Tens of thousands blacked out in Maritimes as winds and rain lash

first_imgHALIFAX – Tens of thousand of people across the Maritimes are without power this morning after the region was lashed by strong winds and heavy rain.New Brunswick has been the hardest hit, with NB Power reporting more than 94,000 customers in the dark after 100 km/h winds swept across the province Saturday and into today.Wind warnings had been posted Saturday and Environment Canada said parts of the province could also expect 15 millimetres of rain.Nova Scotia, where wind and rain warnings was also posted, was hit with similar strength gusts overnight and into this morning along the Fundy coast and over northern sections of Cape Breton.Nova Scotia Power reported this morning that more than 18,000 of its customers were waiting to be reconnected.All of Prince Edward Island was under a wind warning Saturday and by this morning more than 3,000 Maritime Electric customers were without power.last_img read more

Workplace safety officers continue investigation into deaths of three people

first_imgEDMONTON — Alberta Occupational Health & Safety says officers are still investigating the scene of a workplace accident that killed three men in an industrial area just south of Edmonton.Police, firefighters and emergency crews responded Thursday afternoon to a call at Millennium Cryogenic Technologies in Leduc.Alberta Labour spokesman Trent Bancarz says officials from OHS attended the site around 2:30 p.m. Thursday and are still working to determine what happened.He wouldn’t release or confirm any details.The company’s website says it is an oil field equipment supplier that manufactures cryogenic equipment and does cryogenic separation, cryogenic shot blasting and cryogenic pipe freezing.No one from the company has responded to requests for comment.Bancarz said they have been in contact with the company and the owner of the building. It is not known whether the three men all worked for the company.“The investigation will continue,” he said Friday. “The investigation determines what steps might be taken next, but it’s still very early on.“We just have to let the investigation take its course.”No names have been released.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Feds studying birth tourism as new data shows higher nonresident birth rates

first_imgOTTAWA — The federal government is studying the issue of “birth tourism” with a view to better understand the scope of this practice within Canada and its impacts.This comes as new research published by Policy Options today shows the number of non-Canadian residents giving birth in Canadian hospitals is much higher than in figures reported by Statistics Canada.Using numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which captures billing information directly from hospitals, researcher Andrew Griffith found over 3,200 babies were born here to women who aren’t Canadian residents in 2016 — compared with the 313 babies recorded by Statistics Canada.A petition tabled recently in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido calls on Canada to take stronger measures to end birth tourism, saying it abuses Canada’s social-welfare system.Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen responded saying his department has commissioned further research in order to get a better picture of the scope of this issue and its impacts in Canada. Hussen also says Canada does not collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when entering Canada, nor can a woman be denied entry solely because she is pregnant or might give birth in Canada.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Decision day in Alberta Voters head to polls in provincial election

first_imgEDMONTON — Voters are heading to the polls in the Alberta election today and advance turnouts suggest it could be busy at the ballot boxes.Almost 700,000 people voted early in malls, airports, recreation centres, public buildings and even an Ikea store. That was well ahead of the 235,000 who came out early in the 2015 election that saw Rachel Notley’s NDP deliver a surprise knockout blow to the 44-year run of the Progressive Conservatives.This time around, the Progressive Conservatives are no more.The PCs merged with another right-centre party, the Wildrose, to create the new United Conservatives under former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney.The four-week campaign focused on personal attacks and on Alberta’s fragile economy, which has been struggling for several years with sluggish oil prices and unemployment levels above seven per cent in Calgary and Edmonton.Kenney has argued that Notley’s government has made a bad situation worse with higher taxes, more regulations and increases in minimum wage.Notley, in turn, has said Kenney’s plan to freeze spending and pursue more private-care options in health care will have a profound impact on students in the classroom and on patients waiting for care.The campaign also featured Alberta’s relationship with Ottawa, specifically Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.Notley said her success working with Trudeau — or picking her fights with him as necessary — is what led to progress on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the B.C. coast. She expects construction to begin this year.She said Kenney’s promise to challenge Trudeau in court on everything from the federal carbon tax to proposed energy industry rule changes is cynical, self-defeating shadow-boxing given the collaborative realities of political decision-making.Kenney has campaigned on the “Trudeau-Notley alliance” that he says has turned Alberta into a doormat for Trudeau and other oil industry foes with no more than a faint and as yet unrealized promise of one pipeline expansion to the coast.Notley has also tried to make Kenney’s character an issue. A number of his candidates have either quit or apologized for past comments that were anti-LGBTQ, anti-Islamic or sympathetic to white nationalism.Kenney has called the attacks a “fear-and-smear” red herring to distract from the NDP’s economic track record of multibillion-dollar budget deficits and soaring debt.On the political fringes are the Alberta Party and the Liberals, each of which elected one candidate to the legislature in 2015.The Alberta Party, led by former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, is running a full slate of candidates. It’s promising to be the safe centrist middle ground by combining the economic conservatism of the UCP with the social progressivism of the NDP.The Liberals, led by lawyer David Khan, are running on a similar platform with one significant exception — a provincial sales tax.History will be made no matter what.Notley will either be the first Alberta NDP premier to win re-election or the first leader in the province to fail to win a renewed mandate on the first try.Since its creation in 1905, Alberta has elected multi-term dynasties: the Liberals (1905-1921), the United Farmers of Alberta (1921-1935), the Social Credit (1935-1971) and the Progressive Conservatives from 1971 to 2015.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Cuts to Legal Aid Ontario will cause hearing delays Immigration Refugee Board

