Connect with us

News

Luxembourg’s royal family took refuge in Canada during Second World War: Crown Prince

Published

 on

OTTAWA — The Crown Prince of Luxembourg, who is in Toronto on an official trade visit, is highlighting how family his took refuge in Canada during the Second World War.

Prince Guillaume Jean Joseph Marie, heir to the throne of Luxembourg, says not many people know his great-grandparents, grandfather and other royal family members lived on a farm in Quebec in the 1940s.

He says in an interview that is is well known that the royal family of the Netherlands lived in Canada while their country was under Nazi occupation, but that

In an interview, he said it is well known that Netherlands’ royal family lived in Canada while their country was under Nazi rule, but not that Charlotte, who was grand duchess of Luxembourg, also took refuge in Canada with the Luxembourg royal family in 1940.

He says his grandfather Jean, the hereditary grand duke at the time, went to Laval University in Quebec City and also lived in a Montreal house that is now home to the honorary consulate of the Czech Republic.

The prince says he had many conversations with his grandfather about living in Canada, including his experiences skiing, and that the royal family collected Canadian art that still hangs in their homes, including Indigenous pieces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

News

Rwanda to Germany: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations’ concerns at the G7

Published

 on

KIGALI, Rwanda — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Canada will be bringing the concerns of smaller Commonwealth nations to the G7 leaders in Germany Sunday, particularly the growing threat of famine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity.

She said Canada is in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth, where leaders of smaller nations are able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.

Canadian officials have been trying to reinforce that the cause of the shortage is Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday evening in Rwanda.

She said Russia has been targeting Ukrainian ports and grain silos and systematically preventing grain from reaching countries that need it.

Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.

Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming Russian sanctions for stopping up the flow of grain.

Trudeau travels to the Bavarian Alps in Germany for the G7 Summit Saturday night, where the conflict with Ukraine will be top of mind.

Joly said she spoke to her G7 counterparts Friday, and expects famine and safe passage for Ukrainian refugees to be the top concern.

Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings belong to youth leaders who spoke at a dialogue event Saturday, focused on issues facing young people around the world.

Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

News

RCMP reform would prevent political interference, criminologists say

Published

 on

OTTAWA — An Ottawa criminologist says questions about whether political pressure was placed on the RCMP commissioner in the Nova Scotia shooting investigation illustrate why Brenda Lucki should not report to the public safety minister.

A parliamentary committee has called Lucki, former public safety minister Bill Blair, and several other RCMP witnesses to explain what happened during an April 28, 2020, phone call, during which Lucki allegedly said she had promised federal officials to release information about the type of weapons used in the shooting.

According to handwritten notes from Supt. Darren Campbell, who was in charge of the investigation into the shooting spree that left 22 people dead, Lucki said that was tied to upcoming Liberal gun control legislation.

Campbell chose not to release anything about the weapons, stating that may jeopardize the ongoing investigation.

To date, no one has been charged with weapons-related offences in the case, and it was revealed early on that the gunman obtained all the weapons illegally, smuggling most from the United States.

Lucki, the Prime Minister’s Office and Blair have all denied there was any political interference in the RCMP’s investigation.

Criminologist Darryl Davies said if the commissioner reported to Parliament, rather than the public safety minister, this wouldn’t be an issue.

“It makes crystal clear that the RCMP are an autonomous, independent organization and that decision-making will be taken without undue influence from politicians,” he said.

The RCMP Act states that the commissioner is appointed by the minister and “under the direction of the minister, has the control and management of the force and all matters connected with the force.”

Another criminologist disagrees that parliamentary accountability is the answer.

Rob Gordon, who teaches at Simon Fraser University, said what the force needs is proper non-political civilian oversight, but for that to be effective, he said a review of its mandate is needed first.

“It’s trying to be too many things to too many people,” he said, noting that federal police forces in the United States and United Kingdom, for example, are not also tasked with contract policing in rural and remote areas.

