Ahmedabad: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday batted for promoting nationalism to deal with challenges like terrorism and said the country now has both vision and leadership, which were lacking in the past causing it to lag behind other nations. Addressing a gathering of BJP supporters here, the former foreign secretary praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “vision of new India”, stressing things were changing under his leadership. Also Read – IAF Day: Tributes paid to soldiers killed in line of duty in Jammu Jaishankar, who on Friday won the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, was here to participate in the BJP’s nation-wide membership drive along with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and other party leaders. “If we look at India’s history, our internal disputes have been our weakness, from which others have benefited. We should promote nationalism and increase national security for challenges like terrorism. For that, we need leadership and persistency seen in the last few years that were lacking earlier,” he said. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps, 20 launch pads along LoC As a career diplomat, Jaishankar said, he worried about India lagging behind countries like China, which he said was due to shortcomings in vision and conviction. “You know that I worked for 40 years in the service of the nation as India’s diplomat and foreign secretary. During this period, when I looked at the world, I found there are some countries which have progressed a lot in 20-30 years. “To tell you frankly, there are also countries which have moved ahead of us even when they were at our level 30 years back, like China,” he said, adding it was due to lack of vision and conviction. “Today, both have changed. There is a vision of new India that our prime minister has put before us. And there is also commitment due to the vision,” he said. Jaishankar said he was drawn towards the party due to the commitment shown by the government. He said that only those countries have progressed where people take it as their responsibility to take their nation forward. “And this is possible only when we all consider participating in issues and policies concerning public. Country will grow if this enthusiasm grows,” he said. “This new vision, new commitment, is what made a man like me to come into public life, to join this party,” he said. He said there was need to collaborate with other countries. “If we have to progress further, our collaboration with other countries, in terms of technology, investment, and support we can give to our people (living abroad), can make a lot of difference. If we work for this together, our country can reach another level,” he said.
Kolkata: West Bengal Education minister Partha Chatterjee has said that state-run and aided colleges should inform the government before appointing any guest lecturer. Authorities in state-run and state-aided colleges should apprise the Higher Education department before appointing any guest lecturer and not proceed on their own, Chatterjee told reporters here on Friday evening. “We will shortly issue an order asking state-run and state-aided colleges not to issue advertisements recruiting guest lecturers without the knowledge of the department. Often they (colleges) do so and the department is kept in the dark about the recruitment,” the minister said. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers He said the government was assessing the ratio of guest lecturer with full time teacher and the total number of guest and full time teachers in all colleges. “After judging the figures we will be able to determine wherever there is real need of more recruitment (of a new guest lecturer) and if so then inform the Chief Minister’s Office and Finance department accordingly ,” he said. Chatterjee said the government has already undertaken steps for regularisation of those guest lecturers who are eligible as per UGC norms. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja “We are working towards regularisation of services of those guest lecturers who meet the UGC criteria. We will give weightage towards regularising their services through College Service Commission”, he said. However, those guest teachers, not meeting UGC criteria, will also be given a hearing at a meeting at Nazrul Manch, a state-run auditorium, by this month. “We will consider what can be done with their cases (guest lecturers not meeting UGC criteria) after the meeting with the representatives (of such guest lecturers not meeting UGC criteria) as the CM is sympathetic to their situation.” The government will do whatever can be done while keeping in mind its own financial condition, he said. “We are being told by the representatives of guest lecturers that they are made to do many important work in colleges and not just take classes. If their claims are true we need to do something for the deserving ones,” Chatterjee said. The minister was talking to reporters after meeting representatives of guest lecturers and representatives of state-run Sishu Siksha Kendras (SSK).
London: Fast bowler Liam Plunkett believes England were destined to win the World Cup, admitting that the lucky overthrow in the last over changed the tide in the home team’s favour in the nerve-wrecking final against New Zealand here. In a high drama encounter on Sunday night, the pendulum swung viciously in the final over with England needing nine from three balls when Ben Stokes hit Trent Boult to the deep. The return throw from Martin Guptill hit Stokes’ bat as he dived to make his ground for the second run, with the ball rebounding to the rope for additional four runs. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together It impacted the equation to the extent that the heart-stopping contest stretched to the Super Over and eventually the hosts lifted their maiden World Cup trophy on boundary counts at the iconic Lord’s here. And Plunkett said: “I don’t believe in the stars and all that stuff, but it was the first time that I felt: ‘This is meant to be.’ “We have played together as a group for the last four years and we have played different countries and we have dominated teams. I just felt we did deserve it as a bunch of guys. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open “We are good mates but we also work hard. Everyone else does but I felt it was meant to be. Especially when those overthrows went, that changed the tide,” he added. Plunkett played a crucial role in England’s World Cup win as he claimed big wickets throughout the tournament. On Sunday, he dismissed New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson before removing opener Henry Nicholls and Jimmy Neesham. “Kane is a massive player and to get a crucial wicket is what I do pride myself on. So it was nice to get that,” he said. “As soon as I came up the hill (from the Nursery End) I felt comfortable attacking the crease, it felt a lot better. “To get that wicket and close up and not go for many wickets. I was satisfied but I knew the job was half done.” Plunkett ends his World Cup campaign on unbeaten note, considering he wasn’t part of the playing eleven which suffered losses in the three group-stage matches. “The old lucky charm thing, I was riding with it! I was hoping the coach thinks that so I can get a game,” he said. Plunkett, who took 11 wickets in seven games this World Cup, was selected way back for the 2007 World Cup. “The last four years playing for England was the best time of my life,” he said. “You cannot be too bitter (if you are out the team), you can be bitter and upset inside that you are not playing. Especially if you feel like you are doing well. “But look at TC (Tom Curran), he has done nothing wrong, his stats have been class. You can be disappointed but you have to turn up and keep training. And when you get the nod, you have got perform,” Plunkett said. The 34-year-old seamer hoped England’s World Cup glory will be remembered like the first Ashes win of 2005 that inspired a nation. “Even if we didn’t win the World Cup it would have still be a journey. We have been amazing, we have changed the culture of cricket in England. People expect us to win which is a lot different from a few years back,” he said. “To watch guys like Jos (Buttler), freaks like Jofra (Archer) step up to the plate, it’s amazing for me to just watch it. “What a day, it has changed the history of English cricket and everyone got to watch that. I hope everyone gets involved and loves it like when we won the Ashes. It was a special day,” Plunkett signed off.
