to scrap the three-country trade pact if it can’t be renegotiated to his satisfaction.Canada, in response, has mounted an information campaign on Trump and his cabinet, as well as Congress, state and local governments to underline the mutually beneficial trade between the countries.The Trudeau government has repeated the talking point that 35 U.S. states call Canada their top customer, while nine million Americans depend on Canada for their jobs.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also assigned 11 cabinet ministers to key U.S. states to make the case for NAFTA and thinning borders.Freeland added a new set of numbers to illustrate the government’s work on that front during a day-long conference of politicians and business leaders in Mexico City.She said that since Trump’s January inauguration, there have been 235 meetings between Canadian and U.S. government officials; 110 Canadian political visits to the U.S; high-level meetings with Trump and 13 of his cabinet secretaries.Canadians have also met 115 members of Congress and 35 state governors or lieutenant-governors, she added.“If you’re an American official or legislator, it’s been hard to avoid a Canadian. Everywhere they turn, we try to be there,” said Freeland.The message was the same every time, she said: that Canada and the U.S. enjoy a balanced and mutually beneficial relationship.“We have a lot of numbers to back that up. We’ve broken it down to specific congressional districts,” she said.Freeland recalled a meeting she had with Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in which she apparently dazzled him with data about his Wisconsin district.“I told him that his district did a billion dollars of trade with Canada. And he was shocked. He said, ‘just mine? A billion dollars of exports?’“I said, ‘yes Speaker, that’s right.’”Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray said Mexico has been mounting a similar political offensive in Washington that has resulted in “countless” meetings with American counterparts.But unlike Canada, he said Mexico isn’t actually counting the number of meetings, adding: “that would be a good practice, we should start counting how many.”Freeland chimed in, saying: “I have a spreadsheet in my office, Luis.”Despite the emphasis on the U.S., Freeland reassured the Mexicans that Canada is committed to a three-way renegotiation of NAFTA.She downplayed any suggestion the NAFTA renegotiation might lead Canada to do a side deal with a hard-bargaining Trump administration — something Mexico doesn’t want.She said it is simply common sense that the 23-year-old agreement is “modernized” by all three members.“We don’t even feel this is a contentious issue. It’s just a matter of common sense. NAFTA can be modernized only with the agreement of the three parties.”Some groups, such as the Canadian American Business Council, have said that if the going gets too tough between Mexico and the U.S., Canada should consider going it alone on a separate deal with the U.S.Last week, the U.S. officially served notice of its intention to renegotiate NAFTA, triggering a 90-day consultation before the start of formal talks later this summer.Videgaray said Freeland’s presence in Mexico City sends a strong signal.“Thank you for being in Mexico,” he said. “It says a lot that you are here.”Freeland told reporters after the conference that with the U.S. starting its 90-day clock, Canada’s consultations would become more structured and formal, building on previous meetings with business, indigenous groups, unions and the provinces.Freeland offered little hint of what Canada’s negotiating strategy would be, but said one principle would be to “do no harm” to a pact that has already proven its worth.last_img read more

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Construction zone flagger seriously injured in hitandrun caught on video

first_imgBURNABY, B.C. – RCMP say a woman has been arrested after a flagger at a construction zone was seriously injured in a hit-and-run in Burnaby, B.C., that was all caught on video.Video posted on the Internet showed the flag woman directing traffic on Wednesday when she tried to stop a vehicle, but the driver kept going, running into the flagger.Police say a second flagger further down the road was also hit, resulting in minor injuries.Not long after, police say they received a complaint about a woman assaulting two children on a street near the crash scene.Police allege the woman was the same suspect from the hit-and-run and say they are considering criminal or Motor Vehicle Act charges.They say the flagger remains in hospital with a head injury and bruising.last_img read more

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Preparations underway to welcome more BC wildfire evacuees home

first_imgKAMLOOPS, B.C. – The mayor of Williams Lake, B.C., says the city is ready to welcome thousands of residents home, as soon as fire officials give the okay.About 10,000 residents of the Interior city were forced to leave more than a week ago when flames from several wildfires threatened to cut highway access.Mayor Walt Cobb says some people have since been allowed back in to help get grocery stores, the hospital and other services ready for the looming re-entry.Regional districts make decisions to lift or impose evacuation orders, with advice from wildfire and emergency officials.Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC says the hope is for Williams Lake residents to return “early to mid-week.”About 20,000 people across the province remained displaced by wildfires yesterday, but Duffy says that number is down dramatically from last week’s tally of 45,000.Fire crews were still battling more than 150 fires across B-C yesterday, and fire officials have warned that more winds are anticipated for the Cariboo region tomorrow and Thursday.last_img read more

