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Al Gore praises Ontario’s cap-and-trade system during Toronto visit

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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As debate over how to combat climate change gears up to be a key issue in Ontario’s spring election, former U.S. vice president and environmental crusader Al Gore lauded the Liberal government’s cap-and-trade system on Thursday and criticized politicians who wanted to dismantle it.

Gore, who met with Premier Kathleen Wynne in Toronto, called cap and trade better than a carbon tax and suggested the province’s Progressive Conservatives, who are picking a new leader this weekend, are headed in the wrong direction on climate policy with their promises to scrap the Liberal system.

“I don’t want to interfere in your politics but I have to speak out when I see all of the candidates in the other party proposing to go backwards and to say we’re going to undo the progress that created jobs and made Ontario a model for the entire world,” he said.

All four candidates hoping to helm Ontario’s Tories have pledged to dismantle the Liberal government’s cap-and-trade system and also fight the imposition of a carbon tax by the federal government. Some have even threatened to take Ottawa to court if it imposed carbon pricing on the province.

Gore called cap and trade a “superior” system when it comes to fighting climate change, and called the Wynne government’s decision to join a Quebec-California carbon market this year “bold and innovative.”

“I cite Ontario as an example of a provincial government that’s doing it right,” Gore said. “Creating jobs, building a base for economic progress while also staving off the severe danger the climate crisis poses to all of us.”

Ontario’s cap-and-trade system aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting caps on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit. If they exceed those limits they must buy allowances at quarterly auctions or from other companies that come in under their limits.

The system has raised nearly $2.5 billion so far, with the government putting revenue toward green projects such as energy efficient improvements at hospitals, smart thermostats for homeowners, and bike lanes, which they hope will further help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Gore said cap and trade lets government work directly with emitters to cut carbon emissions over time. Other jurisdictions like China started to fight climate change with carbon taxes and then switched to cap and trade because it’s more effective, he said.

“I’ve found that actually giving the flexibility in the marketplace to make the adjustments company-by-company as they’re able to make the changes … I’ve found that to work,” he said.

Wynne said it’s important voters know what’s at stake when it comes to climate change if they opt for a Tory government in the spring. A court challenge over whether the imposition of a federal carbon tax is constitutional would take time and hurt the province, she said.

“We’re talking about a long, drawn out process that’s going to take us off track,” she said. “It’s going to remove those benefits that are already in place.”

Gore said the need to make progress on climate change is increasing as extreme weather events become a regular occurrence around the globe. He added that while he supports research and development in the field of climate change, he doesn’t hold out hope that it alone will solve the problem.

“It would be foolish, in my opinion, to bet on a technology breakthrough.” he said. “I’m not going to bet the future of my children and grandchildren that does not yet exist.”

Tory energy critic Todd Smith said Thursday that cap and trade is unaffordable for Ontario families and businesses, arguing it increases fees for goods and services.

“The Auditor General has confirmed that the Wynne Liberal’s cap-and-trade scheme does nothing to protect the environment here at home,” he added, referencing concerns that Ontario being part of a Quebec-California market could mean greenhouse gas emissions won’t actually be cut in Ontario if companies buy allowances in those jurisdictions.

Uber to refund Toronto chef for cost of discarded knives

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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Uber says it will be refunding a Toronto chef the cost of his knives after the company discarded the chef’s tools for “safety reasons.”

Dylan Vickers, a chef at the Toronto restaurant Skippa, used the ride-hailing service last Thursday, and he mistakenly left his set of chef’s knives, worth approximately $3,000, in the back of the car.

After contacting Uber about the lost items, he was told he could pick up his knife roll at their lost and found location in Mississauga. But when he arrived the next day, the knives weren’t there and he was told to contact Uber about the status of his item.

Vickers was then asked to return to the Mississauga location on Sunday to pick up his lost knives.

However, when he showed up a second time he was told by an Uber representative that his knives had been disposed of and a follow up email revealed they were discarded for safety reasons because they were considered dangerous.

