From a groundbreaking investigation into the safety of drinking water to Canadians held in ISIS detainee camps in Syria to exposing Canada’s money laundering problem, Global News took an in-depth look at a wide range of issues in 2019 that sparked public conversation and led to government action.
In November, Global News, along with universities and 10 media organizations, began publishing a series of stories that revealed hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be consuming tap water laced with high levels of lead leaching from aging infrastructure and plumbing.
Reporters collected test results that measured exposure to lead in 11 cities across Canada and found out of 12,000 tests since 2014, 33 per cent exceeded the national safety guideline of five parts per billion. The reporting also found the drinking in schools and daycares in several cities were exposed to dangerous lead levels.
News outlets around the world picked up on the Tainted Water investigation and led to changes among municipal and provincial governments.
Return to Syria
Canadian woman detained in Syria says she accepts she could face prosecution
Amid the fall of the so-called Islamic State, Global News returned to Syria this year to continue its reporting on the issue of Canadian foreign fighters.
At the Al-Hawl camp, which houses more than 70,000 women and children captured during the final battles with ISIS, Global spoke with several Canadians who are asking for the government to bring them home to be tried under Canada’s justice system.
Canada has so far not repatriated any of the roughly 40 Canadians held at ISIS detainee camps, according to Kurdish authorities.
Canada’s broken recycling industry
In a months-long investigation for a multi-part series, Global News spoke with dozens of communities, companies and industry leaders across the country about the mounting challenges faced by Canada’s recycling industry.
READ MORE: Is Canada’s recycling industry broken?
The result is dire: with few exceptions, more recycling is being sent to landfills, fewer items are being accepted in the blue bin and the financial toll of running these programs has become a burden for some municipalities.
Reporters also explored how to fix the country’s recycling system by focusing on a system in B.C. that relies on private companies to carry out the province’s residential recycling program.
Following the money, again
On the heels of Global’s months-long investigation into Fentanyl trafficking in 2018, reporters continued to dig into the intersection of drugs and money laundering in B.C., which looked at a then-Liberal MP whose work at a law firm has been linked to financial transactions with an alleged Chinese organized crime figure.
In the series B.C. Casino Diaries, former casino employees who worked for Great Canadian Gaming in Richmond, B.C., revealed how organized crime first infiltrated the gaming industry.
Global also revealed how Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido’s law firm helped facilitate a secretive B.C. real estate deal — known as a “bare trust” deal — that helped an alleged Chinese “drug boss” hide his ownership stake in a $7.8 million condo development.
And in a national look at the problem of money laundering, Global revealed how the provinces largely fail to prosecute these complex crimes with just 321 guilty verdicts in money-laundering cases over a 16-year period.
Following media reports on the money laundering, B.C. announced it would launch a public inquiry that has distorted the province’s real estate market and fuelled the opioid crisis.
Global News compiled a database to track the number of criminal cases thrown out in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s R. v. Jordan decision in 2016, which set trial deadlines of 18 months for provincial court trials and 30 months in superior court.
We found nearly 800 criminal cases — ranging from manslaughter to drug trafficking and even murder — have been stayed because a judge found the defendant’s constitutional right to a timely trial had been violated.
Global Edmonton followed the story with a look at charges being tossed in Alberta over a lack of prosecutors. Data obtained by Global News from Alberta Justice shows that all charges in 47 per cent of cases were withdrawn in the last fiscal year, and that number has been steadily rising since the 2015-2016 fiscal year
Immigration Refugee Board conduct
In 2019, Global reporters continued their in-depth coverage of Canada’s immigration system, exposing the ways in which Canada’s refugee determination system is failing some of the most vulnerable claimants.
This included claims that refugee judges at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) do not always adhere to the guidelines in cases involving allegations of sexual assault and domestic abuse.
Reporting also revealed problems with the board’s process for hiring new judges, including the re-appointment of a former adjudicator who publicly declared that nearly all refugee claimants are liars.