Reports have called for this type of structural reform over the years but no government has acted upon them, Gordon said.

“We have been, unfortunately, cursed with a Canadian icon and nobody wants to break it up,” he said.

Facing repeated opposition questions Thursday about whether he believed Campbell’s version of events in the April 28, 2020, meeting, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said, “I have never and will not criticize a serving member of the RCMP.”

Gordon called that statement “irresponsible and disappointing flim-flam” while Davies said it shows that governments continue to defend the RCMP rather than try to fix it.

“It’s an institution that has been in crisis and has been dysfunctional for many years,” he said.

Recent evidence at the public inquiry into the killings has focused on how the RCMP withheld information during and after the killings.

While Lucki and national headquarters were prepared to release a list of the victims’ names, the Nova Scotia RCMP didn’t release that information.

In its initial news conference, when reporters asked for the number of victims, Chief Supt. Chris Leather said it was “in excess of 10.” Documents released through the inquiry show that Leather knew there were at least 17 dead.

Hours later, Lucki gave two separate media interviews in which she said the death toll was 13, and then 17.

By 11 p.m. on April 19, 2020, the RCMP had concluded that up to 22 people had been killed, but it didn’t reveal the final number until two days later.

Davies said that shows the need for better policies, training and operational procedures, which “either don’t exist or fell apart.”

“We know that some of the officers on the ground who are responding to both media requests for information, and from families and so on, some of them had absolutely zero training in this area,” he said.

The inquiry will resume hearings Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

 

Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

News

Experts caution against becoming ‘air-conditioned society’ as heat waves get hotter

Published

 on

Hundreds of people who perished during the historic heat wave in British Columbia last summer died in homes ill-suited for temperatures that spiked into the high 30s and beyond for days,a report by B.C.’s coroners’ service found this month.

It was hot outside, but inside it was often much hotter, with tragic consequences.

Of 619 deaths linked to the heat, 98 per cent happened indoors, the review from the coroners’ service shows.

Just one per cent of victims had air conditioners that were on at the time.

But one year on, experts caution that residents and policymakers need to think beyond air conditioning as the predominant solution to the risks as climate change fuels heat waves that scientists say are becoming hotter and more frequent.

“What I worry is that we’re talking about mechanical ventilation as this umbrella measure for all buildings, and that’s hugely problematic if that’s what we ultimately end up doing,” said Adam Rysanek, assistant professor of environmental systems in the University of British Columbia’s school of architecture.

“We’re going to get totally accustomed to this air-conditioned society,” with windows closed all year round, said Rysanek, director of the building decisions research group at the university.

Alternative answers can be found in how buildings and cities are designed, landscaped and even coloured, since lighter surfaces reflect more of the sun’s energy, he said.

Two thirds of those who died during the extreme heat last summer were 70 or older, more than half lived alone and many were living with chronic diseases.

Ryansek said it’s important to ensure such vulnerable people have access to air conditioningwhen temperatures become dangerously hot.

But many sources of overheating in buildings stem from design and performance, and focusing on air conditioning ignores proven solutions, he said.

City planners and the construction industry should adopt lighter coloured materials for buildings and even paved roadways, he said, in addition to adding shading to building exteriors.

“In the peak of the heat, a huge chunk of the cooling demand is coming from solar energy being received on the exterior of the building. Let’s reflect that away.”

Alex Boston, who served on the coroner’s review panel, said “underlying vulnerabilities” to dangerous heat are growing in B.C., and across the country, as a result of demographic change and how homes and communities have been built.

The numbers of people over 65 and people who live alone are on the rise, and both of those characteristics compound risk during extreme heat, said Boston, executive director of the renewable cities program at Simon Fraser University.

“On top of that, it’s solo seniors who have chronic illnesses, and then on top of that it’s seniors who have some form of material or social deprivation,” he said.

“That could be income, it could be the nature of their housing and the neighbourhood they live in that (could) have inadequate tree canopy. All of those factors come together and we have to work on many of them simultaneously.”