On Thursday, Uber announced it would be refunding Dylan the cost of his knives.

Viola Desmond takes her place as Canadian civil rights icon with new $10 bill

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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Viola Desmond’s trailblazing act of defiance – overlooked for decades by most Canadians – was honoured Thursday in a Halifax ceremony that cemented her new status as a civil rights icon.

A new $10 bill featuring Desmond was unveiled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

The purple polymer bill – the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada – includes a portrait of Desmond and a historic map of north end Halifax on one side and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on the other.

“It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman,” Poloz told the large crowd that had gathered at the Halifax Central Library on International Women’s Day despite a blustery snowstorm and flickering power.

Morneau said the deck was “doubly stacked” against Desmond because of her gender and the colour of her skin. He said she stood up for what she believed in and helped make the country a better place.

Desmond becomes the first black person – and the first non-royal woman – on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note.

“It’s a long-awaited sense of belonging for the African Canadian community,” said Russell Grosse, executive director of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.

“The launch of the bill sends people of African descent the message that Canada is finally accepting us. We belong.”

The bill marks a growing recognition of Desmond’s refusal to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre on Nov. 8, 1946 – nearly a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama – and the seminal role it played in Canada’s civil rights movement.

While her civil disobedience was remarkable, Grosse said racial segregation and systemic discrimination was once commonplace in Nova Scotia.

“It’s a familiar story,” he said. “It’s something that a lot of African Canadians once experienced, so they can sympathize and they can connect with it.”

That’s what makes the new $10 bill such a powerful act of acceptance, Grosse said.

“It’s a remarkable story. It really shows the progression of society, and that’s one of the reasons why it seems to have gained this groundswell of interest over the last couple years,” he said.

Grosse said fear of differences and diversity remains, but those issues can now be discussed openly, and people are able to openly discuss problems.

“It shows that society has come a long way from where it was. A lot of the times those things would have happened in shadows and they would have been ignored in the past,” he said. “Now we’re having frank discussions about what we can do about it. That’s a step in the right direction.”

Desmond’s story went largely untold for a half-century, but in recent years she has been featured on a stamp, and her name graces a Halifax harbour ferry. There are plans for a park in Toronto and streets in Montreal and Halifax to bear her name.

Chelsea Clinton tweeted Tuesday about her story after the Bank of Canada shared a short video earlier this month of Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, reacting emotionally to a sneak peek of the bill.

“This is beyond lovely,” Clinton tweeted on Tuesday. “Thank you Wanda Robson. Honored to share Viola Desmond’s story in #ShePersistedAroundTheWorld & can’t wait to see the new Canadian $10 bill on my visit to Toronto next month!”

Isaac Saney, a senior instructor of black studies at Dalhousie University, said many Canadians are unaware that slavery and segregation existed here, and often know more about U.S. civil rights icons than those in Canada.

“We know more about Rosa Parks than Viola Desmond,” he said. “We know more about Martin Luther King than perhaps we know about W.P. Oliver,” he said referring to social justice advocate and reverend Dr. William Pearly Oliver.

But the new bank note could change that, helping Canadians learn about civil rights north of the border, he said.

“When young people see Viola Desmond they’ll be able to ask ‘Who is this particular person,’ so it becomes a teachable moment,” Saney said.

Desmond’s story started with a business trip 71 years ago. Desmond, a beautician and entrepreneur from north end Halifax who sold her own line of cosmetics, was headed to Sydney, N.S., when her car broke down. Stuck in New Glasgow overnight, she decided to watch a movie at the Roseland Theatre.

The segregated theatre relegated black patrons to the balcony, while floor seating was reserved for whites. Desmond, who was shortsighted and could not see properly from the back, sat in the floor section and refused to leave.

She was dragged out of the theatre by police, arrested, thrown in jail for 12 hours and fined.

“Viola Desmond carried out a singular act of courage,” Saney said. “There was no movement behind her, she was ahead of the times.”

