Nova Scotia Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard is urging Canadians to recognize Aug. 1 as the day slavery was abolished in the British Empire — even if the federal government won’t.
Thomas Bernard has been pushing for years for the Canadian government to mark Emancipation Day each Aug. 1. It was recognized officially only in Ontario until Saturday, when Vancouver officially declared Aug. 1 Emancipation Day.
She introduced a private member’s bill in the Senate in 2018, but it’s since been dropped. But she’s still pushing for the recognition and reminding Canadians that even though slavery was abolished 186 years ago, it laid the groundwork for the anti-Black racism and marginalization that are rampant today.
“From coast to coast, we could pause and recognize Emancipation Day and use it as a time to remember, use it as a time to reflect and use it as a time to commit to action,” Thomas Bernard told CBC’s Information Morning this week.
She hosted a virtual panel discussion in Halifax last week about the importance of Emancipation Day.
Canadians not taught about history
On Aug. 1, 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect, freeing about 800,000 enslaved people in most British colonies.
But while Canada is often lauded as being a safe haven for those fleeing slavery through the Underground Railroad, the reality for Black people at that time was bleak, Thomas Bernard said.
LISTEN | Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard on Emancipation Day:
“What was promised as the terms of freedom and opportunity wasn’t realized,” she said. “So people weren’t given land or if they were given land, it was much smaller parcels of land and land that was really not very fertile.”
The problem, she said, is that this history is not taught in Canada.
“I can’t even imagine how our ancestors did survive with what little resources they had,” she said.
Thomas Bernard said it’s important to remember that Emancipation Day wasn’t just a celebration 186 years ago. It was a call to action — and one that must continue today as Black people continue to face racism and violence, she said.
“Several people maintain that the current-day anti-Black racism that we’re seeing, the racial profiling, the history of marginalization … is really rooted in that history of slavery,” she said.
Afua Cooper, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, spoke about the roots of contemporary racism during the panel discussion last week. She also chaired a panel that looked into Dalhousie’s links to slavery and has called for both the institution and the province to apologize for the impact of slavery on Nova Scotia.
WATCH | How recognizing Emancipation Day can help dismantle racism:
Majid Jowhari, a member of Parliament for Richmond Hill, Ont., near Toronto, has introduced a new motion in the House of Commons calling for Emancipation Day to be recognized across the country. Thomas Bernard said she expects that motion will come before MPs this fall.
She said she’ll keep fighting until the goal of a nationally recognized Emancipation Day is achieved.
“But even when that happens, that’s just one part of the equation,” she said. “Reparations are important. An apology is important. These are things that have never happened.”
What's missing from Canada's plans to get kids back to school safely – CBC.ca
This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.
Lots of fresh air, plenty of space for physical distancing and a comprehensive plan to keep sick students out of the classroom to prevent outbreaks.
That might sound like a parent’s wish list for reopening schools in 2020, but they’re actually tactics that worked to keep kids healthy during disease outbreaks over a century ago.
Open-air learning environments, or “forest schools“, were places where students could attend classes while at a lower risk of infection from diseases like tuberculosis and the Spanish Flu.
After first emerging in Germany in the early 20th century, the concept came to Toronto in 1912 when hundreds of kids spent their days learning and socializing outdoors, as detailed in this in-depth TVO story.
But with less than a month to go until schools reopen across the country in the current global pandemic, experts say Canada’s plans to get kids back in the classroom safely are missing some key lessons from history.
Low COVID-19 numbers in community key
Canada currently has a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases circulating in the community, which is an essential precursor to reopening schools safely, but ignoring proven strategies to reduce the spread of the virus in classrooms could put that in jeopardy.
“The single best way to make schools safe is by driving the caseload in the community as low as possible,” said Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.
That’s important context for understanding a widely discussed recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has major implications for reopening schools.
Researchers looked at an outbreak of COVID-19 at an overnight summer camp in Georgia that resulted in 260 kids infected. Campers were not required to wear masks, slept 15 per cabin, and windows weren’t kept open to ensure proper ventilation.
But at the time the camp took place, there were still hundreds of new COVID-19 cases reported in the state daily.
“A lot of panic right now is coming from people looking at data from places where there’s an uncontrolled epidemic,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases specialist and an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s faculty of medicine.