Gurugram: The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) is developing a 20 MLD common effluent treatment plant (CETP) in Sector 34 to make sure that the sewage does not enter into the stormwater drains. The authority has already invited agencies to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of the plant.According to sources in the GMDA, there are a number of polluting industries in Sector 34 without a functional treatment plant. A few months earlier, GMDA had also found some industries releasing waste into the drains from the area. “The plan will help us address releasing of industrial waste into the stormwater drains,” said a GMDA official. He added that the land for the project has already been earmarked and will be provided by the Haryana State Industry and Infrastructure Corporation. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”Since GMDA is the agency responsible for the master sewage and stormwater drains, we have decided to take up this project. The cost and time required to complete this project would be known only after the DPR has been prepared. The project was also discussed during the previous authority meeting held by GMDA in June in Chandigarh,” the official added. Many industries in Gurgaon-Manesar industrial areas have been fined by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) for releasing untreated water into the drains. While HSIIDC already has a 55 MLD CETP in Manesar, there is no CETP in Udyog Vihar industrial areas. “Most of industries in Udyog Vihar are non-polluting industries and the ones that require a plant have an individual one,” he added.
San Francisco: Known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed in his latest research note that Apple may be gearing up to introduce its all-new iPhones design in 2020.Kuo’s note includes his prediction of the biggest selling points for the 2020 iPhone line-up. He lists three key improvements: “All-new form factor design, 5G support, and camera function upgrades,” 9to5Mac reported on Friday.As per the report, Kuo expects these changes with next year’s iPhones would improve YoY growth of the company. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this yearThe Cupertino-based company is also planning to incorporate Time of Flight (ToF) 3D sensing rear camera system in 2020 iPhone models.In addition, the iPhone maker would use Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL) in the cameras of the 2020 iPhones.VCSEL is a key component of Apple’s TrueDepth camera that also powers features like Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies.Apple is reportedly mulling to resurrect the cheaper iPhone SE for emerging markets, especially India and China, early next year.The new model would be Apple’s first low-cost smartphone since the launch of the iPhone SE in 2016, which started at $399.
Stockholm: Swedish prosecutors have interviewed two new witnesses over a 2010 rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Prosecution Authority said Monday. It said a total of seven witnesses had been interviewed over the summer. “We have mainly re-interviewed those individuals who were interviewed in 2010, although two of the persons interviewed have not previously been interviewed,” the deputy director of public prosecution, Eva-Marie Persson, said. The Swedish investigation concerns events which took place in August 2010 when a Swedish woman accused Assange of rape, after meeting him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USAssange, 48, has always denied the allegation. The statute of limitations in the case expires in August 2020. “Once we have analysed the interviews, I will decide how to proceed with the case. The investigation may then be discontinued or I may decide to conduct further inquiries,” she said. “If I make the assessment that the next step is to interview Julian Assange, I will issue a European Investigation Order, in which case I shall write to the British authorities with a request to conduct an interview,” Persson said. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsAssange has been held at a top-security British prison since April after police sensationally dragged him out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 to avoid a extradition order to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning. Assange was subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions when he took refuge in the embassy. Following his arrest, Swedish authorities reopened their 2010 rape investigation, which had been closed in 2017 with the argument that it was not possible to proceed with the probe as Assange could not be reached. Prosecutors then asked a Swedish court to order Assange detained in Sweden in order to facilitate their investigation. But the court refused the request, saying he was already imprisoned in Britain and their investigation could proceed in other ways. Assange is currently also the subject of a US extradition request, where he is facing a total of 18 charges, most of which relate to obtaining and disseminating classified information over the publishing of military documents and diplomatic cables through the website WikiLeaks. He could be sentenced to 175 years in prison if convicted on all 18 counts.
TORONTO – Travellers at Canada’s busiest airport will get to enjoy live music this summer as part of the country’s 150th birthday celebrations.The YYZ Live performance series at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport features 150 free live shows by 75 artists on two stages.The series, produced by the airport and the City of Toronto, began Monday and runs daily until Sept. 15, with amplified sets beginning at 7 p.m. in the international arrivals area of Terminal 1 and acoustic sets beginning at 8 p.m. on the platform of the airport’s Terminal Link train.The first week of performances will include soul, jazz, folk, bluegrass, indie rock and international music.Bands are paid an honorarium of $600 for two performances and the city says Toronto-based artists of all genres are encouraged to apply through the city’s website to perform later in the summer.Toronto Mayor John Tory says it’s an ideal tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday.“YYZ Live supports and showcases Toronto artists while enhancing Toronto’s image and reputation as a music city to visitors and residents,” he said.Greater Toronto Airports Authority President Howard Eng said the performances will enhance the airport experience for many travellers.“For many people, their first experience of Canada is here at the airport, so it is fitting that we’ll be presenting performances from so many Canadian artists in celebration of this great country,” said Eng.