It would take 63 years for Nova Scotia to issue Desmond, who died in 1965, a posthumous apology and pardon.

Canada dodges tariff bullet for now; U.S. grants provisional exemption

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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Canada appears to have dodged a protectionist bullet, as one of only two countries to receive a provisional exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs set to rip into America’s trading relationships around the globe.

President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday slapping U.S. tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum from almost every country, with the penalties snapping into effect in 15 days.

After months of frantic lobbying, diplomatic arm-twisting and heated debates within his own administration, Trump made good on his tariff threat at the White House, surrounded by steelworkers.

The only two countries escaping tariffs were America’s neighbours: Canada and Mexico.

It’s not impossible they could be added later, but the president’s own language, the wording of the proclamations and comments from a White House official all went out of their way to avoid any explicit threats against Canada and Mexico, leaving dangling only the vague possibility.

Trump danced around the question of whether the tariff threat will be used to bully Canada and Mexico at the NAFTA bargaining table. He said only that the reprieve remains in place for now and that NAFTA is important to economic and national security.

“Due to the unique nature of our relationship with Canada and Mexico … we’re gonna hold off the tariff for those two countries,” Trump said during a signing ceremony.

“If we don’t make the deal on NAFTA, and if we terminate NAFTA … we’ll start all over again. Or we’ll just do it a different way. But we’ll terminate NAFTA, and that’ll be it. But I have a feeling we’re gonna make a deal on NAFTA. … If we do there won’t be any tariffs on Canada, and there won’t be any tariffs on Mexico.”

The actual formal documents specifically state that Canada and Mexico are a special case, given the continent’s shared commitment to mutual security, an integrated defence industry and the shared fight against dumped steel and that the best way to address U.S. concerns — “at least at this time” — is by continuing discussions.

The references to security are critical.

By law, the tariffs need to be described as a national security matter. A provision in a 1962 U.S. law allows the president to set emergency tariffs as a security issue. But the White House has repeatedly undermined its own legal case, including by intimating that the tariffs would be held over Canada and Mexico as some kind of negotiating tool to extract NAFTA concessions.

The White House is now clearly avoiding that kind of talk: “We will have ongoing discussions with Canada and Mexico,” a senior White House official said in a pre-announcement briefing.

The aide expressed frustration at the way the tariffs have been characterized, referring repeatedly to the “fake news,” the lobbyists and the “swamp things” that he said exaggerated the ill effects while fighting the measures.

Two polls released this week say the tariffs are unpopular.

But the same official said it truly is a matter of national security — with six U.S. aluminum smelters shutting down the last few years, and just five remaining, and only two operating at full capacity, he said that leaves the U.S. at risk of having to import all its aluminum eventually.

The White House adviser also pushed back against reports casting the process as arbitrary, sloppy and rife for successful legal challenges.

In one alleged example of haphazard policy-making, a report this week said the president raised the tariff rates for branding purposes, increasing them from the 24 and 7 per cent recommended by the Department of Commerce — because he wanted nice, round numbers.

The official insisted that was untrue. He said it was only upon careful calculation of import effects that the numbers landed at 25 per cent and 10 per cent. He did not explain how those round numbers managed to survive intact, even after the formula was later upended by the exclusion from tariffs of major suppliers.

Canada is the No. 1 seller of both steel and aluminum to the U.S.

The fact that Canada might be included on the initial hit list had become a political sore spot for the administration, as U.S. critics of the move ridiculed it by zeroing on the idea of national-security tariffs against a peaceful next-door neighbour and defence ally.

A full-court diplomatic press unfolded in recent days, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling Trump earlier this week, and then speaking Thursday with the Republican leaders of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Canada’s ambassador to Washington dined this week with U.S. national-security adviser H.R. McMaster; Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, and Transport Minister Marc Garneau all reached out to cabinet counterparts in recent days.

The lobbying found a mostly receptive audience: the U.S. military strongly resisted tariffs against allies and 107 congressional Republicans released a letter this week to express alarm over the move.

