First Nations face life or death struggle Atleo

first_imgAPTN National NewsMONCTON, NB–Saying First Nations were in a life or death struggle, Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo urged chiefs from across the country to back his ambitious, multi-year plan to scrap the Indian Act, the department of Aboriginal affairs and replace them with a First Nation-Crow n agreement “that advances and affirms our rights.”Atleo needs to get the majority of chiefs to endorse his plan if a planned, historic meeting this fall between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations chiefs is to become a pivotal encounter.“This gathering would be a meeting between First Nations leaders and the prime minister…We are calling for a focused agenda so that we emerge with a focused plan of action,” said Atleo.The AFN annual gathering in Moncton, NB, began with a procession lead by the organization’s eagle staff and the pounding of Mi’kmaq drums that reverberate off the cavernous walls and ceilings of the conference room at the Moncton coliseum.New Brunswick Premier David Alward welcomed the chiefs by describing his province’s efforts in working with First Nations, including beginning negotiations with the federal government to implement Jordan’s Principle, which aims to postpone funding disputes between Ottawa and the provinces whenever a child’s welfare is at stake.Atleo said he believed First Nations communities were on the cusp of massive, reformative change.“We are approaching a critical mass of public support to turn the tide, to push the tipping point,” said Atleo. “It is our time as the Indigenous Nations of this land, after all … this is life or death.”Atleo said the current federal system dealing with First Nations was irreparably broken and totally alienated from grassroots First Nations citizens.He highlighted the Conservative government’s decision to suddenly change the departmental name of Indian Affairs to Aboriginal Affairs.“We have the department changing its name, arbitrarily becoming Aboriginal Affairs and our communities left asking what does this mean, what is the impact?” said Atleo. “The results of a unilateral approach are as predictable as they are tragic.”Atleo acknowledged his calls for scrapping the Indian Act and the department are not new, they been made for years, including by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which was created after the 1990 Oka crisis which saw Mohawks from Kanesatake face down police and the Canadian military to protect a burial ground from being turned into a golf course.“For decades, our Treaty Nations have watched as resources drain from the north to the south with no benefit to our communities,” said Atleo. “Now is the time for Canadians to learn the truth about our peoples, our Treaties and our nation to nation relationship so we can move forward in partnership.”Atleo has called for  replacing the department of Aboriginal Affairs in the past and it dovetails with his pledge to try to scrap the Indian Act. There was some speculation from the floor of the assembly, given the long-term nature of his goals, that Atleo was also preparing his reelection platform.Atleo also said the federal government needed to provide increased funding for First Nations reserves.“We have a major funding challenge and we are demanding that the inequity be addressed,” said Atleo. “We are calling for stable sustainable funding that is, at a minimum, equal to the guarantees enjoyed by the provinces.”The main thrust of Atleo’s speech, however, was to convince chiefs to support his blueprint for radically altering, structurally and politically, the relationship between First Nations and the federal government.“First Nations are all on a journey advancing their rights, there are different approaches, circumstances and realities,” said Atleo. “But it is a journey with a clear destination. A destination that affirms our rightful place in our lands and territories that cherish our children and creates a better future for them.”The AFN released a document, broadly outlining the plan, which it said was passed on a number of previous reports released over the past three decades.“All point to ultimately replacing or phasing out the department of Indian Affairs (Aboriginal Affairs) and establishing new contact points that properly reflect the nation-to-nation relationship and financing arrangements appropriate to a nation-to-nation relationship,” said the document, titled Pursuing First Nation Self-Determination: Realizing our rights and responsibilities.The document recommends replacing the department of Aboriginal Affairs with two new entities. One would focus on “First Nation-Crown relationship,” and the other would focus on “fair service provision.”While the actual details of how they would look remain vague, Atleo told reporters a meeting with the prime minister and  First Nations leaders would lay the groundwork for this massive shift.last_img read more

Dene vow battle to protect sacred site from development

first_imgAPTN National NewsA Northwest Territories regulatory board could be facing legal action from a Vancouver-based exploration company.They say that revisiting a seven year-old environmental assessment is a waste of time and money.A new hearing into the matter is taking place in the small community of Ndilo this week.APTN National News reporter Cullen Crozier has this story.last_img

