MEMBERTOU, N.S. – The 78-year-old Mi’kmaq elder cradles the grainy photo of his lost daughter laminated on his smart phone — a reminder of his hope to find her one day.It’s black and white, but Virginia Sue Pictou’s brown eyes sparkle, and her father Robert James Pictou has added the lines, “Forever in my heart.” He keeps a full-sized version propped up at breakfast each morning.The Nova Scotia-born Pictou was brought to a medical centre in Bangor, Maine, by police after being beaten on April 24, 1993.But as doctors briefly turned their attention to a shooting victim in the trauma unit, she quietly left, never to be seen again, family members say.“To me, as a father, every time the subject comes up, it’s just like it happened yesterday. It’s all there,” the father said during an interview while attending the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Cape Breton.“How is she going to rest in peace, could somebody explain that to me?”The family testified at the hearings at Membertou First Nation on Wednesday morning, repeating their account of how they suspect Virginia died violently, and talking of their hope state police will one day locate her remains and make arrests.Virginia had seven small children at her home in Easton, Maine, two of whom perished in a 1990 fire.Francis Pictou, 52, testified Wednesday he’s convinced Virginia left the hospital to return home to be with her five remaining children because she didn’t wish to leave them with her violent husband.Agnes Gould, the oldest sister, testified that Virginia repeatedly experienced domestic violence and had frequently come to her seeking shelter.Robert John Pictou, a 54-year-brother, told the commission he’d read a police record describing her beating by her husband and brother-in-law on a main street of Bangor on the day she went to the hospital.Like other families who’ve spoken before the inquiry during its cross-country hearings, the siblings say they’re determined to continue their search for information on her case.“We followed every lead we could. We searched fields. We searched swamps. We talked to family. We did investigations, we hired private investigators. It’s gone nowhere,” said Robert John Pictou.Searches undertaken by Aboriginal families that go on for decades — sometimes across borders — have been a frequent theme at the inquiry as it has crossed the country.On Wednesday, the inquiry’s commissioners said 900 people have registered to tell their story, and signalled they will be asking Ottawa for an extension and more money to hear the cases.Gould said she’d like others to hear and be inspired by their resolution during the 24-year quest.“As we always say, our case is one in a thousand,” she said during the inquiry.As the family spoke, the commissioners released an interim report that called for the provinces, territories and federal government to create a national police task force to handle requests from families and survivors to reopen cases and review investigations.Commissioner Michele Audette said she has repeatedly heard of cases where police forces are failing to adequately respond to cases that have involved missing or murdered aboriginal women.A spokesman for the Maine State Police didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment in the Pictou case.However, Robert John Pictou said that the investigation is one among 50 on a cold-case list, and added that a victim’s advocate from Maine is in contact with the family.The brother said having a joint national task force in Canada would be welcomed by his family, as it might be able to work with American agencies in cases of Aboriginal victims.“As it stands right now, we have zero information on our missing sister. That unfortunately is not unusual,” he said.The history of murdered and missing Mi’kmaq women in the United States goes back for generations, as Mi’kmaq and Maliseet band members cross for work, marriage and family ties.One of the cases that led to the push for the national inquiry was the 1974 death of Aboriginal activist Anna Mae Aquash, a Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia.She was killed during a period of protests by the American Indian Movement and prosecutors allege she was murdered on orders from AIM, because the group believed she was an FBI informant.Her family struggled for years to have investigations re-opened, and to have her body repatriated and buried in her home community.Francis Pictou said for siblings and parents, the lost women are never forgotten and simply recovering their body and bringing it home would be a source of closure.“We know in our hearts, we know she’s gone,” he told the inquiry.“Even if it feels like an endless lead, go after it,” he said. “You might regret it later that you didn’t go after that one possibility.”Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
MONTREAL – While it is generally accepted that Montreal is experiencing a period of economic prosperity not seen in a generation, the city’s mayor appears to be having a tough time ensuring he’ll secure a second mandate.Opinion polls suggest incumbent Denis Coderre, 54, and relative newcomer Valerie Plante, 43, are in a statistical tie ahead of Sunday’s mayoral election in Canada’s second-largest city.Coderre, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister, boasts of 150 cranes in the sky representing $25 billion of investment; tens of thousands of new jobs; an unemployment rate virtually equal to Toronto’s; and record numbers of tourists.But that is somewhat offset by the image many people have of Coderre as an arrogant, strongman-type leader who makes hasty decisions.Plante, who became leader of Projet Montreal last December, has forced her opponents to admit she has run an excellent campaign and in the last few months has closed what was a massive gulf in the polls.“We say Coderre hasn’t smiled enough and hasn’t seemed happy in this campaign,” said Richard Bergeron, the founder of Plante’s party but who is now with Team Denis Coderre for Montreal.Patrick Cigana, who has been with Projet Montreal since its founding in 2004 and was its director general from 2011 to 2015, said campaigns are about hearts, not minds.“Honestly, I never believed that politics was about convincing (people) — it’s about seducing, almost,” he said. “You know, charming people.”Plante, he explained, has been able to connect with citizens and, no matter where she goes, people want to take photos with her.“We owe a lot to our leader and to the personality of our leader,” Cigana said.Coderre is known outside Montreal as the man who rejoiced and took responsibility for helping stop TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline project, which he said would have created an unsupportable risk to the province’s waterways.Canadians also know him as the man who dumped billions of litres of raw sewage into the same waterways in order to give time and space for repairs to the city’s underground infrastructure.Cigana said Projet Montreal can be compared to the left-leaning party of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.