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US backs Canada returning Russian pipeline turbines – CTV News

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The United States is supporting Canada’s decision to allow a Canadian company to return turbines from a Russian pipeline that supplies natural gas to Germany, saying in the short term it was the right move, as European countries continue working towards reducing their “collective dependence” on Russian energy.

In a U.S. State Department statement issued Monday, department spokesperson Ned Price said work is ongoing to further target and limit Russia’s ability to use energy-derived revenue in its ongoing attacks on Ukraine, while also seeking to limit the impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on the global energy market.

“The United States is united with our Allies and partners in our commitment to promoting European energy security, reducing our collective dependence on Russian energy, and maintaining pressure on the Kremlin,” the statement said. “We support the Canadian government’s decision.”

On Saturday, Canada announced it had decided to grant a “time-limited and revocable permit” to allow Siemens Canada to return Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany from Montreal where they had been sent for repairs.

The equipment had been held up in Canada after the federal government imposed sanctions on Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom. The gas giant claimed it needed the turbines in order to continue supplying Germany, after already considerably decreasing the gas flow through the pipeline. 

German Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck recently told Bloomberg that there was concern within Germany that if the turbines were not returned ahead of scheduled maintenance, that Russia could cite that as a reason to further cut off its natural gas supply to the country, leaving Germany without a sufficient reserve. 

On Monday, Germany’s Ambassador to Canada Sabine Sparwasser said that she was “very grateful to the Canadian government,” and that Germany will continue to support Ukraine “on all levels.”

“We know it was not easy. But it is crucial to help Canada’s European Allies to steadily build out our independence from Russian Energy,” she tweeted.

Despite the backing of the Americans, Canada’s decision has sparked strong criticism from Ukraine and its supporters, who are calling on Canada to think again, suggesting the federal government’s decision has given Russia leverage that they will continue to try to exploit when it comes to the energy sector.

“What Russia now knows is that Canada and Germany blinked,” said Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Alexandra Chyczij.

‘DANGEROUS PRECEDENT’: MPS

Domestically, the federal opposition parties have also come out hard against the move.

On Monday, NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson issued a scathing statement calling for Canada to reverse the “shocking and disappointing” decision.

“This decision goes against the sanctions Canada imposed on Russia in response to the illegal invasion and genocide in Ukraine. Canadians expect their government to show real solidarity with Ukraine but the Liberal government’s decision is an affront to Ukrainians,” McPherson said.

“How will Canada have any legitimacy in asking other countries to hold Russia accountable for its crimes when we do not adhere to our own sanctions?”

Key members of the federal Conservative caucus have also decried the decision, saying in a statement on Sunday that in circumventing their own sanctions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government “sets a dangerous precedent of folding to Putin’s blackmail of Europe, and will negatively impact Canada’s standing on the world stage.”

There’s now some pressure building for the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to hold a special summer meeting to discuss the decision and examine the efficacy of the federal sanction regime.

On Saturday, in a statement about the decision, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that allied countries “cannot allow” Putin’s attempts to use European energy security to sow division amongst allies to be successful.

“Canada stands with Ukraine against the unprovoked, brutal invasion by Russia and we will continue to work in coordination with allies and partners to impose severe costs on the Russian regime,” Wilkinson said.

Alongside the decision to returning the key pieces of pipeline infrastructure, the federal government announced the imposition of a new round of sanctions targeting Russia’s oil and gas sector.

“We will not stop imposing these severe costs on the Putin regime while their unjustifiable invasion is ongoing. We will continue to support our European friends and allies as they work to end dependency on Russian gas imports as quickly as possible by working to help stabilize emergency markets and to develop long-term and sustainable solutions on energy supplies,” the minister said in his statement.

With a report from CTV National News’ Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier

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More Canadians report stronger attachment to their language than to Canada: poll – CTV News

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OTTAWA –

A new survey finds more Canadians report a strong attachment to their primary language than to other markers of identity, including the country they call home.

The survey, which was conducted by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies, found 88 per cent of respondents reported a strong sense of attachment to their primary language, whereas 85 per cent reported the same for Canada.

The greater importance of language was especially notable among francophones and Indigenous Peoples.

Reports of strong attachment to primary language exceeded all other markers of identity, including geography, ethnic group, racialized identity and religious affiliation.

Of the markers of identity considered in the survey, Canadians were the least likely to report a strong sense of attachment to a religious group.

Association for Canadian Studies president Jack Jedwab said the survey’s findings highlight the important role language plays in people’s identities.

“I think many Canadians may be surprised by it, who may not think intuitively that language is as important as other expressions of identity that get attention,” he said.