Aboriginal Affairs parliamentary secretary dismisses First Nation concerns over proposed federal election

first_imgBy Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsThe Harper government’s parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal Affairs dismissed concerns tabled before a House of Commons committee Thursday that proposed changes to the law governing federal elections would reduce voting participation by First Nation people.Aboriginal Affairs parliamentary secretary Mark Strahl said he believed the Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23, would actually help more First Nation people vote.“(The proposed bill) is providing opportunities for Canadians to vote,” said Strahl, who initially tried to avoid questions on the issue from APTN National News. “I think that all Canadians are concerned about their elections and the Act clearly takes into account the concerns of all Canadians.”The House of Commons’ Procedure and House Affairs committee heard testimony from two First Nations organizations and a band from Saskatchewan. All three told the committee the Harper government’s proposed election changes would keep more First Nation people from casting a ballot.First Nation voting participation rates range from 35 per cent to 75 per cent across the country.“How can the Canadian government continue to monitor the voting procedures and processes in other countries when they are excluding the disadvantaged voters in Canadian federal elections?” said Gladys Christiansen, director of human resources for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. “If Bill C-23 is not amended the number of First Nations people that will be able to vote in the next and future federal elections will be significantly reduced and will be eliminated for many.”The proposed bill would eliminate the use of vouching which allowed people without proper identification to vote if someone with proper ID vouched for them. It would also disallow the use of Elections Canada’s voter information cards as proof of address.Christiansen said those changes would directly impact First Nations people on reserve who don’t possess the required identification to vote. Someone with only an Indian status card would not be able to vote because the card does not include an address. The issue of addresses is also tricky because many reserves used PO Boxes and the documents listed among the 39 forms of authorized ID are difficult to find in many communities, she said.Many people living on reserve do not have things like bank or credit card statements, vehicle ownership records, residential lease or insurance policy documents. With the type of overcrowding faced by many communities, with sometimes up to a dozen people living in one house, utility bills would also be useless because they would name only one person.Christiansen took aim at Pierre Poilievre who is the minister of state for democratic reform and point person for the government on the bill.“Unlike the Democratic Reform Minister, Pierre Poilievre, who has numerous pieces of identification in his wallet, most First Nations people do not have any of those pieces of authorized identification and documents, much less one that contains an address,” she said.Saskatchewan Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski said the proposed bill would allow the use of a vouching letter from band politicians or officials to confirm place of residence.Christiansen said such an option was too onerous for a band like Lac La Ronge which has 3,778 on-reserve members eligible to vote.“We have nothing better to do than to sit around and write letters to prove who we are? Why do we have to do that? We have been doing it long enough,” said Christiansen, in a separate interview.She said status cards should be enough for a First Nation person to vote.Assembly of First Nations CEO Peter Dinsdale raised a different concern centred on the proposed bill’s shackling of the Chief Electoral Officer. Under the bill, the Chief Electoral Officer would be restricted to communicating only about how and where to vote.Dinsdale said this would hurt work between First Nation organizations and Elections Canada on increasing First Nation voting participation.“The AFN has worked productively with Elections Canada in a non-partisan capacity over the past three federal elections to help ensure that First Nation voters have information on how to participate in federal elections,” said Dinsdale. “These changes, it would seem, would eliminate our efforts to reach out to band offices to provide information for an upcoming election.”Conservative MP Scott Reid, who is a member of the Procedure and House Affairs committee, said the proposed bill would not prevent the AFN from partnering with Elections Canada on outreach projects.Conservative MP Blake Richards, also a committee member, said he didn’t think ID issues kept First Nation people from voting.“I don’t think that anything that is being eliminated here in this bill would create a greater barrier. What this bill does is provide a mandate that Elections Canada must do a better job of focusing on making sure people are aware of the logistics that are required in order to vote,” said Richards.NDP MP David Christopherson, who is a member of the committee, said First Nation concerns over the bill should have been enough to stop it.“When you hear representatives of the First Nations people and reminding us of the existing challenges that exist and to add to that that new challenges are being created…given the critical importance of that relationship and the incredibility poor job this government is doing…this alone should have been enough for a government that really cared about First Nation people to say, wait a minute,” he said.Teresa Edwards, in-house legal counsel for the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said it appears that the Conservatives are trying to keep First Nation people from voting.“That is the fear that anyone could have when you look at the situation. It would create a barrier for First Nation people in the next election,” she said. “Are they trying to limit the amount of people who are eligible to come out and vote?”Poilievre was also asked by the NDP about First Nations concerns over his bill during question period Thursday. His answer ignored the read more

Teens say parkour keeping them fit and out of trouble

first_imgMatt Thordarson APTN National NewsYouTube videos have helped turn the sport of parkour into a craze.Now the practice is catching on with Indigenous youth who are making their own videos, often from remote communities.It’s an activity that encourages getting active and keeping fit.mthordarson@aptn.calast_img