Failing to ensure that buildings are surrounded by trees to provide shade and evaporative cooling would be “shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of the energy load and the cooling demand of a building in the future,” said Ryansek, calling for “very robust” requirements for vegetation and landscaping to mitigate extreme heat.

Metro Vancouver is aiming to increase its urban tree canopy to 40 per cent by 2050, up from an average of 32 per cent across the region, although a 2019 report noted the existing canopy was declining due to urban development. The goal for the City of Vancouver, specifically, is to increase the canopy from 18 to 22 per cent.

Boston said there are significant co-benefits to many of the measures to improve heat resiliency, such as the restoration of urban tree canopies.

Trees and vegetation help reduce flood risk, he said, and neighbourhood parks serve as social hubs that can ease social isolation and foster a sense of community.

“We have complex problems, and if we only look at one isolated component, we don’t maximize benefit from solving these problems in an integrated manner,” Boston said.

For instance, Boston’s organization is working on a project on Vancouver’s north shore to consider how social service providers could help older single people manage secondary suites in their homes, an approach he said could ease housing unaffordability while mitigating risks stemming from living alone during extreme heat.

“We have to multi-solve,” Boston said.

Meanwhile, a 2020 survey and report from B.C.’s hydro and power authority found residential air-conditioning use had more than tripled since 2001.

Many residents were adding an average of $200 to their summer bill by using air conditioning units inefficiently, with nearly a third of survey respondents setting the temperature below 19 C. Popular portable units use 10 times more energy than a central air-conditioning system or heat pump, the report said.

Globally, the International Energy Agency projected in 2018 that energy demand from air conditioning would triple by 2050.

Continuing on that path would make it difficult for governments to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets to mitigate climate change, Rysanek said.

“If we exacerbate this problem … the building development costs are a drop in the bucket with regards to the climate impacts we’re going to be facing,” he said.

The B.C. government should incentivize non-mechanical cooling options to spur their adoption in homes and commercial buildings, he said, pointing to measures such as natural ventilation, ceiling fans and radiant cooling built into floors or ceilings, all of which would cool residents before turning on an air conditioner.

“We should be encouraging our policymakers to realize there’s a big world out there of alternatives. We might not have the suppliers here yet in B.C., but it’s a great opportunity for business,” Rysanek said.

Companies all over the world have been deploying these cooling alternatives in Europe, in Asia and elsewhere, and “we should try to invite them here so that we learn about these things, as a public, as consumers,” he said.

The coroner’s report calls on B.C. to ensure the 2024 building code incorporates passive and active cooling requirements in new homes, along with cooling standards for renovating existing homes, and to make sure “climate change lenses” are adopted in regional growth strategies and official community plans.

It also recommends that the province consider how to issue cooling devices as medical equipment for those at greatest risk of dying during extreme heat.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said the government would consider the report and “take necessary steps to prevent heat-related deaths in the future.”

It’s difficult to predict how often B.C. might see a repeat of last summer’s highest temperatures, but climate change is undoubtedly causing heat extremes to increase in frequency and magnitude, said Rachel White, an assistant professor in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of B.C.

“When we have a normal heat wave in the future, it will be hotter than we’ve been used to,” she said.

A heat dome refers to a region of high pressure that settles in place as temperatures below get hotter, White explained.

These regions sometimes become “quasi-stationary,” depending on factors such as the strength of winds circulating high in the atmosphere, she said.

As the heat dome blanketed B.C. last year, its effects were amplified by soil that was already stricken by drought, lacking moisture that would evaporate and help cool the land during the long summer days with clear skies, she said.

Earth’s “atmosphere is not in equilibrium,” White warned, “and the longer we continue to put out these greenhouse gases, the more and more warming we’re going to see.”

“We need to act now if we don’t want it to be dreadful in 40, 50 years’ time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

 

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending