Air Canada to launch its own loyalty rewards program in 2020 to

first_imgTake Our PollSome Aeroplan members didn’t react kindly to the development on social media.Some were annoyed their Aeroplan points wouldn’t be carried over to the airline’s in-house program in 2020. Others worried they wouldn’t be able to use Aeroplan points for Air Canada and Star Alliance flights beyond June 2020 and were concerned they’d have to rush to redeem points before it was too late.This isn’t the only time in recent history Canadians have felt short shrifted by a loyalty program. LoyaltyOne, the company that operates Air Miles, upset consumers when it announced it would change its policy so collectors would lose any miles they don’t use within five years. The policy, which was to take effect Dec. 31, 2016, was cancelled following a consumer backlash.Aimia CEO David Johnston said in an interview the company is exploring a range of alternatives for its business after Air Canada’s contract ends, including pursuing other partners.“This is something we’ve anticipated,” Johnston said in an interview on his first day on the job after serving several months on an interim basis. The company announced Wednesday evening that Rupert Duchesne, who has been on medical leave, is retiring from the top role.He assured the program’s five million customers they can expect a smooth transition.“There’s three years left to run on the contract and in that period, it’s business as usual,” Johnston said.Related stories:MoneySense: How Air Canada dumping Aeroplan will affect youEven so, Aimia shares fell 57 per cent to $3.80. Air Canada’s stock rose 8.5 per cent to $16.16.Air Canada said in a statement it’s aiming to strengthen its relationships with customers in making the switch. It declined to comment further on the change.Analysts called the news positive for the airline. However, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst Derek Spronck said in a note that it remains to be seen what the transition costs will be and why Air Canada assumes the net present value of the program repatriation over 15 years to be more than $2 billion. The airline said it will provide more detail on this at its investor day on Sept. 19, 2017.Aeroplan was originally Air Canada’s in-house loyalty program. It was spun off as an independent business, now called Aimia Inc., which has expanded its customer base and evolved its services over the years.The company has 5 million active members, who have a total of about 200 billion miles on their balances. Air Canada said Thursday it will launch its own loyalty rewards plan in 2020 and not renew its contract with the company running Aeroplan, sending Aimia’s stock plummeting by more than 50 per cent and angering some points collectors.The Montreal-based airline says customers will be able to continue collecting Aeroplan points until June 2020, after which miles earned from flying on Air Canada or its 26 Star Alliance partners will be credited to the in-house loyalty program instead. Travellers will be able to redeem those points for Air Canada and Star Alliance flights.The airline said it intends to continue allowing Aeroplan members to redeem their Aeroplan points for seats on their flights after June 2020. However, Aimia’s CEO said that isn’t certain yet, as there are still a lot of discussions to be had. Air Canada has announced it is pulling out of the Aeroplan program to launch a loyalty program of its own. Do you think loyalty programs are worth it?YesNoVoteView Resultslast_img read more

A soldier first transgender veteran of Afghanistan war fights for identity

first_imgAt 5-foot-5 and 140 pounds, the soldier was “petit gars” — little boy — to 41 male Canadian Forces comrades. To their Afghan army allies, the armed woman in full combat gear was an object of unwanted flirtation.Looking back, Cpl. Vincent Lamarre now realizes his Canadian comrades were closer to the truth of what he felt he was at the time, and has since become — a man.And he’s amused by how amorously he was regarded by the Afghan National Army.“They were very surprised to see a woman do a man’s job,” Lamarre explains in an interview. “I found it funny at the beginning, but sometimes I had to make them understand I am not an object.”Lamarre was a woman when he was deployed to southern Afghanistan’s blood-soaked Panjwaii region in 2010. Every other day, he drove a truck supplying gasoline, ammunition and food down a hazardous highway, through enemy terrain.Toiling within the heart of the Taliban insurgency offered Lamarre a brief respite from the emotional war that had been raging inside him since he was three years old. Here, he needed only one label: soldier.Six years later, Lamarre is nearing the end of another long, hard road: he’s changed his gender to become a man in uniform. He is prevailing with the full support of an institution that’s also grappling to accommodate transgender military personnel.The Forces have been waiting for what happened Thursday when the Senate passed Bill C-16, which makes it a crime to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity and expression. Now, military policy planners hope to update their own transgender policy for commanders and rank-and-file personnel to ensure that soldiers such as Lamarre are more readily absorbed into their ranks.“We went from Forces that weren’t tolerant at all about things like ‘other-than-heterosexual’ to a Forces that is tolerant,” said Lt.-Col. Pierre Sasseville, a 32-year veteran who is the director of the human rights and diversity branch.“If you don’t accept it, the message is clear: get out of the Forces, or we’re going to make sure that you’re going to get out.”Lamarre, 31, was raised in St. Jean, Que., near Montreal, with an older brother and sister. His father died when he was two. A year later, when his older brother was getting circumcised, he asked his mother when he would get a penis, so he could do the same thing one day.As a teen, he would refer to himself using the masculine French pronoun and people would always correct his grammar. Back then, his mom would ask him about transitioning, and is answer was always a “big no.”When he announced his decision a decade later, she was not surprised.In 2008, Lamarre joined the Canadian Forces because he wanted to make a bigger contribution to his country. In addition to his time Afghanistan, he’s served in the Far North and took part in recent military efforts to beat back floodwaters in Quebec.Coming home from Afghanistan was hard. He was engulfed by post-deployment stress on top of the ongoing gender struggle.Life was good, on the surface. He found his first girlfriend, a woman he thought was the love of his life. He played on the men’s hockey team as a woman. But he had the nagging feeling something was wrong.The turning point came on a holiday to Cayo Coco, Cuba. He went scuba diving, and dove deep into the clear Caribbean waters. But no air reached his lungs.A huge wave engulfed him as he crashed upwards, gasping. “I was so afraid to die that I realized after I came back to the beach that I want to live my life and feel good. So I have to do something right now.”Back in Valcartier in early 2015, Lamarre began researching a change of gender on the Internet. He also found a Quebec City support group and went to a meeting.The gathering that night marked the first time he was called by his newly chosen first name: Vincent.He went home, and waited up into the early morning hours for his girlfriend to come home at the end of her work shift.“I tell her I want to transition, I am not feeling good, I am depressed,” he recalled. “She reacted aggressively, and now she is my ex-girlfriend because of that.”And so began the process. Psychological therapy. Then, on to hormones and a mastectomy, including follow-up surgery earlier this month.He told his family, he told his military commander. That too, was a process, but it went well.He used his sister as a bridge to his mother. She told him not to worry, and of course his mom accepted his decision. His brother wanted him to be the “godmother” to his first child. They worked out the details, and Lamarre’s spiritual stewardship was put in place.He got some good advice from his old master corporal from Afghanistan. When he told his commanding officer, he was pleasantly surprised: Vincent wasn’t his first transgender soldier.Sasseville said no one knows for sure how many transgender personnel are in the Forces, but an estimate of 200 would not be far off.Moving forward, the Forces policy will balance two competing interests: educating the troops while ensuring cohesion in the ranks.“Not all of the soldiers we enrol have PhDs and have seen the world,” said Sasseville. “So when we talk about cohesion, let’s talk about educating our soldiers, reassuring them there’s nothing wrong there … life goes on.”For Lamarre, that means more plastic surgery. He expects it will take years, not months, to fully recover. He’s also found a new girlfriend, who accepts him for who he is. And he’s planning on a long career in the military.When he looks back on Afghanistan, he realizes how he always had the power to seize control of his life.“I would have liked to go back there because of the change we were bringing,” he says.“But it’s out of my hands.”last_img read more

