Percy Schmeiser, whose name became synonymous with the legal fight against patent rights centred around Monsanto’s genetically modified canola, has died.
John Schmeiser told CBC News his father died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday afternoon at the age of 89. Schmeiser had Parkinson’s disease.
The Saskatchewan farmer became famous in the late 1990s after agrochemical giant Monsanto took him to court. The company had found its genetically modified canola in Schmeiser’s field, but he had never paid for the right to grow it.
Schmeiser insisted the seeds had blown onto his field in the wind and that he owned them.
Monsanto sued him, and in the end, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the farmer had knowingly violated Monsanto’s patent.
Recently, a movie based on Schmeiser’s life was released.
Schmeiser’s son John said the court case was only one part of his life, as it happened when Schmeiser was getting ready to retire. John said he’ll remember Percy as a dedicated father, grandfather and businessman.
“I am privileged to this day to be his son,” John said. “Growing up, it was very, very evident right from the beginning about how concerned he was about his community and his family.”
Schmeiser served on town council in Bruno, Sask., for several years, both as mayor and as a councillor. He also ran a couple of businesses and ran a farm, John said.
“We were always busy,” John said. “And he always made time to be with family. And when grandchildren started to rise, it just took it to another level for him because he had more children to be around.”
Schmeiser would spoil his children and grandchildren but also pushed them to be their best.
“He also challenged us … in a good way, to make sure that whatever we did or whatever we chose as a vocation, there’s something that had a little difficulty with it,” John said. “That challenge was all always done in a very friendly ‘I have your best interests at heart’ way.”
It is an inspiration about Percy, not just standing up for oneself, but to meet our burdens and challenges with enthusiasm.– Terry Zakreski
John said the family was pleasantly surprised when Christopher Walken was announced to play his dad in the film, which is called simply Percy. He said he’s been a fan of Walken’s for a long time, but it was awkward to see his family’s story on screen. His father was more joyful than Walken portrayed, he said.
“My mom was a little disappointed that Christopher Walken had a goatee, as my father never did,” John said with a laugh. “But in the end, we’re very happy with his portrayal.”
Schmeiser’s longtime lawyer, who was with him throughout the landmark Monsanto case, said there were some things the movie got right and some it got wrong.
Schmeiser was portrayed by Walken as somewhat grumpy or curmudgeonly, which Terry Zakreski said was very different from real life.
“Notwithstanding all that pressure that he was under every morning … when we went to court, he had a smile on his face as big as all of Saskatchewan,” Zakreski said.
“I never met a man like him that could face the challenges that he did and withstand it and still … be the jovial person that he was,” Zakreski said. “It is an inspiration about Percy, not just standing up for oneself, but to meet our burdens and challenges with enthusiasm.”
Zakreski saw the movie at the Calgary Film Festival with Schmeiser’s son, John, and said it was a strange and surreal experience.
Though he said the film got more things right than wrong, there were some aspects where the director took artistic licence.
“The trial was a lot more intense and a lot more dramatic than it was portrayed,” he said. “It took place in Saskatoon on a larger scale and it drew an incredible amount of interest. There were media scrums going into and out of court. It was a very high pressure situation.”
Zakreski said Schmeiser’s death wasn’t a complete surprise because of his age and health concerns but still hurt to hear.
“He was just an extraordinary person. I haven’t met someone like him … an example for us all.”
John said memories about his father that stand out are his passion for fishing and sharing his skills.
“He would go to great lengths to take his grandchildren, when they were four, five, six years old, he would take them fishing. And he just loved doing that,” John said. “For all of us, that was a very, very special thing and it was so important to him.”
Schmeiser would be filled with pride when he saw his grandchildren catch their first fish, John said.
“I don’t know who had a bigger smile, [Schmeiser] or one of his grandchildren,” John said. “For him, that was just an incredible sense of accomplishment, to see them catch fish.”
John said he hopes his father is remembered as that dedicated grandfather, passionate fisher and someone who would do anything to see his community succeed. Schmeiser would be there for his customers at the farm equipment dealership at any time, and even in retirement watched the weather to make sure they had a good harvest, John said.