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Bride launches classaction lawsuit against Air Transat for ruining wedding

first_imgMONTREAL – A disgruntled B.C. bride has filed a national class-action lawsuit against Air Transat for ruining her wedding by allegedly misrepresenting flights as non-stop.Vancouver law firm Rosenberg Kosakoski LLP said Wednesday it has launched the claim against the airline operated by Montreal-based tour company Transat A.T. (TSX:TRZ).The claim alleges the airline fraudulently misrepresented its efforts that were designed to increase ticket prices and reduce costs by using “sub-standard aircraft.”The law firm says Air Transat advertised direct flights that typically garner higher prices. However, the aircraft ultimately made stops that were not disclosed to passengers until the plane was airborne.The class action was filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court by Jessica Spencer, a 33-year-old accountant from Victoria, on behalf of herself and other passengers who were misled.Spencer claims Air Transat’s actions ruined her dream destination wedding.The lawsuit hasn’t been tested in court.Transat couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.The class-action suit comes as the Canadian Transportation Agency held a hearing Wednesday about passengers being trapped for hours aboard two Air Transat jets earlier this summer in sweltering heat with a lack of water and facing the stench of vomit in the cabin.Christophe Hennebelle, the airline’s vice-president of corporate affairs, offered an apology to passengers, saying the hearings showed the complexity of the situation on July 31.Both planes were originally bound for Montreal — one from Brussels, the other from Rome — but were forced to divert to Ottawa due to weather conditions. They were among about 20 other planes that couldn’t land in Montreal or Toronto during a two-hour window.last_img read more

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Injured veterans to learn whether lawsuit over disability pensions can proceed

first_imgOTTAWA – The Trudeau government’s treatment of injured veterans will be under the spotlight Monday when a B.C. court rules whether a landmark lawsuit filed by six disabled ex-soldiers can proceed.The case, known as Equitas, revolves around a decision in 2006 to replace lifelong pensions for disabled vets with a single lump-sum payment, career training and targeted income-replacement programs.The veterans, who launched their lawsuit five years ago, allege those changes discriminate against today’s service members because the previous pension system provided more financial support over a lifetime.They want the government to bring back the disability pensions, or at least something equivalent.While the pension changes and lawsuit were launched under the previous Conservative government, Monday’s ruling could have major implications for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.That’s because Trudeau campaigned with Equitas members during the last federal election campaign in 2015, and the Liberals were the only party that promised to reinstate the lifelong pensions.But two years later, that commitment remains unfulfilled. And while the government has said it will provide more details by the end of the year, many veterans are worried that it will fall far short of what was promised.Meanwhile, the Liberals have continued to fight the lawsuit, which the Harper Conservatives appeared on the verge of settling before losing the election.Monday’s ruling by the B.C. Court of Appeal has been a long time coming; a panel of three judges has been weighing since June 2016 whether the case has enough merit to proceed.Lawyer Don Sorochan, who represents the Equitas veterans, says a ruling in favour of his clients would represent a big step forward, but that there will be many more proceedings before victory can be declared.“Legally, it goes back into the grind,” he said, saying the next step would likely be to see whether the case can be certified as a class-action lawsuit.Aaron Bedard, one of the six injured veterans involved in the case, said he and the others knew that it would be a long fight when they launched the lawsuit, but they felt it was something they had to do.“This is an issue that affects people who are vulnerable,” said Bedard, who worked with the Liberals during the last election and says he trusted Trudeau to bring back the old disability pensions.The fear now, he said, is that the Liberals will simply take the lump-sum payment, which is worth a maximum of $360,000, depending on the extent of a veteran’s injuries, and spread it out over several decades.If the B.C. Court of Appeal rules against the Equitas veterans, Bedard said the group is prepared to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court — and to polling stations across the country during the next election.“There’s no position where this is a win-win for them,” he said. “And it could bode very poorly for them in the next election if they keep playing games with us.”— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.last_img read more

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Medical users fear legalized recreational pot may leave them behind in puff