Making History Womens box lacrosse makes North American Indigenous Games debut

first_imgHAGERSVILLE, Ont. – It was like any other game at Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Family and friends dotted the orange and purple stands. Fans pounded drums and whooped with every crosscheck or goal. Impatient spectators shouted “shoot the damn thing!” if a player held on to the ball for too long.But history was made as Ontario beat British Columbia 8-7 on Monday morning in the first-ever women’s box lacrosse game at the North American Indigenous Games, a youth multi-sport event.“I felt really proud, it felt really awesome to be part of it,” said Ontario forward Shawnah Albert after the game. “The opening ceremony gave me chills.”Added her teammate Shkuhnodin Shognosh-Myers: “We felt really connected with our people. It made us feel like home.”The game between traditional lacrosse powerhouses Ontario and B.C., as well as a game played between Saskatchewan and Eastern Door and the North at the same time at nearby Gaylord Powless Arena, marks a turning point in the sport.Created by the Haudenosaunee people — commonly called the Iroquois — before Europeans arrived in North America, lacrosse has been adopted by First Nations across the continent as something of a national sport. The Haudenosaunee consider lacrosse to be sacred and refer to it as “the Creator’s game” or “the medicine game” and they believe it has physical and spiritual healing powers.Iroquois Lacrosse Arena and Gaylord Powless Arena are in the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River, the largest First Nations reserve in Canada, and the only one in North America that has all six Haudenosaunee nations living together. As such, the territory is considered by many to be the home of lacrosse.“Lacrosse, to us, is life,” said B.C. head coach Savanna Smith. “To be in the birthplace of lacrosse is just unbelievable. No words can explain it. Some of the girls were over the moon when they heard that they’d get to play at Iroquois Arena.”Traditionally a training exercise for warriors, some First Nations reserves still don’t allow women to play the indoor version of lacrosse, although the tamer outdoor version of the sport has been open to women for decades.“With more girls playing field lacrosse, it helped open things up for box lacrosse,” said Ontario head coach Pat Pembleton. “To me, it’s the Creator’s game, it’s the game of medicine and it’s important because women are leaders in our community.“For me, it’s special and it’s even more special to be with these girls and see the sweat they’ve put in.”Although all the players were under 19, the magnitude of the game wasn’t lost on them. After the game both teams met at the centre of the floor to shake hands and congratulate each other, with some players asking their parents and coaches if they could exchange gifts.“When I’m playing it’s just another game, have fun, do your best,” said B.C.’s Naomi Plant, who had never played in a box lacrosse game until Monday. “But before and after the game I feel like ‘wow, you’re actually doing this, the first time in NAIG history.’”Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry, the CEO of the Games, addressed the crowd at Iroquois Lacrosse Arena before the opening faceoff between Ontario and B.C., and local youth did a traditional dance and sang. The opening ceremony inspired both teams and drove home for them that it was more than just a game.“When (Trudeau-Bomberry) spoke during the introductions it gave me goosebumps feeling how emotional she was, how connected and proud she was of having this first girls lacrosse game at NAIG,” said Albert.“We’re all just super excited to be part of history,” said Sophie Scobie, who was quick to add that B.C. scored the first-ever goal in women’s box lacrosse at NAIG. “That’s amazing, we’re all celebrating. We’re all just really proud and happy to be representing our communities.”___Follow @jchidleyhill on Twitterlast_img read more

PM has no plans to strip Macdonalds name from federal buildings sites

first_imgOTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has no plans to delete the name of Sir John A. Macdonald — Canada’s first prime minister — from anything under federal responsibility.Trudeau made the comment today outside of Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence, following a cabinet shuffle.Ottawa has faced increased pressure from Indigenous advocates to confront the way historical figures are celebrated after an Ontario teachers’ union passed a motion last week calling for the removal of Macdonald’s name from elementary schools in the province.Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde commended the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario for its motion, but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she thought it missed the mark.In June, Trudeau decided to remove the name of Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation, from the Ottawa building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office.Trudeau made the announcement after Bellegarde and Indigenous MPs called for the change because Langevin was an architect of the residential school system.The teacher’s motion urged that Macdonald’s name be dropped from schools because of what it called Macdonald’s role as the “architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.”last_img read more

Moving from megabytes to gigabytes Ottawa pledges 50M for Arctic internet

first_imgIQALUIT, Nunavut – The federal government has promised to contribute nearly $50 million to bring high-speed internet to Nunavut where some of the poorest and most expensive service in Canada has long been considered an economic drag.The money, together with $73 million from regional service provider Northwestel, will put satellite dishes and ground stations in all 25 Nunavut communities, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said Thursday in Iqaluit.“We’re moving from megabytes to gigabytes.”Everyone from local users to federal committee members has long identified poor internet as a major barrier to northern development.Current internet speeds in Nunavut are, at best, about three megabytes per second — enough to transmit just one medium-sized picture.Earlier this year, a report to then-Indigenous and northern affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett found internet access to be a greater concern among northerners than environmental conservation. The drag poor internet access has had on Arctic development has been pointed out in studies dating back to 2011.Mining companies have had to courier documents to northern regulators because internet connections couldn’t handle the file sizes. An Iqaluit band that recorded a music video to accompany its latest release found it couldn’t be uploaded.The new satellite dishes are expected to provide speeds of between five and 15 megabytes per second. Broadband capacity is expected to increase by 20 times.The dishes will be built over a three-year period, said Northwestel vice-president Curtis Shaw. The first communities are to be hooked up by early next year.All satellites will be open access for other providers, he said.The new dishes are expected to open a broad range of possibilities for northerners, said Shaw.“You think about a school having video-conferencing in the school, having distance education, a field trip to a museum.“From a health-care standpoint, you can now start sending results and use the internet for diagnostic tools. For an elder, it could mean not travelling out of the community for service.”Shaw said costs are also expected to come down.“We’re expecting costs will drop to the end user.”Actual Arctic internet users were dubious about Thursday’s announcement. Several pointed out on Twitter that five megabytes per second is still slow.“That’s the CRTC’s minimum requirement from about six years ago,” tweeted someone under the name of Ryan Oliver.Another said that by the time the satellite dishes are in place, increased demand will eat up any gains in speed.“Satellite is pointless,” tweeted someone under the name of Kyle Sheppard.Bains said the government remains committed to a fibre-optic link for northern communities.“We continue to look at that option and other options as well. We felt this was an important step in the short term to be able to use new satellite technology to provided that backbone infrastructure.”Bains said the project fulfils a government promise.“It’s about equality of opportunity. We want people to have the tools they need to succeed.”Many northerners are heavy internet users. Social media such as Facebook helps connect with relatives and friends in distant communities where travel is expensive. Such services are also widely used to trade items such as country foods.— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960last_img read more

Mother two kids among victims of deadly Oshawa Ont house fire

first_imgA mother and her two young children and an unrelated man who ran into a burning home to help those inside have been identified in a series of online tributes as the victims of a deadly house fire in southern Ontario.Authorities have declined to formally identify the two adults and two children who died in Monday’s blaze that gutted a home in Oshawa, Ont. But social media posts from family members, friends and organizations connected with the deceased have provided the names of the four who died.The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association identified three of the victims as Lindsey Bonchek and her two children, Madeline and Jackson. It described the trio as relatives of an association member.The daughter and the niece of the fourth person killed in the fire both issued emotional Facebook posts naming him as Steven MacDonald.MacDonald’s niece wrote that he died after going back into the burning home in order to rescue people inside.Her account is echoed in a fundraising campaign organized by someone identifying himself as MacDonald’s future son-in-law.“Luckily, my fiancee Alysha Macdonald (7 months pregnant) was able to get out of the house without any physical harm to her or her child,” Brandon Desroches wrote on a GoFundMe campaign page. “However, her father Steven Macdonald passed away while courageously running back into the building to save the others.”Alysha MacDonald offered her own tribute in a Facebook post that spoke of her father’s generosity and devotion, but did not reference the specific circumstances of his death.“We lost a true hero, I love you more than words can describe dad and I’m trying to stay strong cause I know it breaks your heart to see me cry ,” she wrote in the post. “Rest In Peace dad you were truly a hero.”A friend of Bonchek’s cousin issued a Facebook post of his own, which linked to another GoFundMe campaign. That page described Boncheck as a single mother who worked tirelessly to provide for her three children.“Lindsey will be terribly missed by her family; remembered as a devoted mother who did what she could with what she had for her children,” it said. “Madeline was a bright star and mathlete, who adored her youngest brother, Jack.”Bonchek’s eldest son, who survived the fire, has nothing left but “the shirt on his back,” the page said.Monday’s deadly blaze was reported a little after 8 a.m. in the midst of a heavy snowfall. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames that had to be fought from the outside before crews could attempt to rescue those trapped inside.“The firefighters made several heroic attempts to get in and get to the upper levels and they were pushed back,” Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark said. “They fought their way up through intense heat and smoke conditions … and after retreating, they forced their way back in again.”The brown brick house, officially classified as having two storeys plus a loft, was divided into a number of apartments, Clark said.Durham Regional Police said the provincial Office of the Fire Marshall is currently in charge of investigating the fire. The office did not respond to request for comment.last_img read more

BC moves Family Day to third Monday in February in line with

first_imgVICTORIA – British Columbia is falling into step with the rest of the country by moving its Family Day to the third Monday in February, starting next year.Premier John Horgan says the change is meant to better align the holiday with other provinces to help businesses and families.Family Day was established in British Columbia in 2013.The government at the time decided to mark the holiday on the second Monday, despite the fact it was out of line with similar holidays in other Canadian provinces and the United States.Horgan has mused about changing the date before.Green Leader Andrew Weaver has always backed the move, even introducing a private member’s bill last year to amend the law.In bringing in the bill, Weaver highlighted a petition by the founder of a campaign called #UniteFamilyDay that had more than 20,000 signatures.Horgan says the change will benefit small and large businesses, and families spread across the country.“This gives families an opportunity to schedule and spend more time with loved ones from other provinces,” he said in a statement.A government news release on Friday announcing the change included the support of the CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.“The misalignment of Family Day causes inconvenience, increased costs, and lost opportunity for businesses of all sizes and in various industries,” said Anita Huberman. “The economic benefit from this change will greatly assist our members, and especially small- and medium-sized businesses, across the province.”The Liberals brought in Family Day and criticized the NDP government for moving it, arguing the date helped tourism in the province.“The B.C. Family Day weekend has become one of the top performing business periods of the year for many B.C. ski destinations,” Liberal critics Michelle Stilwell and Doug Clovechok said in a joint statement.“The absolute lack of consultation is a slap in the face to the sector and highlights the NDP’s priorities, which clearly aren’t British Columbian jobs.”last_img read more

A timeline of events in the Jaspal Atwal affair

first_imgOTTAWA – Controversy has swirled since a man who was convicted of trying to kill an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 showed up at a reception for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in India last month. Here is a timeline of events in the Jaspal Atwal affair:Feb. 21: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s efforts to reassure Indian political leaders that his government repudiates violent Sikh extremism suffers an embarrassing setback with the revelation that Atwal — a Canadian Sikh convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 — has been invited to attend events with the prime minister during Trudeau’s visit to India. A photo emerges of Atwal posing with Trudeau’s wife at a reception in Mumbai.Feb. 22: An invitation for Atwal to a reception in New Delhi is rescinded by the Prime Minister’s Office.Feb. 23: A senior Canadian official with knowledge of security issues says Canadian authorities believe it was no accident that Atwal was suddenly allowed into India and was able to make his way onto the guest list for two receptions with Trudeau. The official, speaking to a briefing arranged by the PMO on the condition of anonymity, says the suggestion has been made that Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who refuse to believe there is no risk posed to a united India by Sikh separatists living abroad.Feb. 24: Trudeau travels back to Canada.Feb. 25: Atwal tells the Canadian Press he has a good relationship with Trudeau and bowed out of the reception in New Delhi because he wanted to save the prime minister further embarrassment. The PMO says there is no merit to Atwal’s assertions.Feb. 26: A Conservative bid for an emergency meeting on the Atwal affair fizzles as the chairman of the House of Commons committee on national security says Tory MP Pierre Paul-Hus did not receive the required notices of support from at least four MPs to initiate an emergency meeting.Feb. 27: Trudeau stands by the senior government official who suggested factions within the Indian government were involved in sabotaging the prime minister’s visit to India. He says when a top diplomat and security official says something “it’s because they know it to be true.”Feb. 28: India’s Ministry of External Affairs issues a statement saying the Indian government had no role in Atwal being invited.March 1: Liberal MPs on the national security committee thwart a Conservative bid to summon the government’s national security adviser over the Atwal affair.March 8: Atwal tells a news conference he contacted Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to see if there was a chance for him to attend a reception with Trudeau while he was in India. Sarai had previously taken responsibility for the invitation. Atwal’s lawyer, Rishi Gill, says his client was never in contact with the Indian government to act on its behalf.last_img read more

Questions ahead as feds pave way for more on service dogs for

first_imgOTTAWA – Heads turn and smiles break out as the four veterans make their way through the Bayshore mall in Ottawa’s west end one recent Tuesday morning. But it isn’t just the men that the shoppers are watching: it’s also their dogs.A little-noticed promise in the most recent federal budget has sparked applause and sighs of relief from veterans across Canada dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological trauma.The commitment was to add “psychiatric service dogs” to the list of medical items that Canadians can claim as a tax credit on income-tax forms, as is already the case with guide dogs for the blind.The move follows the recent results of a government-commissioned study that indicated — as many veterans and advocacy groups had long claimed — that dogs can go a long way in helping those suffering from invisible injuries.“He lowers my anxiety. He gets me out of the house,” says Dwayne Sawyer of his service dog, a golden Labrador named Rex who has been helping the 22-year veteran with his PTSD.Rex sits at Sawyer’s feet as shoppers walk by.“I have to look after him, which makes me have to get up and do stuff. Prior to that, I wasn’t getting out of bed. And if we’re in a mall situation and he can feel my anxiety, he gets really cuddly and he gets right up into me.”Yet the answer to one big question is still being worked on: What, precisely, qualifies as a psychiatric service dog?The idea of using service dogs to treat and support veterans and others suffering from PTSD has been around for a few years, but was largely disregarded by the federal government until May 2014.That is when then-veterans affairs minister Julian Fantino pledged up to $500,000 for a two-and-a-half year study to assess the benefits — and risks — of such dogs, with an eye to whether their use should be encouraged and expanded.Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show the study was delayed because of “recruitment and retention issues of both trained psychiatric service dogs and veterans,” but a preliminary report was recently published.The findings: Three months after they were obtained, service dogs were found to have “some positive effects” on veterans’ ability to sleep as well as to manage their PTSD and depression.The study could not confirm whether service dogs were linked to improved quality of life or more movement in the community, but the overall results were nonetheless deemed “really promising.”A final report is expected this summer, but the Trudeau government opted not to wait and instead promised in last month’s budget to expand the medical expense tax credit to include psychiatric service dogs.“The efficacy study has still not been concluded, but it looks really good and enough veterans have told us what a difference this makes to them,” Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan said in an interview.“PTSD is something that we are all still literally getting our heads around, but you build up a critical enough mass of veterans who are saying this is making such a difference to them, we’ll go with it.”But there was another thing the government decided it didn’t need to wait for, even though veterans and trainers are the first to say it will pose a challenge: developing a national standard for the service dogs.That effort, which covers all types of service canines including guide dogs and those for children with autism, has been in the works almost three years — and proven controversial and divisive.The concern is that dogs that aren’t properly trained will misbehave in public, including jumping at people or otherwise disrupting businesses and making it more difficult for legitimate owners to be accepted.“You’ve got dogs coming in that aren’t necessarily safe,” said Danielle Forbes, executive director of National Service Dogs in Cambridge, Ont., which is accredited by Assistance Dogs International.“We get calls from businesses all the time wanting to know what their rights are because they’ve got a dog threatening their staff or their other customers.”There is also the fear that fake breeders will take advantage of veterans and others, who can expect to shell out thousands of dollars for a trained service dog unless they are lucky enough to be supported by a local organization.Alberta and British Columbia have adopted their own standards, which a dog must meet before those provinces issue a card that lets owners take the service animal into businesses and other places.The federal government has been working on a national service-dog standard for nearly three years, but it has so far failed to come up with an acceptable framework.A first draft released by the Canadian General Standards Board was greeted with anger and frustration from various segments of the community, but especially guide-dog users and the schools that train them.They argued the proposed rules would force schools to either change their time-tested training programs or possibly stop serving Canadian students altogether. Others felt the draft was too broad and tried to do too many things.“Each organization, let’s say the service dog for epilepsy, they want their own thing. The service dogs for the blind, they want their own thing,” said Serge Lemieux, vice-president of the Canadian Veteran Service Dog Unit in Ottawa.“So it’s becoming so wide and broad that it was difficult to keep it in scope. Once they can define the requirement of what service dogs are, what they provide, and agree on the document, then I think we can move forward.”A second draft has been developed and consultations are planned for this summer, and most are hoping for a better result this time around, especially given the need; Lemieux said his organization has 40 veterans waiting for a dog.Sawyer is only too happy to have found Rex through the Canadian Veteran Service Dog Unit. And he hopes the government’s plan to give tax credits for such dogs makes them more accessible to other veterans in need.“He’s my buddy. He’s the reason why I wake up in the morning and get out of the house,” said Sawyer. “So what the government’s done, that’s amazing. I think it’s a great initiative, a great step forward.”last_img read more