Israel may provide a more relevant cautionary tale for jurisdictions where community spread is low. Israel moved to reopen schools quickly in late May, when the coronavirus epidemic had been successfully controlled, but cases exploded soon after, largely because it didn’t limit class sizes, prioritize physical distancing, mandate mask wearing or ensure proper ventilation.
“Closed, crowded, and close-contact spaces are high risk for COVID transmission – and schools meet all those criteria,” said Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
“We’ve known for a while that we want to have a return to school in the fall, and we’ve had time to prepare for that.”
But Tuite said she’s frustrated that with less than a month to go, there isn’t a comprehensive plan in place to prevent potential outbreaks in schools.
“I think we’re setting ourselves up for failure,” she said. “We really need to set up our schools in a way that parents and children and staff feel safe to return and that minimize the potential for these outbreaks to happen.”
Keeping sick kids out of school essential to stopping spread
“The most important things to do are actually before the kids and adults are in the building,” said Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist and medical director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto.
“Almost all the discussion and effort has been around what happens once kids are in the school, but we need to have a strategy that keeps infected kids out of the school.”
Many jurisdictions, including Ontario, B.C. and Alberta, are telling staff and students (with help from their parents or caregivers) to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily, and stay home or seek medical attention if sick.
But Morris, who helped with revised Ontario guidelines from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said schools need to have extensive surveillance systems in place beforehand to ensure students and teachers are not infected with COVID-19.
From no plan to facilitate contact tracing from bars & restaurants, to no extra effort to mitigate school risk, the Ontario govt is proving itself to lack the administrative sophistication and desire to tackle complexity when we need it most. This doesn’t bode well. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/onpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#onpoli</a>
One way of doing that is through what’s known as syndromic surveillance, where kids who miss classes are assessed, tested and isolated by local public health officials if they’re infected before they can cause wider outbreaks in schools.
Pooled surveillance is another tactic that can be used to detect transmission in schools before it becomes apparent, which is when entire classrooms are tested at random in order to find unseen COVID-19 cases.
“If you’ve got a kid that’s sick in the class, there’s a very high likelihood that if they’re there every day for five days they’re going to infect at least one other kid,” he said.
“To some degree, you almost can’t overreact when you have a case in a classroom and if you think you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing.”
Saxinger said while there’s no way to ensure zero risk of COVID-19 cases in schools, it’s important to clamp down on potential outbreaks and isolate infected students and classes quickly to prevent entire schools shutting down.
“That’s something people have to wrap their heads around – that having a class being quarantined because someone was positive is going to be kind of normal and that in fact picking that up is good, versus not picking it up.”
Ventilation overlooked in Canadian schools
Another key area experts say is lacking in the gear up to reopen schools across the country is a focus on adequate ventilation, despite new federal guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada that call for increased air circulation and outdoor classrooms whenever possible.
Schools are notorious for having minimal access to windows and for using antiquated HVAC systems that can rely on recirculated air – leaving unanswered questions as to how schools are expected to ensure a steady flow of fresh air in classrooms.
“I haven’t seen any discussion of that at all in Ontario context,” said Tuite. “You hear stories about schools where the windows are painted shut.”
WATCH | Dr. Tam discusses risks of sending kids to school, and keeping them home
Linsey Marr, one of the top aerosol scientists in the world and an expert on the airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech, said ensuring proper ventilation is crucial to successfully keeping COVID-19 out of schools.
“It’s important to get kids back to school in person, but I think we also need to do everything possible [to prevent transmission],” she said.
“And even if it just means opening windows, or upgrading an HVAC filter, or putting an air purifier in the room – that you’re doing something that is going to reduce the risk.”
Marr said the move to push classrooms outdoors whenever possible would also drive down the risk of COVID-19 infection dramatically and should be done while the weather permits – even if temperatures drop and students need to bundle up.
“It’s worth it for the education of a generation,” she said. “Because it will be so much safer to go outdoors than to stay indoors.”
Marr said ventilation is one of four essentials that need to be prioritized in the reopening of schools in order to successfully navigate a return to the classroom; the others being ensuring enough space for physical distancing, mask wearing and avoiding crowds.
“In the cars we drive we have seatbelts, we have airbags, we have anti-lock brakes and we try to drive carefully,” she said. “Would you get in your car if the airbags are broken?”
Mask policies in schools a ‘hodgepodge’ across Canada
Mandating students to wear masks while in the classroom is another strategy that could help curb the spread of COVID-19, but some provinces don’t have strict policies in place for doing so.