HALIFAX – A judge has acquitted a former Halifax cab driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger, saying he believed the woman but the Crown failed to prove the identity of her assailant.The Crown alleged Houssen Milad kissed a female passenger on top of her head when driving her home to the Spryfield neighbourhood in June 2016, and groped her buttocks before she got out of the vehicle.But Judge Gregory Lenehan said Thursday the Crown did not come anywhere near proving its case against Milad beyond a reasonable doubt, and did a “disservice” to the complainant and to the community.“The investigation in this matter lacked a real critical analysis and amounted to a disservice to (the complainant),” Lenehan said. “She deserved to have her complaint given a more thorough investigation.”The judge — who is under investigation for a ruling he gave in a different sexual assault case involving a taxi driver earlier this year — said Thursday the 26-year-old passenger in the Milad case was a credible witness, and he believes she was sexually assaulted.“She was sexually assaulted. There can be no doubt about it,” he told the court. “But, do I have a doubt about the identify of the taxi driver that assaulted (her)? Absolutely.”The judge’s not guilty verdict Thursday hinged on what he described as two holes in the case against Milad.The first revolved around the route the taxi took from downtown Halifax to the woman’s neighbourhood.Yellow Cab, the dispatcher, provided the GPS map of Milad’s taxi route on the night the woman was assaulted, but that route was different than the directions the complainant testified the taxi took after she flagged it down, Lenehan said.The routes were “markedly different,” the judge said, with one heading north of the Halifax Citadel and passing the Scotiabank Centre and Emera Oval, while the other passed the new library on Spring Garden Road.“It’s more than just the street names being different,” Lenehan said. “The landmarks are so strikingly differently it would be almost impossible to think (the GPS route supported the passenger’s evidence).”The other flaw in the Crown’s case was that the complainant’s debit transactions weren’t analyzed to see if there were any from Milad’s cab, he said.“Did anybody think to check the debit transaction?” the judge asked, pointing out that the investigation failed to track down whether her payment was credited to Milad’s account.Defence lawyer Thomas Singleton called the judge’s decision “detailed” and “thorough.”He said the police in the case had tunnel vision, focusing on his client and ignoring other possibilities, and didn’t track down other leads.“The judge was quite critical of the way the police investigated the matter,” Singleton said. “If the police had done their work properly, they probably could have gotten the right person.”The key evidence put forward by the Crown was a business card the complainant obtained at the end of the ride.But the judge suggested that the perpetrator may have “impersonated” Milad, using one of his business cards.“That could explain the rather curious act of a driver giving her a business card with his name on it after kissing her without permission and then groping her bum,” Lenehan said. “The Crown speculates that Mr. Milad is so devious as to turn off his meter early but readily hand out his business card.”While the judge acknowledged that he was speculating, he said the case is built on “circumstantial evidence” and reminded the court that the onus is on the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.The complainant was not present for the verdict.The judge said the woman gave clear, cogent answers and offered thoughtful, careful and consistent testimony.“Her assailant was discoverable,” Lenehan said. “He should have been identified properly.”Milad testified in his own defence, denying through an Arabic interpreter that the woman was ever in his vehicle.He broke down in tears Thursday as the judge told him he was “free to leave” Halifax provincial court.“His life has been on hold for the past year,” Singleton, his lawyer, said, adding that he now plans to finish his doctoral thesis in engineering. “He was extremely relieved.”The decision is the latest in a series of court rulings against Halifax taxi drivers accused of sexual assault. Police said last year there had been 14 reported sexual assault cases involving cab drivers in the city over the previous four years.In March, Lenehan acquitted another taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting a passenger, Bassam Al-Rawi, in a decision that is now the subject of an investigation by a three-member review committee appointed by Nova Scotia’s chief justice.Lenehan’s choice of words in the Al-Rawi case set off a storm of social media criticism, a letter-writing campaign calling for a judicial council investigation and two public protests.Lenehan said the Crown in the Al-Rawi case had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the woman, who had been drinking and had no memory of what happened, did not consent to sexual activity with the driver. He said that “clearly, a drunk can consent.”The Crown is seeking an appeal of Lenehan’s decision in the Al-Rawi case. A hearing is scheduled before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal for Nov. 22.
OTTAWA – An undercover FBI agent who helped convict two men of plotting to derail a passenger train in Canada did not see the arrests as a triumph, because he feared another extremist had eluded his grasp.In a new book published under his cover name from the operation, Tamer Elnoury reveals how gaining the confidence of the would-be rail saboteurs led to knowledge of an apparent al-Qaida sleeper terrorist in the United States.Elnoury is still haunted by the thought of the jihadi who got away.“Every time I hear about someone committing a terrorist act on U.S. soil, I wonder if that was the American sleeper,” he writes.“My biggest regret is that I couldn’t find him.”Elnoury is among the small number of highly valued, Arabic-speaking Muslim agents doing undercover counter-terrorism work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.“American Radical” traces his involvement in the investigation that led to terrorism convictions and life sentences in 2015 for Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian citizen doing doctoral research in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a stateless Palestinian who had come to Toronto as a teenager with his family.Esseghaier “popped up on the FBI’s radar” after he made contact with some al-Qaida operatives online, Elnoury writes. The FBI alerted Canadian officials, who opened their own investigation. Esseghaier had travelled to Iran twice in two years, arousing concern he was there for terrorist training.Canadian intelligence tried to “bump” Esseghaier — stage a casual meeting that seemed random — during a 2011 conference in Mexico, the book says. “The Canadians didn’t have a Muslim, so they used a Peruvian Christian. Chiheb’s English wasn’t that good. The hope was a native Arabic speaker would have a better chance.”Elnoury posed as a globetrotting American real estate magnate who despised western ways and funnelled his profits to his overseas uncle, a financier for al-Qaida.In June 2012, Elnoury managed to ensure he and Esseghaier were seated together on a flight to California. They quickly became friends and Esseghaier was soon openly talking about shooting down planes with a portable missile launcher, the book says. Elnoury believes Esseghaier saw him as a like-minded ally with the money to help fund his operations.Early that September, Elnoury, who had become close to Esseghaier, was called to a meeting in New York. A senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service official had flown in to hear what Elnoury knew about Esseghaier’s plans to go fishing with someone.Elnoury scoffed at the notion the intense Tunisian would ever go fishing, and advised that Esseghaier “is here to hurt us.”CSIS learned the fishing trip turned out to be a mission with Jaser to scout a railway bridge they planned to sabotage, sending a train that travels from New York to Toronto hurtling into the river below, killing many passengers.The file, now a criminal matter, was handed to the RCMP and Elnoury was enlisted to gather evidence. He paid a visit to his friend in Montreal.Elnoury portrays Esseghaier as zealously devoted to the extremist cause, but also someone who had a crush on a female colleague and enjoyed eating lobster and stopping in at Tim Hortons.During a drive to Toronto to meet Jaser, Esseghaier confided details of the operation: al-Qaida planners in Iran ordered him to cut a hole in the train tracks. He and Jaser would use jackhammers to cut the track, while Elnoury would be needed to act as lookout.Esseghaier told Elnoury he emptied his bank account in the spring of 2011, buying a one-way ticket to Tehran and planning to drive to Afghanistan, where he would die in battle. But in Zahedan, a town in southeastern Iran, he was recruited by al-Qaida. He returned the next year for training and was briefed on the train plot.Esseghaier also said something that made Elnoury’s heart race: there was a “soldier” in the U.S., an al-Qaida sleeper agent known as Al-Amriki, the American. Esseghaier expected to meet him one day.