Schmeiser is survived by his wife Louise. The two had just had their 68th wedding anniversary on Oct. 2. John said they met at a dance in Bruno, Sask., and lived there their entire lives. Now, Bruno is home for him and his siblings forever, he said.
Husky Energy Bought Out By Rival Cenovus – VOCM
Husky Energy is being swallowed up by rival Cenovus Energy Inc. in an all-stock deal valued at $23.6 billion, the companies announced early Sunday.
The statement said both companies’ boards of directors have approved the transaction that’s expected to close in the first quarter of next year, and has everything to do with the downturn in the industry as companies seek strategies for survival amid COVID-19.
The Calgary-based companies said the combined company will be the third largest Canadian oil and natural gas producer, based on total company production.
The announcement comes as Husky, like most petroleum producers, has been re-evaluating its investments across the board.
It’s not clear yet how the deal will affect Husky’s operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, which includes the idled West White Rose extension project and the SeaRose FPSO.
The company had already laid off dozens of workers in the province earlier this month.
Are nursing homes above the law? WestJet changes course on COVID-19 refunds: CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet – CBC.ca
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Ont. Nursing homes are breaking the law repeatedly, with few consequences
In our latest investigation, we uncover exclusive details on serious safety violations before the pandemic, including abuse, inadequate infection control, unsafe medication storage, inadequate hydration and poor skin and wound care. Our data analysis reveals 85 per cent of the province’s nursing homes are repeat offenders for some of the most serious violations with almost no consequences. Read more
WestJet says it will now provide refunds for COVID-19 cancellations. Will other airlines follow?
If you’re among the thousands of Canadians fighting for a refund on air travel cancelled because of the pandemic, you might be in luck. WestJet announced on Wednesday that it would begin offering refunds in the original form of payment, instead of credits. The company said it’s the first national airline in the country to proactively begin refunding customers during the pandemic — a comment that Air Canada has since contested. Read more
Google is facing an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department. Here’s what it means
The United States Justice Department alleges Google abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers. It’s a serious charge and one that Google is expected to fiercely oppose. The company tweeted shortly after the announcement that the “lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.” Read more
Last week, Marketplace investigated fake appliance repair listings online and why you can’t always trust Google Maps.
She wants to honour her husband’s dying wish. But Apple won’t let her access his account
It’s been four years since Carol Anne Noble’s husband died, but she’s still struggling to fulfil a promise she made before his death. Noble wants access to an Apple account she and her husband shared — but was under his name — so she can access and ultimately publish a journal he wrote documenting the progression of his illness. But instead of giving her the password she’s forgotten, the tech giant is demanding she jump through complicated legal hoops to satisfy what experts say is an outdated U.S. law. Go Public reports. Read more
What else is going on?
Tim Hortons to stop using two cups for hot drinks, use sleeves instead
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Air Transat lays off half of its remaining flight attendants, closes Vancouver base
128 attendants got layoff notices last week.
Ontario restaurants near virus hot spots weigh safety-vs-profit with locals-only dining
Some restaurants are making the choice to bar out-of-town customers from indoor dining.
These SALT lounge chairs have been recalled due to a fall hazard
Owners are being urged to return the affected chairs to any Bed Bath & Beyond location for a full refund or credit.
These Cottonelle flushable wipes have been recalled due to possible contamination
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product and dispose of it.
This CB2 bookcase has been recalled
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This week on Marketplace
Imagine being a senior locked down in a long-term care home during COVID-19.
Most of your family can’t visit. Meals have been a solitary affair in your room. And, if there’s an outbreak, people are dying around you. It’s a haunting prospect — but hardly the first bad thing to happen inside a nursing home.
Marketplace has, for three years, had a specialized team investigating care homes, the companies that own and operate them, and the government system that supports them.
In the stories we’ve done, we’ve always wondered: Do things get better?
And that’s what we’ve set out to answer in this week’s episode.
Our team has found that long-term care homes have violated legislation governing Ontario’s care homes 30,000 times over five years. And found that many of the problems identified by government inspectors — offences like abuse and neglect — actually repeat year after year.