“I almost consider them like a sister party,” Cigana said. “We also like Mayor (Naheed) Nenshi of Calgary.”Russell Copeman, a former political opponent of Coderre and now a city councillor and borough mayor with the mayor’s team, said he is “mystified” the race is so close.“I think we’ve had trouble selling (our) message,” said Copeman, who will be named deputy mayor if Coderre wins Sunday. “My own view is that too many people thought this was going to be a cakewalk … potentially even within our own party.”Copeman rejects the characterization of Coderre as a egotist who doesn’t listen.“I understand his strong personality — some people can find it off-putting,” Copeman said. “But this urban mythology that he listens to no one and doesn’t adjust his point of view is just not true.”Earlier this week, Coderre defended himself against the accusations of arrogance.“Listen, to be arrogant is to be determined,” he said, adding it’s not easy running a city with a $5-billion budget and 28,000 employees. “Sometimes you have to have somebody who can take the heat and can make a difference.”Despite the personality issues, Coderre has brought tangible benefits to Montrealers since his election in 2013.He kept his promise to name an inspector general to oversee the awarding of city contracts and he reduced the percentage of the budget dedicated to salaries and benefits to 44 per cent from 51 per cent in his first mandate, saving millions.Coderre also fought and won more power for the city from the provincial government and has been able to bring federalists, Quebec sovereignists and former political foes into his team.But for all those successes, Coderre should know how unpredictable campaigns can be — because he almost lost to a virtual unknown last time around.Insiders in the city’s municipal circles say if the 2013 race had been just a few days longer, the city would have had its first female mayor: Melanie Joly, currently Canada’s heritage minister.“Try to imagine,” Bergeron said. “(Joly) knew nothing of municipal politics and had (virtually) no team. She was rising (in the polls) every two days. If the election campaign was 10 days longer she would have been mayor of Montreal.“An electoral campaign offers its own logic.”Projet Montreal has also brought benefits to Montrealers, particularly regarding its methods of redesigning sidewalks and alleyways to make room for flowers and other plants. The greening strategy used in the boroughs the party governs is being propagated across the island of Montreal.Plante has been accused of magical thinking, however, with regard to some of her campaign promises.Her estimate of $6 billion to build a proposed 29-stop subway line is described by Copeman as “magic wand time.”She wants the stops on her “pink line” to be named after women and members of minority communities who have contributed to the city.It’s easy to promise things — very easy,” Bergeron said. “It’s easy to make people dream — I did it three times,” he said of his unsuccessful mayoral runs with Projet.But Bergeron warned that while Montrealers want to dream, they need to recognize what it has taken to get where they are — and how easy it is for it to end.He described how Montreal went through a similar period from about 1987 to 1992 when there was a building spree of office complexes and skyscrapers.“And then nothing for 25 years,” Bergeron said.“When you are in a period of prosperity it creates the illusion of easiness — it’s so obvious to everyone how easy it is. It’s not. The conditions for prosperity have limits. It’s very hard to relaunch the economy and very easy to destroy it.”
CHARLOTTETOWN – The Green party has pulled off an unprecedented electoral victory in P.E.I., doubling its standings in the legislature and potentially signalling a surprising shift in the political landscape of Canada’s smallest province.The upstart party increased the number of its MLAs on the Island to two from one in a byelection Monday following the resignation of a Liberal cabinet minister last month.Hannah Bell, the 48-year-old head of a businesswomen’s association in Charlottetown, easily defeated the Liberal, NDP and Conservative candidates, suggesting a breakthrough for the party that elected its first MLA just two years ago.“Against the odds, we totally knocked it out of the park,” Bell said in an interview the morning after a late night of celebrating her win. “It’s absolutely astounding and shows the real appetite for change.”Bell captured 35.3 per cent of the vote in the Charlottetown-Parkdale byelection, according to unofficial results from Elections PEI. Liberal Bob Doiron took second place with 28.5 per cent, Melissa Hilton of the PCs came in third with 26.9 per cent of the vote and New Democrat Mike Redmond captured 9.3 per cent.Because of the nature of P.E.I.’s small ridings, Bell won with just 768 votes.Bell — the executive director of the PEI Business Women’s Association — joins leader Peter Bevan-Baker as the second Green party member in the 27-seat P.E.I. legislature following his election in May 2015.The byelection was called to fill a seat left vacant when former education minister Doug Currie announced he was leaving politics to explore other professional opportunities. Premier Wade MacLauchlan quickly dropped the writ, prompting the opposition to question whether he was trying to catch them flat-footed.Don Desserud, a political science professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, said the Green win was likely linked to several factors, including a dissatisfaction with the governing Liberals over the prospect of school closures, the growing appeal of Bevan-Baker and a respect for Bell and her business background.“They like the Green party leader, they like the policies he stands for and they like the way he’s carrying himself in the house,” he said.“For the third parties, they usually win a seat and that’s it. So winning two seats is remarkable.”The victory makes it the second Green caucus in the country after B.C., where the Liberals were later defeated in a confidence vote, allowing the New Democrats to form a minority government with support from the Green party.Andrew Weaver, the B.C. Green leader, called Bell’s win a “tidal shift.”Federal Green Leader Elizabeth May said the win represented a growing acceptance of the party as a viable alternative to traditional political parties.“The growing success of Green parties in Canada and around the world signals an exciting trend — voters are increasingly looking to Greens when it comes to strengthening democracy, fighting for those less fortunate, and leading the way to a sustainable future,” May, who campaigned in P.E.I., said in an email statement.However, Desserud said a byelection win may not mean people are ready to abandon their traditional voting habits in a general election in a province where there has only ever been three seats that were not red or blue. He added that the voter turnout was about 60 per cent, which “doesn’t indicate to me there’s a great movement of anger” against the current government.“If you look at (the last general) election results across the province, the Greens did very well in this riding and well in the Charlottetown ridings, but in deep rural P.E.I. ridings they did not do so well,” he said.“Their problem is to translate that into general support in a provincial election.”Still, Bell sees her win is part of a widening trend across the country.“This is a continuation of that story of slow, steady change,” she said, noting a poster in her office that says, ‘Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied.’“We now have two caucuses in the country and it feels very small, but it feels very big.”David Coon, the New Brunswick Green leader and the party’s sole member in that province’s legislature, pounced on the win Tuesday as a sign “the winds of change are blowing across the Maritimes.”Bell, who lives with her 10-year-old daughter and mother in the riding, said she would likely continue to serve as finance critic when she takes her seat in the house, which may not happen until the spring if the legislature breaks soon.— By Alison Auld in Halifax
