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Month: February 2019

Goodale says he won't put Canadians 'at risk' to bring ISIS fighters home for trial

Goodale says he won’t put Canadians ‘at risk’ to bring ISIS fighters home for trial


A day after the United States called on its allies fighting in Syria and Iraq to bring their foreign fighters home for prosecution, Canada is insisting it will not put its citizens at risk to answer the call.

“We have heard the request, or the suggestion, from the United States, but at this point, the fact of the matter remains that is a dangerous and dysfunctional part of the world in which we have no diplomatic presence and we are not going to put our diplomatic officers or consular officials at risk,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Tuesday.

Goodale said Tuesday that Canada is still working with its allies in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network (Australia, Britain, New Zealand and the U.S.) to gather evidence that can be used to convict Canadians who went abroad to join ISIS — but he said he would not risk Canadian lives to do so.

“The issue is in part working with our allies to make sure that we are collecting the maximum amount of useable evidence that can be practically available and useable in the justice system to lay charges, to prosecute,” he added.

As the U.S. prepares to withdraw its remaining troops from the region, the U.S. Department of State issued a statement Monday that said the Syrian Defence Forces have taken custody of hundreds of foreign fighters from countries all around the world.

“The United States calls upon other nations to repatriate and prosecute their citizens detained by the SDF and commends the continued efforts of the SDF to return these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin,” the statement said.

According to Amarnath Amarasingam, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue who has been to Syria to visit camps where foreign fighters are being held, there are currently four Canadian men, three women and seven children in custody in the country.

A spokesperson from Goodale’s office said the government would not confirm Amarasingam’s figures “due to the privacy act.”

All of the children born to Canadian women who left Canada to join ISIS are under the age of five, with several being under the age of one, Amarasingam told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“The behaviour of the parents that have put those children in that situation is absolutely appalling and reprehensible,” Goodale said. “We will examine carefully what can reasonably be done to protect those who are innocent in these circumstances.

“But this is a situation that [ISIS] has created, and to which those who have gone to that part of the world to participate have also contributed, and they need to show to their responsibilities.”

The risk of ignoring America

Amarasingam said that the Syrian Defence Forces are not going to be able to hold foreign fighters in camps indefinitely and the U.S. may fear they’ll escape or be released before they can be returned to their countries of origin.

“Leaving hundreds of jihadist fighters — well-trained jihadist fighters — in a kind of weird limbo state, if the Americans do pull out, is not ideal from a national security point of view,” he told Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos.

Amarasingam said the SDF could strike a deal with the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to turn the fighters and their children over for execution.

“There’s this assumption that bringing them back brings about a whole bunch of complexity, which is true, but I think leaving them leaving them there is just as chaotic as bringing them back,” he added.

Jessica Davis and Amarnath Amarasingam on the logistics of the U.S. call for countries to repatriate foreign fighters and prosecute them at home. 11:34

Jessica Davis, former senior strategic analyst with CSIS, told Power & Politics that Canada has been avoiding bringing home its foreign fighters — but continuing to turn a blind eye to the situation will be more difficult now.

“Despite all of the dynamics around the Trump administration, the Americans are still our number one ally, particularly in the security and intelligence space, so this is the kind of thing that has to be taken very seriously,” she told Kapelos.





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No Roll Up the Rim? Kids ask Tim Hortons to make contest greener

No Roll Up the Rim? Kids ask Tim Hortons to make contest greener


Three young people in Calgary are challenging Tim Hortons to roll up the rim for the planet.

Mya Chau and Eve Helman, both 12, and Ben Duthie, 16, are behind a change.org petition asking Canada’s iconic coffee chain to introduce a fully compostable or recyclable paper cup.

They also think the coffee chain, which has more than 4,600 stores worldwide and claims to sell two billion cups of coffee every year, can use its popular Roll Up the Rim to Win contest to encourage customers to bring in reusable mugs.

“We think that if they could make a better cup … then that would be great,” Helman said. “Because all their disposable cups are going into the landfills and affecting the environment.”

Roll Up the Rim to Win has been run by Tim Hortons since 1986, and this year’s version of the contest launches Wednesday.

The kids say the company could, for example, give people who bring in reusable cups two chances to win rather than just one, or it could move the entire game online.

“If Tim Hortons had some sort of electronic version of the Roll Up the Rim to Win, I think that would be a much more environmentally positive way to run the contest,” said Duthie.