“We needed to rethink the case,” Elnoury writes. “Chiheb was our only link to the American sleeper. There was no way we could arrest him before we identified the other sleeper.”Planning for the train attack continued. But Elnoury pressed Esseghaier about meeting the sleeper. A key Iranian contact finally agreed it would be a good idea, and invited Esseghaier and Elnoury for a talk in Dubai.Elnoury wanted to go, but he was skeptical the Canadians would let Esseghaier travel overseas at this point. In April 2013, Eric Holder, then U.S. attorney general, flew to Ottawa to discuss the Dubai idea, the book says.However, the RCMP executed arrest warrants, ending the operation.Elnoury understood the decision. The rail plot case was over. And just a week earlier, bombs had exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring hundreds.“Everyone was on edge,” he writes. “No one wanted to let a terrorist slip out of our grasp.”But mostly Elnoury was angry. “I felt like the Canadians and the FBI wasted all of our hard work.”Elnoury did not consider the arrests a victory. “Best case, we tied. But really you could say we failed,” he writes.“Chiheb was a lot of things, but he was never a liar. Personally, I have no doubt that there was an American sleeper.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
HALIFAX – Amid rising tension at Dalhousie University, a former student interrupted a panel discussion about campus diversity Tuesday to accuse the school of “white supremacy.”“The myth that you share is that Dalhousie is doing a good job about equity and inclusion,” said Ifo Ikede, a former computer engineering and computer science student at the Halifax university.“We’re swimming in a sea of white supremacy,” he said. “The only people who are free to speak are white men and women.”His comments come as the university faces mounting criticism over its handling of recent incidents involving female students of colour.Last week, an Indigenous member of Dalhousie University’s board of governors said she was subjected to institutionalized racism.Now the university is investigating political comments by a student leader — a Muslim woman who wears a hijab — who could face possible sanctions.The incidents have sparked outcry both on campus and beyond.A group of 25 law professors at Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law called on the university not to “police and censor” the tone of political speech, while the Ontario Civil Liberties Association accused the university of censoring political speech.On Tuesday, a seminar at Dalhousie open to the public about the under-representation of non-white faculty at Canadian universities appeared to only accept pre-approved questions, prompting Ikede to interrupt concluding remarks.Although the panellists responded to his comments before ending the lecture, the incident highlights the growing controversy engulfing the campus.Ikede said he was upset about disciplinary action being taken against Masuma Khan, a member of the student council executive.The fourth-year student could face possible sanctions for social media comments related to the Dalhousie Student Union’s decision to abstain from Canada 150 celebrations in a show of solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.In a Facebook post responding to criticism of that decision, she questioned why she should be proud of colonization and “over 400 years of genocide.”She used profanity in her post, signing off with hashtags that criticized “white fragility” and said “your white tears aren’t sacred, this land is.”Diane Obed, an Indigenous graduate of Saint Mary’s University, said she attended the lecture on Tuesday to ask about the senate discipline committee hearing into Masuma Khan’s comments.“I couldn’t even ask a question. I’m glad someone spoke up,” she said about Ikede’s comments. “I was very disappointed. It’s typical of how they are going to tone-police and prevent people from having meaningful dialogue about this current issue that is at the forefront right now for Dalhousie.”Obed, who is originally from Labrador, said the reaction against Khan seems out of proportion with the discipline doled out to Dalhousie dentistry students involved in an online scandal a few years ago.“They are taking disciplinary action towards a person of colour for speaking out about colonialism,” she said. “But they didn’t even really discipline the dentistry students who posted harassing and misogynistic comments.”Dalhousie’s vice-provost of student affairs, Arig al Shaibah, issued a message to the university community Monday saying the senate discipline committee will hear the complaint after an “informal resolution” was turned down.She said Khan allegedly breached a section of the code of student conduct against “unwelcome or persistent conduct that the student knows, or ought to reasonably know, would cause another person to feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed.”Meanwhile, Khan has received threats about her comments, prompting her lawyer to ask Dalhousie on Twitter for guidance on how to “respectfully” respond to warnings against her that attack her identity.Dalhousie president Richard Florizone said a memo to the university community Monday that “at Dal we abhor racism, gendered violence and Islamophobia.”“We know we have to strive every day to challenge these,” he said. “Our essential values are equal dignity of all persons, freedom of expression and inquiry, intellectual integrity and respectful relationships.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misquoted part of the Dalhousie student’s social media post.
DELTA, B.C. – Poor ventilation at a Delta, B.C., greenhouse is to blame for sending dozens of workers to hospital for carbon monoxide exposure, a fire chief said.Delta fire battalion chief Neil Shuster said an emergency call came in Saturday afternoon that at least 12 people at Windset Farms were suffering from inhalation of a suspected cleaning product.Three fire crews and a hazmat crew were dispatched along with police and BC Ambulance Services.Once on scene, Shuster said crews determined there were high levels of carbon monoxide in the building.Approximately 43 people required treatment on site.The workers had been inside a greenhouse while a gas-powered pressure washer was running without adequate ventilation, he said.“I believe they were working at the time and it was maintenance, regular maintenance I guess they were doing at the time,” he saidRepresentatives from Windset Farms did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Provincial workplace safety officials are investigating the incident.Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that’s produced whenever fuel is burned.It can cause health problems — and eventually death — because breathing it reduces the body’s ability to carry oxygen in the blood.BC Emergency Health Services tweeted that 13 ambulances responded to “a major incident” with 10 in serious to critical condition and 32 others in stable condition.Linda Lupini, the services’ executive vice president, said on Sunday that response to the incident was swift and followed protocols for mass casualty events with those most seriously injured receiving priority care.Those exposed to carbon monoxide were treated with oxygen and given blood tests to ensure they were recovering, she said.No additional crew or other staff were affected by carbon monoxide.“The entire event as we know could have had a very different ending,” she said. “There’s no doubt this was an incredibly well executed response.”She said everyone who was taken to hospital has been released. She added that a few people who were more seriously affected may need follow up treatment such as being placed in a hyperbaric chamber to replenish their oxygen levels.
TORONTO – Former Conservative cabinet minister and provincial police commissioner Julian Fantino has accused a Canadian judge, lawyers and several police forces of acting improperly and even illegally in the conviction and jailing of a man for contempt of court.In an extensive affidavit in which he raises the allegations, Fantino describes himself as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council and an expert who, in speaking for regular Canadians, can shed light on what he essentially posits as a possible judicial conspiracy involving secret backroom dealings.Fantino filed the affidavit in an unsuccessful effort to intervene in a recent Federal Court review of whether the Canadian Judicial Council properly dismissed a complaint by Donald Best, a former Toronto police officer and businessman, against Ontario Superior Court Justice Bryan Shaughnessy.“A more thorough investigation by the (judicial council), now that all the facts are known, may show that the judge was wilfully blind,” Fantino asserts. “It may very well be that the record belies the mischief that was being achieved simply because the judge had total control over the process.”In 2013, Shaughnessy found Best in civil contempt. The finding was the culmination of a convoluted battle started in 2007, when Best’s corporation unsuccessfully sued 62 defendants and he failed to pay their court-ordered legal costs.Shaughnessy’s rulings were upheld by Ontario’s top court and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court of Canada.Best turned to the Canadian Judicial Council in January 2016 to complain about the judge. Shaughnessy, he asserted, had engaged in “egregious” misconduct by, among other things, “secretly” changing a critical document.The council’s executive director rejected the complaint out of hand, prompting Best to ask Federal Court to review that decision. He named the government and judge as respondents.Fantino, who could not be immediately reached for comment, explains in his 33-page affidavit filed along with 100 exhibits why he wanted to get involved. The “abuses,” he said, could undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.“I notice that, in this matter, no one represents the people of Canada,” Fantino states. “No one speaks for me and other Canadians who believe in and rely upon fairness, courtesy and honourable treatment within the justice system.”In his submission, Fantino maintains that Shaughnessy convicted Best “upon the presentation by lawyers of provably false evidence.” He also argues that “disturbing” evidence suggests police resources and personnel were “improperly retained, used and co-opted” to help one side in the private civil dispute.“The court also convicted Mr. Best based upon affidavit evidence that was the product of illegal actions by a serving officer of the Ontario Provincial Police at the time that I was OPP commissioner,” Fantino states. “Had I known about it at the time, I would have immediately ordered an investigation to gather all evidence…with a view to possible provincial and/or criminal charges.”In October, a Federal Court official dismissed Fantino’s motion to intervene in the review of how the judicial council handled Best’s judge complaint. Fantino, a former minister for veteran’s affairs, chief of police, and now an executive with a medical marijuana company, had raised issues that were out of bounds, the official decided.Fantino appealed his exclusion but the court nevertheless went ahead in the fall with its long-scheduled review of the judicial council’s actions.For his part, Shaughnessy urged the court to defer to the council, arguing in part that Best’s complaint was manifestly “without substance” or “an abuse of process.” He also argued Best had tried to “impute bad faith into a decision he disagrees with, so as to define it as sanctionable conduct.”This month, Federal Court Judge Keith Boswell agreed with Ottawa and Shaughnessy that the judicial council’s decision was reasonable. Boswell dismissed Best’s application and ordered him to pay the federal government and the judge $30,000 in legal costs.Best did not want to discuss Fantino’s involvement when reached on Friday. In a recent statement on his website, he did say Boswell’s decision contained “gross errors.” He filed notice of appeal this week.In an unusual decision in June 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered Best’s prominent Toronto lawyer Paul Slansky to pay $84,000 in legal costs for his client’s failed legal fights.The court found Slansky had wasted time and money unnecessarily by “acting on unreasonable instructions from, or providing unreasonable advice to, his client.” The court also ordered Slansky to pay another $30,000 in costs.
TOFINO, B.C. – Jae Valentine woke to the sound of wolves howling and cries for help early Friday morning after a boat sank off the coast of Tofino, B.C., prompting an exhaustive search for three missing men that has now been scaled back.The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre reduced rescue efforts 18 hours after responding to the call for help and has handed the case over to Tofino RCMP, which is treating it as a missing persons case.Two of the five people aboard the tin boat were rescued within two hours, but volunteers and search technicians continue to scour the shoreline and sea for the remaining three.Valentine, who owns the Cable Cove Inn, says she heard someone yelling “help me” over and over again beginning at 2:45 a.m. on Friday. She couldn’t tell where the calls were coming from because her property sits between an ocean and harbour. She got dressed and went outside to find her neighbour yelling back, “What kind of help do you need?”Her neighbour had already phoned the Canadian Coast Guard and asked her to call 911.About 40 minutes later, she watched rescuers drop one person off at a dock where an emergency vehicle was waiting. Then, she said she heard a second voice calling out, “Where are you, I’m coming, where are you, buddy?”Valentine believes the second voice was another person who had been on the sunken vessel, searching for the first man who was rescued.Since then, she said community members have come together to help look for the men or are waiting for news.“We’re all sort of standby, I think,” she said. “I know a number of people in the local stores, when they’re off shift from their employment, they’re all down at the docks just awaiting information.”Details continue to emerge in the wake of the incident. There were five people aboard the open, six-metre boat that sank without a mayday call, the JRCC said.One person was found in the water south of Felice Island, half an hour after rescuers received the call for help. Almost an hour after that, a second person swam ashore to Duffin Cove.Both were taken to hospital.One of the survivors is a member of a southern Ontario First Nation.Chief Ava Hill of the Six Nations of the Grand River said she wrote a letter to WestJet verifying he is a community member so that he could board a plane to return home.Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said the three missing men are fishermen from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.Osborne said while nobody ever wants accidents to happen, she’s struck each time that they do by the way the community comes together with “all hands on deck.”In 2015, five Britons and one Australian died after a rogue wave capsized a 20-metre whale-watching vessel.Last spring, Calgarian Alvin Beckley and Edmontonian Mike Cutler died when their sport fishing charter capsized.“Something that always sticks with me each time is the way people come together and just kind of the sheer humanity in it, of people gathering and feeding each other, supporting each other and loving each other. It’s kind of the very human side of tragedies,” Osborne said.Navy Lt. Melissa Kia, spokeswoman for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, said the search has involved hundreds of people from the Canadian Forces, Canadian Coast Guard, Parks Canada, Emergency Management B.C., RCMP and Emergency Health Services — plus community members who have gone out in kayaks and other small crafts.But after 18 hours, she said the JRCC had to scale back its role in the search.“We really threw everything we’ve got at it and to come up empty handed is really heartbreaking,” Kia said.Kia said community members and volunteers are continuing the search, but could not speak on behalf of their efforts.Rescuers determine a “survivability” time frame, which was 18 hours in this case, using computer modeling that considers many factors, Kia said.Factors may include what the individuals were wearing, how they came to be in distress, water temperature, winds, tides and whether they had life vests, she said.“What we do is we take that number, it’s not hard and fast in every case, and we will stretch it to the maximum and throw everything we’ve got at it, as was the case in Tofino,” she said.Kia said it’s not uncommon for RCMP to classify a search and rescue case as a missing persons file, once the case is handed over to them.She said the community response to the disaster has been “overwhelming.”“We would like to thank the countless volunteers from the community surrounding Tofino and Ucluelet and all of our First Nations partners. The response was really quite overwhelming, there were hundreds of people who took to the water and to scour the coastline,” she said.“Our thoughts go out to the families of the loved ones; it’s very heartbreaking to turn this case over unresolved.”