Getting perspective on the Nunavut election and whats at stake

first_imgAPTN InFocus In this episode we’re putting the October 30th Nunavut territorial election in focus.It’s the fifth general election, since the territory was created in 1999.22 ridings are represented in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly and right now, 71 candidates are on the last leg of their campaigning, hoping to win one of those seats in this consensus-style government.One member, is acclaimed. And that is in the riding and community of Kugluktuk, in Western Nunavut.With many different difficulties affecting Nunavut, we ask what issues are important to them and what they hope the next elected government will achieve.Guests on the show include APTN’s Kent Driscoll in Iqaluit, Nunatsiaq news editor, Jim Bell, Lindsey Qanguk and Helen Navalik Tologanak.You can subscribe to the InFocus audio podcast below.last_img read more

Canada releases dates for Indigenous languages law consultations

first_imgAugust 20, 2018MétisWinnipeg, Manitoba (to be confirmed) August 10, 2018First NationsQuébec, Quebec June 19, 2018First NationsCalgary, Alberta August 30, 2018First NationsWinnipeg, Manitoba August 3, 2018InuitInuvik, Inuvialuit June 26, 2018MétisVancouver, British-Columbia August 31, 2018First NationsWinnipeg, Manitoba June 29, 2018First NationsKamloops, British-Columbia July 4, 2018First NationsNanaimo, British-Columbia APTN NewsThe Department of Canadian Heritage released a schedule of communities across the country where it will stop to talk about Indigenous languages, and how to develop legislation to protect them.The legislation was promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the federal election.The first meeting will take place in Ottawa on June 15, followed by Calgary on June 19, and Edmonton on June 22. Iqaluit will host the first northern consultation meeting on July 18, followed by Kuujjaaq on July 24, and Nain on July 27.Earlier this month, Canadian Heritage put a $100,000 contract out for tender for policy advice in developing language legislation.To date, the federal department has held sessions with Indigenous language practitioners, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the National Metis Council.Indigenous Languages Consultation Schedule  August 29, 2018Urban InuitWinnipeg, Manitoba August 23, 2018MétisSaskatoon, Saskatchewan August 22, 2018First NationsRegina, Saskatchewan July 16, 2018Urban InuitMontréal, Quebec August 8, 2018First NationsMontréal, Quebec July 6, 2018First NationsPrince George, British-Columbia June 22, 2018First NationsEdmonton, Albertacenter_img July 30, 2018MétisEdmonton, Alberta June 27, 2018First NationsVancouver, British-Columbia July 27, 2018InuitNain, Nunatsiavut August 2, 2018First NationsYellowknife, Northwest Territories July 11, 2018First NationsThunder Bay, Ontario July 24, 2018InuitKuujjaaq, Nunavik August 28, 2018First NationsHalifax, Nova Scotia DateEngagement groupLocation July 31 and August 1, 2018First NationWhitehorse, Yukon August 24, 2018First NationsSaskatoon, Saskatchewan July 12, 2018MétisToronto, Ontario (to be confirmed) July 13, 2018First NationsToronto, Ontario July 18, 2018InuitIqaluit, Nunavut June 15, 2018Urban InuitOttawa, Ontariolast_img read more

NDP MP calls for investigation into death of Abraham Donkey

first_imgBrittany HobsonAPTN NewsNDP MP Niki Ashton is calling for an investigation into the death of Abraham Donkey who died on a bus travelling from Thompson, Man., to Winnipeg for an appointment with his heart specialist.Donkey’s family said his requests to go by air – or with an escort on the bus were denied.The 58-year old was from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in northern

Judge reserves decision on day school settlement as former lawyer appeals for Lawyers Joan Jack (left) and Eleanore Sunchild at a rally outside federal court in Winnipeg. (Brittany Hobson/APTN)Kathleen MartensAPTN NewsA federal judge reserved his decision Wednesday on approving the multi-billion-dollar Indian day school (IDS) settlement agreement.Justice Michael Phelan listened to three days of dramatic and, at times, emotional submissions.At one point, he twice slammed his fist on the desk when someone went over their allotted time to speak.Indigenous lawyer Joan Jack said that flash of anger triggered her trauma as a former Indian day school student.“I started crying at the back of the courtroom,” she told the court while speaking as an objector to the settlement Tuesday.Jack said she filed the original $15-billion class-action lawsuit against Canada in 2008 on behalf of Spiritwind Inc., a non-profit organization of survivors based in Winnipeg.But the leaders of Spiritwind took the case to a new firm – Gowling WLG of Ottawa – Jack said that left her broke.“I had borrowed like half a million dollars,” she said outside court Wednesday during a rally opposing the settlement. “I cashed in my husband and I’s pension.”Read more here.Jack hired her own lawyer to seek compensation for the time and money she spent visiting communities and building a database of survivors to establish the class.Gowling didn’t want to give her “any money,” she told APTN News. “So that’s just bullshit.“If this firm is going to treat me like that how are they going to treat people that don’t have eight years of university?”Her lawyer Clint Docken argued Jack and other lawyers, including Louay Alghoul of Winnipeg, deserve some payment for their time.“Contributions they have made to this should be dealt with,” he told Phelan, explaining the lawsuit stalled under Jack because other firms wouldn’t take it on with her.He also said there was a “lack of political will” in the past to settle the case, something he suggested Gowling is now benefitting from.Phelan said he needed time to review all the material but would deliver his decision as soon as possible.Along with approving the settlement offered by Canada, the judge is being asked to sign off on legal fees of $55 million to Gowling.There are up to 140,000 former day school students eligible for compensation. Canada is making a minimum of $1.27 billion to a maximum of $1.4 billion available for Level 1 claims, and has no financial limit for Level 2-5 claims.Registration form here.With files from Brittany Hobsonlast_img read more

