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Federal court judge rules in favour of Acho Dene Koe First Nation member’s complaint about election delay

A federal court judge has ruled that the N.W.T. Acho Dene Koe First Nation chief and council overstepped their powers when they extended their term of office last year. The judgment could have ramifications for other First Nations whose elections were postponed or cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Acho Dene Koe First Nation government offices are in Fort Liard, N.W.T., where most of its 550 or so members also live. The First Nation is not governed by Indian Act regulations around the election of chief and council. Through a series of resolutions passed by the Acho Dene Koe First Nation between April 20 and Dec. 7, 2020, a regular election for chief and council scheduled for June 8, 2020 was postponed until April 14, 2021, and then later to April 21 after an outbreak of COVID-19 in the community of Fort Liard, N.W.T. Regulations authorized deferral, chief and council say Chief and council justified the deferral of the election — and the extension of their terms of office — by saying they were able to do so according to their own customs, and that they were authorized to do so under the First Nations Election Cancellation and Postponement Regulations which came into force on April 8, 2020. That temporary regulatory option under the Indian Act and the First Nations Election Act was introduced by the federal government to protect the health of First Nations communities during the pandemic. In a statement at the time, Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller said, “We have recommended that First Nations with upcoming elections not proceed with elections at this time, due to the current public health risks associated with large gatherings.” The regulations, Miller stated, allowed “First Nations leaders to continue exercising their roles and duties within their communities for up to six months, with a potential extension for an additional six months, as they focus on keeping their communities safe in the face of COVID-19.” Federal Court Justice Sébastien Grammond acknowledged in his April 1 ruling that those regulations allowed First Nations whose elections are governed by the Indian Act and the First Nations Elections act, to “cancel or postpone elections and to extend the term of their council” in light of the public health emergency. The council of Acho Dene Koe First Nation did not have the power to extend its own term of office. – Federal Court Justice Sébastien Grammond Section 4 of those regulations allow for a First Nation governed by its own custom election code, such as the Acho Dene Koe First Nation, to do the same “if it is necessary to prevent, mitigate or control the spread of diseases on its reserve, even if custom does not provide for such a situation.” Legal challenge claimed section of regulations invalid But on Oct. 22, 2020, Acho Dene Koe First Nation member and former chief Floyd Bertrand filed a legal challenge to chief and council’s decision to postpone the election, arguing, among other things, that the regulations outlined in Section 4 are invalid, and that Acho Dene Koe election customs do not allow chief and council to extend their terms, or to postpone an election. Justice Grammond agreed with Bertrand on both counts. “Acho Dene Koe’s customary law requires elections to take place every three years and does not authorize the council to extend its own term of office,” Grammond wrote. “The council of Acho Dene Koe First Nation did not have the power to extend its own term of office.” In reaching this conclusion, Grammond considered and rejected arguments made by the First Nation in support of its authority to extend terms of office. Among those arguments was the notion that under principles of self-government, the Acho Dene Koe were within their rights to be flexible on election customs. But Grammond wrote that “self-government does not translate into unlimited powers for First Nations councils.” “Rather, where First Nations have not enacted positivistic laws, self-government manifests itself through the broad consensus of the community.” Fort Liard, N.W.T., is the base for Acho Dene Koe First Nation.(Alex Brockman/CBC) Grammond cited the three-year term of the previous four elections in the community as evidence for a three-year term being the Acho Dene Koe custom. Grammond found no evidence of broad community support for the idea that council could extend its term of office without an election. “Any assertion of ‘flexibility’ or an open-ended power to extend the term of office must be tested against what we know of the community’s views…. Acho Dene Koe members expect to have the opportunity to choose their leaders at fixed intervals,” Grammond wrote. “For more than a decade, the interval has been three years.” Section 4 of regulations invalid: Justice After concluding Acho Dene Koe customs do not allow for council to extend its term of office, Grammond considered arguments around the notion that the First Nation was authorized under Section 4 of the First Nations Election Cancellation and Postponement Regulations to make the extension in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. After reviewing case law, Justice Grammond concluded that the federal cabinet overstepped its powers under the Indian Act when it enacted the regulations, and that Section 4 of the regulations — Elections According to Custom — is invalid, regardless of how well-intended the regulations or their application may be. Grammond wrote that despite the government’s intention to fight the pandemic by allowing First Nations to cancel or postpone elections, it did not have the right to do so under the Indian Act. Fixed or maximum terms of office are crucial components of democracy. – Federal Court Justice Sébastien Grammond “In a nutshell, the government is asking me to tolerate an invalid exercise of power because it was done for a good reason,” Grammond wrote. “This is simply incompatible with the rule of law, which requires that every exercise of state power find its source in legal rule … Going down that road would involve courts in giving their blessing, after the fact, to unlawful government action based on its desirability from a policy perspective.” By ruling Section 4 invalid, Justice Grammond did not have to consider other objections raised by Bertrand regarding the application of the regulations in Fort Liard. In his judgment, Grammond noted that “for members of the many First Nations who have chosen to select their leaders by democratic means, the ability to vote is a fundamental interest…. Fixed or maximum terms of office are crucial components of democracy.” In his decision, Grammond ruled that with elections in Fort Liard among Acho Dene Koe members expected shortly, there was no need to quash the original decision to extend the term of council’s office. Other First Nation members may have been deprived of right to vote Grammond wrote that, despite the close proximity of the election to his ruling, which could be understood to render the need for a ruling moot, he took on the case for its other merits. First, Grammond wrote that the case would “clarify important issues with respect to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on First Nation’s electoral processes” in the context of the validity of the First Nations Election Cancellation and Postponement Regulations. Second, Grammond wrote that the case clarified the Acho Dene Koe First Nation’s right to postpone elections in the future, if the regulations in question are renewed. Grammond wrote that he was asked by the attorney general to suspend his decision on the invalidity of the regulations for 90 days, while Bertrand asked for any suspension to not exceed 30 days. “I am sensitive to the implications of this judgment not only on the federal government, but also on First Nations that may have availed themselves of the powers granted by the Regulations and will have to hold elections on short notice,” Grammond wrote. “On the other hand, I cannot ignore the fact that members of such First Nations have been illegally deprived of the opportunity to vote for the selection of their leaders.” Grammond suspended the declaration of invalidity for 60 days, as of April 1.

