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P.E.I. woman scrambles to save beloved horse from slaughterhouse



Tyra Perry sat bolt upright in her bed early on Nov. 4. She says her hands shook as she held her phone and read the message: Mittcent Vangogh, the gentle racehorse she had grown to love, was being taken to a slaughterhouse.

“I jumped out of bed. I was very, very upset,” Perry, 19, said in an interview this week from her home in Tignish, P.E.I.

Last summer, Perry’s family sold the 11-year-old standardbred back to the New Brunswick dealer where they had bought him because he had a sore foot and could no longer race. She imagined the rest of his days would be peaceful. “He’s a very big boy,” she said. “And he is just the gentlest horse I’ve ever met.”

The family bought the horse in 2019, and Perry and her father took him out to the harness racing track in O’Leary, P.E.I. While her father raced, she was Vangogh’s groomer. The horse, she said, usually came in second or third.

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But as Vangogh’s injury worsened, the family decided to sell him even though Perry was fond of the animal. “My dad said I can’t keep every racehorse that goes through our barn,” she said.

After selling Vangogh last year, she lost track of him until a friend messaged after reading news about the animal on a horse-rescue Facebook page. The horse was in Pennsylvania and would be sent to Quebec to be slaughtered for meat.

“I couldn’t let him be slaughtered. It broke my heart,” Perry said.

She reached out to Kimberly Hale of New Start Standardbreds in Ontario, who had initially posted on Facebook about Vangogh, for help to save the horse from the slaughterhouse. New Start Standardbreds was founded in 2020 to find new homes for horses in Ontario and Eastern Canada.

Hale said in an interview that she had watched videos sent by a volunteer in Pennsylvania who spotted Vangogh outside the slaughterhouse, and the horse looks “totally fine.”

“He’s in good shape,” Hale said. “You know, there’s no reason he should have landed where he was. Just kind of bad luck.”

The first step Perry said she had to take was raise about $1,800 to get Vangogh away from the slaughterhouse.

“Amazingly, I got that in the first week. It was all my friends and family from just my little community,” she said. “I raised the $1,800 to get him out as fast as possible. Now he’s in a safe home in Pennsylvania.”

When she first got the message from Perry asking how her horse could be rescued, Hale said she felt relief.

“Those horses that have people looking out for them and care about them, it’s an extra good feeling, knowing that we can help them get them out, rather than the ones that don’t have anybody, because those ones are a lot harder,” she said.

The U.S. has a ban on equine slaughter, although horsemeat is sold across North America. Canada has two of the biggest slaughterhouses — in Quebec and Alberta.

Hale said Vangogh is in quarantine to make sure he’s disease-free.

Perry is hoping to raise about $1,500 more by the time Vangogh is out of quarantine so she can transport him back to P.E.I., where he will live with a friend on his farm in nearby Nail Pond. The friend has a horse, she said, so Vangogh will have a friend.

“If everything goes fine, he’ll be here before Christmas,” she said. “That’d be a nice Christmas gift for him.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2022.


Hina Alam, The Canadian Press




COVID-19 benefits helped economy rebound, but post-payment verification lacking: AG



Canada’s auditor general says COVID-19 benefits were delivered quickly and helped mitigate economic suffering, however, the federal government hasn’t done enough to recover overpayments.

In a new report looking into the federal government’s delivery of pandemic benefits, Karen Hogan said the programs provided relief to workers and employers affected by the pandemic and helped the economy rebound.

At the same time, the auditor general says the Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada have not followed up by verifying payments.

Hogan estimates $4.6 billion was paid to people who were not eligible, while another $27.4 billion in payments to individuals and businesses should be further investigated.

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“I am concerned about the lack of rigour on post-payment verifications and collection activities,” Hogan said in a news release.

The audit found that efforts to recover overpayments have been limited, with the Canada Revenue Agency collecting $2.3 billion through voluntary repayments.

Pre-payment controls were also lacking, though the report said the federal government made some changes to those controls for individual benefits.

However, the CRA made few changes to improve prepayment controls for businesses to mitigate risks of overpayment.

Hogan also flagged that there was a lack of sufficient data to assess the effectiveness of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.

Although the subsidy did go to businesses in industries hardest hit by the pandemic, the report said the effect of the subsidy on business resilience is unclear because the agency collected limited data from businesses.

The auditor general has made a set of recommendations to the government to improve the collection of overpayments and to fix data gaps relating to businesses.

Government organizations reviewed in the audit say they have accepted the recommendations, though only partially accepted a recommendation related to recuperating overpayments.

The federal government said it would prioritize which to pursue by weighing the resources necessary with the amount owed.

“It would not be cost effective nor in keeping with international and industry best practices to pursue 100 per cent of all potentially ineligible claims,” the response said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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Liberals pledge $15 million to remove Ukraine mines on anniversary of Ottawa Treaty



Liberals pledge $15 million to remove Ukraine mines on anniversary of Ottawa Treaty

The Trudeau government is pledging to spend $15 million to remove mines in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says the funding is meant to make the country safer after Russia has laid hundreds of the indiscriminate weapons.

Human Rights Watch says Ukrainian forces have also been laying anti-tank mines across the country.

Joly made the announcement on Monday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans landmines in most countries.

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Ottawa has so far provided Canadian-made bomb suits to help protect Ukrainian deminers and has plans to help fund remote-control systems to clear large areas such as farmlands.

Last month, Canada unveiled funding to remove both landmines and cluster bombs from parts of Southeast Asia that remain inaccessible decades after conflicts like the Vietnam War.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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B.C.’s Julia Levy is Canada’s first trans woman Rhodes Scholar



British Columbia’s newest Rhodes Scholar will pursue a master’s degree in computational chemistry, but she says it’s also an “incredible opportunity” as a trans woman to give back to her community.

University of Victoria graduate Julia Levy said she was “blown away” when she learned she was among 11 Canadians selected for this year’s Rhodes Scholarship, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious such awards.

Levy, 24, will head to Oxford University in England next October for the fully funded scholarship, a prize she said carries a special meaning because she is the country’s first trans woman Rhodes Scholar.

“I feel I am very, very proud being the first trans woman in Canada (to become a Rhodes Scholar),” said Levy, who made the transition from he to she three years ago.

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While the transition was a tough journey, Levy said she is aware of the many advantages she’s had.

“I think it’s really interesting to note that I am privileged in literally every other way, like my parents being supportive of my transition. I have always had financial stability and I grew up in a good part of Vancouver … maybe that’s the advantages that you need to equal out the trans part of it,” said Levy.

Levy, who graduated from the University of Victoria with a chemistry major and a minor in visual arts, described the scholarship as an “incredible opportunity and a gift,” equipping her with more knowledge and power to give back to the trans community.

“I feel my experiences of being trans and the ways that I have had to navigate the world being trans … has given me a lot of empathy for people in crisis and people who have difficulties in their lives,” said Levy.

“I know what it is to be at the bottom in some ways and my interest in harm reduction and trans care really all comes from that place of knowing what it’s like and wanting to reach out and help out where that’s possible.”

Levy is also a scientist, artist, activist, programmer, friend and daughter, she said.

“There are many parts of me that are equally important to who I am.”

University of Victoria chemistry professor Jeremy Wulff supervised Levy and said she was “destined for greatness,” bringing insights to projects that led to their success.

“I’m always excited when my students are recognized with awards and fellowships, but the Rhodes award is at a whole other level,” he said. “Julia is in excellent company amongst this group, and it’s absolutely where she belongs.”

Levy said magic can happen when you mix computation with chemistry.

In her second year at the University of Victoria, she found some classmates were struggling to picture molecules in their heads while doing peer teaching.

To help them visualize complex molecules, Levy created an augmented-reality app.

The app is a QR code in the workbook and allows the learner to see the molecule on their phone in three dimensions.

“You can work it with your phone and spin it around and zoom in and out,” said Levy.

She also worked as a technician with the university’s Vancouver Island Drug-Checking Project, a drop-in service where people can bring street drugs in for chemical analysis.

Levy said the experience used her chemistry skills in a “practical and socially active way” to help more people.

“It’s an excellent example of the social use of chemistry,” said Levy.

Levy, who was travelling in Germany during the interview, said she looks forward to being surrounded by the Rhodes community and “being challenged and pushed to new heights.”

“I hope I bring what makes me unique to Oxford, and that I am able to find a group of people, both personally and professionally, that celebrate that uniqueness,” said Levy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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