Iqaluit sees influx of federal leaders ahead of fall election

first_imgKent DriscollAPTN NewsIn the last two weeks, four federal cabinet ministers and the prime minister have visited Iqaluit, each touting projects and federal spending.But each visit is not the same, Kent Driscoll reports.Some announcements included new money for the territory. Others reiterated previously-committed funding. And others yet were to say sorry to

Healthcare for First Nations people in Manitoba inadequate say families

first_imgBrittany HobsonAPTN NewsA new report released this month shows the health gap between First Nations people and all other Manitobans has widened over the past 15 years.Early death rates are three times higher for First Nations people, according to The Health Status of and Access to Healthcare by Registered First Nation Peoples in Manitoba, a report released by the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.People navigating the system are calling for a more collaborative approach to change these statistics.Vanessa Tait’s father Kenneth was diagnosed with kidney disease in November 2017.(Vanessa Tait with her father Kenneth in the hospital. Photo courtesy: Vanessa Tait)For the past year, the 62-year -old has been living in a Winnipeg hotel so he can receive dialysis treatment.“In my father’s patient journey, I’ve seen the inadequate healthcare system, for instance, it’s primary healthcare. We don’t have a lot of services…for our First Nation communities,” Tait told APTN News.The family is from O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, located approximately 1,000 km north of Winnipeg.The community only has a nursing station so patients must travel 12 hours by car to access a number of healthcare options in Winnipeg.The report lists a myriad of reasons relating to the higher rates of early deaths for First Nations people including a lack of healthcare close to home.Tait says the report and her own family’s experiences show the healthcare system is set up to fail First Nations people.“When you father tells you, ‘I just want to die because I miss home,’ that really shows you how First Nations patients are treated…have to leave their homes and being told they have to stay in a hotel room where even the quality of food is not appropriate with what the dietician tells you,” she said.The report states the gap has worsened significantly since 2002.The life expectancy of First Nations women is 72 years compared to 83 years for other female Manitobans, while First Nations men is 68 years compared to 79 years for other male Manitobans.George Lammers, 52, has been on dialysis for nine years.He spends four nights a week receiving treatment at a nearby hospital. He’s lived in Winnipeg his whole life but recently moved into a complex for people receiving dialysis treatment. (George Lammers has been on dialysis for nine years. Photo: Brittany Hobson/APTN)He slipped on a patch of ice nearly two years ago and after some complications due to diabetes doctors had to amputate part of his leg.“The healthcare system isn’t what you think it is. You think you’re going to go and stay in the hospital and be treated with respect but meanwhile the nurses are too busy handing out medications to people,” said Lammers.Lammers says he’s experienced ‘degrading’ treatment from nurses and doctors.He believes part of it is because he’s First Nations.“I call it subtle racism. They don’t actually say it to you, it’s by their actions. How they talk to you,” said Lammers.It’s not always bad, he says, but cuts to the healthcare industry by the Conservative government have made it worse.Lammers has also been on the kidney transplant list for almost a decade but says he’s never been given a reason for the delay.A spokesperson for Transplant Manitoba wrote, “as healthcare providers we cannot speak to specific individual cases,” in an email to APTN.They did confirm there are approximately 200 Manitobans waiting for a kidney transplant, and delays could be related to blood type or a patient’s overall health.For Tait, she would like to see the provincial government work with First Nations to create a healthcare system where communities have power to control things.“Having adequate primary healthcare services in our community, run by our community and actually developed by our community,” she said.“And then infusing dollars to have our own people go into the health profession, whether it be nursing or whether it be a doctor.” read more