You don’t need to make a purchase to enter contests such as Tim Hortons’ Roll Up the Rim to Win. But sometimes the alternatives are just as costly. (Tim Hortons )

While theoretically the plastic-lined single-use coffee cups used by chains like Tim Hortons and McDonalds can be recycled, most municipal recycling systems aren’t equipped to do it. The kids say more than 600 billion single-use cups are produced worldwide every year and all companies need to find a way to be better about reusing, composting or recycling them.

The kids’ previous efforts to reduce waste from Starbucks have been successful. With Tim Hortons, they see the popular contest to be a unique challenge.

Duthie said he understands the contest would have to be rebranded if disposable cups were eliminated altogether.

“I do think that would be a challenge for them but I think it’s certainly possible,” he said.

Other options like app, stickers

Tim Hortons has had some electronic components of its game, including Scroll Up the Rim to Win, which was introduced last year on the company’s mobile app. The prizes on the app version were limited to coffee and doughnuts. The prizes available to people playing by rolling up the rims of their coffee cups include cars.

Chau said she knows using the app may be too large of a transition for some loyal Timmies customers. 

​”They can bring in their own mug but they wouldn’t get the Roll Up The Rim challenge,” she said. 

To keep those people involved, she suggested using stickers or a receipt that customers can scan. Or, she said, get on board with innovating a fully biogradable coffee cup, as other major brands have started doing.

Jane Almeida, a spokeswoman for Restaurant Brands International, which owns Tim Hortons, said in a written statement the company is working on a packaging strategy to reduce its environmental footprint, offers china dishes for customers eating in its shops, and has discounts for customers who bring their own reusable cups.

“Working closely with industry, Tim Hortons will also begin testing a new, strawless lid in 2019 and increasing the amount of recycled content in our packaging,” Almeida said.

Good position to influence, Greenpeace says

Sarah King, head of the oceans and plastics campaign at Greenpeace Canada, said Roll Up the Rim is a fun contest that Canadians love but it inherently encourages people to use cups that will mostly end up in the garbage.

She said the company is in a good position to influence change given its popularity and loyal customer base.

Several restaurant companies are addressing concerns about plastic packaging. Starbucks last year began a quest to find someone to design a biodegradable liner for its coffee cups, a move that came after Chau and Helman petitioned it to build a better cup.

McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are partners in the Starbucks biodegradable cup challenge.

Mya Chau and Eve Helman asked Starbucks last year to sell only fully recyclable disposal coffee cups. (Rachel Ward/CBC, Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

Chau and Helman say they haven’t received a satisfactory response from Tim Hortons yet. When they petitioned Starbucks, the company’s president met with them ahead of launching the better cup quest.

They hope all of Restaurant Brands International’s businesses, including Popeye’s and Burger King, will do what’s outlined in their petition.

Duthie also petitioned Starbucks to stop giving out plastic straws, and the company is phasing those out by 2020.

Their petition for Tim Hortons now has nearly 105,000 signatures.

A now-closed petition targeting Roll Up the Rim received roughly 19,000 supporters.

With files from Rachel Ward and the Calgary Eyeopener.



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Health Canada suspends licence of Winnipeg cannabis producer Bonify

Health Canada suspends licence of Winnipeg cannabis producer Bonify


Health Canada has suspended the sales licence of Winnipeg-based cannabis producer Bonify.

The federal agency barred Bonify Medical Cannabis from selling cannabis on Monday due to safety and public health concerns.

“The department found that Bonify Medical Cannabis was possessing, distributing and selling product that was purchased from an illegal source, and selling product that did not comply with the good production practices as required under the Cannabis Act and cannabis regulations,” Health Canada spokesperson Eric Morrissette said in a statement.

The case has been forwarded on to the RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency, said Morrissette.

The announcement comes after Health Canada issued a recall on two Bonify strains in December over contamination concerns on products sold in Saskatchewan.

The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba, which regulates the cannabis retail sector, and the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, the wholesaler of cannabis in the province, followed suit and suspended the sale of Bonify products.

A third-party investigation found the company sold unauthorized product at retailers in Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw.

The investigator alleged senior managers of threatened staff members to look the other way when 200 kilograms of unlicensed cannabis arrived at the Winnipeg facility. Three Bonify executives were subsequently dismissed.

The company has 10 days to respond to the suspension and give Health Canada a reason to reconsider.

Health Canada plans to monitor whatever actions Bonify takes to rectify the non-compliance issue.

“Health Canada will continue to undertake unannounced inspections of cannabis licence holders to help ensure that they are in compliance with the law and regulations,” Morrissette said in a statement.

“Health Canada is disclosing this licensing decision as part of its ongoing commitment to openness and transparency. The department publishes information on its inspection and enforcement activities so that Canadians can see how industry follows the rules put in place to protect their health and safety.”