In B.C., students won’t be required to wear masks, while Ontario’s plan will see masks required only for students in grades four to 12.
Alberta will also require students of those ages to wear masks, but only while in hallways, common areas and when working closely with others.
Saskatchewan will send students back to class without either requiring students to wear masks or reducing class sizes.
“The reason it’s a hodgepodge is because we know that in different places, combinations of those things have worked,” Saxinger said, referencing schools in Europe and Asia that have since dialled back strict reopening policies.
“You’re trying to find this balance of what is feasible and what’s the range of reasonable and how can we learn from this? Because frankly, there’s a lot of pandemic left and if we’re not learning from what we’re doing, we’re missing a really big opportunity.”
The new federal guidelines also say that consideration should be given to the use of masks and face shields, because the “evidence is evolving on their benefits to the wearer to reduce their risk of infection.”
But they stop short of recommending widespread mask use and say non-medical masks should not be worn by anyone who is “unable to remove the mask without assistance, due to age, ability or developmental status.”
Deonandan says that while he agrees there is an age cutoff for children who can effectively wear masks, he thinks more students should be required to wear masks in schools across the country.
“We could look into masks and face shields, the two of them together … that added layer of … self protection through a face shield, I think would pay extraordinary dividends,” he said.
Deonandan said the arguments against mask wearing for younger students in schools focus on the fact that they will fidget with them, risk exposure by touching their face, or not wear them consistently throughout the day.
For those kids incapable of wearing a mask, instead of saying, ‘Well then, masks are impossible,’ have them wear face shields only. It’s not as good as a mask for outward mitigation, but it’s better than nothing.”
“It won’t be perfect, but … don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.
China urges Canada to correct mistakes to put bilateral relations back on track
China urges Canada to correct its mistakes and make concrete efforts to put the China-Canada relations back on track, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday.
Canadian citizen Ye Jianhui was sentenced to death on drug charges on Friday by the Intermediate People’s Court of Foshan City in south China’s Guangdong Province, which is the fourth Canadian sentenced to death in China in recent times. Some Canadian officials have made a link between these death penalties and the case of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.
In response to this, Wang said Meng’s case is a political incident and has nothing to do with the four Canadian citizens’ cases which were handled by China’s judiciary according to the law.
“China is a country under the rule of law, and its judiciary handles cases independently in strict accordance with law. The Canadian side is well aware of China’s solemn position on the Meng Wanzhou incident as we already made it very clear on many occasions. This is a grave political incident. China urges the Canadian side to immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and let her return to China safely,” said Wang.
He urged the Canadian side to correct its mistakes and get China-Canada ties back to normal.
“The current difficulties in China-Canada relations are not caused by China. The Canadian side knows very well what the crux of the problem is. We urge the Canadian side to take immediate and effective measures to correct its mistakes and make concrete efforts to put bilateral relations back on track,” said Wang.
Canada retaliating with $3.6B in countermeasures to Trump’s ‘unacceptable’ tariffs: Freeland
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has begun detailing Canada’s plans to hit back with $3.6 billion in countermeasures on a “broad and extensive list” of aluminum products in response to U.S. President Donald Trump imposing a new tariff on Canadian aluminum.
Freeland announced on Friday that over the next 30 days the federal government will consult industry on a long list of American products that they are looking to level, in what will be a dollar-for-dollar response.
Among the list of potential U.S. aluminum products Canada will be slapping 10 per cent tariffs on are:
- Aluminum beverage cans;
- Household items such as tinfoil, pots and scouring pads;
- Construction material such as nails, tacks, staples and screws;
- Appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines; and
- Recreational items like bicycles, golf clubs, playground equipment and tripods.
Freeland said that while not all items on that list will end up on the final roster, Canadians have until Sept. 6 to submit their feedback to inform the final list.
Canadian officials had indications that this move was coming, and preparations have been underway for at least a month. Freeland said the “perfectly reciprocal” tariffs will take the exact same approach as the federal government took in 2018.
“Our objective here, exactly as it was the last time, is to inflict the minimal amount of damage on Canada, and to have frankly the strongest possible impact in the United States. Our trade officials have worked on this list, very, very carefully. And we do hope that when Americans look at this list, they will understand why having a tariff dispute is a really bad idea,” Freeland said. “We will not back down.”
On Thursday, Trump announced his plans to impose a 10-per-cent tariff on raw aluminum from Canada as of Aug. 16. The tariffs on unprocessed aluminum imports from Canada are being levelled under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act, which states the imports pose a threat to American national security.