It’s one thing to look at numbers, but our team has found the people impacted — and their stories are gripping (and, at times, horrifying). Many of them also have secret video that they’ve shared exclusively with us — and now, you.
This story is years in the making, and a window inside a world many of us don’t see — but could well end up inside.
-David Common and the Marketplace team
Marketplace needs your help
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Catch up on past episodes of Marketplace any time on CBC Gem.
Cenovus snares Li Ka-shing’s Husky Energy in $7.8bn deal – Financial Times
Cenovus Energy is to buy rival Canadian oil producer Husky Energy, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, in a C$10.2bn ($7.8bn) deal as the wave of consolidation sweeping North America’s battered oil and gas sector gathers speed.
The new company will be worth C$23.6bn, Cenovus said, making it Canada’s third-largest oil and gas producer with an output of 750,000 barrels a day concentrated in the bitumen-rich oil sands of northern Alberta, the biggest single source of US crude imports.
The transaction is the latest in a string of North American oil mergers as operators seek to consolidate and cut costs. The largest came last week when ConocoPhillips agreed to buy Concho Resources in a deal worth $9.7bn, marking another big bet on the future of US shale.
Other recent deals include the $7.6bn takeover of US shale group Parsley Energy by Pioneer Natural Resources, Chevron’s $13bn plan to buy Noble Energy and Devon Energy’s $12bn deal to combine with rival WPX Energy.
The plummeting oil price had caused shares in Cenovus to fall by more than 60 per cent since the start of January, and Husky’s by almost 70 per cent.
The deal was conceived as a nil-premium merger, but due to the divergence in share prices, Cenovus has agreed to pay a 21 per cent premium, or 23 per cent including warrants, to Husky shareholders. The transaction values Husky’s shares at about $3.8bn, or $10.2bn including debt.
“We will be a leaner, stronger and more integrated company, exceptionally well-suited to weather the current environment and be a strong Canadian energy leader in the years ahead,” said Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus’s chief executive.
The new company will be 61 per cent owned by Cenovus shareholders, with the reminder held by Husky’s investors. Two entities controlled by Mr Li, which own about 70 per cent of Husky at present, will emerge with more than 27 per cent of the new company’s common stock.
Mark Oberstoetter, head of North America upstream research at Wood Mackenzie, said the takeover meant Cenovus would now have enough refining capacity to handle the bulk of its own production, which could add some “natural hedging back into the portfolio”.
After the withdrawal of several international oil companies from the Alberta oil sands — where the high cost of producing bitumen, constant environmental opposition, and slow progress in building new pipeline infrastructure have deterred investors — the Cenovus deal points to the sector’s further consolidation in the hands of local companies.
Future dealmaking could see remaining oil sands interests held by Total, Shell, BP, and Chevron — which no longer consider the region strategic — targeted for acquisition by Canadian operators, Mr Oberstoetter added. “Calgary used to be an international hub, but we’ve lost that,” he said.
Both Cenovus and Husky were among oil-sands operators forced to shut some production this year as prices fell. The Alberta government, which offered to collaborate with the Opec cartel in its supply cuts earlier this year, has used a programme of so-called curtailments to restrict supply from operators, including Cenovus and Husky, to prevent production overwhelming local infrastructure.
Canada’s production of bitumen — ultra heavy oil that must be upgraded before refining into fuels — has attracted environmental opposition because of its carbon intensity and its vast ecological footprint in northern Alberta.
Insufficient pipeline capacity to ship growing volumes of oil-sands production to markets beyond North America has periodically forced deep discounts on Canadian exports. The low quality of Alberta’s oil also makes it cheaper. While US oil has traded at about $40 a barrel in recent weeks, the benchmark for Canadian oil has been priced at about $30 a barrel.
The companies said annual synergies created by the deal would amount to $1.2bn, largely achieved within the first year. Free cash flow would be achieved at a price of $36 for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate in 2021.
A new 12-person board will comprise eight directors from Cenovus and the remainder from Husky.
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