David Saint-Jacques says he has always been “obsessed” with the notion of perspective — from the physical, like understanding where we are in space and what’s beyond the clouds, to the philosophical.
The Canadian astronaut and physicians have had more opportunities than most to explore all the meanings of that word. He orbited Earth for 240 days and saw “just how exposed we are in the cosmos.”
Then, less than a year after his stint on the International Space Station, the pandemic hit. And he spent two years working the COVID-19 units at Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre, witnessing heartbreak and solidarity.
If Saint-Jacques has had a lifelong obsession with perspective, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he points to the “many, many, many giants” on whose shoulders he’s been standing — and those who “made it possible for me to come back to Earth alive” — when he is singled out to receive one of the country’s highest honours.
Gov. Gen. Mary Simon announced Thursday that he and 98 others are being appointed to the Order of Canada.
Among the heavy hitters of academia, science, medicine, law and the arts are hockey star Sidney Crosby, currently the captain of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, famed Hollywood impressionist Rich Little and esteemed Quebec actor Michel Côté.
Two existing appointees are being promoted to become companions to the order, the honour roll’s highest status — beloved actor Eugene Levy and Nova Scotia businessman John Bragg.
“It’s very humbling, seriously, to have my name there along people who have accomplished so much on their own steam. I do feel like certainly my accomplishments as an astronaut are really the result of huge teamwork,” Saint-Jacques said.
The astronaut added that the teamwork of the international space program is what gives him hope that humanity can solve its biggest problems. It’s like “a bridge that we built that’s always open,” he said, no matter what is unfolding on the ground.
Another new officer in the order is Harry LaForme, who became Canada’s first Indigenous appellate court judge in 2004.
While serving on the Ontario Superior Court in 2002, LaForme authored an important decision that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ontario, finding that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated their equality rights. Gay marriage became legal in Ontario a year later.
“It was quite an easy decision for me to make,” he said. “The clarity comes from living a life of being oppressed and being denied rights.”
LaForme spoke about growing up on a First Nation reserve, living through a period when, “You had to get permission to go off the reserve” and speaking to his grandfather, whose life had been overtaken by the department of Indian Affairs, about the erosion of their Indigenous language.
He said he has always remembered what the then-Liberal justice minister, Irwin Cotler, told him upon his appointment to the appeals court.
“I said, ‘Why did you pick me?’ And he said, ‘Well, somebody who knows justice will be somebody who has experienced injustice.’ And that resonated with me.”
When people say that he was ahead of his time on the same-sex marriage decision and on another that paved the way for legal use of cannabis for medical purposes, LaForme disagrees. “I think that was exactly the right time to be doing it.”
LaForme and Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré delivered a report to the federal justice minister in late 2021 that envisions an independent commission to consider wrongful conviction applications. And he is taking on cases related to the over-incarceration of Indigenous Peoples in his role as senior counsel at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP.
“Anything is better than what we do right now,” he said, urging the government to do better on the issue and follow through on his recommendations. “We’ve got to care about the people that are incarcerated.”
LaForme is not the only Order of Canada appointee who is being recognized for extraordinary achievements but who feels that their work is far from over.
Ronald Deibert, a University of Toronto professor and founder of its unique Citizen Lab, is being recognized “for his leadership and expertise in digital technology, security and human rights, and for his groundbreaking contributions to cybersecurity around the globe.”
No institution houses anything quite like the lab, which combines research from different disciplines to pull back the curtain on cybersecurity. Its reports are informing international policy and global approaches to combating mercenary spyware.
“I wanted to create a counter-intelligence capacity for global civil society, and that’s effectively what we do,” Deibert said. He added that his role is like that of a coach or a general manager on a hockey team, and he feels he is receiving the honour on behalf of the group of professionals who conduct that work.
Deibert, who recently briefed the White House and other high-level audiences about cybersecurity risks, said he’s hoping for more acknowledgment of the problem from the Canadian government. He accused Ottawa of being “asleep at the wheel.”
But he expressed gratitude for being recognized with the accolade, calling it a surreal experience.
“I grew up in a working-class east Vancouver neighbourhood. I didn’t even think I would get much beyond high school, and within my family, I think as far as you can go, I was the only person to go to university,” he said.
“To get this award is just a huge recognition for someone like me and I think others who may be in that position. It just goes to show that … if you care about what you do, you’re passionate and you work hard, it pays off.”
Simon said in a statement that the appointees’ commitment to the betterment of Canada fills her with pride and hope for the future.
“Celebrated trailblazers in their respective fields, they are inspiring, educating and mentoring future generations, creating a foundation of excellence in our country that is respected throughout the world,” her statement said.
The Governor General will offer the awardees their Order of Canada insignia at an investiture ceremony, with the details yet to be announced.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2022.