Seven stories in the news for Friday, Dec. 1———BASEBALL ANALYST FIRED FROM SPORTSNETGregg Zaun has been fired from Sportsnet due to alleged “inappropriate behaviour and comments” toward female employees. Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media, says they received complaints from “multiple female employees at Sportsnet regarding inappropriate behaviour by Gregg Zaun in the workplace.” Zaun has not yet commented on his dismissal.———BILL MORNEAU AGAIN AT CENTRE OF FIERCE DEBATEFinance Minister Bill Morneau found himself fending off fresh Opposition broadsides during another tumultuous question period — one that was so turbulent, a Conservative MP was booted from Commons for heckling. Morneau remains at the centre of an ethics controversy and the latest questions concerned revelations that his father sold off about $1.5 million shares in their family-built company right before the minister made a major 2015 tax-change announcement.———LATEST JOBS NUMBERS OUT TODAYStatistics Canada will release the latest employment data today, which will reveal whether the economy continued to churn out new jobs in November. Last month’s jobs report showed employers added more than 35,000 new positions in October, with most of the growth coming from full-time work. Even with that gain, the national unemployment rate ticked up to 6.3 per cent from 6.2 per cent due to more young people entering the labour force.———CANADA NOT TALKING ABOUT JOINING US MISSILE DEFENCEA senior Canadian general says there have been no talks about joining the American ballistic-missile shield program. Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance’s comments come amid swirling questions over Canada’s potential involvement in ballistic-missile defence, particularly given concerns about North Korea missiles. Vance told The Canadian Press that officials are preparing for what are expected to be in-depth talks with the U.S. about upgrading Norad.———KATHLEEN WYNNE WRAPS UP CHINA TRADE MISSIONPremier Kathleen Wynne has wrapped up a trade mission to China saying the trip secured nearly $2 billion in agreements between Ontario and Chinese companies. Speaking from Shenzhen, China, Wynne told The Canadian Press that those agreements will create more than 2,000 jobs in Ontario. The premier and business delegates from the science, tech, agri-food and automotive sectors met with Chinese businesses throughout the week.———APPEAL COURT TO RULE ON REAL ESTATE CASEThe Federal Court of Appeal is expected to rule today on whether Canada’s largest real estate board must open up access to home sales data to its realtor members, which it could then share with the public online. The decision is expected to affect how other real estate boards provide services to customers on the internet. Last April, the federal Competition Tribunal ruled that the Toronto Real Estate Board prevented competition and stifled digital innovation by prohibiting its realtor members from posting sales data on their websites.———CANADA JOINS HIGH ARCTIC FISHING BANAn international agreement deal has been reached to prevent commercial fishing in the High Arctic for at least the next 16 years. The deal covers Arctic seas at least 200 kilometres away from the shores of any coastal states. That’s an area about the size of the Mediterranean Sea. Countries that have signed on include the five nations with Arctic coastlines, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Iceland.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— In addition to the latest jobs numbers, StatsCanada will release gross domestic product data for the third quarter.— The National Bank of Canada will release fourth-quarter and year-end results.— Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo maker BRP Inc. will release third-quarter results.— A hearing will be held in Toronto into a lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein by an Ontario actress.— MPs Mary Ng and Shaun Chen hold a news conference in Toronto to discuss the prime minister’s upcoming trip to China.— Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will make an announcement regarding the protection of the Great Lakes.
OTTAWA – Health Canada has posted draft regulations designed to allow the federal government to get a better national picture of how many Canadians are getting medical help to end their lives and in what circumstances.The proposed regulations, published in the Canada Gazette, include reporting requirements for doctors and nurse practitioners who receive written requests for medically assisted deaths, as well as for pharmacists who dispense the medications required.And that’s raising concerns that the additional administrative burden could prompt fewer doctors, nurses and pharmacists to get involved in providing assistance in dying, widening the already existing barriers to access.Online consultations are underway until Feb. 13 with the goal of creating final regulations by next summer.Health Canada says it plans to start publishing annual reports as part of a new monitoring system by 2019.Until then, the department says it will collaborate with the provinces and territories to produce interim reports every six months, as it has been doing since June 2016 when Parliament passed legislation allowing Canadian adults to request medical assistance in dying.Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the federal government has worked with provinces, territories and stakeholders to develop a consistent reporting approach.“We look forward to receiving thoughtful feedback from all Canadians on the proposed regulations,” she said in a statement Monday.Dying with Dignity Canada said it supports a national monitoring system but it wants Health Canada to work with its provincial and territorial counterparts to avoid duplication and streamline reporting requirements.Cory Ruf, a spokesperson for the organization, said each assisted death case already requires hours of paperwork for clinicians, including reporting to their local coroner, hospital and province. Any increase in that administrative burden could prompt some of the few existing providers to cease their involvement in assisted dying and discourage others from getting involved, he said.“This would widen existing barriers to access facing suffering Canadians who want access to their right to MAID (medical assistance in dying), particularly in rural and remote communities.”