CBC News tried to contact Bonify Tuesday night for a response but did not hear back.



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Guests evacuated amidst flooding at Westin Hotel in downtown Edmonton

Guests evacuated amidst flooding at Westin Hotel in downtown Edmonton


Guests staying at the Westin Edmonton were moved to a different hotel Tuesday evening after a major water leak caused flooding, says Edmonton Fire Rescue Services.

A fire crew was dispatched to the hotel at 101st Avenue and 100th Street at about 7:20 p.m., said Edmonton fire spokesperson Katie Stewart.

Hotel staff had turned the water off by the time firefighters arrived, she said. Water was leaking from the main-floor ceiling.

Water was leaking from the main-floor ceiling Tuesday night. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

Stewart said she couldn’t confirm what caused the flooding, how many people were evacuated, or what hotel they were moved to.

Katie Mundy was staying at the Westin and had to move to another hotel. She said she was told a pipe had burst on the fifth or sixth floor.

“It sucks, but it’s nobody’s fault,” she said. “I feel bad for the staff. The staff here are phenomenal, they’re really amazing. So I think they’re doing the very best that they can.”

A Westin Hotel employee said management was unable to comment Tuesday evening because they were busy dealing with the flooding.

Edmonton Fire Rescue was called to the downtown hotel at about 7:20 p.m. (Nathan Gross/CBC)



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Google parent Alphabet boosts revenue 21%

Google parent Alphabet boosts revenue 21%


Google parent company Alphabet beat Wall Street expectations for its fourth quarter earnings Monday, but its stock slid in after-hours trading.

The company reported profit of $8.9 billion US on revenue of $39.3 billion.

Its revenue grew more than 21 per cent from $32.3 billion a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings per share of $10.86, or a profit of $7.6 billion, on revenue of $38.9 billion. Earnings per share were actually $12.77.

Alphabet’s advertising commissions, or the money it pays other companies to direct people to its search, grew 14 per cent to $7.4 billion from $6.5 billion a year ago.

Alphabet’s stock price dropped roughly three per cent despite the beat in after-market trading Monday.

Investors may fear internet advertising is saturated. Google is facing new pressure in digital advertising from Amazon and other players and has dropped its price per click — the amount it charges advertisers — to stay competitive.

Google continues to grow its cloud business and hardware sales, which brought in $6.49 billion during the quarter.

Other businesses, such as health venture Verily and self-driving start-up Waymo, were more disappointing at $154 million in revenue.

Alphabet shares have climbed nine per cent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen roughly nine per cent. In the final minutes of trading on Monday, shares hit $1,141.42, a rise of two per cent in the last 12 months.



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Peaceful transition 'absolutely' possible in Venezuela says Freeland

Peaceful transition ‘absolutely’ possible in Venezuela says Freeland


Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said a peaceful transition of power is “absolutely” possible in Venezuela, even as embattled President Nicolas Maduro digs in his heels and opposition leaders in Venezuela refuse to rule out military intervention.

“I think that peaceful transition is absolutely possible. It is not only possible, it is essential and that is what Canada and the Lima Group are working for,” Freeland said in an interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

Freeland’s comments come after the Lima Group concluded a day-long emergency summit in Ottawa by proclaiming Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido a full member of the multi-nation group while reiterating its call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The group also called on the Venezuelan national armed forces to back Guaido.

Despite a couple of high-profile defections, Venezuela’s national armed forces have largely, to date, continued to back Maduro.

The military’s continued backing of Maduro doesn’t seem to shake Freeland’s conviction that a peaceful resolution is possible.

“What history shows, is once a leader of an authoritarian regime discovers that there are no alternatives, that is when you see the regime fracturing and that is when you see democracy restored and I am absolutely confident that is what will happen in Venezuela,” Freeland told host Vassy Kapelos when asked what gives her hope a peaceful transition is possible.

The Lima Group’s opposition to military intervention stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric coming both from the U.S. and from opposition leaders in Venezuela.

In a CBS interview that aired Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump said American military intervention is still an option on the table.

And today in Ottawa, Venezuelan opposition representative Julio Borges refused to rule out military intervention, saying he is “pro any measure that could bring Venezuela liberty.”

Former Canadian Ambassador to Venezuela Ben Rowswell highlighted Canada’s opposition to military intervention as particularly important.

“Transitions to democracy cannot be made at the barrel of a gun. They are done by the will of the citizens of the country, free from any kind of threat and free to make their own choices, not choices made by foreign soldiers,” Rowswell told Kapelos.

