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Ottawa rejects calls to shut down rail blockades, will focus on negotiation – The Globe and Mail



A protester carries a sign at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

The federal government is ramping up its efforts to convince Indigenous communities to peacefully end a series of rail blockades, as Canadian National Railway Co. announced 1,000 temporary layoffs on Sunday, reflecting the growing economic impact of the protests.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday cancelled a trip to the Caribbean to focus on the blockades and Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said that Ottawa doesn’t believe police intervention is the solution to anti-pipeline protests that have shut down much of the country’s rail system. Some premiers and the federal Conservative opposition had called on the government in recent days to take a hard line, enforce injunctions and remove protesters.

Businesses have warned of economic damage as trains typically carrying tens of thousands of commuters and billions of dollars worth of freight have been idled in railyards and sidings across the country since the blockades began on Feb. 6. CN sent out 450 of an estimated 1,000 temporary layoff notices on Sunday, spokesman Alexandre Boulé confirmed, as protests have shuttered much of the railway’s eastern Canadian network.

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Late Sunday, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau relaxed a ministerial order that had limited the speed of trains transporting combustible cargo such as crude oil. The order followed a fiery derailment in Saskatchewan in early February. CN said the change would allow it to increase the speed of its shipments in Western Canada, which would help compensate for the blockades in the east.

The protests have been spearheaded by groups opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia and the RCMP’s enforcement of injunctions to dislodge protesters who had been blocking construction of the $6.6-billion pipeline. All 20 elected First Nation councils along the natural gas pipeline’s route support the project, but a group of eight Wet’suwet’en hereditary house chiefs have led a vocal campaign to oppose the pipeline’s construction.

Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett is expected to meet with Indigenous leaders in British Columbia on Monday. The Gitxsan First Nation temporarily took down a rail blockade near Hazelton, B.C., last week pending a proposed meeting with the minister, provincial officials and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister, said Mr. Trudeau has been in communication on the weekend with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Mr. Garneau and Ms. Bennett.

“Our priority remains the safety and security of all Canadians and the swift resolution of this issue to restore service across the rail system in accordance with the law,” she said in a statement.

Opinion: Every day rail blockade lasts, Trudeau’s stock drops lower

Mr. Miller, the Indigenous Services Minister, said the federal government has learned from two bloody police raids on First Nations encampments in recent decades, in Oka, Que., in 1990 and in Ipperwash, Ont., in 1995. More dialogue with Indigenous leaders and communities is the only solution to the continuing blockades, he said on Sunday.

“We have the experience of Oka 30 years ago where people went in with police and someone died. My question to Canadians, my questions to myself and to fellow politicians regardless of the party, is whether we do things the same old way and repeat the errors of the past, or do we take the time to do it right?” he said in an interview.

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A blockade in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., has stopped most traffic on CN’s rail network east of Winnipeg.

Via Rail said on Sunday that it has cancelled all trains across Canada, except for two secondary routes, until the end of Monday. More than 83,000 passengers have had their trips cancelled since the Ontario blockade started.

One of Montreal’s commuter lines has been shut down by a blockade in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory outside the city. The provincial authority that operates the line said it is planning to run buses for commuters on Monday.

Smaller protests were also held on the weekend in Vancouver, Vaughan, Ont., and Niagara Falls, Ont.

Protesters at the Tyendinaga blockade declined to speak to media, including regarding Mr. Trudeau’s plans – except to say they believed it was unlikely that he would show up and speak to them in person.

Four Ontario Provincial Police officers hung back several hundred metres from the blockade Sunday, coming closer only for a brief check-in with the protesters in the late afternoon. “The dialogue is still open,” said Sergeant Cynthia Savard, the OPP’s regional community safety officer, in a phone interview. “It’s about keeping a peaceful, safe environment.”

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Several dozen supporters arrived over the course of the day, delivering supplies including pizza, propane, firewood and Tim Hortons coffee. Some came from hundreds of kilometres away to share their support for the blockaders and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, and share their fears over the natural gas pipeline in B.C.

“It’s our future that’s going to be destroyed – it’s really important for youth,” said Malika Gasbaoui, 17, who is Ojibwa-Métis and visited from the Laurentians in Quebec. Her mother, Anna, added that “a lot of people have been saying that the majority of native people, and non-native people in Canada, are for pipelines – which is not true. … The more these guys destroy, the less we’re going to have.”

Mike Salmon came with his family from Kitchener, Ont. to bring the protesters tarps, toilet paper and batteries. “I think it’s such a sign of the times that Canada’s been going through this wake-up call about reconciliation, and the whole planet is going through a wake-up call around climate change,” he said.

Kenneth Deer, the secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, said his community’s blockade has been supported by the local band council and he expects it will remain in place until the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs tell them to stand down. Kahnawake was one of the communities at the centre of the Oka crisis.

“They blocked highways and railroads during the Oka crisis. They helped us. Now the shoe is on the other foot and we’re going to help them,” said Mr. Deer. “This has to be dealt with over there, with the Wet’suwet’en. All of this is for them. This is not for Tyendinaga and not for Kahnawake.”

Last week, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on police to enforce court orders and end the blockades, and criticized protesters as misguided activists who are damaging the economy and ignoring the wishes of elected First Nations leaders.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Sunday evening that he had urged Mr. Trudeau to focus on ending the blockades, calling it a “serious issue of national significance.”

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Tesla Driver Caught Going 100 MPH While Fast Asleep – CarBuzz



“Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going,” RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull told CBC News. “I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.”

When the officer tried to pull the Model S driver over, traffic cleared out of its lane, causing the car to automatically accelerate up to 150 kph (93 mph). Needless to say, pulling him over was an uphill battle.

Eventually, though, the officer managed to issue a ticket for speeding and suspend the driver’s license for 24 hours for fatigue. Further investigation led to the driver being charged with dangerous driving and being summoned to court in December.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Sept. 20 –



The latest:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province today. Numbers from Saturday and Sunday will be released on Monday.
  • Alberta has identified its first likely case of COVID-19 transmission within a school, with two cases at an elementary school in Edmonton. Transmission within a school “was not unexpected and is not a cause for alarm,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, at an early afternoon news conference Friday.
  • Alberta reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 16,381.
  • There were 1,424 active cases across the province, according to the latest update, down 59 from the day before.
  • As of Friday morning across the province, there have been 78 instances of someone with COVID-19 attending school while infectious. Currently, 57 of the 2,415 schools in Alberta have reported an infectious person who attended the school.
  • The Alberta Teachers’ Association released a survey Friday outlining how teachers and school leaders feel about how the pandemic has been handled in schools.
  • Alberta is starting to see a similar case load to Ontario and Quebec, which concerns experts because it has a much lower population. The number of new cases daily have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month and the province is facing widespread community transmission.
  • Across Canada, provinces say people are flouting provincial rules around gathering size limits, leading officials to impose new restrictions as COVID-19 infections climb across the country. 
  • With COVID-19 case counts rising in many communities, kids back in schools and more people returning to work, many public health experts agree that the “social circles” or “social bubbles” that worked as a safe approach in the early days of the lockdown now come with more risk.
  • Alberta will no longer recommend asymptomatic testing for the general population with fall flu season looming.
  • One new death was reported Friday, a woman in her 50s from the North zone not linked to any outbreak.
  • A total of 255 people have died of COVID-19 in Alberta.
  • As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 10 schools in Alberta classified as having outbreaks, with one Calgary school under a “watch” (defined as five or more cases where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school) and the rest with fewer cases.
  • The City of Edmonton announced Thursday it’s cancelling a mask exemption card program.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta said Friday that the province’s first likely case of COVID-19 transmission within a school had been confirmed, at a public elementary school in Edmonton, Waverley School

Hinshaw said both individuals were infectious within the school and that one of them “seems to have been the source for the other.”

With the province’s school relaunch strategy weeks underway, the Alberta Teachers’ Association released a survey Friday that outlines how teachers and school leaders feel about how the pandemic has been handled in schools.

Alberta is starting to see a similar case load to Ontario and Quebec, which is concerning as the prairie province has a much lower population, said Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. 

For the first 15 days of September in Alberta, the province has reported an average of 137 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That’s up from an average of 88 cases for that same period in August, meaning that cases have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month.


The province is also facing widespread community transmission of COVID-19, rather than the disease appearing in a few specific hotspots, like a long-term care facility, said Smith.

While some of the increase in Alberta cases could be attributed to more testing in September, with upwards of 30,000 people tested per day, these jumps in case counts are still concerning, said Smith.

With fall influenza season looming, Alberta will prepare for an expected surge in demand for laboratory tests by scaling back asymptomatic testing — the practice of conducting COVID-19 tests on people without symptoms, the province announced Thursday.

“In addition to potentially contracting COVID-19, Albertans will have a greater chance of catching a cold or flu, which have very similar symptoms to COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.

“More people with symptoms means that we will see more people needing to be tested. Our labs need to support cases of both COVID-19 and influenza.”

Hinshaw said those with symptoms who were in close contact with confirmed cases and those linked to an outbreak will still be tested.

Provincial labs completed 13,003 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, the province said Thursday. 

In Calgary, drop-in COVID-19 testing is now being provided at the Bow Trail assessment centre, which is located inside the old Greyhound bus terminal. The Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre now offers COVID-19 testing by appointment only.