“This has been a true Team Canada effort,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, also crediting provincial premiers, businesses and labour leaders.

“This work continues and it will continue until the prospect of these duties is fully and permanently lifted.”

She said Canada planned to keep this issue separate from NAFTA negotiations, as it has done with disputes over softwood lumber, paper, and Bombardier.

Other countries have threatened reprisals, prompting fears of a global trade war. But Trump said other American allies can get exemptions later, in exchange for something in return. He said they need to contact U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer, and negotiate.

Ontario passes law overhauling policing rules in province

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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The Ontario government has passed a bill overhauling policing regulations in the province, saying it will strengthen oversight of law enforcement and redefine officers’ duties.

Bill 175, dubbed the Safer Ontario Act, passed in the legislature Thursday and offers the first updates to the Police Services Act in more than 25 years.

One of the most significant changes involves expanding the mandates of the province’s three police oversight agencies, increasing the scope of what they can investigate and adding extra accountability measures.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says it revised the bill to reflect concerns voiced by police associations when the legislation was tabled last year.

But some of those police associations say they still have qualms about the bill, arguing it opens the door for privatization down the road by strictly defining officer duties and referring others for outsourcing.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says the long-sought updates to the province’s policing laws — which go into effect in a few months — will give forces the tools they need to do their work in the modern era.

“This bill is very much about strengthening the trust and respect between the police and the communities they serve,” Naqvi said. “The legislation we have passed today … really sets the framework for modern policing in 21st-century Ontario.”

Many of the changes stem from Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on police oversight, which made 129 recommendations aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for the province’s forces and the bodies that oversee their conduct.

The new bill requires the Special Investigations Unit or SIU, one of Ontario’s three police oversight agencies, to report publicly on all of its investigations and release the names of officers charged.

The three agencies — the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) — will also get expanded mandates.

The OIPRD will be renamed the Ontario Policing Complaints Agency and investigate all public complaints against police officers. The OCPC will be renamed the Ontario Policing Discipline Tribunal, dedicated solely to adjudicating police disciplinary matters, so that such matters are no longer handled internally.

An Inspector General will be established to oversee police services, with the power to investigate and audit them, and Ontario’s ombudsman will be able to investigate complaints against the police oversight bodies.

As well, the SIU will have expanded powers to investigate both current and former officers, volunteer members of police services, special constables, off-duty officers and members of First Nations police services.

Police officers who don’t comply with such investigations could be fined up to $50,000 and/or be sent to jail for up to one year, a departure from current rules that do not force officers to co-operate with an investigation.

Naqvi characterized the rules as good news for Ontario residents.

“This allows for a more robust conversation between the SIU and the police service they’re investigating and making sure they get all the evidence, but they’re getting it in a way that is legal in terms of what’s allowed under the law and also practical given the circumstances of the case,” he said.

The new legislation also allows suspensions without pay when an officer is in custody or when they are charged with a serious federal offence that wasn’t allegedly committed in the course of their duties, bringing Ontario in line with policies in the rest of the country.

The biggest sticking point in recent months was the law’s capacity to define police responsibilities. The new bill lays out duties that can only be carried out by an officer, meaning forces could look to outside companies to conduct other functions.

Major police associations said this would pave the way for privatization and lobbied for amendments, some of which were made.

A statement by the Police Association of Ontario, the Toronto Police Association and the Ontario Provincial Police Association said the government gave some ground on the issue of privatization, but didn’t go far enough.

“With the complexity of this bill and the density of the amendments, the rush by this government to pass a bill that remains deeply flawed is an affront to those who believe in parliamentary democracy and leads us to question whether this government has failed to act in the best interest of the public and members of the police sector,” Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said in a statement.

The New Democrats also criticized the bill, saying they would like to see it repealed.

“(Ontario Premier) Kathleen Wynne is making the advancement of more robust police oversight and accountability — which we support — contingent on an agreement that they can contract out some public safety and policing to private sector security firms,” said NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson.

“New Democrats believe public safety should be delivered by public employees.”

Human rights complaint filed over treatment of Air Canada flight attendants

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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The union representing Air Canada flight attendants says it has filed a human rights complaint alleging “systemic discrimination and harassment” of its members.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the airline’s policies on uniforms and makeup are discriminatory towards female flight attendants on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and race.

It adds the company’s new onboard service managers, who perform in-flight assessments of flight attendants, have made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks and have engaged in “inappropriate behaviour” towards flight attendants of both sexes.

The union that represents 8,500 flight attendants at Air Canada and Rouge is turning to the Canadian Human Rights Commission because the employer has failed to deal with members’ complaints, says CUPE section vice-president Beth Mahan.

It is asking the commission to order a review of Air Canada policies and eliminate the onboard service managers program.

Last month, WestJet Airlines Ltd. filed an appeal after the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to throw out a proposed class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of fostering a corporate culture that tolerates harassment against female employees.

Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination, accusing her former employer of breaking its promise to provide a harassment-free workplace for women.

Cases of canine influenza in Ontario linked to imported rescue dogs

Cristina Howorun | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

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Canine influenza — a relatively uncommon, yet potentially fatal respiratory disease — has been spreading through Ontario.

The infection is so rare in Ontario that most dogs aren’t vaccinated against it, which makes the recent outbreak even more troubling.

Ontario dogs haven’t been exposed to the strain and aren’t immunized against it, which has enabled it to spread quickly from a handful of dogs in central Ontario to an estimated 100 dogs.

The strain has now been found as far away as Grimsby, and has led to at least one dog’s death.

The source is believed to be mainland China.

Last month, several adult dogs were imported from China through a rescue group. They arrived with their vaccination records, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does not require adult dogs to be quarantined or examined by a veterinarian upon arrival.

“When the dogs arrive at the airport, and I think this is a surprise for a lot of people, they aren’t looked over,” said Nicole Tryon, who picked up the dogs on Feb. 13.

“They come in as cargo, as commercial goods. [Customs checks] to make sure they have rabies vaccinations. They barely look into the kennels, nothing.”

According to the CFIA website and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) guidelines, in most cases, imported pets do not require veterinary exams upon arrival or mandatory quarantine periods.

“We’ve had concerns about importing for quite a while,” said the Ontario Veterinary College’s Scott Weese, one of the authors of a 2016 report calling for tougher regulations.

“We know that when you move animals across big distances, they bring things with them and that can include a variety of diseases — and the flu has been one of those concerns. We could see this was likely to happen at some point as there are very little restrictions on how you move dogs between countries.”

Based on data collected from rescue groups, Weese believes about 6,200 rescue dogs entered Canada in 2014. But the CFIA doesn’t track all imported dogs; only very specific types require import licences.

Most of the group’s recommendations, including the accurate tracking of imported dogs, do not appear to have been adopted by the agency.

“We don’t have a lot of regulation for the animals that come in,” Weese said. “The main concern is rabies vaccination, and even that is fairly lax.”

Tryon expressed concerns about the dogs’ coughs almost immediately, but was assured by the rescue agency manager that they were suffering from the much less severe kennel cough.

The dogs spent several days in Tryon’s care with her dogs, before she took them into her home and they interacted with several other dogs.

Tryon said her dogs became ill, and oral swabs sent to a lab revealed they had contracted canine influzena. She quickly quarantined the dogs, which received antibiotics and care and are recovering.

“It’s scary,” she said. “It spread so quickly and it forced my dog’s daycare centre to close for the past few weeks to stop it from spreading. It’s costing them lots of money to stay closed and to lose out on boarding clients, but it’s the only responsible thing to do.”

Weese recommends getting your dog vaccinated if you live in or visit affected areas, including Orillia, Bracebridge or Gravenhurst

An H3N2 canine influenza vaccine is available in Canada and efforts are underway to ensure an adequate vaccine supply is present, he said.

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