“I think the [Canadian] government’s shown some real backbone in their approach to Venezuela,” said Rowswell. “This is the first time, and I was a diplomat for 25 years — the first time that I’ve seen Canada openly disagree with the United States on a major issue in Latin America.”

On what may break the current stalemate, Rowswell said that Maduro is a “bitter ender.”

“He is likely to stay in power as long as he possibly can. So it really will depend on others in Maduro’s administration and in the security forces abandoning him and not he, himself, deciding to run off into the sunset,” said Rowswell.

Watch Vassy Kapelos’ full interview with Chrystia Freeland
‘I think what history shows is once a leader of an authoritarian regime discovers there are no alternatives, that is when you see democracy restored,’ says Freeland. 14:13





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Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX seeks creditor protection after founder's death

Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX seeks creditor protection after founder’s death


Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is due in court on Tuesday as it seeks creditor protection in the wake of the sudden death of its founder and chief executive in December and missing cryptocurrency worth roughly $190 million.

Vancouver-based QuadrigaCX says it filed an application for creditor protection on Jan. 31 and the Nova Scotia Supreme Court will be asked on Feb. 5 to appoint a monitor to oversee the proceedings.

In an affidavit, the widow of Gerald Cotten, Quadriga’s founder, CEO and sole director, said he died suddenly on Dec. 9 due to complications from Crohn’s disease.

Court filings show that after his death, Quadriga employees have been unable to locate or access roughly $190 million worth of digital money.

The company says in a statement that it has been trying to “locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves,” for several weeks, but “unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”

In Quadriga’s legal filings it says it currently owes roughly 115,000 users $70 million in currency, plus an additional $180 million worth of cryptocurrencies, based on market prices in December — most of which can’t be accessed.

Court documents show that Quadriga had been facing liquidity issues over the past year but a major issue arose in January 2018 when CIBC froze roughly $25.7 million of its funds held in the account of a third-party processor.



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Harassment, sexual assault among alleged misconduct by border agents investigated by CBSA

Harassment, sexual assault among alleged misconduct by border agents investigated by CBSA


The Canada Border Services Agency, which has the authority to detain and search Canadians and carry out deportations, investigated 1,200 allegations against its own staff over a two and a half year period from January 2016 to the middle of 2018.

Documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request describe a wide range of alleged offences among agency staff, including criminal association, excessive force and using “inappropriate sexual language.”

One staff member apparently created “a hit list for employees who crossed him.” Other allegations appear more minor, such as sleeping on the job or calling in sick to attend a wedding. 

The records released by the CBSA don’t show which allegations were found to be credible or what actions the agency took to address specific problems. 

They come from a database of internal investigations undertaken by CBSA in response to complaints about conduct.

The database provides a rare glimpse into how one of the largest policing bodies in the country handles complaints against its own. The CBSA remains the only major law enforcement body that has no outside oversight of staff conduct. 

Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk said the CBSA needs outside oversight. (John LeSavage/CBC)

“CBSA, for many years, has been a law unto itself,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk.

“It’s hard to imagine an organization with the size and the complexity and the amount of responsibility and authority of an agency like this would be completely without any kind of oversight.” 

50 categories of offenses

A CBC News analysis found 50 different categories of offenses. The largest number are filed under “neglect of duty,” with 228 total allegations, followed by 183 allegations of “discreditable conduct” while on duty. 

The agency also investigated 59 allegations of harassment, 38 allegations of “criminal association” and at least five allegations of sexual assault. 

Specific details are redacted in some cases but not all. For example, one employee was accused of “selling prohibited knives.” Another “may have conducted an unauthorized query of an ex-[girlfriend].”

Roughly, a quarter of misconduct cases involved multiple allegations, including a small number of cases with more than a dozen allegations each. 

 

There are reasons to believe the actual number of misconduct allegations against CBSA officers is far higher than what was disclosed to CBC News, according to Sandaluk. 

It can be difficult to convince people to file complaints, he said. Some people who come into contact with the CBSA over immigration issues decide not to file legitimate complaints about staff, fearing repercussions from the agency.

Temporary residents and visitors to Canada, Sandaluk said, “simply aren’t around long enough to make a complaint or to see that complaint through.”

“These allegations — as disturbing as they are —  probably only represent the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

They ‘kept kicking my back with their knees’

Lucy Granados, who was deported to Guatemala last year, alleges CBSA officers seriously injured her during an arrest. Granados arrived in Canada in 2009 and remained in Montreal after making a failed refugee claim.

When Granados applied for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, the border agency moved to deport her, sending four officers to her Montreal apartment building last year. 

Internal reports written by three of the arresting officers and obtained by CBC News from a group advocating on behalf of Granados indicate one officer wrote that some force was necessary because Granados would not surrender her hand to be cuffed.