WHITEHORSE – The population of the Porcupine caribou in Yukon and Alaska is growing compared with caribou herds elsewhere in the world, a Yukon government biologist says.Mike Suitor said that of the 13 barren ground caribou herds across Canada’s North, the Porcupine is the only population of caribou that has increased, likely due to favourable environmental conditions.The Yukon government announced Wednesday that an estimated 218,000 Porcupine caribou had been counted in Yukon, up from 198,000 since the last count in 2013.That’s up from 169,000 animals in 2010, resulting in an annual growth rate of 3.7 per cent over the last seven years, the government said in a release.“Globally, most of the caribou herd are in decline or have stabilized,” Suitor said. “The fact that the Porcupine herd is healthy is big news in Canada and also in the United States, especially Canada, because a lot of people depend on them culturally and as a food source.”The animals have been historically important for the Gwich’in First Nation of Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and the Inuvialuit, who live in the Northwest Territories but also use their traditional lands in the Yukon North Slope for harvesting, he said.Warm, wet conditions in recent summers have made for lush vegetation while in the Northwest Territories, for example, caribou have been contending with drought conditions in recent years, Suitor said.Low harvest years like last year, when the caribou failed to reach the Dempster Highway in Yukon and were not available to the village of Old Crow, probably contributed to the herd’s growth, he said.High-resolution aerial photography was used to conduct the latest census last July along the Beaufort Sea coastal plain in the Yukon and Alaska, before the animals were counted through a co-ordinated effort by both jurisdictions.“Most of the caribou were located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, with 13,136 caribou photographed in Yukon,” the territorial government said in a release.An annual growth rate of 3.7 per cent is similar to the growth seen in the 1970s and ’80s, when the herd was going through its last naturally occurring growth cycle, it says.The 2001 census estimated the herd at 123,000, or almost 100,000 fewer caribou than last summer.“This year’s successful and strong count demonstrates our excellent collaborative management with state, territorial, First Nations and federal partners,” Environment Minister Pauline Frost said in a statement.“This is a level of partnership we should all be proud of, as it exemplifies what can be achieved over time for a larger cause than what we are bound to within our jurisdictions,” Frost said.“The challenge before us will be how we continue to work with all partners for the continued health and conservation of this iconic herd, especially as we have witnessed significant fluctuations in the population of this herd from time to time.” (The Canadian Press, Whitehorse Star)
TORONTO – With cases of flu continuing to rise in Canada, there’s likely a whole lot of “achooing” going on across the country. But ear, nose and throat doctors advise against trying to stifle those sneezes, as such suppression can in rare cases lead to injuries.One of the most serious is detailed in the journal BMJ Case Reports, published online Monday, in which a 34-year-old man from the United Kingdom ruptured his throat after pinching his nose and clamping his mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze.The post-sneeze trauma left the man in pain and barely able to speak or swallow.When emergency care doctors examined the patient, they heard popping and crackling sounds extending from his neck to his rib cage — a sign that air bubbles had found their way into the tissue and muscles of his chest, the authors at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust write.The unidentified man, who was treated in hospital for a week, was advised against repeating such a “dangerous manoeuvre” in the future.“This tear in the throat is incredibly unusual,” said Dr. Douglas Chepeha, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at University Health Network in Toronto. “In my career, I’ve never seen anything like that.”However, he said there are a number of other injuries that could occur from trying to block a sneeze, though they, too, are relatively rare.Impeding the release of air from the nose and mouth during a sneeze could rapidly increase the pressure in the lungs, forcing the air out and trapping it in the chest between the lungs — a condition known as pseudomediastinum.A suppressed sneeze could also build up pressure in the middle ear, though Chepeha said bursting an eardrum that way is very rare. (To understand the effect, think of popping one’s ears in a descending airplane by breathing out against pinched nostrils to restore hearing.)In the BMJ case report, authors point out that thwarting a sneeze — the body’s attempt to eliminate such irritants as mucus or allergens in the nose — could conceivably rupture an undetected aneurysm, or ballooning blood vessel, in the brain.And it could also cause small surface blood vessels in the eyes and other areas of the head and neck to burst due to built-up pressure, Chepeha said.“In your nose itself, you can burst a blood vessel and get a bleeding nose.”Even without being impeded, sneezing has been known to cause injuries, said Dr. Eric Monteiro, an ENT at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.“There have been reports of elderly women who develop brittle bones in osteoporosis, developing vertebral compression fractures as a result of sneezing,” he said Monday in an interview.Some Major League Baseball players have hurt themselves by sneezing, including Toronto Blue Jay Kevin Pillar, who ended up on the 10-day disabled list when a sneeze led to an oblique muscle strain during the 2015 pre-season.So is there a right way to sneeze?Not really, said Monteiro, explaining that sneezing is an involuntary protective reflex that can’t necessarily be controlled.“But I think there is a wrong way, which is trying to plug your nose and close your mouth, which is just generally not recommended because you inhibit the natural process,” he said.“And if you do that, you’re potentially setting yourself up for an injury, notwithstanding the fact that they’re rare.”While doctors may discourage people from stifling a sneeze — whether it’s a dainty achoo or a big honk — Chepeha said people should deliver it into their inner elbows to prevent spreading the flu virus or other air-borne bugs.“Of course you have to cover your mouth, and the absolute best way is to cough or sneeze into your sleeve.”– Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Jan. 16———NORTH KOREA TOLD TO GIVE UP NUCLEAR ARMS: If North Korea wants freedom from sanctions and acceptance from the international community, it must end its nuclear weapons program, Canada and some of its closest partners insisted Tuesday as they kicked off a major international meeting aimed at ending Pyongyang’s ongoing “nuclearization.” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her counterparts from 20 countries — including the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Britain — began the meeting in Vancouver with a unanimous missive to the North Korean government: give up your nuclear weapons. “Our message is clear,” Freeland said. “The pursuit of nuclearization will bring you neither security nor prosperity. Investing in nuclear weapons will lead only to more sanctions and to perpetual instability on the peninsula.” Canada and the U.S. are co-hosting the one-day meeting, which was called in response to concerns about North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities. The purpose, said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was to increase the “maximum-pressure campaign” on North Korea by clamping down on its efforts to evade sanctions through smuggling and other illicit activity.———LAC-MEGANTIC JURORS SAY THEY ARE AT AN IMPASSE: The jurors at the Lac-Megantic trial told the judge Tuesday they are at an impasse in their deliberations. Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas read a letter in which the jurors asked him what would happen if they couldn’t reach unanimity. The jurors are deliberating the fate of Tom Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre. The three were charged with criminal negligence causing the 2013 tragedy that killed 47 people when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded. After receiving the letter, Dumas told the lawyers in the case he could “exhort” the jurors to resume their deliberations and to consider the possibility of delivering verdicts on one, two or all three accused. All three men can be found guilty of criminal negligence causing the death, while jurors have the option of convicting Harding on one of two other charges: dangerous operation of railway equipment or dangerous operation of railway equipment causing death. Harding was the train’s engineer, Labrie the traffic controller and Demaitre the manager of train operations. The three men each pleaded not guilty.———TRUDEAU SAYS HE’S OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NAFTA DEAL: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains optimistic that Canada, the United States and Mexico can strike a deal to modernize NAFTA that benefits all three countries. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Trudeau says he believes there’s a good chance negotiations will result in what he calls a “win-win-win.” Trudeau says his government isn’t worrying about contradictory signals from the U.S., which have periodically left the impression that the North American Free Trade Agreement is doomed. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened repeatedly to pull out of the continental trade pact. However, Trump last week calmed markets jittery about the potential demise of NAFTA, telling the Wall Street Journal that he’d “rather keep it” and telling farmers, who are overwhelmingly supportive of the pact, that he’s working hard to improve it. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Canada will bring some “creative” new proposals to the bargaining table later this month; Trudeau says his government will stand firm in defending Canadian interests and won’t sign on to “any old deal.”———YOUTH PROGRAM WON’T FUND ANTI-ABORTION PROJECTS: Activities and projects that are considered to be anti-abortion will be ineligible for funding as part of Canada’s revamped national youth volunteer program. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the first phase of the new Canada Service Corps program during a live Instagram video Tuesday, calling it an exciting opportunity to get young Canadians engaged in their country and community. The government is investing $105 million into the program over the next three years, and while it won’t be fully rolled out until 2019, there are already funding applications being accepted for the initial phase. And much like the Canada Summer Jobs program, the Canada Service Corps will not approve funding for any projects deemed not to “respect existing individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” including reproductive rights. Other values listed include the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.———LIBERALS TO ANNOUNCE FOREIGN BUSINESS OMBUDSMAN: The Liberal government is planning to make good on a campaign promise to create an ombudsman with teeth to oversee the conduct of Canadian companies operating abroad. International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champange is to announce the creation of a new position on Wednesday. Government sources say the new position will be a substantive upgrade to the “corporate responsibility counsellor,” which has been widely criticized as a toothless entity for dealing with misconduct complaints against Canadian companies, mainly in the mining industry. One source, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a matter not yet made public, says the new ombudsman will have jurisdiction over more than just the mining sector, but provided no further details. It is not clear how much power the newly created position will be given, such as whether it will be able to compel specific behaviour from companies.———BORDER-CROSSER HOPES TO KEEP FINGERS AFTER FROSTBITE: A 36-year-old man from the small African nation of Togo is waiting to find out whether he will be allowed to stay in Canada, and whether severe frostbite might cost him his fingers. Kangni Fiowole-Kouevi walked across the border near Emerson, Man., the night of Jan. 5, as temperatures dipped below -20 C. He says he paid $700 for a ride from Minneapolis to an area near the border, then walked for about four hours. He had winter clothing, but his gloves were not enough and he suffered severe frostbite before he called 911 and was picked up by police. Fiowole-Kouevi says he hopes his fingers will recover, even though he has bandages on his hands and doctors are still treating him. He says he left Togo to flee religious persecution as a Christian and had his refugee claim denied in the United States. His journey comes a year after two men from Ghana made a similar crossing over the Emerson border and lost their fingers to severe frostbite.———GIRL DIES AFTER BEING PINNED BETWEEN TWO VEHICLES: Grief counsellors were at a north Toronto school Tuesday to help students and staff cope with the news that a five-year-old girl had died after being pinned between two SUVs. The Toronto Catholic District School Board said the girl was walking with her father to their car after school on Monday when the incident took place just before 3:30 p.m. Const. Clint Stibbe said Tuesday that an SUV with no one inside rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s Mercedes-Benz SUV. The child was taken to a hospital where she died of her injuries. The girl’s 42-year-old father was also struck by the rolling vehicle and was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. The police traffic services division said the investigation was ongoing, and charges, if any, have not yet been determined. Toys and flowers were left in a snowbank near St. Raphael Catholic School on Monday morning.———FEDS TO GET BOOST FROM ECONOMY, TAX CHANGES: After months of battling controversies, Bill Morneau’s spring budget has the potential to blunt some criticism by showing that a return to balanced books could be within striking distance in just a few years. However, it will likely be up to the finance minister himself whether his next spending blueprint includes a long-awaited federal timeline to eliminate the deficit. Despite Canada’s more robust economy of late, the governing Liberals have long said they prefer to remain focused on lifting Canada’s long-term growth rather than rushing to balance the budget — even though they shattered their campaign promise to keep annual shortfalls below $10 billion. The government’s latest forecast projected a $14.3-billion deficit for 2019-20. But experts say a lot has changed since that October prediction, which was based on private-sector projections taken in September. Thanks in large part to the stronger-than-expected economy, forecasters are expecting Morneau’s budget — typically tabled in February or March — to show smaller deficits across the outlook than Ottawa had forecasted just a few months ago.———ICE DANCERS VIRTUE AND MOIR TO CARRY FLAG AT WINTER OLYMPICS: Ice dance darlings Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will carry Canada’s flag into the opening ceremony at next month’s Winter Games in South Korea. The Olympic gold medallists were introduced Tuesday at a news conference in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was there to mark the occasion. Virtue, 28, and Moir, 30, made their Olympic debut eight years ago on home ice in Vancouver, where they captured a gold medal and became household names. They skated to a silver medal four years ago in Sochi. The duo then took two years off before deciding to make a run for one more Olympic title. They say they will retire after the Games in Pyeongchang. The Pyeongchang Olympics open Feb. 9.———AXE INCREASING BEER TAX, TRADE ASSOCIATION SAYS: A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal government to stop its plan to annually increase a tax on the alcoholic drink. Beer Canada has launched a new campaign calling on Canadians to sign a petition asking Finance Minister Bill Morneau to axe the escalating beer tax. In last year’s federal budget, the Liberal government announced it wanted to annually adjust the beer excise tax by indexing it to the consumer price index with the first inflationary adjustment coming this April. Beer Canada, which represents 50 brewers who make more than 90 per cent of domestic beer consumed in the country, says 47 per cent of the price of beer in Canada is already tax. The association says future tax increases would further hurt an industry facing challenging times as beer consumption is declining in Canada.———
CALGARY – Canadian steel and aluminum producers have dodged U.S. President Donald Trump’s global tariffs but continue to grapple with the uncertainty the debate has created.Aluminium Association of Canada president Jean Simard says the indefinite exemption announced Thursday on the 10 per cent aluminum tariff is a reprieve, but that there’s still too many unknowns to attract any new investment.Simard says he also worries about the fallout of the tariffs in the U.S., which will become the most expensive place to buy aluminum, and how that will hit the buyers of Canadian metal.Canadian Steel Producers Association president Joseph Galimberti says there’s been uncertainty ever since Trump initiated the national security-based tariff investigation and there continues to be concerns over the fallout of the 25 per cent global tariff.He says there’s some comfort in Canada being exempt, but that companies will need to be in close contact with customers as they adjust to the new reality of unpredictability.Peter Warrian, a senior research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, says the uncertainty could disrupt both short-term sales and long-term investments in an industry that seeks stability.