first_imgFor Mandy McKnight, the benefits of cannabis oil to treat her son Liam’s debilitating seizures seem almost miraculous — the nine-year-old has gone from being wracked daily by dozens of the life-threatening episodes to having days now when he experiences none.But like many Canadians authorized by doctors to use marijuana to treat a wide range of medical disorders, McKnight is worried what will happen when recreational pot for adults becomes legally available through government-sanctioned retail outlets in July.Will there be enough product to supply both markets? And how will medical users manage the cost, which will be subject to the same excise tax levied on consumers merely looking to get high?“I’m worried about how are they going to guarantee that his medicine is in stock every month and it’s not going to all be bought up by the recreational users,” says McKnight of Constance Bay, Ont., near Ottawa, whose son has dramatically improved since he began taking oral doses of an oil high in CBD (cannabidiol) but low in marijuana’s psychoactive component THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).“Before we started the cannabis oil, he was having upwards on a bad day of maybe 80 seizures a day,” the mother of four says of Liam, who has Dravet syndrome. “There were times when we were calling an ambulance a lot, and he was actually even airlifted into the children’s hospital quite a few times.“It hasn’t freed Liam from disease, but it has certainly improved his quality of life by 1,000 per cent,” she says of cannabis oil, which the family purchases through a licensed producer for $60 per bottle plus GST/HST and shipping costs.Liam’s pediatrician has prescribed 22 bottles per month to treat his seizures, but McKnight admits that she and her husband Dave can afford only half that number.And when the excise tax comes into force once recreational marijuana is legalized, that will add to the financial burden of providing a medicine for their son that isn’t covered under private or provincial insurance.“We’re not low-income,” she says, “and we cannot even come close to affording Liam’s medicine.”Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, or CFAMM, has been lobbying the federal government to nip the idea of taxing therapeutic cannabis in the bud, arguing that no other prescription pharmaceutical is subject to taxation.“Affordability is the No. 1 barrier to access for medical cannabis patients and any kind of taxation or price increases will affect patients’ health and fundamentally isn’t how we treat medications from a tax policy perspective in Canada,” argues Jonathan Zaid, founder and executive director of CFAMM.The federal plan would add $1 of excise tax per gram of cannabis or 10 per cent of the final retail price, whichever is higher.MP Bill Blair, the Liberals’ point man on legalizing marijuana, has said his government is committed to maintaining a functional medical marijuana system. But “at the same time, we do not want the taxation levels to be an incentive for people to utilize that system inappropriately and so we propose that the taxation levels for both non-medical and medical will be aligned.”Zaid, who began using medicinal marijuana about four years ago to treat a condition called daily persistent headache, says the government seems to think some people may fake illness to get access to cheaper pot.“While we acknowledge that price differential could be a potential concern, we don’t see that as a reason to disadvantage the 200,000-plus Canadians who legitimately access cannabis for medical purposes,” says Zaid.Health Canada predicts medicinal marijuana users will grow in numbers to 400,000 by 2024. At a time when Canada is battling an opioid dependency and overdose crisis, CFAMM maintains Ottawa shouldn’t be financially penalizing patients who are using a safer alternative to treat their pain — an alternative the organization also believes should be distributed through pharmacies.For Daphnee Elisma of Montreal, cannabis is the only drug that has helped relieve her suffering.A 2010 operation for a brain aneurysm left her with incapacitating migraines, while the removal of lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery in 2014 resulted in the development of complex regional pain syndrome in her right arm.“We’ve tried so many drugs, including opioids,” says Elisma, 42, who spends about $500 a month on oil and dried cannabis, which she primarily ingests through vaping.Unlike recreational users, “I’m not using cannabis on the weekend just for fun and mixing it with alcohol,” she says, balking at the idea that she and other therapeutic users should be hit with the excise duty, which she calls essentially another “sin” tax like that levied on alcohol and tobacco.“I use it out of medical necessity, and that’s what we need the government to understand, to make that clear distinction.”Medicinal users are also concerned about supply, given that many of the country’s licensed producers have indicated they plan to grow and distribute weed for both patients and the recreational market.“Patient groups have expressed concerns that some companies might pivot away from the medical system and focus solely on the consumer system,” says Cam Battley, executive vice-president of Edmonton-based producer Aurora Cannabis Inc.“So we’ve made a commitment that our medical patients come first,” he says, noting that Aurora is part of the industry organization Cannabis Canada, which also wants to see the double taxation on medicinal pot go up in smoke.“It’s morally wrong in our view to tax people who already have a chronic illness and many of whom are already in income-constrained situations.”Minimal insurance coverage — by both private and provincial drug plans — also has medical cannabis users fuming.With the exception of limited coverage for veterans and patients with health spending accounts — discretionary funding that covers such services as chiropractic and massage therapy, for example — most private insurance plans don’t reimburse the cost of medical cannabis. And no province or territory covers the drug under public plans.“There’s less coverage in terms of public-sector coverage, which is extremely unfortunate, given that most patients eligible for coverage by provincial formularies are generally people who have low incomes or are on disability,” observes Zaid.“So these are people who really need coverage the most and they’re getting the least support right now.”McKnight says since Liam started taking cannabis oil, he’s been weaned off all other anti-epileptic medications and has not once been rushed to hospital or admitted due to seizures.“So I think overall we are saving the health-care system thousands of dollars,” she says. “It feels to me as if we’re being punished.”– Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.last_img read more

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Vancouver man banned from dance club fails in bid for human rights

first_imgVANCOUVER – The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal won’t reconsider its refusal to hear a Vancouver man’s complaint that his dance club banned him for being “creepy,” and discriminated against him on the basis of age, sex and race.Mokua Gichuru asked the tribunal to rethink a 2017 finding that the Vancouver Swing Society “has a right to ban individuals for inappropriate behaviour, regardless of sex, age or any other characteristic.”Gichuru claimed new evidence from a club member’s March 2017 Facebook post supported his request for reconsideration because he said it revealed the swing club refuses to consider harassment complaints raised by men and won’t listen to “a man’s side of the story.”The post, about unrelated sexual assault allegations made two years earlier against an international dance instructor who was black, said the choice to stand with the victim included banning the abuser, a reference Gichuru argued was aimed at him, an older, black man.But tribunal member Walter Rilkoff disagreed that the Facebook post refers to Gichuru or that it supports an allegation that the dance club does not fairly handle complaints of harassment.Gichuru initially complained that he was accused of “mansplaining,” or explaining something in a condesending way, and was unfriended on Facebook by a club member after posting an opinion about United States politics, but the exchange degenerated to complaints he had harassed a female club member.After those details surfaced, Gichuru was banned from volunteering or attending swing society events for the rest of that year, leading to his first appeal to the tribunal and its refusal to consider his case further.“From the information you provide, older men are allowed membership within (the Vancouver Swing Society) without restriction,” Rilkof says in his decision release Feb. 1, 2017.“It appears your harassment complaint did not proceed and you were instructed not to attend events on Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, and perhaps indefinitely, due to what (the club) viewed as inappropriate behaviour,” Rilkoff says, adding the club has the right to make that ruling.Following Gichuru’s second application, Rilkoff agreed to examine what the man said was new evidence from the 2017 Facebook post, but he again found it did not support an allegation of “blatant stereotyping” of older, black men interacting with younger women.“The club wanted Mr. Gichuru to consider his role as an older man in his conduct toward (the victim,)” Rilkoff says.“Mr. Gichuru believes that this stereotypes him as a ‘creep.’ However, the material he provides does not support this belief.”The decision says Gichuru “has not alleged facts which, if proven, could be a violation of the code.”last_img read more