Lucy Granados was deported to Guatemala last year. Granados said she was seriously injured during an arrest by CBSA agents prior to her deportation. (Dave St. Amant/CBC)

Granados, who didn’t file a complaint, said at least one CBSA officer violently pushed her to the ground and kneeled on her back while pulling on her arm. It’s unclear if her case was a part of the database.

“They pulled it backwards and kept kicking my back with their knees,” Granados said in a video-link interview with CBC News, speaking through a translator.

CBC News shared the reports, which are filed any time force is used during an arrest, with CBSA spokesperson Nicholas Dorion. 

“CBSA officers are trained in the use of force and are expected to follow all related CBSA rules and procedures,” Dorion said in an email.

“While unfortunate, CBSA officers do encounter circumstances where use of force is necessary.” 

Complaint to CBSA ‘doesn’t really lead anywhere’

Dorion would not say whether Granados’s removal prompted any internal investigation into staff conduct, citing privacy legislation.

“A specific individual’s file, including those from internal investigations resulting from an external complaint to the CBSA or from any alleged misconduct behaviour or other personnel security and professional standards issues reported by managers, is protected by these parameters,” Dorion said in an email.

Dr. Nazila Bettache reviewed Granados’s medical file and concluded she suffered a traumatic injury during her arrest. (Dave St. Amant/CBC)

Nazila Bettache, a Montreal-based physician and social justice activist who reviewed Granados’s medical file, said Granados suffered “a traumatic injury … which basically damaged the nerves in her cervical spine,” causing paralysis in her arm.

“Where is the accountability?” she said. “Who was there to … look after the situation and make sure that procedures are respected, that there is no abuse of power?”

Granados said she still suffers from a lack of feeling in her arm.

Advocates for undocumented workers who knew Granados when she lived in Montreal said they have so little faith in CBSA’s ability to police itself, they’ve encouraged her to pursue a complaint through the United Nations rather than with the CBSA.

“We have enough experience to know that making a complaint to the CBSA about the CBSA doesn’t really lead anywhere,” said Mary Foster of the group Solidarity Across Borders.

Mary Foster of the activist group Solidarity Across Borders says she has no faith in the CBSA’s complaint process. (Dave St Amant/CBC)

Even if Granados had filed a complaint, there’s no assurance it would appear in the numbers released by the CBSA.

Public complaints submitted online are initially filed separately, a CBSA spokesperson said. After review, the allegations may be reported to the Personnel Security and Professional Standards Division (PSPSD), in which case they would be added to the database.  

“Allegations are inputted in the database and are thoroughly investigated to determine whether they are founded,” a spokesperson said in an email. 

Liberals still promising legislation 

The Liberal government has been promising to introduce legislation to add an oversight process.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in 2016 that the lack of CBSA oversight was “a gap that definitely needs to be addressed.”

“CBSA officers processed 95 million travellers in 2017, and only a very small number of these interactions led to a formal complaint,” Goodale’s spokesperson, Scott Bardsley, said in an email. 

His office declined an interview request but said the minister is still committed to creating oversight legislation.

With an election looming this fall, however, it’s not clear any legislation could be passed before the current session of the House of Commons is finished.

“As long as you don’t create this agency, misconduct or harassment can occur on an ongoing basis, essentially unanswered,” Sandaluk said. 

If you have tips or story suggestions send them to diana.swain@cbc.ca or stephen.davis@cbc.ca



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Third person charged in horse neglect investigation west of Edmonton

Third person charged in horse neglect investigation west of Edmonton


A third person faces animal cruelty charges after an investigation of neglected horses on two properties near Evansburg.

The Alberta SPCA has laid an additional 27 charges under the Animal Protection Act.

Robert Cornell, 60, of the Evansburg area faces nine charges each of causing an animal to be in distress, failing to provide adequate food and water, and failing to provide adequate care when an animal is wounded or ill, the SPCA said Monday in a news release.

Patricia Lynn Moore, 48, and Ross Andrew Atkinson were each charged in January with the same 27 offences in connection with the investigation.

The Alberta SPCA said it received a complaint from a member of the public in December about numerous horses that were dead or in distress on a property in the Evansburg area.

The initial investigation led peace officers to a second property in the same area.

All three people charged in that case are scheduled to appear in Evansburg court on March 11.

Moore and Atkinson also face more than 60 Criminal Code animal cruelty charges following an RCMP investigation into conditions on a rural property in the same area.

They are scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 11 to face those charges.

Police have said that 65 horses and six dogs were taken from a property near Entwistle during that investigation.



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