Appointments to the Order of Canada
Gov. Gen. Mary Simon has appointed the following people, who were recommended for appointment by the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada:
– John Louis Bragg (This is a promotion within the order)
– Eugene Levy (This is a promotion within the order)
– Gordon John Glenn Asmundson
– Lise Françoise Aubut
– James Ashley Corcoran
– Michel Côté
– Sidney Patrick Crosby
– Eleanor Joanne Daley
– Ronald James Deibert
– Allen Charles Edward Eaves
– Robert Alan Ezrin
– Victor Jay Garber
– André Gaudreault
– Paula Beth Gordon
– Laurence A. Gray
– Eva Grunfeld
– Budd Lionel Hall
– Michael Douglas Hill
– Walter William Jule Jr.
– The Honourable Harry S. LaForme
– Bernard Joseph Lapointe
– Pierre Lassonde
– Andreas Laupacis
– Yves Lenoir
– David Frederick Ley
– Richard Caruthers Little
– Gerald James Lozinski and Joan Mary Lozinski
– Ivar Mendez
– The Honourable Gerald M. Morin
– Eli Rubenstein
– David Saint-Jacques
– Brian Edward Stewart
– Barbara Lewis Zimmerman
– Jean Aitcheson
– Shelley Diane Ambrose
– Ted Barris
– Marie-Dominique Beaulieu
– Stephen Alfred Bell
– John J. M. Bergeron
– Kevin Luke Blackmore
– Sheila Ruth Black
– Bernard Joseph Bocquel
– Louis André Borfiga
– Yvonne Bonnie Bressette
– André H. Caron
– Timothy Allen Caulfield
– The Honourable Maria Emma Chaput
– Wayne Chaulk
– Angela Ella Cooper Brathwaite
– Alan Côté
– Armand Calixte Doucet
– Douglas Allen Dunsmore
– Konrad Eisenbichler
– Carolyn R. Freeman
– Patricia Garel
– Félix Gauthier
– Samuel Gewurz
– Hamlin Washington Grange
– Allan Edward Gross
– Feridun Hamdullahpur
– Lori Haskell
– Raymond John Johnson
– Colleen Patricia Jones
– Martin F. Katz
– Simon Sean Keith
– Warren Charles Seymour Kimel
– Donald Arnold Kossick
– Stéphane Laporte
– Karina Chenelle LeBlanc
– Philippe Lette
– Frederick John Longstaffe
– John Robert Lounds
– Brian Gerald MacKay-Lyons
– Conor Gerard Maguire
– Michael Massey
– Jacqueline Mary Elizabeth Maxwell
– Marc Daniel Mayer
– Heather Mary McGregor
– Roderick McKendrick
– Bill Howard Namagoose
– Patricia Margaret Ningewance
– Michèle Ouimet
– Pitman Benjamin Potter
– Benoît Robert
– Frantz Saintellemy
– Raymond Saint-Pierre
– Victor Sarin
– Michael Schmidt
– Gary S. Segal
– Lorraine P. Segato
– William George Sembo
– Mark Geoffrey Sirett
– Donat Taddeo
– Laurier Thibault
– Mac Van Wielingen
– Stanley Vollant
– The Honourable Konrad Winrich Graf Finck von Finckenstein
– Richard Weisel
Renters in Canada are facing the toughest market since 2001: CMHC report – Global News
Renters in Canada are facing the toughest market in decades with low vacancies, higher prices and surging demand, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The housing agency released its annual rental market report Thursday, which showed that the national vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments declined to 1.9 per cent last year — the lowest level since 2001.
Meanwhile, the demand for rentals outstripped supply due to higher net migration, the return of students to on-campus learning and a rise in homeownership costs.
“Higher mortgage rates, which drove up already-elevated costs of homeownership, made it harder and less attractive for renters to transition to homeownership,” CMHC said in a statement.
CMHC data also showed that the average rent for two-bedroom units that were occupied by a new tenant rose by 18.3 per cent — well above the average rent growth for units without turnover. This made it difficult for Canadians trying to enter the rental market or find new housing to rent, the agency said.
“Lower vacancy rates and rising rents were a common theme across Canada in 2022,” Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, said in a statement.
“This caused affordability challenges for renters, especially those in the lower income ranges, with very few units in the market available in their price range.”
How will housing market look in the next year?
The average rent for a two-bedroom rental condominium apartment saw a significant increase to $1,930 from $1,771, about nine per cent year over year, according to CMHC.
Canada is also facing a housing crunch with a shortage of both homes and construction workers to build new units.
Another CMHC report released last week found that the annual rate of new home building had slowed by five per cent in December 2022 compared with November.