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Quebec finance minister to table 201819 provincial budget today

first_imgQUEBEC – Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao is expected to table an election-themed budget today ahead of the fall provincewide vote.The government has said it intends to introduce measures to reduce the province’s debt by $10 billion over five years by dipping into a special fund that was created in 2006.The province believes it will save $1 billion in interest payments.Leitao says the budget will focus on the quality of life of Quebecers.The budget will be Leitao’s fifth budget and the final one before the provincial election on Oct. 1.The finance minister will table the document in the national assembly shortly after 4 p.m. ET.last_img read more

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Vancouver mayor to apologize to residents of Chinese descent for past wrongs

first_imgVANCOUVER – Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will formally apologize next month for past discrimination against residents of Chinese descent.The apology will acknowledge the wrongdoings of past legislation, regulations and policies of previous city councils.“The historical wrongs of Vancouver City Council need to be addressed, particularly as the city is focused now on being a city of reconciliation and that extends beyond our First Nations to people of other cultures who faced racism and discrimination in the past,” Robertson said in an interview Monday.“This is an important step to address that historic travesty and move forward.”Robertson will make the apology on April 22 as part of a larger Chinatown Culture Day event.Former city councillors Bill Yee and Maggie Ip will also read it in Chinese languages.Robertson said delivering the apology within the community at a public event rather than at a government building would help convey the city’s “intention to make sure that Chinese culture is supported and embraced.”Between 2016 and 2017, the city established an advisory group of Chinese and non-Chinese experts and community leaders to help guide the development of a formal apology, which was approved by council in November.Their report said residents of Chinese descent weren’t allowed to vote when the city incorporated in 1886 until 1948, after veterans of the First and Second World Wars lobbied for voting rights. The City of Vancouver also advocated for discriminatory policies like the federal head tax and barred Chinese-Canadians from civic employment between 1890 and 1952.City policies and practices also included various attempts at segregation in schools, public spaces like swimming pools, and other public areas including residential housing, hospitals, and even cemeteries. Because of restrictions at local cemeteries, Chinese residents had to be returned to China for burial, the report said.The City of New Westminster became the first B.C. municipality to formally apologize to Chinese-Canadians for past discrimination in 2010.In 2015, Chinese-Canadians received an apology from former premier Christy Clark on behalf of British Columbia for more than 100 racist laws, regulations and policies of past B.C. governments.She pointed to Chinese immigrants’ contributions to building the national railway system, noting that one Chinese worker died for every mile of track between Vancouver and Calgary.In 2006, the federal government offered an apology for the head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants and included $20,000 in compensation for families or surviving people who paid the tax.Thousands of Chinese immigrants arrived in Canada starting in the 1880s to help build the country’s railway, but starting in 1885, the federal government imposed a head tax of $50, which rose to $500 by the early 1900s.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Bill Yee and Maggie Ip were current city councillors.last_img read more

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Documents show Liberals took eyes ways to tax Netflix like Quebec plans

