EDMONTON — The federal natural resources minister said Tuesday that concerns from the auditor general’s office about government plans to move to a more hydrogen-powered economy don’t mean the goals aren’t achievable.
But Jonathan Wilkinson acknowledged Ottawa has much work to do to bring the provinces along with the government’s emissions reduction plan. And he said the federal government is prepared to move on its own, with measures such as bringing in a supply mandate for electric vehicles.
“We think it’s feasible,” he said in Edmonton, where he was attending a conference on hydrogen power.
“We will be launching a process with the provinces over the next several weeks to align on some of these economic issues.”
On Tuesday, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development – part of the auditor general’s office – released a series of reports evaluating the Liberal government’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The commissioner questioned government projections that hydrogen could cut up to 45 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030. The report says Natural Resources Canada’s estimates are founded on doubtful cost estimates and depend on legislation that doesn’t exist yet, or at least isn’t consistent across the country.
The government plan, for example, assumes electric vehicle supply mandates will be in place everywhere. Only British Columbia and Quebec have rules to ensure vehicle dealerships have zero-emission cars and trucks in stock.
The commissioner’s report also points out that there’s no regulation or rule forcing natural gas suppliers to blend in hydrogen, on which the reduction plan counts heavily.
But Wilkinson said his department’s estimates are based on what’s possible.
Separate modelling conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada, on which the emissions reduction plan is based, uses more conservative assumptions.
“(The estimates) were intended for two different purposes,” Wilkinson said.
Commissioner Jerry DeMarco said even Environment Canada’s prediction of a 15-megatonne reduction from hydrogen is a stretch.
But he acknowledged the figures from Wilkinson’s department were intended to show what could be done.
“The strategy is overly optimistic, but it actually is looking at what needs to be done. Our criticism is that you can’t just assume that those changes are going to happen.
“(The government) could be right that this transformative scenario will happen, but they’ve got to actually put in place the programs.”
We’re working on it, Wilkinson said.
“There are some issues where you work with the provinces and (carbon capture) is part of that. There are some things the federal government can do on its own.”
Expect a supply mandate – where manufacturers are required to have a certain number of electric vehicles for sale – in the coming weeks, he said.
“We will be bringing that into place at a national level and auto manufacturers that supply every province will have to comply with that.”
Such measures in B.C. and Quebec already contribute to the higher level of zero-emission vehicles purchased in those provinces, Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson said the price gap between natural gas and hydrogen will be narrowed through a combination of carbon taxes, industry commitments and new technology. He said a U.S. program, with which Canada is working, aims to bring the price of hydrogen down to $2 a kilogram by 2030 — a narrow enough gap to close with carbon pricing.
“Yes, there is work to do on technology, yes there is work to do on building out demand.
“But all you need to do is go to (Tuesday’s) hydrogen conference and see how many of the large corporate players are here talking about projects they’re already investing in.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2022.
— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960
Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Montreal sauna suspected origin of Canada’s monkeypox outbreak: doctors – Global News
The country’s first two cases were reported by Quebec public health officials on May 19.
Dr. Robert Pilarski, a general physician in Montreal, who treated one of those patients last week, said the individual likely got the virus from a sauna he recently visited.
“He actually got it from G.I. Joe. So this is the suspected epicentre of the epidemic,” Pilarski told Global News.
Another doctor, who did not wish to be identified, also said the source of Montreal’s monkeypox outbreak was Sauna G.I. Joe.
Government officials have so far stayed clear of confirming the origin of monkeypox in Canada due to concerns of privacy and stigmatization.
“As it was the case with COVID-19, we never confirm publicly outbreaks for both privacy and identification matters,” Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal public health, told Global News in an emailed response.
“Rest assured that we always intervene directly with businesses or settings where an outbreak occurs or where our investigation could lead us,” Aube added.
Quebec confirms 25 cases of monkeypox, plans to administer vaccine
Despite multiple attempts and inquiries from Global News about health regulations and tracing measures, there was no response from Sauna G.I. Joe by the time of publication.
Recent cases of monkeypox around the world have researchers scrambling to find out how the virus is spreading in countries that typically don’t see it.
Monkeypox, a rare zoonotic infectious disease, is usually found in certain parts of Africa, where it is endemic.
What started out as a small cluster of cases in Quebec is now being called a “serious outbreak” of the virus by provincial health officials.
As of Thursday, 25 cases have been confirmed in the province and about 20 to 30 suspected cases are under investigation.
The majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied to men aged between 20 and 30 years, who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually-transmitted infection, but the virus can survive on surfaces such as bedding and is transmitted through prolonged close contact.
“It’s not sexual activity as such that transmits it. It’s skin-to-skin contact that transmits it as far as we know at this moment,” said Dr. Michael Libman, a tropical disease expert and professor of medicine and infectious disease at McGill University.
Scientists trying to identify origins of Monkeypox cases detected in Canada
Stigmatization and transparency
Cases of monkeypox started emerging in Europe earlier this month.
Montreal public health said it had alerted physicians about a week before the first cases were confirmed. It also contacted “local actors” and communicated advice on hand hygiene and environmental cleaning procedures, Aubé said.
According to social media posts, Sauna G.I. Joe hosted a sex party on May 19, the same day Canada confirmed its first cases of monkeypox.
During a press conference on Thursday, Quebec public health officials said they do not think it’s necessary to single out locations over fears of “stigmatization,” adding that there are now measures in place.
“The enemy is the virus, not the people affected,” said Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s interim public health.
However, experts stress that there should be greater transparency and omitting key public health information can be problematic.
Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection, WHO says
David Brennan, research chair in gay and bisexual men’s health at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), believes not disclosing information can have a negative impact on the community.
Hiding information could be interpreted as “men having sex with men is bad,” said Brennan.
There needs to be a culture shift and harm-reduction approach as has been the case in the past with sexually-transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS, added Nolan Hill, gay men’s health specialist at the Center for Sexuality in Calgary, Alta.
“I think it really does speak to this broader culture where we’re uncomfortable with the idea of sex and we’re uncomfortable talking about sex,” he said.
What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?
Outside of Quebec, only one other case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Toronto.
On Saturday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) identified two locations connected to possible cases of monkeypox: Axis Club and Woody’s bar.
Kerry Bowman, a professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, said these details matter, especially when it comes to higher risk settings.
“I would argue it is important to identify where it is coming from because if you don’t then people are not in a position to protect themselves,” he said.
However, disclosing that information comes with the “added responsibility” of not feeding into any prejudice, Bowman added.
Federal public health officials are working to finalize and release guidance on case identification, contact tracing, isolation as well as infection prevention and control.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says this updated guidance will be released in the next few days.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday mass vaccinations are not yet needed, but people can avoid infection by maintaining physical distance, masking and hand hygiene.
Monkeypox: 26 confirmed cases in Quebec, Ontario, officials recommend physical distancing
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Supreme Court of Canada to rule on sentencing for Quebec City mosque shooter
The high court decision in Alexandre Bissonnette’s case will determine the constitutionality of a key provision on parole eligibility in multiple murder convictions.
Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six charges of first-degree murder in the January 2017 assault that took place just after evening prayers.
In 2019, Bissonnette successfully challenged a 2011 law that allowed a court, in the event of multiple murders, to impose a life sentence and parole ineligibility periods of 25 years to be served consecutively for each murder.
A judge found the provision unconstitutional but did not declare it invalid, ultimately ruling Bissonnette must wait 40 years before applying for parole.
Quebec’s Court of Appeal struck down the sentencing provision on constitutional grounds and said the parole ineligibility periods should be served concurrently, meaning a total waiting period of 25 years in Bissonnette’s case.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
‘Always hope’: Remains of Cree woman sent home to Alberta decades after disappearance
Violet Soosay’s search for her missing aunt began four decades ago.
The pursuit took her to parts of Alberta and B.C. and down paths of uncertainty as weeks, months and years passed without word of Shirley Ann Soosay.
On Friday, about 43 years after she was last heard from, the body of Shirley Ann Soosay is expected to be returned to her home community of Samson Cree Nation, south of Edmonton.
Her remains had been buried in a California cemetery in 1980 under the name Kern County Jane Doe. Last spring, the county sheriff’s office identified the remains as belonging to 35-year-old Soosay.
Violet Soosay has worked since then with the county coroner’s office and the California cemetery to transport the body back to Alberta.
“Now there’s closure. There’s healing that can start happening,” Violet Soosay said in a phone interview.
The website for the American non-profit group DNA Doe Project says the Jane Doe’s body was found in an almond orchard near Bakersfield, Calif., in July 1980. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed.
Wilson Chouest was convicted of killing the Jane Doe, along with another unidentified woman in 2018.
Violet Soosay said she last saw her aunt in 1977 at a family funeral. She remembers her as caring, supportive and a free spirit.
“That was my constant memory that I kept because it gave me that sense of connection,” she said.
Shirley Ann Soosay was close with her mother and had maintained regular contact with her, whether it was through holiday cards or letters, said Violet Soosay. The last correspondence came in 1979.
“After that, she just disappeared. Nobody knew. My grandmother was very frantic and heartbroken. She knew something happened.”
A few years later, Violet Soosay said she promised her grandmother she would bring Shirley Ann Soosay home. Her grandmother died in 1991.
In early 2020, Violet Soosay said she came across an artist’s rendering of the Jane Doe on a Facebook post from the DNA Doe Project. She believed the woman was her aunt.
The volunteer organization formed in 2017 to help identify unidentified deceased persons using forensic genealogy. The Kern County Sheriff-Coroner Division contacted the project in 2018 hoping to determine the identity of its Jane Doe.
Dawn Ratliff, the coroner division chief, said her office set up tip lines and worked with media to broadcast stories hoping to identify the woman, but every effort led to a dead end.
“In all the years that we had her, we never received a single inquiry. And at that point I just knew she wasn’t local. But I just didn’t know where she would be from.”
Ratliff said when she eventually heard from Violet Soosay, she asked her to submit a DNA sample. It was processed and compared to DNA they had from the remains. The two were a familial match.
Violet Soosay said that when she got the call with the results, she was flooded with years of emotions, including frustration, anger and elation.
“It was a crazy moment when I found out that she was my aunty.”
The family is planning to bury Shirley Ann Soosay in a cemetery at Samson Cree Nation.
Violet Soosay said bikers are supposed to follow her aunt’s casket from a funeral home in Wetaskiwin to her final resting place. There will also be a wake with traditional drumming.
Before the body was disinterred in California, the Tule River Tribe performed a ceremony there with prayers and drumming, added Ratliff.
“To be able to restore her name has really been tremendous,” she said.
Violet Soosay said she is grateful for the support and work of Ratliff, investigators and those involved with confirming the identity of her aunt’s remains.
She said she also has a message for Indigenous families with missing loved ones: “There’s always hope. There’s always some way to bring them home.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
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