Oil giant Chevron needs no costs protection from poor Ecuadorians court told

first_imgTORONTO – Forcing a group of Ecuadorian villagers to come up with almost $1 million before they can pursue a claim against oil behemoth Chevron would deprive them of access to justice, Ontario’s top court heard Wednesday.The notion that Chevron, which makes billions a year, needs to be protected from legal costs if the Indigenous Ecuadorians lose their fight is absurd, their lawyer said.The villagers are asking the Canadian courts to make Chevron Canada pay a hard-fought US$9.5-billion award they won in Ecuador in 2013 over environmental devastation and the health problems caused. The Supreme Court has said the group’s case can be heard here.However, an Ontario judge ruled Chevron Canada is a separate entity and can’t be held liable for the judgment against its parent. The Ecuadorians are appealing that ruling, but a judge has ordered them to first put up $943,000 to cover Chevron’s legal costs if they lose.Alan Lenczner, who speaks for 37 of the 47 representative plaintiffs, told the Ontario Court of Appeal that the “prohibitive” costs order should be set aside so the appeal can proceed on its merits.“How can it be just that these plaintiffs are denied an appeal?” Lenczner said. “An order for security for costs is an ultimate barrier preventing justice.”In his submissions, Chevron Canada’s lawyer Benjamin Zarnett said the judge’s discretionary costs order was fair. The villagers led no evidence to show they don’t have the money to pay the costs, despite having had the opportunity to do so, he said.Chevron won in the lower court and must now respond to an appeal and is therefore “entitled to a measure of protection” for its legal costs, Zarnett argued. In addition, he said, the judge found the Ecuadorians did not have a strong chance of winning on appeal.“It is not a case that has a good chance of success,” Zarnett said.Lenczner argued, however, that Chevron’s request for a security deposit was merely a tactic. He said the Ecuadorians had gone through an “epic struggle” to win their award in Ecuador.That money, Lenczner said, would not go to the plaintiffs but instead would be put in trust and used to remediate the lands and water, and improve their health conditions.“These people have nothing personally to gain other than good health,” he said.Chevron, Lenczner said, with 1,500 subsidiaries and $225 billion annual revenues, does not need the $943,000 security deposit from Ecuadorians, whose average income is about $20 a day.The villagers first sued in 1993 after Texaco, later bought by Chevron, polluted about 1,500 square kilometres of rain forest, fouling streams, drinking water and garden plots.Both Ontario’s Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have recognized the region in which the “poor and vulnerable” Ecuadorians live has suffered extensive environmental pollution that seriously disrupted their lives.Lenczner noted the initial action was launched in the United States. However, Chevron successfully argued for the case to be heard in Ecuador.The company insists the award in the case was obtained fraudulently, citing rulings in the U.S. it says supports that contention. However, the American decisions did not invalidate the Ecuadorian judgment, Lenczner told the Appeal Court panel.The Canadian action, begun in 2012, aims to have Chevron Canada pay the US$9.5-billion award on the basis that it has a “significant” relationship with its parent. It cannot be the case that a company can hide behind a subsidiary to avoid its creditors, Lenczner said.Rock legend Roger Waters, who spoke in favour of the Ecuadorians outside court on Tuesday, took in part of the proceedings Wednesday wearing a jacket with “Resist.” emblazoned on the back.The Appeal Court reserved its decision on the security deposit.last_img read more

