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Baby Bibs And Blankets In Canada Contain Toxic Chemicals: Report

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OTTAWA — Baby bibs, mats and blankets tested by scientists with NAFTA’s environmental arm contain toxic chemicals linked to higher rates of cancer, infertility and suppressed immune systems — substances already banned from most other products in Canada.

Muhannad Malas, the toxics program manager at Environmental Defence, says the Commission for Environmental Co-operation study shows it’s time to do away with the federal exemptions that allow the use of such chemicals in clothes and other textiles.

And Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s ongoing review of Canada’s law that governs toxic chemical use offers a perfect opportunity to address concerns raised by the study, Malas said in an interview.

Chemicals were banned … but not in baby products

The chemicals, known broadly as PFAS, are synthetic substances created mostly in the 1950s for a number of purposes in consumer and industrial products, such as non-stick surfaces and stain, water and fire resistance.

The chemicals can leach into waterways and drinking water sources when products that contain them are washed or get wet outdoors, said Malas. They can also be ingested through contaminated water or absorbed through the skin or the mouth, he added.

Canada banned the use, manufacture and import of the chemicals in 2016 after research began linking them to increased incidence of cancer, infertility and immune system suppression. However, a number of products were exempted, including infant bibs and blankets, outerwear and sportswear, like cycling jackets and weightlifting gloves.

Results were “alarming”

Last summer, scientists with the Commission for Environmental Co-operation tested 137 different products in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to determine the prevalence of the substances, which are not routinely tested for in clothing items.

“The results are quite alarming,” said Malas.

Overall, the chemicals were found in 94 of the 137 products; of the 43 products that were purchased in Canada, 37 of them contained at least one PFAS.

All six Canadian baby bibs tested contained at least one form of the chemicals; one contained nine, which Malas said raises concerns that Canada’s existing laws don’t account for the potential cumulative impact of being exposed to multiple forms at the same time.

All four of the baby blankets and waterproof mats purchased in Canada contained at least one PFAS chemical, as did all 11 outdoor kids’ jackets, all 20 outdoor adult jackets, 10 of the 11 snowsuits and winter gloves, and all three cycling and weightlifting gloves.

The government is open to “meaningful changes”

Malas said he hopes the report will give McKenna ammunition to include the chemicals in next month’s review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which governs Canada’s laws for pollution and chemicals and comes up for review every five years.

Last June, the House of Commons environment committee made 87 recommendations to McKenna, some of which would address chemicals like PFAS by requiring better management and monitoring. The committee also recommended Environment Canada require an assessment of the cumulative impact of repeated, prolonged exposure.

A spokeswoman for McKenna said the government is “open to meaningful changes” to the act and the minister is considering every one of the recommendations made by the committee. A report detailing McKenna’s plans is due for release next month.

Products’ labelling makes them seem safer than they are

Most of the products were made in China, but several were made in Canada, the study found. “We’re not just talking about imported products where people usually think it’s harder to control toxic chemicals.”

Many of the products were labelled as being organic cotton, BPA-free or lead-free, making them seem safer to consumers than may actually be the case, Malas warned.

“This is the kind of information the public needs to know about,” he said. “They have a right to know.”

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Pipeline protesters defy eviction order, say they'll meet with officials

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Kwitsel Tatel, left, speaks to media during a press conference at Camp Cloud near the entrance of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday July 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms

BEN NELMS/The Canadian Press

Protesters at an anti-pipeline camp in Burnaby, B.C., say they will meet with officials to discuss safety measures, but they will not comply with a city-issued evacuation order.

The City of Burnaby says there are safety concerns surrounding “Camp Cloud,” including a two-storey wooden watch house and a fire that protesters describe as sacred and ceremonial.

Protest organizer Kwitsel Tatel says the participants will not leave, nor will they extinguish their fire.

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Tatel suggests the structures around the camp’s sacred fire could be modified, if only to refocus the attention away from the physical camp and back to the anti-pipeline protest.

She adds that snuffing out the fire would constitute a breaking of both B.C. Supreme Court and Coast Salish law.

The protesters say the city’s notice, which was issued on Wednesday and expired early Saturday, was written without adequate consideration of a recent court decision or consultation with camp residents.

