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Climate change voted Canadian Press’ news story of the year for 2019 – Global News

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In late September, hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets across the country to demand more from their governments on climate change.

It was one of the largest mass protests in Canadian history, adding maple flavours to an international climate strike movement founded around Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

It was also a sign, many in the environment movement believed, of Canada’s climate-change coming of age.

“2019 was like the year of climate awakening for Canada,” says Catherine Abreu, the head of Climate Action Network Canada.

READ MORE: ‘Catastrophic’– Canada set to miss 2030 emissions target by 15%, UN report says

It was a year that saw warnings Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, the imposition of a national price on pollution, a vote in Parliament to declare a climate emergency and a federal election in which climate was one of the few real issues to make its way through the din of nasty politics.

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Climate change was chosen in a survey of reporters and editors across the country as the 2019 Canadian Press News Story of the Year.






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U.N. climate summit grinds to a close after talks go into overtime


U.N. climate summit grinds to a close after talks go into overtime

“I don’t think it can be anything but climate change,” said Toronto Star senior editor Julie Carl. “It is gripping our attention, our reality and our imagination.”

A decade ago, climate change was more academic than reality, but in recent years few Canadians haven’t been touched directly by the kind of weather climate change may be causing: floods, fires, major storms, cold snaps, heat waves, longer winters, shorter growing seasons. In June, when Parliament voted to declare that we are facing a climate crisis, it came as parts of eastern Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick were bailing out from the second once-a-century flood in three years.


READ MORE:
‘Quick wins’ needed to reduce emissions, keep climate goals within reach: UN report

In the survey, climate change had stiff competition, barely beating out the SNC-Lavalin saga, which itself had to fight its way into second ahead of the Toronto Raptors’ NBA title. In western Canada, many votes were cast for the hunt for two men who murdered a couple and another man in British Columbia before fleeing to the muskeg of northern Manitoba, where they would take their own lives.

But for many editors, the decision to rank climate change No. 1 comes both from the impact it had in 2019 and its expected dominance in our lives in the future.

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“There’s no bigger story than the human-made altering of our own planet — even if you don’t believe it,” said Paul Harvey, senior editor at the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun.






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Climate change protesters demonstrate in Amsterdam airport, dragged out by police


Climate change protesters demonstrate in Amsterdam airport, dragged out by police

Canada’s new environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, ran for office in large part because he wanted to do something to address climate change, a problem, he said in a recent interview, that “is a defining issue of our time.”

It is also a defining issue for the Liberal government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ran on a promise to ramp up Canada’s environment policies in 2015, including setting a path to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and fix Canada’s environmental review process for major projects.


READ MORE:
Canadians want to stop climate change — but half don’t want to pay an extra cent: Ipsos poll

But the government’s decision first to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and then spend $4.5 billion to buy the existing pipeline when political opposition threatened to derail the project, left environment advocates disappointed and room for his political critics to pounce.

“You. Bought. A. Pipeline,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh countered in a news release, when Trudeau unveiled his climate plans during the election campaign and promised to lead the way to a greener country.






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Greta Thunberg denounces world leaders’ ‘creative PR’ in climate flight at UN summit


Greta Thunberg denounces world leaders’ ‘creative PR’ in climate flight at UN summit

Climate change is also at the heart of the anger driving talk of western alienation _ and in the most extreme cases, separation _ as oilpatch workers, and others who depend on the oilpatch for their jobs, fear for their futures.

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It leaves any government in Canada with a true conundrum: how to reduce emissions drastically without tanking an economy where oil, gas, manufacturing, and transportation are key. Unlike some small European nations, Canadians live far apart, in cities built around the automobile, and in places where heating and electricity needs in the winter months are high.


READ MORE:
Is the Liberal climate plan achievable?

The political fight between Ottawa and the provinces over how best to manage climate change is a big part of the story and Canadians seem to want them both to win. Two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties advocating for carbon taxes while an equal number voted for parties that promised to complete the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“The vast majority of Canadians said, ‘We want aggressive action on climate’ but the vast majority of Canadians also are pragmatic in terms of saying, ‘But we want to do this in a frame of doing this in a prosperous economy,’ ” Wilkinson said recently in an interview with The Canadian Press.






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Blindfolded Extinction Rebellion demonstrators protest at UN Climate Conference


Blindfolded Extinction Rebellion demonstrators protest at UN Climate Conference

In 2019, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta took Ottawa to court over the federal carbon tax. The first two already lost in their provincial courts of appeal and are appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta ‘s case is on this week.

Ottawa’s new environmental-assessment process for major projects makes climate change one of the considerations. It is one of the most hated bills in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where governments believe it will mean no new pipelines ever get built in Canada. For environment leaders, that is not a bad thing. For the energy sector, it’s a death knell.

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READ MORE:
Climate change activists block bridges, cause traffic chaos across Canada

Several watchers also think not having a full climate plan helped sink Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s election efforts.

Valerie Casselton, managing editor at the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province, said it “arguably” cost Scheer the election “in a year when the Liberals faced scandal after scandal but managed to rally by climbing onto their green platform planks.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Mass quarantines won’t happen in Canada if coronavirus is discovered: authorities – Global News

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Canadians have no need to worry about the prospect of mass quarantines, even in the likely event the coronavirus is discovered here, public health authorities said on Friday.

They said scary images coming from a now isolated Wuhan, a Chinese city with 11 million people, will not be repeated here.

“Absolutely not,” Dr. Peter Donnelly, with Public Health Ontario, said. “If a case comes here, and it is probably likely that we will have a case here, it will still be business as normal.”


READ MORE:
China scrambles to build 1,000-bed hospital dedicated to coronavirus patients

In addition to Wuhan, where the virus outbreak has been concentrated, China has shut transportation in at least 12 other cities home to more than 36 million people. Bustling streets, malls and other public spaces have turned eerily quiet, masks are mandatory in public, and some hospitals have run low on medical supplies.

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Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, urged people to consult credible information sources on the outbreak. Good places include websites of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario and Toronto Public Health, she said.

“I ask members of the public to rely on evidence-informed, credible sources of information when you’re looking for updates,” de Villa said.

So far, the coronavirus is reported to have killed more than two dozen people and made hundreds of others ill. Symptoms can mirror those of the cold and flu, including cough, fever, chest tightening and shortness of breath, but can worsen to pneumonia.

While no cases have been reported in Canada, concerns about the virus have stirred memories of the SARS outbreak in 2003 that killed 44 Canadians and saw Toronto turn temporarily into something of an international pariah after the World Health Organization issued a travel advisory warning people to avoid the city.

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Donnelly said the situation is now very different from what it was then. Authorities, he said, are much better prepared than they were for SARS: Communications are more robust, hospitals have better isolation facilities, and a reliable test is available to detect the coronavirus within 24 hours.






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20 million in China under lockdown as coronavirus spreads


20 million in China under lockdown as coronavirus spreads

“This was a disease unknown to science only two weeks ago and we now have the full genetic fingerprint of the virus and we have a test, which is specific and reliable,” Donnelly said. “In situations like this, speed and certainty are both very important.”

Health officials were also working with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to develop an even quicker test.

The federal government has beefed up measures at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Visitors are now being asked about any travel to Wuhan in the past 14 days and a positive response would trigger further investigation.


READ MORE:
France confirms 2 cases of coronavirus as U.S. announces 2nd

Ontario Health Minister Christine Eliott said border agents will decide if a traveller needs an immediate medical assessment and treatment. An ambulance would take the person from the airport directly to hospital. Fact sheets are also being prepared, she said.

De Villa stressed the importance of good hygiene to prevent virus transmission. Simple steps include washing hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re ill.

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While the World Health Organization has decided for now against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, Donnelly said public health authorities were still working to ensure any cases here are dealt with effectively.






3:53
Wuhan lock-down over coronavirus leads to empty streets, train stations


Wuhan lock-down over coronavirus leads to empty streets, train stations

“We are not complacent, we’re working extremely hard on this but we are quietly confident that we can handle this,” Donnelly said.

Canada’s chief medical officer has said the chances of a outbreak here were low. Health officials note the common cold comes from the same family as the latest coronavirus and that influenza virus kills thousands of Canadians every year.

On Friday, Quebec health officials said coronavirus tests on six travellers from China under observation in Montreal and Quebec City hospitals had come back negative.

READ MORE: What are coronavirus symptoms? In mild cases, just like the common cold

Dr. Horracio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said earlier in the week the six had landed in Quebec with symptoms associated with the illness. Arruda said vigilance is key.

“There’s no reason for fear because sometimes the epidemic of fear is greater than what is going on,” he said.

–With files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

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China among WTO members backing Canada's alternate trade dispute scheme – CBC.ca

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As the U.S. continues to paralyze the World Trade Organization’s system for appealing trade disputes, 17 members of the trade organization announced Friday they will collaborate on an alternative initiated by Canada and the European Union to resolve complaints that emerge between them in the meantime.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where ministers representing like-minded trading partners have been grappling with how to proceed as a group, unless and until Americans’ concerns about the need for WTO reform can be resolved.

“We believe that a functioning dispute settlement system of the WTO is of the utmost importance for a rules-based trading system, and that an independent and impartial appeal stage must continue to be one of its essential features,” said the joint statement released Friday by the group.

The WTO continues to try to resolve disputes at its committees, and panels are still struck to review complaints and report back when member countries are alleged to have broken the rules.

But as of December, the WTO’s appellate body no longer has enough members to hear new appeals.

For the last few years, the United States has refused to agree to the appointment of any new adjudicators until its concerns about the existing process are addressed. Without a consensus among its members on how to proceed, the trade organization is paralyzed.

Canada’s complaint and request for arbitration with the United States over softwood lumber duties is among the cases now stalled. 

Canada and the European Union first announced an interim arrangement for resolving trade disputes with each other last July. Now fifteen more countries have climbed aboard. They are:

  • Australia.
  • Brazil.
  • China.
  • Chile.
  • Colombia.
  • Costa Rica.
  • Guatemala.
  • Republic of Korea.
  • Mexico.
  • New Zealand.
  • Norway.
  • Panama.
  • Singapore.
  • Switzerland.
  • Uruguay.

Many of these countries met in Davos this week as part of the WTO’s Cairns group: agricultural exporters who share the  common cause of wanting to liberalize trade barriers.

But the most significant player in this new alternative scheme may be China.

Temporary solution

Many of the American concerns about the WTO centre on complaints about whether the terms of China’s membership in the WTO are fair. But China has a reasonable track record of complying with the final decisions of the WTO’s now-paralyzed dispute resolution process.

Neither China nor the U.S. was part of the Ottawa group, a collection of WTO members that also held a working dinner in Davos hosted by Canada’s trade minister, Mary Ng, to continue talks on WTO reform that began under Canada’s leadership in 2018.

The door was left open to China and anyone else joining the broader conversation around possible solutions at an appropriate time.

Friday’s agreement now sets these countries on a path to being able to resolve future disputes with China, a dominant player in international trade because of its massive market size, manufacturing capacity and corresponding economic influence.

European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan emphasized that the parallel system initiated by Canada and the EU is only meant to be temporary, and the partners involved are still working towards WTO reform as a whole. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

The statement characterizes this interim system as “contingency measures” to “allow for appeals amongst ourselves” when the findings of those panels are in dispute. It’s based on Article 25 of the WTO’s dispute settlement rules, which allow for multi-party interim arrangements.

The statement says it will be in place “only and until a reformed WTO Appellate Body becomes fully operational” and any other WTO members are welcome to join these already signing on.

‘Dramatic’ move on WTO reform coming: Trump

More work remains to determine exactly how the new appeals process will work and what arbitrators will hear its cases.

“We have also taken proper note of the recent engagement of President Trump on WTO reform,” the group’s joint statement said.

In his closing news conference before leaving Davos Wednesday, the American president told reporters that a delegation from the WTO’s directorate was visiting Washington next week or the week after, and portrayed these talks as a form of negotiation toward reform.

Because the organization isn’t top-down, but only proceeds based on negotiations between its members, it’s unclear any kind of deal could result, although it would allow the White House to communicate its concerns directly.

“We’re going to do something that I think will be very dramatic,” Trump said, without giving any indication what exactly he had in mind.

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Canada’s chief medical official says coronavirus outbreak chances are low – Global News

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The chief medical officer says Canada’s chances of getting a coronavirus outbreak is low as China locks down more cities in an effort to contain its spread.

Dr. Theresa Tam says as of Thursday there are no confirmed cases here.

Her comments come as China’s National Health Commission confirmed it is dealing with 830 cases of the new virus and 26 deaths.


READ MORE:
China scrambles to build 1,000-bed hospital dedicated to coronavirus patients

China’s lockdown affects at least 10 cities in central Hubei province, encompassing about 33 million people.

Montreal-based acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil has also cancelled all performances in Hangzhou, China as a precaution.

It says it made the decision to cancel performances of “The Land of Fantasy” show after Chinese officials requested the temporary closing of all indoor activities with 100 or more people to stem the outbreak.

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4:31
20 million in China under lockdown as coronavirus spreads


20 million in China under lockdown as coronavirus spreads

Some countries such as the Philippines have installed thermal scanners at airports to detect potential carriers of the disease when they arrive from China as those infected have displayed flu-like symptoms such as fevers.

Tam says Canada has no plans to follow suit.

“In our experience during SARS, we scanned millions of people and didn’t pick up a single case,” she said.

“What we know is if you get infected, there could be many days between being infected and being symptomatic or having a fever.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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