OTTAWA – A federal watchdog has dismissed complaints that a mass-shooting survivor broke the rules by working with an advocacy group to lobby for gun policy changes while also serving as a member of the Liberal government’s firearms advisory committee.In a recent decision, federal lobbying commissioner Nancy Belanger said Nathalie Provost’s work on behalf of the group PolySeSouvient, which pushes for stricter gun control, did not breach lobbying laws because Provost is not paid by the group and therefore does not need to register as a lobbyist.Provost said in an interview that she was relieved to be cleared by the commissioner, and considers the efforts against her an attempt to discredit PolySeSouvient.“I knew that I was not a lobbyist,” she said. “I feel it’s like a strategy to shut us down.”Belanger’s office received numerous complaints about Provost’s alleged conflict of interest after firearms advocates launched an online campaign encouraging people to write letters.Provost, who was shot four times during the 1989 assault by a gunman at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, has been involved for eight years with PolySeSouvient, which includes students and graduates of the engineering school.In late 2016 the Liberals appointed her to be a vice-chair of the 10-member federal firearms advisory committee, which advises the public safety minister on Canada’s gun policies, laws and regulations. The committee is chaired by a former Supreme Court justice and counts a police chief, a competitive sport shooter, an emergency physician and a farmer among its members.Under the committee’s terms of reference, members are barred from engaging in lobbying activities or working as a registered lobbyist on behalf of any organization making submissions or representations to the federal government on issues relating to the mandate of the committee.A federal bill introduced in March would expand the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire a gun and force gun retailers to keep records of firearms inventory and sales, The legislation would also require purchasers to present a firearms licence, while the seller would have to ensure its validity.The bill quickly prompted polarized reactions, criticized by some as too weak and by others as a misguided effort that does nothing to tackle actual gun crime.A representative of the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights, a voice for gun owners, filed a complaint with the lobbying commissioner against Provost, alleging she was in conflict while influencing the shape of the Liberal legislation.“We have to wonder how far the government will go to appease Nathalie and at what cost to the millions of Canadians this legislation affects, none of them criminals by the way,” the organization wrote on its website.OneClearVoice.ca, a website that bills itself as a letter-writing tool to fight the Liberal bill, includes a template for creating a complaint to the lobbying commissioner about Provost’s activities.Provost said that before joining the federal committee she was given clearance from the public safety minister’s office to continue acting as a spokeswoman for PolySeSouvient.In a June 26 letter to Provost, Belanger said she was ending a preliminary evaluation of the allegations against her.Belanger said she had looked at various correspondence, conducted interviews and examined publicly available records before making her determination.The Lobbying Act applies only to people who are paid for their communications activities with federal officials, while Provost is a volunteer, the letter said.The allegations “are therefore unfounded” because the act does not apply to Provost’s activities, Belanger added. “Accordingly, I consider this file closed.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
MONTREAL — A revolt is brewing in small towns across Quebec against the provincial law forcing long-gun owners to register their firearms with the government.As the deadline to register shotguns and rifles passed this week, 75 per cent of the long guns believed to be in the province had not been registered. And a growing number of rural town councils are adopting resolutions denouncing the registry or calling for it to be scrapped entirely.The Canadian Press confirmed Wednesday that at least 15 towns recently passed such resolutions. Philip Tetrault, mayor of Warden, a town of 400 residents about 100 kilometres east of Montreal, said the registry is useless and will end up like the federal version, which was dissolved by the Conservatives in 2012 following major cost overruns.“In a few years, it’ll be abolished,” Tetrault predicted in an interview. “The registry might be popular in Montreal and Quebec City, but the majority of people (in Warden) are against it.” He said the government should take the tens of millions of dollars it expects to spend on the registry over the next few years and use it for mental health care.Louise Quintin, spokeswoman for Quebec’s Public Security Department, said Wednesday close to 15,500 guns were registered on the deadline date Jan. 29. But so far, only 386,253 guns have been registered out of an estimated 1.6 million in the province. The registry is budgeted to cost $20 million to set up and then $5 million a year to maintain.Canadian law classifies guns in three categories. Prohibited guns such as automatics and restricted guns such as handguns must be registered with the RCMP. Long guns — rifles and shotguns that are mainly used for hunting and sport shooting — no longer need to be registered in Canada, except in Quebec.Gun owners were given a year to register, either online or by mail, and there is no charge. But those who fail to comply could face penalties up to $5,000. Quintin said applications received after the deadline will be processed without penalty.She said it is up to the police to enforce the law.“If a peace officer comes into contact with a person in possession of a firearm, he or she has the power to examine the firearm and check whether it is registered,” Quintin said by email. Gun ranges or hunting clubs don’t have to check if firearms are registered, nor are they required to hand over information on members to the government, she added.A recent Leger poll conducted Dec. 21-26 for a gun control lobby group, indicated 78 per cent of respondents were in favour of the registry. Remi Montminy, town manager of St-Francois-de-la-Riviere-du-Sud, said his 1,600-person town northeast of Quebec City conducted its own survey and found that 82 per cent of respondents rejected the registry. The poll was unscientific, and about 100 residents took part, he said.St-Francois-de-la-Riviere-du-Sud is among the towns calling for an end to the registry. Montminy said the gun law, adopted by the previous Liberal government, is being maintained by the new Coalition Avenir Quebec government because politicians cater to urban voters.Nicolas Malette, mayor of Cayamant, a town of about 900 residents north of Ottawa, said his council adopted a resolution against the registry at a special meeting last week.“Will it make a difference? Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “But we adopted the resolution to support our citizens, who are mostly hunters. We’re trying to pressure the government.”Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