first_imgOTTAWA – Federal officials have taken a close look at how the government can make online services like Netflix and Amazon voluntarily collect sales tax, similar to the model Quebec plans to bring in next year.Pages of briefing notes provided to Heritage Minister Melanie Joly over the course of 2017 detail how certain governments around the world have required foreign-based streaming services to register with the government in order to collect and pay taxes, rather than imposing new taxes on the services.The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, say countries should make it as simple as possible for companies to register with national tax offices to collect revenue on which they are currently missing out.Quebec’s Liberal government announced in its budget Tuesday that it would do exactly that beginning next year to put provincial sales tax on Netflix and any purchases from Amazon. The provincial government believes it could earn about $154.5 million over the next five years from the measure.The cost of a Netflix subscription has gone up in two of the jurisdictions reviewed in the documents to Joly — Japan and Australia — after the company added a sales tax to its fees.The NDP called on the federal government Wednesday to force Netflix to collect and remit taxes just as it does in jurisdictions like the European Union.“The government needs to modernize its laws and put everyone on the same footing. It’s just common sense,” NDP parliamentary leader Guy Caron said in French during the daily question period.“The reality is that taxpayers would pay these taxes,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired back. Trudeau was adamant the Liberals would not increase taxes for Canadians “who are already paying enough for their digital subscriptions.”Trudeau’s position on the tax issue has not been an easy sell to Quebec Liberal MPs who have been under pressure from their constituents to reverse the party’s stand.Indeed, Netflix has been a lightning rod of discontent in Quebec ever since it agreed to invest $500 million over five years in Canada as part of the federal government’s cultural policy, which included a promise to set up a Canadian production facility.Netflix also committed to spend $25 million to develop French-language content, but the lack of a contractual obligation to actually go ahead and produce it came under heavy scrutiny in Quebec, where Joly and her plan were pilloried and dismissed as naive.Foreign-based streaming services without a physical presence in Canada don’t have to collect or remit federal or provincial sales taxes. Instead, it is up to consumers to pay the sales tax to tax collectors, but in reality this rarely happens.Government lawyers have issued dozens of pages of legal opinions about placing a levy or sales tax on Netflix. The contents of those documents that went to Joly have been blacked out with officials saying they cannot be publicly released because the information is subject to solicitor-client privilege.Last week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who is responsible for tax changes, said the Liberals want to ensure online firms “pay the appropriate level of tax,” noting a 2020 deadline Canada and other G7 nations have set for a tax regime. Morneau’s office pointed to those comments when asked for reaction to the Quebec budget and the briefing notes to Joly.The documents to Joly don’t reference how much different governments have earned since imposing the online tax regime.A June 2016 briefing note raised concerns about the idea, saying “little can be done to enforce a sales tax regime, even when a foreign-based company has registered with the relevant tax authority.”That same note also questioned whether other countries, particularly the United States, would help Canada recoup the uncollected sales tax.— Follow @jpress on Twitter.last_img read more

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Drug package including shatter seized at Atlantic Institution in New Brunswick

first_imgRENOUS, N.B. – A package of drugs that included a marijuana concentrate known as shatter has been seized at the federal Atlantic Institution prison in New Brunswick.A news release from the jail says the contraband seized included just over 27 grams of the potent form of cannabis, which sometimes looks like a sheet of maple syrup or thin toffee on wax paper.The Correctional Service of Canada says it has been heightening its measures to stop contraband from entering the high-security jail.It says the tools include ion scanners and drug-detector dogs to search buildings, personal property, inmates and visitors.There were no details provided on when the seizure occurred or how the drug was detected.Evidence regarding the seizure at the prison in Renous has been handed over for further investigation by RCMP in the area.last_img read more

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York University students not optimistic strike will end anytime soon

first_imgTORONTO – York University students aren’t feeling hopeful that they’ll be back in class soon, even after some of the school’s striking contract workers voted to accept the university’s latest offer.CUPE 3903 Unit 2 said more than 1,000 course directors and some teaching instructors who are not full-time graduate students will return to work on Monday, but about 2,000 other teaching and graduate assistants, who belong to two other units, will remain on the picket line of the 15-week strike.Students, and even some staff, say they are confused about when, or if, classes will resume in lieu of Unit 2 accepting the offer and don’t feel optimistic that the uncertainty caused by the battle that began in March over wages and job security will end anytime soon.CUPE 3903 chairman Devin Lefebvre did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but in a Friday news release, stressed that the units that have yet to agree to the offer “cannot accept precarious work and the decline of academic integrity at York” and “will continue to work toward a fair contract.”Meanwhile, York University spokesperson Barbara Joy said in an email on Sunday that the university has been working with staff to facilitate a return to classes, saying “this has been a long and difficult process for everyone involved.”Joy said the university is promising to provide details on classes, which she noted will not resume immediately, adding that students will be notified in the coming days.However, Carrie Cooper, a third-year history student, said she doesn’t feel optimistic that she will be headed back to class anytime soon, because she said she believes the university has been prolonging reaching an agreement, in hopes that workers will just give in to the school’s demands.“I have seen the York administration’s true colours with the way they have dealt with students and workers. … Obviously, they don’t care,” Cooper said.“Everyone is saying wait for your professors to email you (about the status of classes), but a lot of students have a) left or b) started working at a job for the rest of the summer. … There is confusion and tensions and the school is in chaos.”Cooper said students have been emailing each other for advice about whether they should finish assignments or expect to be called back to classes soon. Many, she said, are feeling deterred from continuing their education with masters or PhD degrees and others are eyeing transfers to other universities.Fellow third-year student Robyn Osbourne, who is studying law and society, considered transferring schools, but said she is sticking with York because she is more than half-way done her education.She said she is “is not necessarily hopeful” the strike will end soon. Because it has been so lengthy and there has been a lack of summer classes offered in lieu of its duration, she will have to delay her graduation and commit to a fifth year of classes to get all the credits she needs.Even if the strike ends and classes resume, Osbourne said it will still put students in a bind because many like her grabbed jobs after losing hope of the university reaching an agreement with workers anytime soon.“We can’t just abandon those commitments because we won’t have the money to pay for school next year,” Osbourne said.Joanna Pearce, a teaching assistant in the Department of Humanities who is part of the striking Unit 1, said she is just as frustrated as the students.She said she has been fielding emails from them seeking clarity about what is happening with classes, credits and degrees, but said even she doesn’t have answers.She is particularly concerned about students who are transferring to other universities and colleges in the fall and are in danger of not being able to move because they don’t have grades to provide the institutions they are going to.“I really miss my students,” she said. “I really hate not being able to give them a clear idea of what is happening and what their next steps are.”last_img read more