A Calgary teacher working at a public high school where a COVID-19 outbreak has been declared says he doesn’t feel safe at work because of the sheer number of people he comes in contact with each day. 

“I feel that I have the most dangerous job as a teacher in the province,” said the Lester B. Pearson High School instructor, who CBC News agreed not to name because he fears professional retribution. 

St. Wilfrid Elementary School in Calgary is the only school under the “watch” category, which Alberta Health defines as an outbreak with five or more cases where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school.

There are also 12 schools in the province with outbreaks of two to four cases. 

  • Notre Dame High School, Calgary.
  • Lester B. Pearson High School, Calgary.
  • Henry Wise Wood High School, Calgary.
  • Auburn Bay School, Calgary.
  • Crescent Heights High School, Calgary.
  • Chris Akkerman School, Calgary.
  • Ross Sheppard High School, Edmonton.
  • Centre High, Edmonton. 
  • McNally School, Edmonton.
  • Waverley School, Edmonton.
  • Chinook High School, Lethbridge.
  • Foothills Composite High School, Okotoks.

The City of Edmonton is cancelling a mask exemption card program introduced in early August, interim city manager Adam Laughlin told council Thursday. 

Cards already issued will be honoured, Laughlin said, but no new cards will be issued. 

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Friday:

  • Calgary zone: 450, down from 470 on Thursday.
  • Edmonton zone: 711, down from 751.
  • North zone: 197, up from 193.
  • Central zone: 24, down from 29.
  • South zone: 38, unchanged.
  • Unknown: 4, up from 2.

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Sept. 17. (CBC)

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 142,776 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 124,187 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,251.

The Quebec government is expected to announce new restrictions today, including reducing the size of private gatherings and imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants in Montreal and Quebec City after an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and his wife Nancy Déziel both tested positive for COVID-19. The party confirmed that both will be in isolation until the end of September.

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also had a COVID-19 test come back positive on Friday and is now isolating.

Ontario public health officials say they can’t trace how roughly half of the latest COVID-19 patients got infected.

The data suggests that many Ontarians are contracting COVID-19 through unmemorable interactions with others in the course of their daily lives. Experts are worried that failing to track the source of so many new infections will hamper efforts to rein in the spread of the virus. 

B.C, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec have also all reported a bump in cases throughout September, and some have paused their reopening plans as a result. 

Those under 40 are driving the spread in most provinces. In Ontario, health officials have identified smaller, indoor gatherings as the culprit. Younger people may also be working in precarious jobs where their exposure is increased, or where sick days may not be readily available. 

Some of Canada’s biggest cities are seeing a surge in household waste thanks to myriad COVID-related trends, including the re-emergence of disposable goods, a summer full of home renovations and the continuous growth of online shopping.

Face masks, like these ones in a Halifax garbage can, are just some of the disposable items Canadians are increasing their household waste with during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Robert Short/CBC)

Early figures from the cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax reveal that the amount of residential garbage collected has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Canadians yearning to travel abroad — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — can now get medical insurance to cover costs if they get sick with the coronavirus while travelling. 

More than six months into the global pandemic, the Liberal government is being accused of failing to meet the needs of the Canadians with disabilities who are among those hardest-hit by the public health crisis.

Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canada Human Rights Commission, said COVID-19 has “expanded the circle of vulnerability” in Canada — but people with disabilities still aren’t getting the support they need.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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'A heartbreak': Ranchman's searching for new owner amid COVID-19 pandemic – Calgary Herald



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“With everything happening and the Calgary downtown being almost completely empty, it’s created sort of the perfect storm for restaurant killing and hospitality killing.”

Ranchman’s has been synonymous with Calgary cowboy culture for nearly 50 years after it first opened its doors April 27, 1972.

The country nightclub was a popular spot during the Calgary Stampede and throughout the rest of the year, being named the “Country Club of the Year” by the Canadian Country Music Association 11 times.

The venue temporarily shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17, and it has remained closed since. Nightclubs such as Ranchman’s are not permitted to reopen until Stage 3 of Alberta’s relaunch, and public-health officials have said there is currently no timeline for when that might happen.

The bar was founded by Harris Dvorkin and Kevin Baker but ownership traded hands in 2017, following Dvorkin’s death. Calgary bar scene mainstay Doug Rasberry purchased the property alongside a group of local business owners.

Members of the Ranchman’s ownership group did not respond to numerous requests for comment from Postmedia.

Campbell said owners were only talking to “a select few people” about the situation.

“This was a heartbreak for him. Doug (Rasberry) was the first guy, when I took Ranchman’s to the market three and a half years ago, Doug lit up like a kid at Christmas. He was so excited to have an opportunity to take this history on,” he said.

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