Canada faces angry Americans in pivotal sixth round of NAFTA talks

first_imgCanada will be hosting an annoyed and angry United States as the sixth round of talks in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation unfold over the coming week.The Trump administration is making known its displeasure about Canada’s contributions to date and demanding progress over the marathon 10-day session.Multiple sources aware of the U.S. administration’s views say the acrimony has a variety of causes, including Canada’s recent decision to file a sweeping complaint about U.S. trade practices at the World Trade Organization and its pursuit of a progressive trade agenda that includes Indigenous and labour provisions.The rhetoric around its implacable rejection of the most controversial U.S. positions — raising continental content provisions on automobiles, scrapping a dispute resolution mechanism, limiting Canadian access to U.S. procurement, and instituting a five-year sunset clause — as well as bitterness over apparent leaks are all fuelling the U.S. animosity towards Canada, say sources.Sources familiar with the Canadian position dismiss all that and say the tone at the negotiating table is professional and cordial, and that Canada is prepared to table counter-proposals in order to make progress.They say Canadian negotiators are making constructive proposals to find common ground with the Americans on what some have called poison pills designed to kill the deal.Indeed, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are showing signs they all want to see tangible progress in this round in order keep the negotiations on track, and discourage U.S. President Donald Trump from announcing his intent to withdraw from NAFTA.It will be another week before Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, American counterpart Robert Lighthizer and Mexico’s Ildefonso Guajardo arrive in Montreal on Jan. 29 to close the extended round that gets underway earlier than planned on Sunday.The way some see it, Lighthizer is in no hurry to come back to Canada.“The feeling of ill will between Bob Lighthizer’s office and the Canadians — I don’t think you can underestimate it,” said Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat who now represents American clients in an Ottawa consultancy.“He’s extremely frustrated with China and Canada,” added Goldfeder.“Those are the two countries he thinks are being most unfair to the United States … Those are the ones taking up a good chunk of his time, and not in positive ways.”Goldfeder noted that when Freeland went to Washington two weeks ago she met Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and members of Congress — but not Lighthizer.When Guajardo visited later in the month, Lighthizer’s door was open to him, she said.Colin Robertson, a retired diplomat with extensive experience in the U.S., said the body language between Lighthizer and Freeland is “terrible,” which is telling.“He’s a bully and she gets under his skin,” said Robertson. “She and Guajardo are amigos. No one would say that about Freeland and Lighthizer.”Canadian officials say Freeland and Lighthizer intend to meet this week while the two are in Davos, Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.Lighthizer isn’t willing to blow up NAFTA over the WTO challenge, but Canada should brace for some bilateral retaliation. Meanwhile, his office isn’t interested in the Canadian progressive trade agenda — entrenching Indigenous, gender and workers’ rights issues in the pact — because it has the whiff of Canada dictating social policy to the U.S., Goldfeder said.Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a group normally at odds with the Republicans, was also critical of the Canadian posture.“Canada is 100 per cent not engaged. Mexico started engaging in the last month or so,” said Wallach, who knows Lighthizer.”Probably after the Montreal round, that increases the prospect that there could be a notice of withdrawal.”Ottawa is defensive. The characterization of Canada as obstructionist is nonsense, and the product of strategic leaking of information, according to another official familiar with the content of talks, and who agreed to speak anonymously citing the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations.The official said Canadian and American negotiators, as well as their Mexican counterparts, know each other well and are working methodically in the 30 separate negotiating rooms to make incremental progress.The official pointed to Freeland’s Jan. 11 comments at the Liberal cabinet retreat in London, Ont. as evidence Canada is doing some “creative thinking” about how to deal with “unconventional” U.S. proposals.The complaints about Canada’s progressive trade agenda are also a bit rich, the official said, because the real obstacles are more fundamental — the American poison pill proposals that wouldn’t fly in any trade negotiation.In particular, the official cited the U.S. proposal to ditch the dispute resolution mechanism, saying Americans remember full well that former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney considered that idea a deal breaker during the original Canada-U.S. free trade talks in 1988.Freeland told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that the progressive chapters on labour, gender, environment and Indigenous issues are not a problem. She said the Indigenous chapter would be discussed for the first time in Montreal.Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said it’s about time — he has pushed Freeland hard on the issue in recent months as part of her NAFTA advisory committee. Bellegarde told The Canadian Press he hopes the Americans and Mexicans support a chapter affirming Indigenous Peoples’ inclusion in the economy.“Canada is supporting that,” he said.“Tuesday will be the first formal response by U.S.A., Mexico to that new chapter, and so it’s very important.”Today’s NAFTA talks are unusual because Canada is being told it needs to give up benefits or lose access to its fundamental trading partner, said Eric Miller, head of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group in Washington.“Canada’s economic livelihood is on the line,” said Miller, a former Canadian official who worked on the auto bailout.“One should expect Canada to be very focused on it, and to react very strongly.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had the wrong title for Perry Bellegarde.last_img read more