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2 Uncle Ben's rice varieties recalled in eastern Canada

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Mars Food Canada is voluntarily recalling select Uncle Ben's rice products, including its Fast & Fancy Broccoli and Cheddar, and Country Chicken flavoured rice, after learning about possible salmonella contamination in the seasoning pouches in both products. The recall only affects products sold in eastern Canada.

In a statement, the company said it is conducting the recalls "out of an abundance of caution."

"We are working with a limited number of impacted retailers in eastern Canada to have the product removed from store shelves," it said.

The company said while the majority of affected products have already retrieved, customers should check any packages of rice featuring any of the lot codes listed here. It says affected products should not be consumed.

The recall comes amid a flurry of food product recalls affecting Loblaws and Ritz products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Saturday it is recalling Ritz bits sandwich crackers and No Name chicken nuggets for risk of salmonella contamination.

The breaded nuggets, offered at Maxi, Provigo, AXEP and Intermarché grocery stores in Quebec, were sold in boxes of 907 grams with the best before date "2019 MA 15."

The recalled Ritz crackers were sold in packs of 180 grams, 30 X 42 grams and 42 grams. The best before dates are November 2018 to March 2019. 

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Fiat Chrysler chooses Jeep exec Mike Manley to replace ailing CEO Marchionne

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Fiat Chrysler Automobile announced Saturday that CEO Sergio Marchionne's health had suddenly deteriorated following surgery and that its board of directors had chosen Jeep executive Mike Manley to replace him.

Marchionne, a 66-year-old Italian-Canadian, joined Fiat in 2004 and led the Turin-based company's merger with bankrupt U.S. carmaker Chrysler. Manley, 54, had been heading the Jeep brand since June 2009 and the Ram brand from October 2015.

The announcement, at the end of an urgently convened board meeting, marked the end of the Marchionne era, which included the turnaround of failing Fiat, the takeover of bankrupt U.S. automaker Chrysler and the spinoffs of the heavy machinery and truck maker CNH and supercar maker Ferrari.

Fiat Chrysler said in a statement that due to his deteriorating health Marchionne "will be unable to return to work."

Marchionne, 66, had already announced he would step down in early 2019, so the board's decision, to be confirmed at an upcoming shareholders' meeting, will "accelerate" the CEO transition process, the statement said.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, left, is seen with Jeep brand President and CEO Mike Manley at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant, in Detroit. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

The British-born Manley had been one of Marchionne's closest collaborators at the group, and in a previous role had been responsible for product planning and all sales activities outside of North America.

Marchionne was reported to have had surgery for a shoulder problem about three weeks ago in Switzerland.

Fiat is considered a close-knit family, and FCA chairman John Elkann said he was "profoundly saddened to learn of Sergio's state of health. It was a situation that was unthinkable until a few hours ago, and one that leaves us all with a sense of injustice."

Elkann didn't give details of Marchionne's health problems, adding that his "first thoughts go to Sergio and his family." He asked everyone to respect Marchionne's "privacy and that of all those who are dear to him."

Elkann is a grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli, the longtime Fiat dynasty chieftain.

The boards of Ferrari and CNH Industrial, which makes heavy machinery and trucks, were called urgently to meet on Saturday in Turin, Fiat's headquarters.

Ferrari announced that Louis Camilleri, an Egyptian-board Maltese and longtime executive at Philip Morris International, the tobacco company, was chosen to replace Marchionne as CEO of the sports car maker. 

A Fiat Chrysler sign is seen outside the Chrysler World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., in this file photo. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Known for sleeping only briefly each night, Marchionne, who is also a lawyer, was holding multiple leadership roles in the companies, notably as CEO of FCA — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as well as CEO and chairman of Ferrrari.

In early June, Marchionne made his last major presentation as CEO of Fiat Chrysler. On that occasion he announced there would be a major investment thrust to make more electrified cars, although traditional engines will continue to dominate production. He unveiled FCA's plans through 2022.

Brands that have been driving the company's revenues include Jeep SUVs, Ram trucks and the premium brands, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Those brands were expected to account for 80 per cent of revenues by 2022, compared to 65 per cent currently.

The passenger-car brands of Fiat and Chrysler have been less profitable.

At the June appearance, Marchionne also predicted Fiat was about to eliminate its debt.

Next corporate results are set to be released on July 25.

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