MONTREAL – Quebec’s top court has overturned a 2015 acquittal of a Montreal-area naturopath in the death of a patient 10 years ago and convicted her of manslaughter.Mitra Javanmardi has also been ordered to stand trial on a charge of criminal negligence causing death, for which she had been acquitted.Roger Matern, 79, died after Javanmardi injected him with a contaminated substance.Javanmardi is scheduled to appear in Quebec court for sentencing on the manslaughter conviction.Matern visited Javanmardi’s clinic in June 2008 following heart surgery that reportedly did not improve his health.According to court documents, Matern wanted quick results and insisted that Javanmardi inject him with nutrients despite her telling him the procedure was not done on a first visit.She eventually acquiesced.During the injection he complained of being hot and then started shivering. His condition deteriorated rapidly while at the clinic and Javanmardi recommended he get a good night sleep.Matern’s condition worsened at home and he only went to hospital the following day, when it was too late.Police who raided Javanmardi’s office following Matern’s death seized vials containing the substance with which she injected him.Analysis discovered one of the vials contained 9.7 million bacteria when the norm for an injectable product is zero.The appeals court ruled the lower court did not properly apply the law to the facts of the case.It highlight several critical elements: the naturopath injected the medication as opposed to delivering it orally; she used the single-dose vial on two previous patients; she derogated from protocol by complying with the demands of a patient; and she didn’t send her patient to hospital despite witnessing symptoms unknown to her.“The (trial) judge therefore erred by not retaining, from the uncontested facts, that the conduct of the accused is blamable … and meets the criteria of criminal negligence,” the appeals court wrote in its ruling Thursday.
WINNIPEG – A move to ban discrimination based on weight and size under Manitoba’s human rights code has moved a step closer to becoming law, although the Progressive Conservative government has not yet committed to passing it.Liberal legislature member Jon Gerrard has tried three times to get support for a private member’s bill that would add weight and size as grounds for human rights protection. He didn’t get any support for his previous two attempts, but the Tories have now voted in favour of sending Gerrard’s bill to a legislature committee for public hearings Wednesday night.“There’s no guarantee it will pass all the way, but we believe we’ve got some really good presenters at committee stage and we’re hopeful,” Gerrard said Tuesday.Justice Minister Cliff Cullen would not make any promises beyond listening to what people have to say.“We will reserve comment until we’ve had the opportunity to listen to Manitobans at committee,” Cullen said in a brief written statement.“We look forward to discussing ways to better ensure that all Manitobans are treated fairly and equitably.”Gerrard has long said overweight people need protection because many have been bullied, shamed, passed over for promotions or denied health-care services.The bill also proposes protection for people with dwarfism.Lindsey Mazur, a dietician and spokesperson for Manitobans Against Weight Stigma, said the proposed law is needed.“Certainly I have heard about promotions and jobs being denied based on size,” Mazur said. “This affects so many areas of society, all the way to our children and bullying.”Some people have been told they will not receive medical services unless they first lose weight, she added.Manitoba’s human rights code bans discrimination on several grounds including age, gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability.Across Canada, there have been human rights commission rulings in favour of obese persons, but they have been limited to people considered disabled because of their obesity.In 2010, the Quebec Human Rights Commission ruled a morbidly obese woman was discriminated against by her condominium association when she was denied a handicapped parking spot.Gerrard said people should not have to be obese to the point of being disabled before they can be protected from discrimination.
VANCOUVER – The mother of a 13-year-old girl found murdered in Burnaby, B.C., will get a Mandarin interpreter so she can understand what’s going on in court involving a man accused of the crime, the Attorney General’s Ministry says.“In addition to the interpretation services, the family will continue to have access to support from victim services throughout court proceedings,” the ministry said in an email, adding privacy issues prevent it from disclosing specific services that have been accessed.It said interpreters are provided for victims who testify in court.However, the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime called for an amendment to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights last year so people who are affected by an offence also get that support and don’t have to ask for it.Marrisa Shen’s mother requested an interpreter earlier this month through her lawyer in provincial court, and a judge recommended the B.C. government provide that service.Ibrahim Ali, who is charged with first-degree murder, has had an Arabic interpreter for his pre-trial court appearances. He is set to make his next appearance on Nov. 23.Shen’s mother does not wish to be identified and has not spoken publicly since her daughter was found dead in Central Park in Burnaby in July 2017.Ninu Kang, spokeswoman for Mosaic Community Services, said victims of crime should automatically get access to language interpreters in court, the same as the accused, as they go through what is an intimidating and overwhelming process for most Canadians.Kang said victims’ relatives, friends or members of a community sometimes step in to translate proceedings but unlike professional interpreters, they are not trained to understand court jargon and could be providing incorrect information while dealing with a stressful situation.“Family members will further endure trauma and they don’t necessarily know even what their role is so they might interpret what is their understanding of what is being said.”Professional interpreters must abide by a code of ethics, ensure accuracy and remain impartial, Kang said.“There’s a need for professional conduct so victims aren’t feeling like they owe you anything. They’re paid individuals and victims should know they have a right to the workers.”Kang said their non-profit organization, among others, is sometimes hired by the government to provide interpreters or workers who aid victims through the court process.However, she said there aren’t enough resources for language interpretation in the community.“We have a long way to go to recognize that all victims don’t have language proficiency in our two official languages and providing language access is a human rights issue for Canadians.”Mosaic participated in consultations last year as the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime sought input on how best to meet the needs of people navigating the justice system.A report released by the office last fall outlined concerns involving the courts.“We heard repeatedly just how complicated the criminal justice system is and how hard it is to understand, even for those who work within it. Help is needed to navigate a system that is so highly complex and has its own culture and language.”Another report by the office says “language hurdles” impede access to justice.“If the system does not accommodate linguistic or communication barriers, how can victims be heard in cases involving them?”The ombudsman recommended three sections of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights be amended so people have information about investigations and access to interpretation so “the onus is not on victims to request the information to which they have rights.”“Such a change could be complemented by the development of a federal/provincial/territorial framework for regulations or guidelines that could be implemented by various jurisdictions, providing nationally uniform guidance on how rights to information are to be fulfilled,” says the report released last November.— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