Freeland called Trump’s tariffs “unnecessary, unwarranted and entirely unacceptable,” and said they are the “last thing anyone needs” right now given the current state of the economy amid COVID-19.
“They should not be imposed,” she said, pointing out that the washing machines at the Whirlpool plant where Trump made the announcement will become more expensive for Americans and less competitive globally as a result.
Canada’s promise of retaliatory efforts came within hours of Trump announcing the tariffs, and amid accusations from the opposition parties in Canada that the Liberal government was slow to act..
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he talked to Freeland on Friday morning about the “totally unacceptable” tariffs, and is encouraging consumers to buy Canadian-made products.
“We buy more goods off the United States than China, Japan, U.K. combined. Who does this? At times like this, who tries to go after your closest ally? Your closest trading partner? Your number one customer in the entire world? Who would do this? President Trump did this, and I encouraged the deputy prime minister to put retaliatory tariffs on as many goods as possible,” Ford said.
‘MOST PROTECTIONIST ADMINISTRATION’
In unveiling his latest planned trade action, Trump accused Canada of “taking advantage,” of the United States. He claimed that the American aluminum business has been “decimated” by Canada, calling it “very unfair” and accusing Canadian producers of flooding the U.S. with exports.
Canadian and American aluminum groups have disputed that assertion, and other business groups have stated the tariffs will hurt businesses on both sides of the border.
Aluminum Association of Canada President and CEO Jean Simard told CTV News that Canadian producers are not dumping aluminum — the term for when selling under domestic price — rather that Canada is selling at the current international price.
In a statement, President and CEO of the Aluminum Association Tom Dobbins said his organization — which represents aluminum production and jobs in the United States — called the reports of dumping “grossly exaggerated,” and “cherry-picked” from the data by a small set of companies that are set to benefit.
Freeland took her criticism a step further on Friday saying that Trump’s latest move shows that “this U.S. administration is the most protectionist administration in U.S. history.”
“I think the important point for Canadians to understand and above all, for Americans to understand is that the first casualties, the first victims of these tariffs will be Americans themselves. That’s what’s so unfortunate about all of this,” she said.
2018 ALL OVER AGAIN?
This is not the first time in recent history that there’s been an exchange of tariffs between Canada and the United States. Trump hit Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs in May 2018, during negotiations for the new NAFTA deal, which has only been in effect for a month.
The tariffs remained in place for a year, during which time Canada reciprocated with $16.6 billion in countermeasures on American steel and aluminum, as well as levelling a surtax on other goods including coffee, prepared meals, pizza, chocolate, condiments, toiletries, beer kegs, whiskeys, various household items, and motorboats. It took a year for those tariffs to be lifted.
“Our government will always defend our aluminum industry and Canadian workers. As we did during the NAFTA negotiations, we will take a ‘team Canada’ approach,” Freeland said.
Section 232 was also used as justification by the Americans during the 2018 exchange of tariffs. As was the case then, Freeland decried the accusation of Canada in any way being a national security threat to the U.S.
“That is a ludicrous notion. On the contrary, Canadian aluminum is essential for U.S. industry, including the U.S. defense industry. Canada has, for decades, been a reliable supplier of aluminum,” she said.
The current rules of origin for automobiles within the new NAFTA state that 70 per cent of the steel and aluminum purchased by North American automakers has to be produced in North America, meaning Trump’s move will result in prices going up on both sides of the border.
In an interview on CTV News Channel, Democrat and former U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman said Trump’s move is political and tied to the upcoming presidential election.
“He’s going back to an old playbook, the playbook of 2016 where he was accusing our allies of taking advantage of the United States. If he felt that that helped him and he could win in the Midwest with that,” Heyman said. “It has real world implications to our relationship with each other, to aluminum workers, and by the way, we have a beer cans shortage in the United States… And so the at the end of the day, these prices are all going up and American consumers going to pay more.”
Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst with the CATO Institute in D.C., also cited the upcoming election when asked about Trump’s motivations on tariffs.
“Trump believes that tariffs are good for the economy, and they’re good politically for him…This is one of his core policy beliefs,” he told CTV’s News Channel. “We’ll get a verdict on all of this in November.”
Freeland said she remains optimistic that in the week ahead the Americans will realize the negative impacts this trade move will have domestically and decide to back away from imposing the tariffs before they come into effect.
Source: – CTV News
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