Lobbyinglaw changes not on radar says NS premier after Chretien meeting

first_imgHALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s premier appears unworried by Jean Chretien’s decision to simply ignore queries from provincial officials asking if the former prime minister was lobbying for a Cape Breton port proposal.Stephen McNeil said Thursday he’s not planning to consider changes that would give the lobbyists’ registrar the power to investigate complaints about alleged abuse, as happens in other provinces.“Mr. Chretien did not respond. That is up to Mr. Chretien and the registrar. But … it’s not on my radar to actually change the rules around the registrar,” the premier said after a cabinet meeting.The registrar of lobbyists, Hayley Clarke, wrote Chretien after receiving a complaint about a March 21 meeting in Halifax between Chretien, McNeil and Transport Minister Geoff MacLellan.Chretien is an international adviser to Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, which has been seeking investor support for the container port project. He has continued to be unavailable for comment, though emails have been sent to an associate who normally handles his media requests.Both McNeil and MacLellan have denied being lobbied at the March 21 meeting in the premier’s office.McNeil told reporters Thursday that if a citizen feels the province’s lobbying rules may have been broken, they can go to the police with a complaint.“The system has teeth. The legislation allows you or any other Nova Scotian to go to the appropriate law enforcement agency if they believe there’s an issue,” he said.John McCracken, the retired union activist who laid the complaint, says he will do just that, though he believes there should be legal changes to allow the registrar to investigate as well.“I will be contacting the police about Jean Chretien’s meeting with him,” he tweeted in the afternoon.“Regarding McNeil’s remarks, it’s clear to me that he likes the status quo because it means zero accountability for him, the minister responsible and the Act itself,” McCracken said in an earlier direct message.The day before he met McNeil, Chretien described to reporters why he thought the premier should support the idea and said he “worked for” the Sydney project.When a Cape Breton Post reporter asked Chretien on March 20 how he’d market the Sydney container port to the premier, the former prime minister said he felt McNeil would be in favour of a provincewide approach to container ports.Asked if he thought the province should invest money in the container port proposal, the former prime minister replied: “I hope so.”McNeil repeated Thursday that no lobbying took place during their meeting.Gary Burrill, leader of the New Democrats, said the premier is taking a loose approach to what lobbying is, and needs to consider reforms to the lobbying legislation.“He wasn’t there just to play 45s,” said Burrill, referring to a popular East Coast card game.Tim Hallman, a Tory member of the legislature, said “these lobbying laws need to have teeth,” and that referring all such matters to the police isn’t adequate.“That’s fine but there should be another layer to that as well in terms of oversight,” said Hallman.Clarke has previously made clear there was little she could do to probe what had occurred.A number of other provincial jurisdictions, including Ontario, and the federal commissioner of lobbying can probe citizen complaints and recommend police investigations.Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.last_img read more

Sweeping list of recommendations calls for better economic outcomes for women

first_imgOTTAWA – A Commons committee that spent over a year looking at economic barriers facing Canadian women has released a sweeping list of recommendations it believes could provide a path toward full equality for women.The standing committee on the status of women tabled its report Thursday following a 15-month study of women’s economic security.It found women’s employment and wage potential are being undermined in Canada by a wide variety of systemic and structural barriers, including bias, gender-based violence, the wage gap and a lack of adequate access to child care.The report includes 86 recommendations to government for changes, including a call for immediate implementation of federal pay equity legislation and for the government to request that all provincial and territorial labour ministers do the same.A number of recommendations also addressed the many factors that contribute to the wage gap between men and women.Measures that would help close the gap include more support for child care, especially in rural, remote and marginalized communities, the report said. It also maintained that more flexible child care options are needed for single parents and parents who work irregular hours and shift work.“Child care is a huge issue for women in being able to maintain their salaries as they’re working,” said Liberal MP Pam Damoff, one of the vice-chairs of the committee.“Allowing women to have high quality, affordable child care that suits their needs, which is something we’ve recommended … will allow them to continue to work and advance in their workplace.”NDP women’s equality critic Sheila Malcolmson, a committee co-chair, said witnesses described a vicious cycle of economic injustice that face women in Canada. She wants the government to act immediately to adopt the recommendations.The NDP also tabled a supplementary report with even more calls for change.“Women have been calling for such change for decades, it’s past time for government to step up and immediately implement the recommendations,” Malcolmson said.“We’ve got concrete measure that the government, if it implemented now, it would be putting its money where its mouth is, it would be walking its talk on feminism and the economy and women in our country would do better.”Other recommendations in the report include: more support and study to address barriers that exist for women in male-dominated, high-income sectors; gender equity provisions on all projects and programs that receive federal funding that, if violated, would result in loss of funding; more Crown investment in women’s entrepreneurship and more programs for the integration of female economic class immigrants.-Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.last_img read more

A BC First Nation fights to save their community from a wildfire

first_imgFORT FRASER, B.C. – As bright orange flames filled the sky and roared like a freight train, Beverly Ketlo thought it was time to say goodbye to the Nadleh Whut’en band’s beloved cultural camp.Ketlo and Chief Larry Nooski sat in a car looking out at the devastating scene. The historic and sacred camp, where the First Nation sent their children to learn about their culture and laid to rest some of their loved ones, looked ready to disappear.“My uncle’s ashes are actually buried on the mount there, because it’s a cremation mount,” said Ketlo. “I said my goodbyes to him, even though he’s already in the ground.“It was an emotional time. Then the next day, it was very emotional for the whole community.”The community in Fort Fraser, B.C., thought they’d lost everything, but in the end, only a smokehouse and two cabins belonging to Ketlo’s relatives burned down. Still, the losses are enough to bring some band members to tears, especially since they say no one told them the fire was so close.“Broken,” Ketlo said of how she feels. “There was no communication with our community.”The tiny First Nation now finds itself on the front lines of two fights: one against the enormous 910-square-kilometre Shovel Lake wildfire, and another against a disjointed federal funding system that left them scrambling to evacuate their people, buy firefighting equipment and set up an emergency operations centre as flames approached.When Justin Trudeau visited nearby Prince George on Thursday, Nooski told the prime minister the First Nation was in dire trouble and needed help, said a band spokeswoman.The source of their struggle, members say, is that First Nations reserves fall under federal jurisdiction, while municipalities are under provincial authority. While British Columbia has provided resources to cities and towns to prepare for wildfires, Indigenous groups argue they don’t get equal support.Trudeau acknowledged the gaps on Thursday and pledged to clear up the flow of resources and ensure people in Indigenous communities get what they need.Jean-Francois Tremblay, deputy minister of Indigenous Services Canada, visited the Nadleh Whut’en later Thursday with Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit. Both were among those who took helicopter tours to survey the damage from the flames.Tremblay declined comment, but John said he has tabled a proposal, for a second time, asking the federal government to create a $200-million fund to help B.C.’s 203 First Nations develop emergency response plans, buy equipment and train members over the next four years.From the helicopter, plumes of thick grey smoke could be seen billowing from closely nestled treetops north of Fraser Lake. The success of burnoff operations was visible too, as lengthy fire guards wound through the forest next to stretches of scorched earth and disintegrated trees.Mike Pritchard of the BC Wildfire Service said if the burnoff operations hadn’t been conducted, scattered houses not far away would have been lost.Ketlo blamed a burnoff operation for the losses at the cultural camp, but the Wildfire Service said it hadn’t conducted any in the area and Pritchard suspects burning embers flying into the area were responsible.From the moment the Shovel Lake wildfire began to grow out of control about two weeks ago, the Nadleh Whut’en have been through a crash course in emergency management.Band spokeswoman Miranda Louie reached out to a cousin in the Tsilhqot’in Nation, which dealt with immense wildfires last year. She put Louie in touch with Juan Cereno, who managed the Tsilhqot’in’s emergency operations centre in 2017, and he rushed to Nadleh Whut’en territory.With Cereno’s help, the band transformed its main building into an emergency centre, assigned people jobs and began stockpiling food for evacuees and cooking for band fire crews. The centre is now a streamlined operation, with a large gym where a group of Mexican firefighters ate dinner on Thursday night.But in the early days, the First Nation said it struggled with poor communication with the regional district and the province, culminating in the losses at the cultural camp on Aug. 13. That day, the Nadleh Whut’en declared a local state of emergency, two days before B.C. made a provincewide declaration.“After we declared the state of emergency, it really opened up our lines of communication,” said Louie. “It should have happened sooner.”Some 80 people from the 200-member band have been evacuated, including nearly all the children and elders. They are anxious about their homes, but even if no more buildings are destroyed, the band has already experienced deep losses, Louie said.The area that has burned includes berry crops and hunting grounds, she said, and the fire’s proximity to the Nautley River means members cannot fish for salmon as they normally would in the summer.A lot of people in the remote community rely on hunting, fishing and berry picking and are otherwise unemployed, and social assistance for on-reserve people is lower than for those off reserve, she said.“The financial impact to our membership is going to be quite tremendous,” she said. “It’s really going to affect us a lot, especially when we weren’t able to fill our freezers.”Some members have defied evacuation orders and are staying behind to protect their homes. Lester George, 51, worked as a firefighter two decades ago and has armed himself with a hose and sprinklers if the flames come close.The band has given him a permit he shows to RCMP at check points so he can travel in and out of the evacuated area, and band leaders seem to understand that some people have chosen to stay, he said.“Old Man Fire don’t scare me,” he said. “It has to be by gunpoint if they make me leave.”— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.last_img read more

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

first_imgHIGH LEVEL, Alta. — A fire-threatened town in northern Alberta says a successful controlled burn has been carried out to help keep a raging nearby wildfire at bay.A statement on High Level’s website says the burn — to eliminate fuel the blaze could feed on — was done Wednesday afternoon south and west of the community as part of efforts to contain the out-of-control Chuckegg Creek fire.It says more of these operations will be done when conditions allow.The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres and remains about three kilometres southwest of the town.It continues to keep approximately 5,000 residents of High Level and region out of their homes following an evacuation order issued over the long weekend.Provincial fire authorities say rising temperatures, a gusting wind and no significant rain have pushed the wildfire danger around High Level into the extreme range.High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer told a news conference Wednesday that firefighting is going well, but everyone is at the mercy of the weather.“I want to stress the importance to everyone, especially evacuees, that the danger has not passed nor has it diminished,” McAteer said. “We know based on recent experiences of Slave Lake and of Fort McMurray that wildfires are highly unpredictable and can change at any moment.“I am pleading with everyone to be patient and that the evacuation of High Level will continue into the foreseeable future.”The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Two dead as single engine plane crashes after takeoff from Whitehorse airport

first_imgWHITEHORSE — Transportation Safety Board investigators are on their way to the scene of a deadly plane crash in Yukon.Spokesman Jon Lee says a single-engine Cessna 170 crashed into trees moments after take off from the Whitehorse airport on Monday, killing the pilot and lone passenger.The crash, barely 600 metres from the end of the runway and just west of several busy baseball diamonds, also sparked a fire.Airport and city firefighters doused the flames with assistance from a helicopter dropping water from a bucket.The privately registered aircraft had been on its way to Anchorage, Alaska, but the names or hometowns of the victims have not been released.Lee says a TSB team should be at the scene by midday to begin what he calls the “long process” of gathering information that could assist the investigation.“Collecting information on the pilot, the aircraft, the maintenance history, collecting weather information. If there was any closed circuit TV imagery at the airport we will try to get that,” Lee says.He says the Edmonton-based team will also seek statements from any eye witnesses. (CKRW)The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Federal NDP want voters to hear theyre In it for You on

first_imgOTTAWA — The federal New Democrats have settled on “In it for You” as their slogan for the upcoming federal election campaign.They’re launching it today with a new advertisement featuring leader Jagmeet Singh saying he’s different from the other leaders, not because he’s the first visible-minority leading a major party, but because he doesn’t work for “the wealthy and the well-connected.”Instead, he says, he and the NDP believe “that government should work for all of us.”The New Democrats’ slogan has some of the same direct appeal to voters’ own interests as the Conservatives’ “It’s Time for You to Get Ahead.”The Liberals have announced that their slogan is “Choose Forward.”The federal election is set for Oct. 21, though the campaign hasn’t officially begun yet.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

New water plant for First Nation under boil water advisories for 22

first_imgSHOAL LAKE, Ont. — A First Nation on the Manitoba-Ontario boundary is closer to getting safe drinking water.Government officials are at Shoal Lake 40 to celebrate the start of construction on a new water treatment system.The community of 300 residents has been under boil-water advisories since 1997.The new plant is to be completed by December 2020.The reserve was cut off from the mainland in 1915 during construction of an aqueduct that supplies Winnipeg with drinking water.An all-season road dubbed “Freedom Road” opened to the community in June.Chief Erwin Redsky said in a release that the new water system builds on the success of the road.“After decades of denial, our people can finally look forward to the day when we, like the citizens of Winnipeg, can turn on our taps and access clean, safe Shoal Lake water,” he said.Indigenous Services Canada is contributing up to $33 million for the project.Member of Parliament Bob Nault, who represents Ontario’s Kenora riding, said every Canadian has the absolute right to turn on their taps and get safe and clean water.“Anything short of that is unacceptable,” he said in a statement.“While access to safe drinking water is something that perhaps many Canadians take for granted, it is a reality that for far too many First Nations in Ontario and across our country, they have waited much too long to turn on the tap and not have to worry about it.”The federal government has said it wants to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves by March 2021.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Attend Conservation Awards

first_imgThe Duke of Cambridge joked about spending his first night away from baby son Prince George as he attended a glittering black-tie awards ceremony championing wildlife conservationists last week.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the Tusk Conservation Awards in LondonCredit/Copyright: DukeAndDuchessOfCambridge.orgThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were guests of honour at the inaugural Tusk Trust awards, held at the Royal Society in central London, which recognised the work of tireless campaigners in the field of conservation.But The Duke joked that he might be seen checking his mobile phone to make sure all was well back home with his son.The Duchess dazzled in a silver sequinned Jenny Packham dress and told Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who asked who Prince George took after: “Like most babies, he’s got a mix of both of us.”Their Royal Highnesses’ evening out came after The Duke announced that he will be expanding his work in the field of conservation and will be President of United for Wildlife. The collaboration between The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry with seven of the world’s leading conservation organisations includes WWF UK, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society and The Zoological Society of London.The Duke is Royal Patron of the UK-based African wildlife conservation charity Tusk Trust, which staged last week’s awards ceremony.In a speech to guests, The Duke started by saying: “As you might have gathered, Catherine and I have recently become proud parents – of a baby who has a voice to match any lion’s roar.“This is actually our first evening out without him, so please excuse us if you see us nervously casting cheeky glances at our mobile phones to check all is well back home.“Like any new parents, our thoughts inevitably turn to the world that our child will inherit. It is unfathomable to imagine a world in which children who have been born in the past couple of months may grow up in a world in which rhinoceros have ceased to exist in the wild.”He added: “The possibility of extinction is bad enough for one of our children growing up here in the West, who will never experience the magic of seeing a rhino on a new television documentary; or even for my own little George, who Catherine and I very much hope to introduce to east Africa – a place we know and love – in the fullness of time.“But for a child growing up in Africa and whose birthright and economic inheritance these creatures are, it is nothing more than immoral that he or she may never experience what his parents and grandparents knew and treasured.”Charlie Mayhew, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Tusk Trust, said The Duke’s announcement today about his decision to increase his involvement with conservation was “significant” in terms of the support it would generate for the cause. He said the birth of Prince George had changed The Duke: “Like all new parents you tend to take stock and look at the world in a slightly different new light, and say ‘What are we leaving our children – what’s the legacy?’“The announcement today demonstrates his commitment to conservation.” BBC presenter Kate Silverton hosted the evening and The Duke presented the awards.The Tusk Conservation Award for Conservation in Africa, which recognises an emerging individual, went to Tom Lalampaa, a conservationist working in the Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya.Alasdair Harris, who helped to create the Blue Ventures Conservation area which protects part of the coastline of Madagascar, was highly commended in this category. The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, a lifetime achievement honour, was given to Clive Stockil for his work in Zimbabwe over 40 years. He has helped to create the biggest private reserve in his country, which is now home to one of the biggest rhino populations in Africa.Source:dukeandduchessofcambridge.orglast_img read more

Shepard Fairey Among Artists To Design Rugs For Charity Auction

first_imgMarc Phillips Decorative Rugs, in conjunction with Paddle8, has launched an online auction of one-of-a-kind and limited edition rugs.Lotus by Shepard FaireyEach rug was made in collaboration with a high-profile artist to benefit P.S. ARTS, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children by providing arts education to underserved public schools and communities.“We are so thankful to Marc Phillips Decorative Rugs, Paddle8, and all of the participating artists for helping P.S. ARTS further our mission to improve children’s lives through arts education,” said Dr. Kristen Paglia, CEO of P.S. ARTS. “I think this event is particularly critical in sending the message to young people that the arts offer viable career opportunities. It was such an incredible experience for our student artist, Melissa Flanagan, to see her design produced alongside professional artists.”Marc Phillips Decorative Rugs has been a leading innovator in creating high-quality rugs using the best artisans from around the world. For this auction, Marc Phillips had each rug hand-woven in Nepal from wool and silk with designs made for the auction by artists Nathalie Douge, Shepard Fairey, Tracy Hiner, Alex K. Mason, Tanya Nolan, RETNA, Kenny Scharf, and Cole Sternberg. The estimated retail value of the rugs ranges from $6,680 to 21,000.Design enthusiasts, art collectors or anyone with good taste may bid online until 12noon PST May 19 here. Bidding will conclude during a silent auction at Marc Phillips Los Angeles showroom on Tuesday, May 19 from 7 to 10 pm.last_img read more

Coldplay To Perform At Kensington Palace For Prince Harrys Sentebale

first_imgSentebale will host a music concert headlined by Coldplay in the public gardens of Kensington Palace on Tuesday 28 June.The concert, in partnership with The Handa Foundation and supported by The Quintessentially Foundation, will raise funds and awareness of the challenges faced by adolescents living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.Coldplay said; “We’re delighted to join Prince Harry for this very special concert and to support Sentebale’s incredible work with adolescents affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana.”Joining the British rock band, Coldplay, will be British singer songwriter Laura Mvula, the African-Norwegian singing and songwriting duo Nico & Vinz, and spoken word artist and newly appointed Sentebale Ambassador, George Mpanga, known as George the Poet, along with other well-known faces to be announced soon. Artists will perform to an audience of 3,000 people against the backdrop of Kensington Palace.Tickets for the show will go on sale at 9am on Friday 27th May and can be purchased through this link.The money raised from the event will go towards Sentebale’s monthly Saturday clubs, caregiver days and residential week-long camps at the newly opened ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre, delivering psychosocial support to children living with HIV in Lesotho, and later this year in Botswana.Over the past 20 years, progress has been made to reduce the number of new HIV infections globally and ensure people living with HIV access treatment. However stigma, discrimination and lack of education surrounding HIV/AIDS, means young people in Africa are increasingly dying when HIV-related deaths are decreasing for all other age groups. HIV is the number one cause of death in 10 to 19 year olds in Africa; it will only get worse unless we act now.Founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso in 2006, Sentebale delivers psychosocial support to adolescents living with HIV, as well as providing care and education to orphans, children living with disabilities and young shepherds, know as ‘herd boys’, whose cultural obligation of tending livestock prevents them accessing education.Cathy Ferrier, CEO of Sentebale said; “UNAIDS estimates that only 30% of adolescents believed to be living with HIV in Lesotho are accessing medication. HIV and AIDS, no longer needs to be a death sentence, but the problem will not go away unless we act now. Over the course of the next decade, it is our aim to change the tide of this epidemic.“At Sentebale, we are ever more committed to play our part and use all our resources to help and support many more children living with HIV. The concert is about bringing people together who can make a difference. I look forward to seeing you on the 28th June.”If children with HIV are educated about the virus, they not only learn about their condition but also can educate their peers about the disease, enlightening a generation and leading the way to ending the AIDS epidemic.last_img read more

TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL 2017

first_imgAdvertisement Twitter Advertisement Toronto Fringe returns with new festival hub and a whopping 160 shows – by Post City TorontoThe Toronto Fringe, rebranded – by Now Toronto LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Facebook Advertisement We’ve gathered a collection of great articles and links for the upcoming Toronto Fringe FestivalFor Fringe Festival information – click hereWhat to see at Toronto Fringe Festival – by Toronto.comlast_img