For the good of the force
In January, Global began publishing an ongoing series of stories exploring the RCMP’s “culture of dysfunction” and the way in which the famous force’s indelible image has shielded it from scandal.
The initial four-part series combed through decades worth of public documents to estimate the cost of the force’s failure to reform at $220 million and counting, revisited the case of the first female Mountie to win a sexual harassment lawsuit against the force, and probed the probable impacts of the City of Surrey’s decision to ditch the Mounties.
Those stories paved the way for additional deep dives exploring racism in the ranks, the force’s alleged campaign to get rid of Mounties with disabilities and its second $100 million sexual harassment settlement.
Beginning in November, Global launched Broken, a series reflecting on how we must provide better, more consistent and nuanced coverage of any woman, trans or non-binary person who has experienced violence, abuse or harassment.
Reporters tackled a multitude of complicated societal issues that aren’t often explored at length. They probed everything from the rehabilitation of domestic abusers to women of colour’s unique experience of violence and the 30-year lag time for a mainstream conversation about feminism after the Ecole Polytechnique massacre.
These stories are just the beginning, having sparked many people to reach out with their own stories of harassment, abuse and injustice, which reporters are now beginning to investigate.
Inside Ontario’s rocky first year of legal weed
Ontario has taken perhaps the clumsiest approach of any province to cannabis legalization; unfortunately, with 40 per cent of Canada’s population, that has an outsized effect on the national cannabis economy. The province still has only one store for more than half a million people and has Canada’s second-lowest per capita cannabis sales.
‘Under the Influence’
In a four-part series, reporters looked at the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on Canada’s health-care system — swaying doctors’ opinions, funding medical schools and, ultimately, affecting the type of drugs we are prescribed.
Global News spent months talking to doctors, opioid experts, pharma reps and Canadians whose lives were forever changed by prescription drugs. Reporters obtained and analyzed documents showing millions of dollars poured into health-care industries by Big Pharma.
Questionable conduct in Ontario real-estate
Ajax property entrepreneur Tarekh Rana haunted by Bangladesh fugitive crime boss doppelganger
An investigation between Global News and Bangladesh’s The Daily Star newspaper has found striking similarities between a Durham developer and an international fugitive accused of leading a criminal organization behind a series of extortions and murders.
The investigation also revealed his business appears to be in disarray and revealed how Rana aligned himself with city council in Ajax, even making a sitting councillor a director of his company.
In April, Global revealed that a company, 1PLUS12, is currently facing two lawsuits totaling $6.4 million that allege fraud or misrepresentation and is linked to an alleged $17-million mortgage fraud involving high-end real estate across Toronto.
One of their consultants, who recently changed his name, is also behind a B.C. company, that according to claims in court documents, lost investors and creditors almost $19 million.
Construction industry safety
During the summer, Global News used unmarked vehicles to film several Halifax-area construction sites, capturing on tape what appeared to be a wide variety of health and safety concerns. Four independent sources with expertise in construction safety reviewed that footage and alleged it contained life-threatening risk to workers, as labourers toiled on balconies and rooftops with no fall protection, among other risks.
When the Nova Scotia Department of Labour received a copy of the tape, it inspected more than 20 construction sites in the region, many of which were featured in Global News’ investigation. Three sites were issued warnings for not operating safely.
In December, Global took an in-depth look at the rise in temporary emergency room closures as Nova Scotia deals with a shortage of doctors and nurses. Most are unscheduled and can come with as little as half a day’s notice.
Between 2014 and the first three months of 2018, just under half of the emergency rooms in the province — 18 of 37 — were forced to temporarily close, often as a result of a lack of doctors or nurses.
And the number of temporary closures is increasing dramatically, according to data collected from reports prepared by the Nova Scotia government.
Abuse at Children’s Aid group homes
Drugs, theft, alcohol and inappropriate relationships alleged at Children’s Aid group home
In January, of this year, Global Kingston reported a story about a woman charged with sexual assaults of two minors and her employment at a Children’s Aid Society in Belleville at the time of the offences.
That story snowballed into an investigation that took six months and expanded into Prince Edward County.
Three pieces came from that investigation, one about a Children’s Aid group home that might have led to the death of a young man, another about a foster home in Prince Edward County named by the children who lived there as a ‘sexual cult’ and a third about a victim who came forward about her abuse as a child in a foster home, only to be ignored.
Soldiers aid commission
The Ontario Soldiers’ Aid Commission, the province’s emergency grant program for veterans, turns away veterans of recent conflicts while returning most of its budget unspent every year to the government, documents released under access-to-information laws show.
The provincial law it works under was last updated in 1970 and doesn’t let it give money to veterans of any conflict more recent than Korea. So while veterans of more recent wars often ask the volunteer board for help, they must be turned away. (The documents show that this happens, but the government won’t tell us how often.)
Blood Tribe opioid crisis
Amid Canada’s opioid crisis which has killed more than 14,000, Global Lethbridge took a deeper look at the effect the deadly painkiller were having in a southern Alberta community and
The Blood Tribe is the largest reserve in Canada, but carfentanil – a drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl – is killing people in record numbers and the community has made repeated, desperate calls for help that have gone unanswered.
Questionable spending at Sagkeeng FN
Sagkeeng First Nation health care centre investigation
Global Winnipeg revealed in June that Employees at a Manitoba health centre received more than a million dollars in questionable payouts – including thousands in cash advances and extensive entertainment costs – over the course of 18 months.
An internal audit, which reporters obtained exclusively, found that
Between Apr. 1, 2016 through Oct. 31, 2017, employees at the Fort Alexander Health Centre received more than $1.3 million above their salaries. The audit also revealed instances of $1,000 cash advances, extensive travel entertainment costs (including escape rooms, movie theatres and toy stores), and tens of thousands of dollars in “finders fees” for writing grant proposals.
Calcium chloride in water
Through Freedom of Information requests, Global News uncovered documents regarding Edmonton’s calcium chloride program that were previously undisclosed to city councillors. The documents revealed that the anti-icing agent was more detrimental to concrete and asphalt than sodium chloride and was classified as a hazardous waste after a test from the water utility.
The stories prompted hours of debate as councillors discussed the new information and the future of the anti-icing program. Ultimately, the city paused the program for one year to assess other snow-clearing options.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
CN, CP trains sharing rail lines to keep supplying Canada during blockades – CBC.ca
Quiet talks brokered by a government desperate to stop a growing economic threat led to two rail rivals coming together with a workaround to bypass the Tyendinaga blockade site.
Since last week, Canada’s two largest railways — CN and Canadian Pacific — have been quietly sharing their rail lines to transport essential supplies to communities in need, according to multiple government, CN and industry sources.
Protests by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga crippled passenger and freight train traffic on CN’s line near Belleville for more than two weeks in solidarity with anti-pipeline protests in northern B.C against the construction of the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline. Ontario Provincial Police officers on Monday arrested 10 demonstrators to get service back up and running on the line.
But as a result of what multiple government sources are describing as a very “rare” collaboration between the two rail giants, CN trains have been circumventing blockades using alternate routes — some through the U.S. — to continue deliveries to Quebec and Maritime communities facing shortages of essential goods such as propane, chemicals for water treatment facilities and animal feed.
Transport Canada and Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office approached the two companies and helped to negotiate the rail-sharing deal — which is still active in parts of the country dealing with blockades.
WATCH | OPP break up rail blockade:
The deal was kept under wraps by all involved; even the industries affected weren’t told about the arrangement. The Retail Council of Canada told CBC News it didn’t know about the deal. Neither did associations representing propane suppliers in Quebec and across Canada. The groups had been warning of looming supply shortages in Quebec and Eastern Canada, where families, farmers and companies have been rationing goods. Many households use propane to heat their homes and barns.