Jedwab said people should be mindful of not downplaying the importance of language given how significant language can be to a community. He said language has a dual function of facilitating communication and being an expression of culture.

“There can be a tendency for people to diminish the importance of other languages,” he said.

“We’ve not paid historically sufficient attention to Indigenous languages, which we’re now seeing our federal government invest considerably in, trying to help sustain and revive Indigenous languages,” he added.

The online survey was completed by 1,764 Canadians between July 8 and 10. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random samples.

For Canadians whose primary language is French, 91 per cent reported a strong sense of attachment to their language, in comparison to 67 per cent who reported the same sentiment for Canada.

In Quebec, more people reported a strong sense of attachment to their primary language than to the province.

Only 37 per cent of Canadians reported a strong sense of attachment to a religious group.

The findings come ahead of Statistics Canada’s latest census release on languages in the country, which is set to be published on Wednesday.

Jedwab said the census release will be especially important to Quebec, where there’s a close monitoring of the state of the French language in comparison to other languages.

The Leger survey also found more than half of francophone Quebecers say they know English well enough to hold a conversation. That’s in contrast to less than one in 10 English respondents in all provinces except Quebec and New Brunswick who say they can hold a conversation in French.

According to the last census, English-French bilingualism rose from 17.5 per cent in 2011 to 17.9 per cent in 2016, reaching the highest rate of bilingualism in Canadian history. Over 60 per cent of that growth in bilingualism was attributable to Quebec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022. 

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Polio in Canada? Wastewater to be tested – CTV News

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Canada plans to start testing wastewater in a number of cities for poliovirus following new reports of cases abroad, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed on Friday.

Although Canada has been polio-free since 1994 – thanks to uptake of the polio vaccine – PHAC warns it could return, since it is still circulating in other countries.

New York State confirmed a single case of polio on July 21, and the Associated Press reported on Friday that the virus that causes the highly transmissible paralytic disease has been detected in New York City’s wastewater.

In a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca on Friday, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it is aware of the confirmed case in New York, and that it plans to launch a wastewater testing initiative in Canada “as soon as possible.” So far, no recent cases of polio have been detected in Canada.

“PHAC has been communicating with national and international partners who are experts in this field to finalize a wastewater testing strategy,” the agency wrote, adding it will also begin testing wastewater samples collected earlier this year from key high-risk communities to determine if polio was present in Canada prior to the reported international cases.

“PHAC will also be sending samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional confirmation,” the agency wrote. It did not say when or where testing will take place.

SILENT SPREADER

Polio is often asymptomatic, but in some cases, the viral infection can lead to paralysis or death.

Since wastewater analysis can detect the presence of viruses in a community where asymptomatic cases might otherwise evade clinical detection, environmental scientist Mike McKay said it could be a valuable tool to public health agencies watching to see if the virus returns to Canada.

McKay is executive director of the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research. He leads a team that has analyzed wastewater samples from Windsor, Leamington, Amherstburg, Lakeshore, London, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Thunder Bay throughout the pandemic. While wastewater analysis was used to monitor drug use in Canada prior to the pandemic, it was only with the arrival of COVID-19 that scientists like McKay first began using it to track the spread of viruses.

“Wastewater has been underutilized, overlooked for so long, and realizing what a potential resource it can be to aid our understanding of disease transmission through communities is exciting,” McKay told CTVNews.ca in an interview Friday.

Following the successful use of wastewater testing to track COVID-19, McKay said some of his colleagues at other institutions throughout Ontario have already begun using it to monitor for diseases like influenza and monkeypox.

“Recognizing its broader application to public health is really exciting, and we’re happy to be able to participate and help public health units in responding to COVID-19, and hopefully future outbreaks,” he said.

Nonetheless, PHAC warned that accurately testing wastewater for poliovirus is a developing, and imperfect, science. For example, wastewater detections can be affected by extreme precipitation events, such as flooding in a community.

The agency said it’s important that children are fully immunized and up-to-date on their boosters, as countries where the virus isn’t normally found – such as the United Kingdom, Israel and the U.S. – report new cases.

“While the general risk to the Canadian public from polio remains low, these international cases are a good reminder to stay up-to-date with vaccinations, even for rare vaccine-preventable diseases,” the agency wrote. 

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Problem gambling: 300,000 Canadians at risk, says study – CTV News

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While problem gambling affects a small minority of the Canadian population, more than 300,000 are at “severe” or “moderate risk” for gambling-related problems, according to a Statistics Canada study of gambling behaviour.

Findings from the 2018 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Gambling Rapid Response, released earlier this week, included interviews with over 26,000 respondents and are designed for longer-term research.