LIVELast Update: 02/06/2019 11:28 PMFeb 611:28 PMCalgary 7-Day Forecast. A bit of a break from the brutal cold – at least in the short-term. Cooler temperatures and a chance of snow by Friday. -Meteorologist Andrew Schultz #YYC #YYCWeather pic.twitter.com/iu1TC7MKFZ— Breakfast Television & CityNews Calgary (@BTCityNewsCGY) February 6, 20190Feb 610:40 PMWorld cyclists are excited to be in Calgary for the cycling congresshttps://t.co/hWadWMlw8x#yyc #WCC2019 pic.twitter.com/muiXa3tI82— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 610:36 PMToday’s #GuaranteedHigh -15 CPartly cloudyJackpot increases to $910#yyc #yycweather #yycforecastVisit https://t.co/esBwG3izuf to sign up for your chance to win. pic.twitter.com/o92bxBuRq7— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 610:18 PMField emotional after fatal train derailment https://t.co/0GhDegXFsn pic.twitter.com/Kc7Eovm1Wz— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 610:00 PMThe Calgary police will help the Law Enforcement Torch run in its final leg to the Special Olympics Winter Gameshttps://t.co/1fRl5F3M4K#yyc #cps #SpecialOlympics pic.twitter.com/Ro0frpvDYH— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 69:42 PMThe Seton YMCA was evacuated Wednesday morning following calls of an ammonia leakhttps://t.co/ractD86xmm#yyc #YMCA #CFD pic.twitter.com/VWHifnaFDM— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 68:56 PMFamily and friends of men murdered by Bruce McArthur will find out in two days what the future holds for the Toronto serial killerhttps://t.co/IJazbh1rlh#Toronto #McArthurTrial pic.twitter.com/zIuspKBV2U— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 68:40 PMSurrey RCMP are looking for witnesses of the SkyTrain shooting on Jan. 30https://t.co/VRBWhgojFZ#Surrey #RCMP #SkyTrain pic.twitter.com/Xt3Bt8rHOR— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 68:28 PMCalgary Current Conditions #YYC #YYCWeather pic.twitter.com/YKqZ7PWnEF— Breakfast Television & CityNews Calgary (@BTCityNewsCGY) February 6, 20190Feb 68:20 PMForest Lawn says ‘no thanks’ to safe consumption vehiclehttps://t.co/ltQaj59kr5#yyc pic.twitter.com/kPhcnFPFax— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 61:46 PMVIDEO: Roadside Assistance says it received more than 31,000 calls since Sunday and in some cases, those in rural Alberta are waiting nearly nine times the average.https://t.co/n86dQQDSHh— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 61:28 PMUnited to pursue high-fare travellers with more premium seats https://t.co/E4VUzZv5IK pic.twitter.com/ZPg7oJQIEY— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 61:20 PMVIDEO: “From Jan. to Dec. 2018, we’ve seen 480 fewer homes broken into, almost 3,500 fewer thefts, over 1,200 fewer vehicles stolen and a 10 per cent decrease in property crime in rural #Alberta #RCMP jurisdictions.”https://t.co/a9G8UNyJK9— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 61:10 PM”It’s very personal; it’s either happened to us, or our friends and neighbours, and this is what has brought it to be a number one priority for all us to focus on,” MD Foothills Coun. Suzanne Oelhttps://t.co/mglVQYskZu— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 612:32 PMBorder Security Minister Bill Blair says federal officials dealing with backlog of refugee security screens #cdnpoli https://t.co/SqMnvVgJmi pic.twitter.com/PcHSMflMfS— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 612:28 PM#ICYMI : read our live-tweets of @realDonaldTrump Trump’s #SOTU2019 speech and see what policy initiatives he’s proposing including ending late-term abortion and an upcoming meeting with the North Korean leader. https://t.co/ZfNbthpPFw— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 611:32 AM.@realDonaldTrump wraps up his #SOTU2019 address.— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 611:30 AM.@realDonaldTrump “One nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise, and the light, and the glory among all the nations of the world.” #SOTU19— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 611:30 AM.@realDonaldTrump time to “reignite the American imagination, search for the tallest summit and set our sights on the brightest star.”— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Feb 611:30 AM.@realDonaldTrump talks about “needing to defeat fascism, secure civil rights, face down evil empires.”— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) February 6, 20190Show More PostsAdd Arena.im to your site
VANCOUVER — Premier John Horgan says British Columbia, as the country’s gateway to Asia, is bearing the brunt of the impact of Canada’s tense relationship with China over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.Speaking at the Council of Forest Industries convention in Vancouver Friday, Horgan described Meng’s arrest as “profoundly regrettable,” but adds “extradition treaties are extradition treaties” and he doesn’t think the federal government had any other option.Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December on a request from the United States, which wants her extradiated to face charges including conspiracy, fraud and obstruction.Horgan says the province does have an option, and that’s to continue to be aggressive and forward-looking when it comes to trade with Asia.He says it’s a critically important market and boosting innovation in export products will be a ticket to success, adding that the province has an opportunity to grow the market for engineered wood products. B.C. does billions in trade with China and Horgan says he’s confident that relationship remains in good shape.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The much-anticipated child of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has arrived, igniting a flurry of baby fever and speculation on all manner of royal gossip.Questions abound for crown watchers and celebrity fiends: When will we see pictures of the baby? Who will his godparents be? What country will the new family visit first? Will Meghan ever get to enjoy Mother’s Day with her son’s birthday so close to her special day? Does England even celebrate Mother’s Day?For some of these and other pressing matters, The Canadian Press turned to monarchy experts to weigh in. Here’s what they said: ONE OF MEGHAN’S BESTIES IS CANADIAN STYLIST JESSICA MULRONEY, CAN SHE BE THE BABY’S GODMOTHER?It’s pretty much a certainty this child will be baptized in the Church of England, although plans have yet to be announced. Royal watcher and author Katie Nicholl suspects that will occur this summer at the historic St. George’s chapel at Windsor Castle, where Harry and Meghan wed in May 2018.She also believes Mulroney has a good shot at participating, after playing a key behind-the-scenes role at the wedding, which featured the Mulroney children as a bridesmaid and groomsmen.“I think it’ll be a mixture of some family and friends and Jessica is clearly at the top of the list,” Nicholl, author of “Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love,” said from Windsor, England. “I think there’s every chance that we could see Jessica as godmother.”Whether she meets the church’s requirements is another matter, since godparents are required to be baptized and ideally, confirmed Christians. Mulroney is a member of one of Montreal’s most established Jewish families, the Brownsteins, and wed TV personality Ben Mulroney in a Montreal ceremony that blended both Catholic and Jewish elements. Nevertheless, Nicholl suggests this rule may not be uniformly enforced across all parishes, if the godparent is willing to swear to certain Church of England vows.“Even if she’s not a godmother, she’s going to be a part of this child’s upbringing. You know the children will be close and Jessica has been a great friend to Meghan and also to Harry.” DO THE ROYALS CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY?Mother’s Day is this Sunday in Canada and the United States, but not so in England. Over there, mothers are feted on Mothering Sunday, which takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent and three weeks before Easter Sunday, typically in late March. The next Mothering Sunday is set for March 22, 2020.But that’s not to say that Meghan can’t also mark Mother’s Day this weekend, says MacKenzie, noting that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, reportedly arrived to stay with the royal couple in the days leading up to the birth.