TORONTO — Police forces in major cities across Canada are investigating multiple bomb threats, as authorities in the U.S. say similar threats sent to dozens of locations appear to be a hoax.Police in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg, as well as several RCMP detachments, are all investigating multiple threats.One busy subway station in downtown Toronto was briefly evacuated this afternoon due to a threat received in the area, but was up and running again within hours.A spokesman for Toronto police says it’s not clear whether the threat, or any of the others received across the city, were related to those in other locations.Meantime, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. dismissed a series of threats, which they said were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money.Some of the email threats received in the U.S. had the subject line “Think Twice,” and a demand for a payment in Bitcoin. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — A world-renowned Alberta ski resort is appealing a $2.1-million-dollar fine it received for cutting down endangered trees five years ago.Lake Louise Ski Resort pleaded guilty last December to taking down a stand of trees, including 38 endangered whitebark pine, along a ski run in 2013.The fine, which was imposed last month for charges under the Species at Risk Act and Canada National Parks Act, amounts to roughly $55,000 per tree.“The sentence is grossly disproportional and demonstrably unfit given … the actual facts and background of the offence,” defence lawyer Alain Hepner wrote in the appeal notice filed Friday.The court will be asked to either stay the charges or reduce the penalty to $200,000.An agreed statement of facts said that in 2013 a trail crew, consisting of six employees including a supervisor, began cleaning up, doing fencework and trimming and removing some trees on Ptarmigan Ridge at the ski resort.The document said that in late September of that year, the workers cut down a number of trees, including endangered whitebark pine, without a permit.Judge Heather Lamoureux ruled Nov. 30 there was a “cumulative impact” on the whitebark pine with “potential risk of undermining the survival of the species in the decades to come.”She noted the trees were cut in a national park, the resort failed to ensure its employees knew the whitebark pine was endangered and the trees that were destroyed were all healthy.The five-needle whitebark pine provides food and habitat for animals, as well as helps stabilize steep subalpine slopes.The tree exists at high elevations in western North America at, or close to, the treeline. They have been growing on the continent for 100,000 years and can grow to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.But Hepner said the judge didn’t take into account remediation efforts the resort took after the trees were cut down or the “lack of impact of the loss of 38 whitebark pines to the population.”With 200 million whitebark pines in Canada, Hepner said the trial judge erred in finding the loss of 38 trees affected the species as a whole.A spokesman for the resort says steps have been taken to ensure no other whitebark pines are cut down. Staff are better educated and the 7,000 whitebark pines within the resort area are now marked, the resort said.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — A U.S.-based animal protection group is touring coastal Nova Scotia communities in hopes of finding one interested in becoming a retirement home for whales and dolphins raised in captivity.The Whale Sanctuary Project says it is holding public information meetings in Dartmouth, Liverpool, Port Hawkesbury, Sherbrooke and Sheet Harbour to identify a possible seaside sanctuary for beluga whales freed from entertainment parks.The group’s executive director, Charles Vinick, says the selected community could see jobs and economic benefits with the creation of an education centre and the need to purchase tons of frozen fish to feed the whales.The organization says it is looking for a 40-hectare area along the Atlantic shore of Nova Scotia “that can become a home to whales who are retired from entertainment facilities or are injured and need rehabilitation within a netted-off area.”The group estimates it would cost about $20 million to create the sanctuary, along with costs with the long-term care of the animals.It would be one of only a few such sanctuaries in the world for the marine mammals.“Most of them have never learned survival skills, so they cannot be released into the open ocean,” Vinick said in a statement. “But a seaside sanctuary will give them a chance to thrive in a stimulating natural ecosystem.”He said the community discussions will provide an explanation as to what a sanctuary would look like and will address concerns about potential environmental and fisheries impacts.The first meeting is being held Thursday in Dartmouth.“We realize that people have questions and concerns about such a novel project,” Vinick said. “We share these concerns and we want to work with everyone to figure out whether a sanctuary is a good fit for your community.”Nova Scotia’s southwest coast was shortlisted as a potential site after the group began looking at areas across North America two years ago to establish a large seaside enclosure.The list of potential sites was then narrowed to Nova Scotia and Washington state, with a couple sites in British Columbia as backup options.According to the Change For Animals Foundation, there are at least 2,300 cetaceans in captivity worldwide, including about 2,000 dolphins, 200 beluga whales and 53 orcas, which are otherwise known as killer whales.But those numbers are expected to drop in the years ahead, particularly in North America.The Vancouver Aquarium has said it would no longer keep whales and dolphins in captivity, saying the heated public debate over the issue was getting in the way of its conservation work.The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The City of Victoria and local First Nations are mulling over what to do about the mothballed Sir John A. Macdonald statue.The statue of Canada’s first prime minister and member of Parliament for Victoria from 1878 to 1882 was removed from the steps of Victoria City Hall last August.Critics said Macdonald’s role at the head of a government that created the Indian Act and established the residential school system made the statue inappropriate.Mayor Lisa Helps says Victoria will be holding talks in the coming months, focusing on what the city must learn about reconciliation and also considering the best place to relocate the statue.A decision on a new home won’t be made until after talks conclude, and Helps says donating the statue in an option, although that could be complicated because it was originally a gift to Victoria.Helps says politicians, Coast Salish First Nations in the area and the public have to consider how the statue could be placed with more context, ensuring history is expanded, not erased. “What we heard very clearly from (the Songhees and Esquimalt) Nations is that a broader story of John A. Macdonald needs to be told,” she says.“I think the imagining, at least from the nations, … is that when the statue is re-situated, there will be some other piece put in conversation with it in some way,” she says, adding the city still needs to hear the opinions of First Nations and other community members.Helps says council has directed that the upcoming talks about the statute and reconciliation should be run through her office.She says the format could including “people coming, sharing a few meals, sitting around tables, and having a conversation to start.”A date for the talks is expected to be set after council approves Victoria’s strategic plan. (CFAX)The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Five men with prostate cancer sit in a tight circle, speaking of the sadness that overcame them when treatments led to impotency, a lack of bladder control and bouts of anxiety.They’re sharing their experiences at the end of an innovative 28-day program that has dealt with some very sensitive issues.