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Canada considering if critical mineral exports to China should be limited: Wilkinson

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OTTAWA — Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the new critical minerals strategy published Friday doesn’t specifically bar Canadian mines from exporting critical minerals and metals to countries like China.

Nor will it prevent companies from taking advantage of any of the $3.8 billion in promised investments if they intend to ship the metals produced to non-democratic countries.

But Wilkinson said the federal government is looking at whether new policies are needed to limit where Canadian critical minerals can be exported.

“That is something that we are obviously live to and are discussing internally,” he said.

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The 58-page strategy is the culmination of several years of consultations and is intended to help Canada take advantage of what Wilkinson repeatedly calls a “generational opportunity.”

In 2020 the World Bank predicted that demand for critical minerals — dozens of metals and minerals like lithium and copper that are used in batteries and clean energy generation — will soar by 500 per cent by 2050.

Currently China is the powerhouse performer in the field as the top producer of a number of elements and the leader when it comes to refining and processing most of them for use in battery production and other technology manufacturing.

The need to solidify supplies of these minerals among Canada’s allies took on new urgency this year after the Russian invasion in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis in Europe, which has heavily depended on Russia for natural gas and oil.

Wilkinson said that was a strategic mistake that should not be repeated with critical minerals.

“Western countries are increasingly concerned about being dependent on a small number of non-democratic jurisdictions for critical mineral supply and processing,” he said.

Earlier this fall, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced a policy to review and limit the investments of state-owned enterprises in Canadian critical mineral projects. Three Chinese companies have been ordered to divest their Canadian holdings so far, and at least one of those sales has now happened.

On Dec. 2, Australian firm Winsome Resources signed a $2-million deal to buy the stake China-based Sinomine Rare Metals Resources held in Vancouver-based Power Metals. That includes the rights to export lithium, cesium and tantalum at the Case Lake Project in Ontario.

That project is still in development. But Sinomine is also the owner of the Tanco mine in Manitoba, which a year ago began producing lithium again. All of it is being shipped to China for processing.

Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of Canada, said export controls would be “a very heavy stick,” but given the huge demand all over the world he does not expect it would be a major problem to find other customers.

“None of us in our industry are blind to the fact that the world is changing,” Gratton said.

“I think I’ve heard deputy prime minister (Chrystia) Freeland say we’re re-entering some kind of new Cold War. And that is definitely going to change investment and trade flows; it already has. And we’ll just have to see how it evolves.”

Gratton had high praise for the new strategy Friday, calling it a thorough and articulate road map that will help drive investment to the Canadian mining industry.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for the industry,” he said. “It’s hard not to feel pretty optimistic about this.”

The strategy has five broad objectives — economic growth, climate action, advancing reconciliation, ensuring a diverse workforce and global security.

Canada has deposits of most of the 31 critical minerals on its list, but is choosing in its strategy to initially focus on the six with the greatest potential for growth.

Those include lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and the group of 17 metals and minerals known as rare earth elements.

There are already significant mining operations in nickel, copper and cobalt, as well as smaller graphite operations.

Canada is not a commercial producer of rare earth elements, though it does have some of the largest-known deposits. The Tanco mine in Manitoba is the only lithium mine operating now, but at least one more is on tap to reopen in Quebec next year.

The strategy and the $3.8 billion investments in the 2022 federal budget are designed to encourage new exploration, expedite regulatory and environmental reviews, build infrastructure where needed to support the discovery of new deposits, and build equity partnerships with Indigenous people.

Sharleen Gale, chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation and chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, said every mine and battery mineral processing facility must include “meaningful” partnership with the affected First Nations.

She said the coalition appreciates the strategy but is encouraging the government to go even further.

“This includes taking measures to ensure that proponents of battery mineral infrastructure approach Indigenous nations in the earliest stages of these projects, and that an option for equity is always part of the proposed critical battery mineral projects on Indigenous lands,” she said.

Clean Energy Canada says the battery supply chain opportunities could contribute up to $48 billion a year to Canada’s economy by 2030 and support as many as 250,000 jobs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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Canada province experiments with decriminalising hard drugs – BBC

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Needles of drugs being preparedGetty Images

Canada’s province of British Columbia is starting a first-in-the-nation trial decriminalising small amounts of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

From Tuesday, adults can possess up to 2.5g of such drugs, as well as methamphetamine, fentanyl and morphine.

Canada’s federal government granted the request by the west coast province to try out the three-year experiment.

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It follows a similar policy in the nearby US state of Oregon, which decriminalised hard drugs in 2020.

Ahead of the pilot’s launch, British Columbia and federal officials outlined the rules under the federally approved exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

While those substances will remain illegal, adults found in possession of a combined total of less than 2.5g of the drugs will not be arrested, charged or have their substances seized. Instead, they will be offered information on available health and social services.

Federal minister of mental health and addictions Carolyn Bennett on Monday called the move “a monumental shift in drug policy that favours fostering trusting and supportive relationships in health and social services over further criminalisation”.

Some 10,000 residents have died from drug overdoses since British Columbia declared drugs to be a public health emergency in 2016, officials said.

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“Decriminalising people who use drugs breaks down the fear and shame associated with substance use and ensures they feel safer reaching out for life-saving supports,” said Jennifer Whiteside, the British Columbia minister for mental health and addictions.

Thousands of police officers in the province have been offered training on the rule change, including those in Vancouver, the largest city in the province.

The programme will run from 31 January 2023 until 31 January 2026, unless it is revoked by the federal government.

Some experts have questioned the 2.5g limit, saying that it is not enough to account for the habits of many addicts.

There are some exemptions to the scheme.

The sale of drugs remains illegal. It is also illegal to possess drugs on the grounds of schools, childcare facilities and airports.

Canada legalised the use of recreational cannabis for adults nationwide in 2018.

But the four drugs now allowed in small quantities remain prohibited, meaning there are no plans to sell them in stores, unlike marijuana. Trafficking them across borders also remains illegal.

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Health Canada reviewing safety of controversial breastfeeding drug – CBC.ca

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Health Canada has launched a safety review of the psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping or reducing use of a drug commonly prescribed to help women breastfeed.

The agency confirmed the review in an email to CBC News.

“A safety review is currently under way for domperidone and drug withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing the dose of domperidone used to stimulate lactation,” the statement said. 

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Domperidone is approved in Canada to treat gastrointestinal disorders. Health Canada has never authorized its use as a lactation aid, but it is widely prescribed off-label for this purpose. 

The Health Canada review follows a CBC News investigation into severe psychological effects that can occur when some women stop taking the drug. Women who spoke to CBC described anxiety, lack of sleep and thoughts of self-harm severe enough that in some cases they became incapable of caring for their children or returning to work. One woman described multiple attempts to take her own life. 

CBC’s investigation also found domperidone is prescribed by some doctors to stimulate lactation at doses three to five times higher than what is recommended by both Health Canada and the drug manufacturer. Because this is not an approved use or dosage anywhere in the world, there are no large-scale clinical trials that shed any light on how often these side effects occur. 

This makes it challenging for regulators like Health Canada to evaluate the safety of a drug for an off-label purpose, said Mina Tadrous, an assistant professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto who specializes in drug safety.

Toronto pharmacist Mina Tadrous says it is challenging for regulators to evaluate the safety of a drug used for off-label purpose. (CBC)

“The company may not have intended it for that, so the original clinical trials were not designed for that. And so it means that they have to look at different mechanisms to be able to evaluate the safety of these drugs,” he said.

That can include looking at data from other countries with larger populations, according to Tadrous.

Case studies document concerns

There are, however, case studies documenting the withdrawal effects, including three published in November 2022 in the peer-reviewed journal Breastfeeding Medicine. Domperidone blocks dopamine receptors in the brain, which stimulates the release of prolactin. This causes lactation, the authors note, but can also cause domperidone to act as an antipsychotic. The authors also noted withdrawal symptoms are typically less severe when women taper off the drug slowly.

The most recent case studies are from the United States, where domperidone is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for any purpose. CBC’s investigation found some American women get the drug from doctors in Canada.

Health Canada will review “all relevant domestic and foreign case reports,” the statement said.

Reviews can result in Health Canada requesting more information, studies or monitoring by the manufacturer. They can also result in warnings to patients and health care providers, changes to how a drug is labelled or, if necessary, the withdrawal of a drug from the market “if the benefits no longer outweigh the risks of the product,” according to the statement released by the department.

“The decision to take action, including issuing a warning, is not based solely on the number of case reports, but on a comprehensive assessment of the information contained in these case reports,” Health Canada’s statement said. 

“Should new safety risks be confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action and continue to keep Canadians informed.”

WATCH | Women report alarming withrawal effects after taking domperidone as a lactation aid:

Women report alarming withdrawal effects from drug prescribed for breastfeeding

2 months ago

Duration 7:08

WARNING: This story contains distressing details about suicidal thoughts and attempts. Correction: A previous version of this video included inaccurate Health Canada data about the number of domperidone prescriptions that were filled in 2020. That publicly available data has since been updated to show that 1.7 million prescriptions were filled that year.

The distinction between quantity and quality of reports is important, Tadrous said, because large numbers of reports, especially from non-clinicians, may only indicate people believe there’s a connection between a drug and a reaction. 

“That’s the lesson we’ve learned with vaccines, for example, where these adverse event systems are flooded,” he said.

“And so if you base something just on the number of reports without doing a thorough investigation and a different type of study design that reduces bias … you might reach a false conclusion.”

Health Canada has conducted multiple safety reviews of domperidone, most recently in 2021. Previous reviews confirmed the risk of serious abnormal heart rhythms and sudden cardiac death related to domperidone use. These reviews resulted in Health Canada introducing a maximum daily dose recommendation of 30 mg and restricting its use in patients with certain cardiac conditions or taking other drugs.

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The Holocaust strikes our very being

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Holocaust

To be a Jew is not something special,
being a human being is normal.
Dealing with prejudice, hatred, and oppressive action,
now that’s something special for the Jewish Nation.

Oppression, hatred, and genocide besides,
is not just a Jewish person’s situation.
Armenian, Cambodian and Jewish Peoples deal,
with a national eradication event.

People of the world unit,
genocide is an international delight.
Oppress your people, crush opposition too.
The elites of the world are making exceptions for you.

Don’t be weak, allowing excuses to be made,
but lift your hands in justice’s cruel wave.
Hatred knows no reasonability, it knows no mercy.
Hatred, oppression, and prejudice need no exception.

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Long ago Jews were murdered by the millions,
Cambodians died at the hands of their neighbors.
Palestine still walks within the borders of other nations,
and peace is nowhere to be found, my friend.

If your arms are in righteous ways demand justice for all,
for the people who hate will not see our peaceful ways.
A gun, a bayonet, and a saber be brought,
for the right to justice begins today,
and ends with blood if the opposition has any say.

Gandhi spoke of peaceful ways,
while Martin Luther Jr surrendered his life. to the cause.
Young blacks die each and every day,
while the power of prejudice wins the day.

My first lifts in anger that is for sure,
while the average person just shrugs this day.
But the goose-stepping troops may one day march on,
and the ignorance that prevails will let them carry on.

Open our eyes to the wrongs before us,
clear our minds and accept what bothers us.
Injustice is a prevailing horrid thing,
and ONLY YOU CAN BRING IT TO AN END.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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