US law poses dilemma for dying vets seeking lethal drugs

first_imgSAN DIEGO – Suffering from heart problems, Bob Sloan told his children he wants to use California’s new law allowing life-ending drugs for the terminally ill when his disease becomes too advanced to bear.But then the 73-year-old former U.S. Army sergeant learned that because he lives at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville — the nation’s largest retirement home for veterans — he must first move out.Veterans in government-run homes in many parts of the country that have legalized physician-assisted death, including Colorado, Vermont and Washington, D.C., are finding similar restrictions because assisted suicide goes against the policy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.Veterans like Sloan say relocating would cause undue hardship during an already painful time. Veterans living at the Yountville home raised the issue in recent weeks with California lawmakers, and one organization is considering taking legal action if the regulation stays in place.“I should be able to die peacefully in my home, and this is my home,” Sloan said of Yountville, where he has lived since 2013. “If I’m in that state or condition, why should I be forced to move to make use of what has been changed into law? It just doesn’t make sense.”Doctors also can legally prescribe lethal medication for terminally ill patients in Oregon and Washington. Veteran homes in those states do not require the person be discharged to take the drugs, though staff cannot be involved, and no federal funds can be used. Montana’s state Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that doctors could use a patient’s request for life-ending medication as a defence against criminal charges.Opponents say the option could lead to hasty decisions, misdiagnosis and coercion.Regardless of state laws, the 1997 Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act passed by Congress prohibits the use of federal funds for assisted suicides, Veterans Affairs spokesman Curt Cashour said. The VA provides many state homes with money for veterans’ care, including the doctors. It leaves it to states to decide their own regulations regarding the homes.The funding restriction act is the only federal law regarding the issue. The Supreme Court has left it to states to enact legislation permitting or prohibiting physician-assisted deaths.After California’s law took effect in 2016, California’s Department of Veterans Affairs, or CalVet, mandated the discharge of residents intending to consume medication to achieve a peaceful death and barred any employees, independent contractors or anyone else from participating in any activities under the End of Life Option Act while on the premises of one of its homes. If a veteran decides not to go through with it, the person will be re-admitted immediately.It also promises, like in other states that require veterans move first, to assist them in transferring to hospice, a home or another facility.“The safety and support of our veterans is our No. 1 priority, and we cannot implement policies or programs that could result in California losing vital federal funding for our veterans,” CalVet Secretary Dr. Vito Imbasciani said in an email to The Associated Press.Funds from the VA account for more than half of the operating budget for CalVet’s eight live-in care facilities, which serve more than 2,600 people.After veterans at the Yountville home and advocates for the end-of-life option sent a letter protesting the discharge policy, CalVet officials promised to look into the matter. But so far, they have not proposed a solution.Yountville resident Ed Warren, who signed a protest letter sent to CalVet in October, said he believes there are ways the homes can get around the federal restrictions.“It is an inhumane act because these people, if they’re at such a point of considering ending their life, they are not in a position to go through the mechanics of disenrolling to check out of here,” said the 82-year-old who served in the Air Force.Advocate Kathryn Tucker, of the End of Life Liberty Project, said many states are interpreting the federal restrictions too broadly. The 1997 law does not bar such deaths from occurring on the premises of state homes if no federal funds are spent.She is considering legal action if CalVet’s regulation remains.Nationwide, only one veteran in a state home is known to have requested lethal medication. He died at a veteran home in Washington state in 2015.California requires patients make an oral and written request for a prescription for life-ending drugs to their primary doctors. Two doctors must determine if the patient has fewer than six months to live.The state requires the person be able to administer the drugs themselves without help. A common drug used for such purposes, secobarbital, can run up to $5,000 for a lethal dose.Tucker recently gave a talk to a small group at Yountville, but the home would not allow the in-house TV station to air the presentation to its more than 900 residents.CalVet officials said they considered her presentation to be political since it involved changing the home’s policy, and state resources, which fund the TV station, cannot be used for political purposes.Ed Warren’s wife, Jac, quit working at the station over what she saw as censorship.“It was an informational meeting,” said Jac Warren, 81. “If you live in a state facility, you should not be disallowed from taking advantage of state legislation.”last_img read more

CAPP calls on feds to make sure Trans Mountain is built

first_imgThe Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is on board with Alberta’s legislation that could restrict energy products being shipped into BC, but is hoping it doesn’t have to be used.CAPP President and CEO Tim McMillan tells CityNews, the federal government needs to step up as well.“It would be our desire that this is a tool that ultimately — isn’t needed and it likely is because the federal government steps in and assumes the authority,” he said.McMillan says he’s not sure the energy restrictions will change BC Premier John Horgan’s mind about anything though, as his NDP government is propped up by the BC Green Party, which has threatened to pull support if Horgan stops resisting the pipeline.last_img

Japan prosecutors file new allegation against Nissans Ghosn

first_imgTOKYO — Japanese media say prosecutors have added a new allegation of breach of trust against Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn, dashing his hopes for release on bail.Ghosn, along with another executive Greg Kelly, was arrested Nov. 19 and charged with underreporting his income.The fresh allegations were filed Friday, a day after a court rejected prosecutors’ request for a longer detention of Ghosn and Kelly. Their lawyers were hoping they could get them released on bail.Kyodo News service and other Japanese media reported that prosecutors added the third allegation that Ghosn caused Nissan a loss of 1.8 billion yen in 2008.The Associated Presslast_img