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Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.

Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”

Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.

Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.

Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.

Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.

Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.

Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.

“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.

Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.

Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.

They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.

Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.

‘SWEET SPOT’

The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.

“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”

Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.

“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”

Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.

“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.

Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.

Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.

France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.

Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.

“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”

($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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$600K donation to boost online mental health programming in Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia Health’s mental health and addictions program hopes to offer more online support to people across the province after receiving a significant donation this week.

The QEII Foundation announced that RBC is contributing $600,000 toward the province’s e-mental health programming.

“It’s particularly important for the current time under all the strains of COVID,” said Dr. Andrew Harris, a psychiatrist and the senior medical director for the program.

The plan for online programming has been in the works for years, he said, but the pandemic expedited the push. Last June, the department launched a number of applications that can be used to help those with anxiety, depression and addictions.

Since then, as many as 3,000 Nova Scotians have used the site to access mental health services.

“There’s a persistent difficulty in accessing services,” Harris said of traditional models in Nova Scotia. He said those who don’t need intensive therapy may find the support they need through the online programs.

He uses the example of someone who can’t take time off work to speak to a clinician.

“It’s better for them to be able to access a service after hours or on the weekend. So our e-mental health services are tailored a little bit to meet that need.”

Calls to crisis line increase

Harris said the province’s mental health crisis line continues to see a 30 per cent increase in calls for help, so he’s trying to raise awareness that services can be accessed immediately online.

“I think everyone is aware that for a lot of people it’s much easier to talk about a physical illness than a mental illness. So there’s an allowance there for privacy, for some anonymity but still making available things that can help the person who is struggling in the community.”