“I was depressed before … and this program brought me out of it,” Dane Berringer says during a recent gathering at Dalhousie University in Halifax.The new Patient Empowerment Program (PEP) is part of a broader effort by the health system to help the roughly 23,000 men diagnosed annually with prostate cancer.Developed by Dalhousie University researcher Gabriela Ilie and radiation oncologist Dr. Rob Rutledge, the program includes, among other things, pelvic exercises to reduce incontinence and counselling that teaches men how intimacy goes deeper than sex.While surgery, radiation and hormone treatments can lead to a cure, those treatments can leave wounds.For Berringer, the surgery caused nerve damage near his prostate, a walnut-sized gland above the genitals. The injury has limited the 60-year-old educator’s ability to have erections — a common side effect that often leads to feelings of guilt, loss and inadequacy.However, time spent with his wife in couples’ therapy has helped him accept “there’s more to life than penetrational sex.”When men lose sexual and urinary functions, many are left to cope on their own, according to Prostate Cancer Canada.“There is currently an unmet need in our health care system to identify and understand sexuality issues related to prostate cancer … both for heterosexual men and the LGBTQ community,” Stuart Edmonds, director of research at the non-profit group, said an email.Rutledge, who practises at the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre in Halifax, says it’s a “silent epidemic.”He says too many men turn inward and develop mental illnesses related to their distress.A recent survey of more that 400 prostate cancer patients in the Maritimes found 19 per cent suffered from depression and anxiety. Over 70 per cent reported challenges with sex and intimacy.Ilie says many men associate intercourse with how they connect to their partners. When impotency sets in, they lose “a navigation system.”“Men aren’t like women,” says Ilie. “They don’t go outward and seek advice. They go inward … It becomes crucial therefore to find tools that … bring their feelings to the surface.”Aside from couples counselling, the PEP program also teaches men how to find alternative forms of intimacy.“There’s 65 different ways they can connect (with their partners),” says Rutledge. “Go on a date with your partners, plan something. … Ask for a hug sometimes.”As well, a buddy system encourages the men in the group to keep in touch on a weekly basis.Mel Bartlett, 61, says daily exercises and better eating habits helped him lose ten pounds, and special pelvic exercises helped end urinary incontinence.“My prostate cancer is gone, but I’m not cured of the consequences … and the treatment of it,” says the retired actuary.“What this has done has treated the patient wholistically. It’s tied all the pieces together.”Meditation is also part of the program.When the men gathered at the beginning and end of the program, they were given small monitors to measure their progress in learning to quiet their minds.Ross MacDonald, a pastor at Grace Chapel, says the program has helped him cope with the emotional pain that comes with erectile dysfunction and the “hot flashes” caused by hormone therapy.“There’s a grieving that comes in terms of losing that aspect of our relationship,” he says.“(However), the fact that I’m exercising, I’m eating well, I’m meditating and practising quiet … It’s all been very helpful for me, but I know the depression is there.”Preliminary results from PEP program have been encouraging.After four weeks, the average weight and blood pressure readings for the men went down. Strength levels — measured by hand grips — “significantly improved,” Ilie says.“On average, our men reported fewer concerns about feeling a burden to others, feeling alone, having relationship difficulties, feeling sad (and) feeling angry.”Concerns about intimacy and bodily changes caused by medication were also reduced.The key to the program, says Berringer, is the close contact of the group.“If you just say, ‘Here’s an exercise system, go do it,’ you won’t recreate this,” he says. “The human aspect is what they’re seeing here.”— Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Parks Canada is calling the recovery of three world-class climbers from Banff National Park treacherous and complex, involving a helicopter, a search dog and 28 people.American Jess Roskelley and Austrians David Lama and Hansjorg Auer disappeared while attempting to descend the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway.The climbers were reported overdue on Wednesday.Shelley Humphries, Parks Canada incident commander, says visitor safety specialists responded immediately and concluded the men had died after finding climbing equipment and evidence of multiple avalanches.Humphries says crews were unable to start the recovery until Saturday due to the weather and dangerous avalanche conditions.She says the bodies were found Sunday after an avalanche dog and its handler were deployed to the area.The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Celebrations for Manitoba’s 150th birthday next year were almost given the slogans “Revel The Heart” and “Love Your Manitoba, Explore Someone Else’s.”The two phrases were among three options that advertising firm McKim Communications Group presented last fall to a committee organizing the celebrations, say documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the province’s freedom of information law.The committee ended up picking “United in Celebration” as the official slogan and unveiled it at a ceremony earlier this year.“It’s a very robust process. You look at all three, you evaluate them,” Stuart Murray, co-chair of the committee, said in an interview.“When you look at ‘United in Celebration,’ we want all people — everyone that lives in the province of Manitoba — to celebrate the great province we have, and more importantly, to celebrate what a great future we can (have) working together.”McKim also developed the logo for the anniversary, Murray said — the outline of a heart bookended by two objects that look like crocuses, Manitoba’s official flower.It’s a stylized logo, open to interpretation, he said.“It could be two hands reaching up, it could be two crocuses, it could be two fish.”The logo is also versatile, Murray said, because the outlines allow different photographs to be inserted, depending on the specific message of each ad. Some ads will focus on historical events and places, while others will highlight cultural aspects or nature.Year-long celebratory events are being planned across the province to mark the 150th anniversary of Manitoba’s entry into Confederation.Manitoba was the fifth province to join, and the only one to do so under Indigenous leadership, Murray said, pointing to the work of Louis Riel.The provincial budget for the celebrations has not been finalized, but Premier Brian Pallister committed in March to $5 million as a starting amount.One of the major events is expected to mark the 100th anniversary of the Manitoba legislature, which opened its doors on July 15, 1920.The full list of events will be revealed in the fall, after the provincial and federal elections slated for September and October.Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada says it is looking into an “administrative matter” at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg after it advised the Mounties of possible policy breaches.The laboratory is Canada’s highest-security facility, designed to deal safely with deadly contagious germs such as Ebola.The agency says it alerted the RCMP of the issue on May 24, adding that no employee of the lab is “under arrest or confined to their home.”A spokeswoman for the RCMP in Manitoba says the force can confirm it received a referral from the health agency, adding it will not speculate on the potential outcome of the investigation.Cpl. Julie Courchaine says the RCMP has assessed there is no threat to public safety based on information it received.Public Health echoed that it assure Canadians there is no risk to the public, adding that the work of the lab continues.The Canadian Press