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Trans Mountain a frustrating angerinducing process for Alberta premier

first_imgFORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the challenges facing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion shows her province can do everything by the book and still get shortchanged.Notley says the recent Federal Court of Appeal decision quashing the expansion project has provoked frustration and anger in Alberta, but her government will continue to fight to get it built.She says without it, the ongoing pipeline bottlenecks will continue to cost Canada $40 million a day in a discounted price for oil.“I know I speak for everyone here in this room and every Albertan in saying that we are frustrated and, let’s go with it, angry about the recent court decision on Trans Mountain,” Notley said at the official opening of Suncor’s new Fort Hills oilsands extraction site, north of Fort McMurray on Monday.“Alberta and Albertans have done everything right and so far it hasn’t worked, but you know what we are not going to let it rest. We are going to keep fighting.”The Appeal Court recently struck down the pipeline on the grounds the federal government did not consult properly with First Nations and did not take into account the impact of tanker traffic on marine life.The Trans Mountain project would double the existing line from Alberta to B.C. to triple the amount of oil shipped to the coast, allowing producers to sell to Pacific Rim markets and fetch a better price.The Alberta government says lack of pipeline access is forcing its producers to sell exclusively to the U.S. market at a substantial price reduction.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is considering all options to get the project restarted. Notley met with Trudeau last week in Edmonton and said Trudeau promised her a new timeline within weeks.Ottawa now owns the existing Trans Mountain line, purchasing it along with other assets recently for $4.5 billion to ensure the expansion gets completed.In the meantime, Notley has pulled Alberta out of the federal climate change program, which calls for escalating levies on carbon emissions.Notley has said getting Trans Mountain up and running was quid pro quo for Alberta signing on to the federal carbon program, and that Alberta will stay on the sidelines until the Trans Mountain problem is fixed.Alberta retains its own climate plan, which taxes carbon at $30 a tonne, but for now won’t increase it in 2021 to keep it in lockstep with the federal program.— By Dean Bennett in EdmontonNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version stated Notley said the battlenecks were costing Alberta $40 million a day.last_img read more

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Aunt of Sarah McIver says she believes school officials in China made

first_imgDRUMHELLER, Alta. — The aunt of an Alberta woman who has been released from custody in China says she believes it was a mistake by her niece’s employer that resulted in her arrest.Sarah McIver was detained earlier this month over a work-permit issue related to her teaching job, but her aunt Rhona McIver says Sarah is now on her way back to her hometown of Drumheller, Alta.Rhona McIver said she believes her niece arrived in China to learn that the school she’d planned to teach at no longer had a job for her, so officials gave her work at another school.“That’s where the mistake got made,” McIver said from Drumheller in an interview Saturday.“She probably didn’t even think about it.”McIver’s arrest followed those of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians living and working in China, on allegations they were harming China’s national security.China arrested Kovrig and Spavor separately after Canadian authorities detained a Chinese technology executive in Vancouver. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of electronics giant Huawei Technologies, is wanted in the United States on allegations she lied to American banks as part of an effort to get around sanctions on Iran.China and Canada both insisted McIver’s case was different from Kovrig’s and Spavor’s.Rhona McIver said Sarah’s mother and sister have driven to B.C. to pick her up. She explained that while in China, McIver adopted a puppy, and even though she was able to fly from China to Canada with the dog, there was a problem flying it to Calgary.“One morning she was going to school and somebody threw out some pups, so she rescued one,” McIver said, adding they could be back in Drumheller by Saturday evening.McIver said her niece like to travel and had been to China before, but only as a tourist.A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said last week that a Canadian woman had received an administrative penalty for illegal employment but did not provide further details.A spokesman with Global Affairs Canada confirmed Friday that a Canadian citizen who was detained in China this month was released and has returned to Canada, but would not release further information due to provisions under the Privacy Act.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Notley encouraged by industry interest in building new Alberta refinery

first_imgCALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her government has met with about a dozen companies about potentially building a new oil refinery.Last month the province invited the industry to pitch a brand new refinery or an expansion of an existing one, as long as it uses Alberta-produced oil.Notley said at the time it was too early to provide specifics on what the province might offer in any construction deal.Notley told cabinet ministers in Calgary Monday that the demonstration of interest so far has been encouraging..@RachelNotley in #yyc says there’s been lots of interest in building a new oil refinery and the process is ongoing. pic.twitter.com/HlNDGKFx6R— Kayla Bruch (@KaylaBruch1) January 28, 2019“Not only does this kind of upgrading create good-paying, long-term jobs for Albertans, but it also helps us hedge against the issues of pipeline capacity and the differential,” said Notley.She adds the energy diversification unit of the government will continue to meet with companies, which have until Feb. 8 to submit a Request for Expressions of Interest.“Albertans have been getting pennies on the dollar for this for far too long, and that has to change, and so we need to move on it, and we need to change the history of previous governments’ failure to make real progress on this matter,” said Notley.Another project was announced last week, in which Notley says Calgary-based Value Creation Inc. is on track to invest $2 billion in an upgrading facility in Alberta and create more than 2,000 construction jobs and another 200 full-time positions once it’s up and running.READ MORE: Notley announces new investment from Calgary energy company — With files from City Newslast_img read more