The online portal has a list of programs that people can use, covering things like reducing stress, solving problems and becoming mindful. It mirrors a site in Newfoundland and Labrador that Harris said is used to help people in remote areas.

Harris said the donation from RBC will be used to continue to evaluate more services, and pay for the licensing of the products that are mostly developed by other organizations.

He encourages anyone who is struggling to test out the site, and use it as an entry point into the mental health system.

“It’s important for people to acknowledge when they’re struggling. It happens to all of us through our lives in different times.”

Anyone in Nova Scotia looking to access the tools can visit: https://mha.nshealth.ca.

Source:- CBC.ca

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Samsung’s cheapest 5G Galaxy phones yet are launching this month

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Samsung

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  • Samsung is launching five new phones in its Galaxy A series this month.
  • Three of them will support 5G connectivity, and the most expensive phone is just $500.
  • The cheapest phone of the five still has three cameras but lacks 5G and other features.
  • See more buying advice on the Insider Reviews homepage.

Samsung may be best known for its high-end Galaxy S phones that rival the iPhone. But the tech giant is proving that it can appeal to cost-conscious customers with the launch of five new smartphones in the United States, the priciest of which only costs $500.

Samsung’s new lineup of budget phones, which debuted in other markets before coming to the US, are all launching this month. Some of them will be released as soon as this week, while the least expensive model will debut on April 29. The launch comes as competitors like Apple and Google have also been focusing on cheaper smartphones to boost sales.

Three of these new Samsung devices also support 5G, another sign that shoppers no longer have to pay a premium to get access to next-generation wireless networks. All five of the new phones also have the traditional headphone jack for wired listening and run on an octa-core processor.

Here’s a look at the new Samsung Galaxy A series phones that will be launching soon.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Galaxy A52 5G_Awesome Black_Front_Back



Samsung

  • Release date: April 9
  • Price: $499.99

The Galaxy A52 5G is the most expensive smartphone of the bunch. It comes with a 6.5-inch FHD+ screen and a quad-camera system that includes some of the same features as Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy S phones. These include Single Take, which creates several different photos or video clips with different effects with a single press of the shutter button.

Its screen can also boost its refresh rate up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling and performance, a feature that has become common on pricier flagship phones but is rare on cheaper models. It’s also the only phone in this A-series lineup to include Samsung’s notch-free screen design.

Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Galaxy A42 5G_Prism Dot Black_Front_Back



Samsung

  • Release date: April 8
  • Price: $399.99

The less expensive Galaxy A42 5G has a slightly larger screen than the A52 5G, but scales back on certain features when it comes to the camera and screen refresh rate.

Still, it has a triple-lens camera with high-resolution sensors, and like its pricier sibling it also supports Single Take.

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

GalaxyA32 5G_Awesome Black_Front



Samsung

Release date: April 9

Price: $279.99

The Galaxy A32 5G is Samsung’s cheapest 5G smartphone to date. It has a large 6.5-inch screen, but it’s made from an LCD panel instead of Super AMOLED. That means it will likely lack some of the contrast and boldness of Samsung’s other devices. But Samsung hasn’t skimped on the camera considering this model has a quad-lens main camera, which is rare if not unheard of at that price.

Samsung Galaxy A12

Galaxy A12_Black_Back



Samsung

Release date: April 9

Price: $179.99

Samsung’s Galaxy A12 doesn’t come with 5G support, but it still gives you a lot for the price. For less than $200, you’re getting a quad-lens camera and a large 6.5-inch LCD screen. But remember this phone only has 32GB of storage, so it’s best suited for those who don’t store a lot of photos and videos on their device.

Samsung Galaxy A02s

Galaxy A02s_Black_Front



Samsung

  • Release date: April 29
  • Price: $109.99

The Galaxy A02s is Samsung’s cheapest phone, offering a 6.5-inch LCD screen and three main cameras. It doesn’t have 5G support or as much computing power or camera prowess as Samsung’s other A-series phones, but that’s to be expected for a device at this price. This phone is truly for those who just need the basics and little else.

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Source:- Business Insider

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