Government sources say they didn’t advertise the deal, fearing that more blockades could pop up in response.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the CN/CP arrangement yesterday on the way into question period in the House of Commons.
“Over the past number of days we’ve been working with rail carriers to ensure that many trains continue to use alternate routes to get through and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to avoid some of the most serious shortages,” said Trudeau.
Karl Littler, senior vice president, public affairs, of the Retail Council of Canada, learned about the arrangement from CBC News and commended it.
“We’re talking about foods, we’re talking about fuel to keep people heating in what can be a cold winter,” said Littler. “You’re talking about a lot of stuff that Canadians need everyday. I think it’s the responsible thing to look to see what alternative channels exist and if that means collaboration in these circumstances, so much the better.”
One CN conductor said they witnessed how covert the operation has been. The source said they saw specially trained CN workers use CP engines, with that company’s logo on them, to haul unmarked CN cargo.
CP told CBC News it didn’t have a comment to add. CN also isn’t commenting on the deal, saying only that it’s “pleased the illegal blockade in Tyendinaga has come to an end.”
“We are also monitoring our network for any further disruptions at this time,” said CN spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis in a statement.
Chinese Canadians plead for third Canadian rescue flight from Wuhan – Richmond News
Chinese Canadians whose family members remain in Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, are urging the federal government to send a third evacuation plane to bring home Canadians and permanent residents.
Wuhan and other cities across Hubei province went into lockdown on Jan. 23 as the Chinese government tried to contain the spread of the COVID-19, leaving citizens to have “close to zero” chance of leaving the city.
An open letter calling for a third rescue flight
Residents across the Lower Mainland who are originally from Hubei province, set up a WeChat group last week and sent an open letter to Global Affairs Canada on Saturday, hoping to reunite with their loved ones who are still trapped in Hubei.
Simon Zheng, a small business owner who works in Richmond and is also part of the WeChat group, told the Richmond News that at least 50 families are still stuck in Hubei, and each family has at least one Canadian citizen in it.
According to the letter, these families failed to board either of the previous chartered flights due to poor communication and misinformation, language barriers, isolation and mass panic.
“We estimate that the real number of Canadian families still confined in the province of Hubei is in reality much higher than what we have accumulated over the last three days… The longer this ordeal carries on, and the longer the lockdown continues for these unfortunate individuals, the more danger it will impose on the Canadians stuck there,” the letter reads.
“We cannot bear the thought of losing our family members if something were to happen in the next few weeks.”
People in Wuhan have been through a war without smoke: resident
Melanie Huang, a former Richmond resident, is concerned about both of her dad’s and grandfather’s situation in Wuhan as the coronavirus has claimed more than 2,600 lives so far.
Huang said her dad flew to China on Jan. 13 to celebrate Chinese New Year with her 89-year-old grandfather, but now he can’t return to Canada since all train stations and airports have shut down.
“The virus has spread quickly over the past few weeks, and hospitals only accept coronavirus-related patients. If seniors slip at home or hurt themselves, they won’t get treatment in time,” said Huang.
There is also some confusion regarding who is qualified to board the Canadian evacuation flight, according to Huang.
“I contacted the Canadian embassy to check if my dad, who is a permanent resident of Canada, is allowed to leave on the fight, but the answer was ‘no.’ We were told that permanent residents who hold Chinese passports aren’t allowed to leave Wuhan.”
However, Huang later came across news from English media outlets saying that Chinese nationals who are family members of foreign citizens could board flights from Wuhan.
Huang said dozens of WeChat group members now count on the Canadian government to arrange the third flight.
“As family members, we are willing to chip in some money for the flight. The risk our loved ones currently face is very high. Basically, they have been through a war without smoke.”
Newly married couple face forced separation
Meanwhile, Canadian citizen Zheng couldn’t celebrate the first Valentine’s Day with his wife after getting married late last year.
Zheng’s wife, who is in the process of getting permanent residency, went back to Wuhan to visit family members. Now, she is trapped there because the city has been locked down.
Zheng said they didn’t consider trying to board one of the first two chartered flights because they thought people who hold Canadian passports should be given priority to leave Wuhan. However, Zheng’s desire to reunite with his wife grows stronger as it’s uncertain how long the crisis will last.
“My wife has been self-isolating herself at home for the past few weeks. She is trying her best to stay safe, but long-time isolation might result in negative emotions,” said Zheng. “If there is another flight leaving Wuhan, I hope to see my wife on that plane.”
A spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada said they remain in regular contact with Canadians in China and are continuing to assist those in need.
In a written statement, the spokesperson added that Canadian citizens who require emergency consular assistance should contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, Global Affairs Canada has not commented on whether it will send a third plane into Hubei to bring back the remaining Canadians there.
Renewed protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs erupt across B.C. – CBC.ca
Protests by Wet’suwet’en supporters spread across British Columbia again on Monday afternoon, blocking public transit, the Port of Vancouver and the stairs to the B.C. Legislature.
The fresh demonstrations came after police in Ontario made several arrests earlier Monday while clearing a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory erected in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.
All West Coast Express trains heading east from Vancouver to Mission were cancelled Monday afternoon during the rush hour commute as protesters blocked tracks in the Port Haney area.
The tracks were clear by evening, and the trains are expected to run regular service Tuesday morning.
Crowds gather at B.C. Legislature
By mid-afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered near the entrance to the B.C. Legislature.
Police stood on the stairs flanking protesters, but there were no reports of arrests. Later, protesters blocked the progress of a police van that arrived at the legislature. They linked arms and chanted, “peaceful and with love, unarmed and non-violent.”
We’re bringing one of our vans to the Legislature driveway. This is to keep our officers warm – it’s chilly down there. This is NOT a precursor to arrests. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyj?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#yyj</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/F208353?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#F208353</a>
Some protesters locked themselves to a gate at the legislature, which was the scene of a large protest on Feb. 11, which prompted the province to obtain an injunction when entrances to the building were blocked.
Organizers said Monday they’re staying for the long haul.
“We are not here seeking arrest,” said Indigenous youth leader Ta’Kiaya Blaney, speaking with a megaphone. “We are here as our duty as Indigenous youth. Bring your blankets, it’s going to be a long night.”
Protest at Vancouver port
Nearly 100 people also blocked access to the Port of Vancouver at East Hastings Street and Clark Drive, preventing container trucks from leaving the port.
WATCH | Protesters march through Vancouver blocking traffic:
A line of seven trucks en route from the port quickly backed up after demonstrators blocked the intersection around 2:30 p.m. PT. Vancouver police rerouted traffic from the area.
An injunction, granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 9, is still in effect at the port. A spokesperson with Port of Vancouver said it is working with police to address the protest.
More than 50 demonstrators were arrested at ports in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in earlier protests this month.
A new CN Rail blockade was also set up in northwestern B.C. on Monday near New Hazelton, about 280 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert, less than two weeks after one was dismantled at the same location.
The railway runs through the territory of Gitx’san Nation, members of which were at the blockade.
“We wanted to show our solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and also with the Mohawks,” said Gitx’san Nation Hereditary Chief Spookw.
“Divided, we are weak. But when we stand together, we’re strong.”
A number of people had been occupying the Mohawk territory for weeks in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose the development of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline — a project that would cross their traditional territory in northern B.C.
The Ontario blockade has brought freight and passenger rail traffic to a virtual standstill since it was built on Feb. 6, near Belleville. On Monday morning, dozens of police officers arrived at the encampment and began making arrests after demonstrators stayed past a midnight deadline.
Numerous similar rail and road blockades have sprung up in multiple provinces throughout the month, halting freight and passenger train service for much of the country.
A representative with Monday’s demonstration in Vancouver said solidarity actions will continue until the demands of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been met.
CN, CP trains sharing rail lines to keep supplying Canada during blockades – CBC.ca
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