Despite being conducted before the pandemic, study authors note the findings provide “an important baseline” of gambling problems in Canada and make it possible to monitor changes that might occur as a result of new federal legislation that came into force in 2021, allowing single event sports betting.  The authors say such studies could help develop more effective education, prevention, and treatment strategies for those who gamble and those who face gambling-related problems.

“While it is hard to predict the future, it is possible that changes after 2018 could lead to higher percentages of Canadians gambling,” Michelle Rotermann, one of the co-authors of the report and a senior analyst in the Health Analysis Division of Statistics Canada, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Friday. She said the findings from the report provide a good baseline for longer-term research and capture any changes after 2018.

According to StatCan, gambling was more prevalent among middle-aged Canadians aged 45 to 64 in comparison to other age groups. This age group was most likely (72.3 per cent) to have gambled in the past year.

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When it comes to gambling problems, the study said it was unclear exactly why more males than females developed them —although marketing, stigma, and a lack of social acceptance of gambling by women in the past have kept their participation lower. Another reason for the difference, Rotermann said, was that addictive behavior such as drug and alcohol use, which was more common amongst men than women.

Female gamblers were more inclined towards instant win lottery or online games than males. However, lottery or raffle tickets remained a popular gambling activity for both male and female respondents in 2018.

Males were three times as likely to bet on sports and twice as likely to bet at a casino table (including online).

PANDEMIC AND LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

The 2018 data provides what the trend may look like after COVID-19 and the introduction of a new law.

Sports betting, for example, could gain popularity given the recent developments in the gambling industry. “If that is the case, a priority for both research and policy will be determining if greater popularity for such activities is associated with an increase in the prevalence in gambling problems,” the report said.

Valerie Di Gregorio, manager of Counselling and Treatment at CMHA Thames Valley Addiction & Mental Health Services, London, told CTVNews.ca that while sports betting has been around for years –accessibility and modernization mean more exposure and opportunity for gambling.

But there are standards and practices and programs such as self-exclusionary programs that can support one’s gambling recovery and mental health.

Pandemic-induced stress and disruption may have influenced gambling activities, along with alcohol and drug consumption. Even though it was too early to determine, the report said that access to gambling platforms/websites, and an increased amount of time spent online during lockdowns, could have resulted in growing risks of problem gambling—which is recognized as a public health concern.

With lockdowns and casinos closed, some gamblers resorted to online gaming to place their bets and this may result in a shift from the 2018 gambling habits.

During COVID-19, data gathered by Statistics Canada in a separate report in 2021 showed that 90 per cent of younger Canadians aged between 15 and 34 had done more activities online than pre-COVID.

But besides the pandemic, evolving gaming technologies and changes in the legislative framework may also influence gambling habits in the future, the report said.

Laithwaite said legalization makes it more desirable and this could lead to more people indulging in gambling.

Legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada under the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act in late August 2021 allows provinces and territories to offer and regulate the activity as they see fit and led to the launch of Ontario’s igaming market in April 2022.

Nearly two months after a regulated market for online gambling was launched by the Ontario government, traffic for online bets increased sharply. It flooded the market with advertising and promotional messages—encouraging players to sign up on a number of platforms, according to a report by Ipsos.

Laithwaite said betting ads on platforms such as television or streaming channels just make it really easy for someone with pre-existing mental health or anxiety to buy into it.

“We forget that this is actually a business and the business is to make money,” she said.

According to a report by Deloitte, under the new Act, an estimated $14 billion spent annually would move from unauthorized and unregulated controlled markets to legal sectors, where it can be monitored and taxed appropriately. About 84 per cent of ardent bettors, surveyed by Deloitte last year, said that they’ll definitely or probably play other online casino games through sports-betting sites after the legislative changes.

The survey showed that the most popular platform for ardent bettors for sports betting was regular television. This could be partly due to the heavy volume of advertising on sports betting showing up on TV screens.

“As more Canadians become aware of Ontario’s regulated market situation — and are exposed to the heavy volume of advertising spilling over into the rest of Canada —some of these figures may rise,” according to Ipsos.

Most Canadian provinces have set up online gambling venues that are regulated and licensed to provide online gambling in Canada. But other online, unregulated gambling platforms in Canada are also relatively easy to access.

The availability of gambling opportunities in Canada has increased over time and may continue to rise. Due to new gambling technologies such as online poker and sports betting, the need for more regular and detailed monitoring becomes even more critical.

The study showed that populations more vulnerable to gambling problems included males, people from lower-income households, Indigenous people, individuals with fair or poor mental health, daily smokers, and those who participated in multiple forms of gambling activities.

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