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Gala So White Zero diversity among nominees for Quebec TV viewers choice

first_imgMONTREAL — Viewers’ choice awards celebrating the most popular stars on Quebec television will be handed out next month, and all of the 70 stars nominated are white.In a province where roughly 15 per cent of the population is from visible minorities — rising to about 25 per cent in the Montreal area — the Artis gala reflects the lack of diversity among the most prominent people on Quebec television.Sophie Pregent, president of Quebec’s main artists union, said the homogeneity of the Artis nominees “makes my heart hurt. It’s not a pleasant thing to see.”It’s not as if there aren’t enough people of colour to choose from, she said, noting roughly 15 per cent of her 8,500 active members are second-generation immigrants. The number climbs to 25 per cent if third-generation immigrants are included, she added.There are many actors of colour on Quebec television, Pregent said, but there are very few in leading roles on the most popular shows. Therefore, she explained, those actors aren’t top of mind when Quebecers vote for their favourite stars.The Artis awards are based on the results of a multi-layered poll of 8,000 Quebecers, conducted twice a year by the Leger firm. At the end of November, about 2,000 Quebecers — half online and half by telephone — are asked to spontaneously list their favourite television star in 14 categories, including drama series, sports, news and variety shows.The firm calculates the top five choices and polls another 2,000 Quebecers, asking them to pick their favourites among the names chosen by the first group. Leger repeats the process with another 4,000 people at the end of January.Christian Bourque, Leger’s executive vice-president, said the nominees “tend to be the main characters of the most popular shows because they get the most visibility …. It’s more of a popularity contest.”And that’s precisely the problem, said Jerome Pruneau, head of Diversite artistique Montreal, a group trying to promote cultural diversity in the arts and culture scene in Quebec’s largest city. Through the arts, Quebecers are presented with an identity that is a “white, francophone fantasy,” he said.In the 1960s, when the Quebec nation was shedding its Catholic identity, the arts industry played a major role in the construction of its culture and in the protection of the French language, he said. Today, Pruneau added, the imagined Quebec culture hasn’t kept up with the times.“We have the impression that this is the only identity that represents us,” he said, “and it’s what we see unfortunately on our television shows, in the theatre, in our politics and in the public space — a little bit everywhere.”Haitian-born Quebec actress Fabienne Colas called Monday’s announcement of the Artis nominations “a sad day” for Quebec. “And especially since the majority of the nominees are from Montreal — our city, which is one of the most multi-ethnic in North America.”Her solution is for broadcasters to demand diversity quotas in shows broadcast on their networks. “When there are clear quotas, we have the urgency to find the talent,” she said. “When there aren’t any, we find all the reasons in the world not to integrate diversity.”The issue of race and representation in the arts gained wide attention in Quebec last year after the Montreal International Jazz Festival cancelled a show about black slavery from renowned director, Robert Lepage. Activists protested the performances and accused Lepage and the show’s main performer, Betty Bonifassi — both of whom are white — of appropriating black culture.Pregent said Quebecers are becoming increasingly aware of the lack of representation in the province’s arts industry. Having more people of colour in leading, well-paid roles on the most popular shows “is the last step we have to climb,” she said. Reaching that goal will take more of an effort from production companies and the big broadcasters, she said.Quebecor Inc., a dominant player in the province’s cultural industry, is broadcasting this year’s Artis awards. The company did not return requests for comment.Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Entire system needs to change Indigenous women encounter unique issues regarding reproductive