Last month, in a bid to help tackle skyrocketing rents across the country, the government of Canada opened applications for a one-time top-up as part of the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) program — an initiative that would put $500 in the pockets of low-income renters.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada sharing Haiti sanctions evidence, in bid to convince UN peers to freeze elites
“We continue to share whatever information we can — with respect to the decisions that we have made — with other countries,” Bob Rae said in an interview.
“Canada still maintains the right to make its own decisions as well, which is what we’re doing.”
Rae visited Haiti last December as part of Canada’s efforts to try forming a political consensus on how western countries should best respond to the country’s cascading political and humanitarian crises.
Violent, feuding gangs have taken over the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince since last summer. A UN report last October said gangs are sexually assaulting women and children, in addition to curtailing access to health care, electricity and clean water.
The gangs have reportedly killed and kidnapped hundreds, while filling a power vacuum in a country led by politicians whose terms have expired. No elections have been held since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s unelected prime minister, Ariel Henry, has requested a foreign military intervention, which Washington says Canada ought to lead, though the idea is divisive among Haitians.
Instead, Canada has sought a political consensus in Haiti, and has sanctioned 15 of the country’s political and economic elite, accusing them of emboldening the gangs.
Canada has not publicly shared the evidence upon which it has based those decisions. The length of its Haiti sanctions list is unmatched.
The U.S. sanctioned just four Haitians last year over alleged ties to gangs, in addition to three whom Washington had sanctioned in 2020.
Most countries have opted to follow a United Nations process to identify people affiliated with gangs who should be subject to sanction. It has listed just one person since October — gang federation leader Jimmy Cherizier, known locally as “Barbecue.”
Anyone who ends up on that list will see a nearly global travel and assets ban. But Rae said it is expected that countries will take a long time to agree on who merits such heavy restrictions.
“Canada knew the process at the UN could become a complex one,” he said.
“We thought it was important for us to get ahead of that process, which we fully respect, and look forward to hearing from the experts.”
In an interview with The Canadian Press last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on European governments to follow Canada’s lead and implement their own, unilateral sanctions on Haiti’s elites. That hasn’t happened yet.
In an interview earlier this month, former governor general Michaëlle Jean, who has roots in Haiti, singled France out for doing “nothing at all” on sanctions.
The French embassy in Ottawa deferred to the speech France gave Monday to the UN Security Council, suggesting that the country is sticking with the UN sanctions process.
“France welcomes the establishment of the (sanctions) committee and its panel of experts. We hope that this committee will quickly get to work to make proposals,” senior diplomat Nathalie Broadhurst told the council.
“It is with a sense of great urgency that France calls on the international community to redouble its efforts.”
Rae said sanctions from France would likely have a strong effect. He also noted that the neighbouring Dominican Republic is a haven for Haitian elites, but it lacks laws to sanction individuals.
“We’re having some discussions with the EU and with the French and others. We’re continuing to have as constructive a dialogue as we can,” he said.
“Our experience in Haiti has been that the sanctions have had a strong impact. And obviously, their impact is increased when other countries join in.”
To that end, Rae said Canada has been giving the UN sanctions committee and other countries the evidence that Ottawa has used in its decision-making.
“We’ve been talking to the panel and sharing information, and sharing as much documentation as we can,” said Rae, who said that the evidence can’t be made public.
Unlike other countries such as Britain, which publishes detailed reasons when it places someone on its sanctions list, the Canadian approach is to keep reasons confidential.
Former Haitian prime ministers Laurent Lamothe and Jean-Henry Céant have both demanded that Canada reveal its reasoning, with both denying Ottawa’s claims that they have supported gangs. Lamothe has filed a claim in Federal Court, while Céant asked the UN this week to intervene against Canada.
“We have to deal with this information carefully. It’s important for everybody to know that the law has to be followed carefully,” Rae said.
“None of these decisions are taken lightly, and they’re all taken in the awareness that many people will naturally not be happy about being sanctioned, will be obviously exercising the rights they have under our legal structure.”
In Haiti, the National Network for the Defence of Human Rights has reported that Canada’s sanctions have slightly alleviated the suffering, with gangs loosening their grip on locals’ movements.
“They were ordered to calm down,” director Rosy Auguste Ducena told Radio France International earlier this month in French.
“Those who have not yet been affected by these sanctions have decided to slow down their relations with the armed bandits.”
Yet a former U.S. envoy for Haiti, Dan Foote, has doubts. He resigned in September 2021 over frustration with western policies he witnessed in Haiti, which he argued in his resignation letter “consistently produce catastrophic results.”
“For sanctions to work, those sanctions need to be transparent,” Foote said in an interview.
He added that sanctions can have unintended negative consequences. “There are a few people who would have brought a lot of Haitians to the table who are now under sanctions.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.
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