Premier announces new strategy to reduce surgery wait times

first_img“For far too long, far too many British Columbians were left on waitlists instead of getting fast access to the surgery they needed to enjoy full, active, lives,” said Horgan. “We’re getting people back on their feet faster by dramatically increasing access to hip and knee surgeries.”Two years ago, approximately 14,390 hip and knee surgeries were performed across B.C. That number is forecast to increase to more than 19,250 by the end of this fiscal year, an increase of 34 percent.“We are embedding the innovations of the former Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction project into our program because it is a public health-care system solution that is proven to work for patients,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Our strategy will not only mean people spend less time waiting for hip and knee replacements, but that we keep up to demand for all surgeries by investing in more surgeries and implementing operating room efficiencies.”The new strategy is built on the Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction Project, which was in place from 2004 to 2010. VANCOUVER, B.C. — Premier John Horgan announced this morning that the provincial government is launching a new, four-part surgical strategy aimed at reducing surgery wait times in B.C.Horgan announced that one of the strategy’s first components will be the implementation of five hip and knee replacement programs that will be implemented across the province. He said that the programs will address long waits faced by residents currently in need of those procedures. During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the government says that 30 percent of people waiting for hip surgery and 38 percent of people waiting for knee surgery waited more than 26 weeks.The strategy will be supported by a targeted $75 million in funding starting this year, increasing to $100 million next year.last_img read more

Walking With Our Sisters final exhibit opens in Taylor today

first_imgConnie Greyeyes, who has been spearheading the efforts involved in bringing the exhibit to the area, says that originally the installation was going to be set up for viewing in Fort St. John but that the logistical challenges of maintaining a ceremonial fire outside the location meant that the Taylor Community Hall was more suitable.Greyeyes said that the upcoming tour stop will be the last chance for the public to view the exhibit, after scheduled stops in Prince George and Vancouver were cancelled.After the installation tour wraps up, a closing ceremony will be held next year in Batoche, Saskatchewan, which is Belcourt’s hometown.After Monday’s opening ceremony – which began at 1:00 p.m. – the Walking With Our Sisters memorial will be on display at the Taylor Community Hall from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and from 9:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.The event is free and open to all members of the public. TAYLOR, B.C. – Walking With Our Sisters, which is a memorial in remembrance of the over 1,100 Aboriginal women who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada and the United States over the last 30 years, is wrapping up its tour across the continent in Taylor this week.The installation was created by Métis artist Christi Belcourt and consists of over 1,800 moccasin vamps, with each pair of vamps symbolizing a North American Indigenous woman that has gone missing or been murdered.The exhibit has travelled across North America since the project began in 2012, and has been set up for public viewing at the Taylor Community Hall.last_img read more

The City of Fort St John launched the first video for the

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of FSJ has released their first video ‘Move up Here’ to boost the message of their recruitment campaign to online and social platforms to encourage new people to move to the area for work.Earlier in the year, the City released a hard copy brochure to help local businesses draw new people to the community for employment.  By collaborating with businesses that require skilled employees and trained professionals to fill employment positions, the City helped to create a visually appealing campaign to attract potential employees to ‘Move up Here’.With the launch of the first of four videos online, the reach of the message has the ability to extend to a different group of people. As this part of the campaign can be seen and shared in a different capacity, this will help get the message out further to inspire more. “The Campaign is a celebration and showcase of the community,” said Ryan Harvey Communications Coordinator of the City of FSJ. Collaborating businesses included in the recruitment campaign are the Chamber of Commerce, School District, Northern Health, the Northern Lights College as well as others.The campaign has been submitted to larger online and hard copy publications to try to help attract a large range of people from different demographics as well as being used in different capacities for social sharing.last_img read more

Small fire breaks out at the Country Side Apartments in Fort St

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Fire Department was called to a fire Sunday afternoon at the Country Side Apartments on 86 street.Firefighters were called after residents saw smoke on the third floor of the building.  Upon arrival, firefighters cleared the building. They found light smoke in one apartment and discovered the smoke was coming from a bathroom fan.  Once firefighters opened the roof, they were able to quickly knock down the fire in the attic of the building. No one was home in the unit at the time.  There was minimal damage done to the unit, but residents will need to find another place to stay while repairs are made.The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.last_img

Highway 97 closed near Pine Pass

first_imgThe highway has been closed due to a collision.REMINDER – CLOSED – #BCHwy97 at #PinePass, north of the #MackenzieBC junction due to a vehicle incident. Assessment in progress, no estimated time of opening available. More info: #Chetwynd #CityofPG— DriveBC NE (@DriveBC_NE) May 27, 2019There is no estimate for when the highway will re-open.If you’re traveling in the area, let us know what you see by emailing UPDATE – As of 5 a.m. Monday the highway is now open in both directions.CHETWYND, B.C. – Highway 97 is closed in both directions near the Pine Pass.According to, the highway is closed in both directions between Powder King Road and Old Hasler Road.last_img