first_imgCALGARY – Access to appropriate healthcare, specifically surrounding a woman’s reproductive choices, varies drastically between communities.Indigenous women in Canada have faced unique problems throughout history when it comes to reproductive healthcare.“When we go into a doctor’s office, we are not often asked the usual [pregnancy] questions, like, ‘What are you planning?’ It’s often questions like, ‘How are you raising your child? Are you working? Do you have an education? Where are you living? Are you a drug addict?’”RELATED: A rally to protect women’s reproductive rightsNicole Eshkakogan, Scientific Director of Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society, explained she, along with countless other Indigenous women, has experienced frustrating and degrading doctors appointments where she believes the conversations between patients and primary care providers are neither healthy nor productive.“[We need to] make sure Indigenous women have access and control over their reproductive health. But, also, if they choose to have children, having the right to mother those children and care for those children.”Birth alerts and coerced sterilizationEshkakogan points to something known as a birth alert, where Children’s Services is notified when an Indigenous woman is pregnant. Mothers are then monitored very closely through their pregnancy.“[Women] give birth in fear knowing that their baby may be apprehended before they can even breastfeed their baby for the first time,” said Eshkakogan.More stories of moments-old newborns being seized are popping up, two recent cases garnering attention occurring in Kamloops and Winnipeg. In Kamloops, APTN reported an Indigenous couple had their first-ever baby and were elated. An hour and a half later, officers turned up at the hospital and took the newborn baby.READ MORE: ‘Traumatic to witness a lack of empathy’ says mother of apprehended newbornIn a case out of Winnipeg, a woman had signed notarized papers authorizing her aunt to adopt the baby. Hours after the woman gave birth, Manitoba’s department of Child and Family Services arrived at the hospital to remove the newborn.In this instance, the family went to court and the baby was eventually returned to the mother and her aunt.WATCH: Outrage over seizure of newborn by CFS Another issue Eshkakogan brings up is coerced sterilization which is still happening in Canada. Class-action lawsuits have been proposed in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and the Senate’s human rights committee has launched a study into coerced sterilization.It was also flagged in the recently-released final report on the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).READ MORE:Missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry flags coerced sterilization ‘The door has widened’: senator hears of mounting sterilization concerns Feds reject push to amend Criminal Code to outlaw forced sterilization Indigenous women coerced into sterilization, claim says … What happens next?Indigenous artist Wendy Walker says access to appropriate healthcare isn’t something that’s limited to reproductive health. She says when a family member suffered a heart attack at a surprisingly young age, nurses and doctors immediately assumed the patient was a drug addict.“The nurses at the hospital were convinced that because of her age she had to be a hardcore drug user. She was told that she was a hardcore drug user. This woman has never used drugs in her life,” she explained.“Assumptions are made about our women. If something doesn’t fit within their normal, then you must be this or that… We do face challenges within the system that are not the same as non-Indigenous women. We want that equality.”What needs to change? Walker says, “The entire system.”Both Walker and Eshkakogan say voices of Indigenous women need to be included and taken seriously.“You need to take our voices into it–that’s the ‘what’ and that’s the ‘how’… They need to put policies in place with us at the table,” said Walker.For more on reproductive rights in Canada, check out the page for the special series ‘Elephant in the Womb’.last_img read more

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Judge strikes down Quebec law forbidding home cultivation of cannabis

first_imgMONTREAL — A court has invalidated the provisions of Quebec’s cannabis law prohibiting home cultivation of the drug.Quebec Superior Court Justice Manon Lavoie ruled Tuesday that Quebec’s legislation infringed upon the jurisdiction of the federal government, which has sole responsibility for legislating on criminal matters.The judge ruled unconstitutional the sections of the Quebec Cannabis Regulation Act prohibiting the possession and the cultivation for personal purposes of cannabis plants.The decision means it is now legal to grow cannabis plants at home in Quebec, but the lawyer who argued the case on behalf of a man seeking to strike down the sections cautioned against a rush to plant cannabis.Julien Fortier said the province’s lawyers could appeal and ask that the contested provisions remain in force for the duration of the appeal.Federal law allows Canadian citizens to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, but Quebec chose in June 2018 to legislate against home cultivation.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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NDP hopes in New Brunswick dim further with resignations to the Greens

first_imgThe NDP’S stature in New Brunswick ahead of the October federal election has taken a hit following a wave of defections to the Greens.Fourteen candidates who ran for the New Brunswick NDP in the last provincial election said today they were leaving to join the provincial and federal Green parties.The New Democrats also lost Jonathan Richardson today, the federal party’s executive member for Atlantic Canada.He told a news conference the NDP did not have a path to victory in any of the province’s 10 ridings and invited his NDP colleagues to join him with the Greens.The defections come as the NDP has so far failed to nominate a single candidate in any of New Brunswick’s ridings with the federal election less than 50 days away.Federal Green party deputy leader Daniel Green says the resignations are a sign voters are increasingly looking to his party as the true vehicle in federal politics to fight climate change.On Aug. 19, Quebec MP Pierre Nantel left the NDP and joined the Greens after criticizing his former’s party position on the environment.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Darius Rucker To Perform At Cox Charities Benefit Concert

first_imgTickets are now on sale for the 3rd Annual Cox Charities Benefit Concert featuring country music star and former Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker.The concert will be held on Friday, September 21st at 7:00 pm at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk and tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.All proceeds from the concert will be used by Cox Charities to award grants to qualified non-profit organizations that provide educational programs that further the academic achievement and development of young people through science, technology, mentoring, literacy and other areas promoting youth education. Over the last three years, 19 Hampton Roads area organizations have been awarded grants through Cox Charities including: Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, the Center for Child and Family Services, Children’s Harbor, Homes FORKids, Preschool Partners and REACH.“I consider my life a testament to the importance of investing in our youth,” said Gary McCollum, SVP and general manager for Cox Virginia. “From an early age, youth organizations and caring mentors taught me the value of education. It has been the key to my personal success. Country music star Darius Rucker’s performance this year will help the young people in Cox Virginia’s communities reach their highest potential.”Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

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