“Her mother, of course, is with her at Frogmore House so I suspect that they’ll be marking that in their own way,” says MacKenzie. “It’s a very special time of year, of course, for a baby to come along and for that child to be with his mother and grandmother. So I suspect there’ll be some American traditions sprinkled in this weekend.” ARE THE ROYALS ALSO CANADIAN CITIZENS? WILL THIS BABY BE PART CANADIAN?Prince Harry, of course, is a senior member of Canada’s royal family but does not actually hold Canadian citizenship. Nor does he hold citizenship for any other Commonwealth nation, says Barry MacKenzie of the Monarchist League of Canada. He says all members of the royal family are British, save for the Queen, who technically does not have any citizenship and does not travel with a passport — because passports are issued in her name.“And of course Prince Charles will eventually, when he becomes king, also not really have a citizenship,” he notes. “It’s sort of a strange sort of phenomenon.”However, the baby’s California-born mother may apply for U.S. citizenship on the child’s behalf, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
This will likely be Canada’s least-covered federal election in history, at least on a local level. The race to be Prime Minister will receive no shortage of analysis, but in the midst of vanishing local news outlets, what happens to the other 338 other races? What kind of coverage can local news outlets afford to take on this fall? And when they run out of reporters, or money, what stories are the first to go? What replaces them? What options do voters have for in-depth local analysis? And, of course, how will savvy political campaigns take advantage of the situation?GUEST: April Lindgren, head of the Local News Research Project, professor of journalism at Ryerson UniversityAudio Playerhttp://radio.pmd.rogersdigitalmedia.com/podcasts/thebigstory/tbs_05132019.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on iTunes or Google Play.You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.
OTTAWA — A national ban on the most harmful single-use plastics will very likely force restaurants and fast-food outlets to find non-plastic materials for takeout and delivery containers but plastic bottles for water and soda are more likely to be improved rather than phased out.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday his government is starting the regulatory work to ban toxic single-use plastics because the garbage infiltrating the world’s waterways is out of hand.“As parents, we’re at a point where we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles,” he said. “That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”Nothing is going to be banned overnight, with the process to implement a federal ban or limitations on a product under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act usually taking two to four years. The goal is to make decisions on everything on the list by 2021.“It’s going to take a little bit of time to make sure we get it absolutely right because this is a big step but we know that we can do this by 2021,” Trudeau said.The process includes an assessment of each product, a proposed regulation, a public comment period, and then the final decision by cabinet.Trudeau said Canada’s plan will “closely mirror” that of Europe. Last month the European Parliament agreed that by 2021 the European Union will ban almost a dozen single-use products including plastic plates, cutlery, cups, straws, plastic sticks in cotton swabs, balloon sticks and stir sticks, and Styrofoam cups and take-out food containers. Oxo-degradeable plastics including plastic grocery bags, which break down into tiny pieces with exposure to air but never fully disappear, are also to be banned.Plastic beverage bottles won’t be banned in Europe but the EU will require them to contain a minimum of 30 per cent recycled material by 2030, and a collection rate for recycling or reuse of 90 per cent by 2029. Europe is putting new onus on producers of plastics to ensure they are recycled or reused, including the makers of fishing nets, which are among the most prevalent plastics trapping fish and polluting water bodies.An official at Environment Canada, speaking anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Canada’s focus will be on banning things that are the most harmful, or the hardest to recycle. Everything will be run through a full scientific assessment as well as a socio-economic-impact review before any proposals for bans or regulations of materials are made, he said. There may be some exceptions to bans if certain uses of products are critical or irreplaceable, he said.Styrofoam take-out containers are among the products most likely to be banned in Canada. While restaurants favour them because they’re cheap, lightweight and good for hot or cold food, there are already a number of alternatives. Styrofoam containers are also among the worst for the environment; they break down into tiny little pieces that are easily ingested by fish, animals and ultimately humans.Plastic straws are already on their way out by restaurants’ choice, but will almost certainly be covered by the Canadian ban nonetheless. A high-profile campaign against plastic straws last year drove numerous multi-national food and beverage companies — including A&W and Starbucks — to replace plastic straws with paper versions, and many restaurants just stopped automatically putting straws in drinks as a first step.Plastic bottles, however, are unlikely to make the list of banned products. The official said bottles are an area where Canada could require a greater amount of recycled material, and set national targets so 90 to 100 per cent of them are collected for recycling. All of that would trigger provincial and municipal governments to up their recycling games.Canada currently throws out 12 times the plastic it recycles, and there are only about a dozen domestic recycling plants. Requiring more recycled content in bottles or other plastic products would create a larger market for recycled plastic material that would in turn, spur economic activity in the sector and an explosion in the number of sorting and recycling plants.A recent report done by Deloitte and ChemInfo Services for Environment and Climate Change Canada found a 90-per-cent plastics recycling rate in Canada could create 42,000 jobs.Environment groups were cautiously optimistic about the announcement Monday, saying they want to see the follow-through but noting the best way to reduce plastic garbage is to reduce the plastic we produce and use to begin with.“I think we are generally satisfied,” said Vito Buonsante, plastics program manager for Environmental Defence.Sarah King, head of the oceans and plastics campaign at Greenpeace Canada, called it a good first step.NDP MP Gord Johns, whose motion calling for a national strategy to combat plastic pollution passed with unanimous support in December, said the Liberals’ move is a good beginning but it is not a full strategy to get to zero plastic waste.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer shrugged it off as another empty announcement devoid of specifics and without any information on the implications for prices for consumers or for jobs in the plastics industry.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is also leery of the proposals, with president Dan Kelly asking for a “thorough economic impact assessment” before anything is banned.“It would be irresponsible to put such a sweeping measure into place without fully studying the possible impacts on Canada’s small businesses first,” said Kelly. “There is no reason why sound environmental policy and economic development can’t go hand in hand.”Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press