first_imgOTTAWA — The tribunal that adjudicates asylum claims in Canada says it expects cuts to legal-aid funding imposed by the Doug Ford government in Ontario will lead to delays and other disruptions of refugee hearings.The Immigration and Refugee Board has issued a notice saying the 30-per-cent cut in funding announced in April to Legal Aid Ontario will affect the board’s operations due to an expected rise in the number of refugee claimants who don’t have lawyers.Refugee lawyers help asylum-seekers navigate Canada’s refugee system, which is unfamiliar to most migrants from far-away countries.The board says the changes will lead to longer refugee hearings, more postponements and adjournments of hearings and more missed deadlines for paperwork.The IRB says it will not be able to fully mitigate these effects, but is taking steps to help unrepresented migrants understand Canada’s refugee-determination processes.These steps include being more flexible with timelines for certain cases; increasing the number of orientation sessions in Toronto to help refugee claimants prepare for their hearings; as well as expanding information available online and by telephone to asylum-seekers in Canada. The Canadian Presslast_img read more

David Beckham Supports UNICEFs Appeal For Typhoon Haiyan Victims

first_imgUNICEF UK has launched an emergency appeal for funding to support its response to Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.With an estimated 9.5 million people affected, approximately 4 million of them children, UNICEF is rushing urgent supplies to areas most ravaged by Haiyan – the strongest typhoon ever to have made landfall in the world.The severe impact of the storm has already caused substantial loss of life and damage to infrastructure. UNICEF is responding to children’s most urgent needs, chartering cargo planes to airlift essential health items such as penicillin and oral rehydration tablets, as well as water pumps and generators which are crucial to getting the local water supply working again. Providing clean water is one of the most important steps in preventing an outbreak of diseases, which can be deadly in the aftermath of natural disasters.UNICEF has already sent enough supplies to meet the needs of 13,000 families, including water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins, and micronutrient supplements. Getting these supplies to the worst affected areas is the biggest priority. UNICEF has roughly 70 people already working round the clock in the Philippines on this emergency response.UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham said: “My heart goes out to everyone affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. I was in Manila with UNICEF just two years ago and saw how vulnerable to natural disasters the country is. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, roads are impassable and children and their families need food, water, shelter and power right now. UNICEF estimates that 4 million children could be affected by the disaster and are stepping up their emergency response. Children need your help. Please support UNICEF’s work for children affected by this terrible disaster – visit unicef.org.uk”UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull said: “UNICEF UK responded immediately to the tragedy in the Philippines and has already transferred nearly £300,000 to help our teams on the ground to reach those children whose lives have been thrown into chaos by this super-storm. They need our help now and we are responding with an immediate airlift of water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins, and micronutrient supplements. A gift of £30 could help provide three families in the Philippines with basic water kits, which will help to keep them alive in the immediate aftermath of this horrific disaster.”Please support UNICEF’s work for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Visit www.unicef.org.uk/typhoon or text UNICEF to 70123 to donate £3last_img read more

Orphan Black Will Premiere Its Final Season This Summer But Too Late

first_imgAdvertisement Twitter LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Get ready to say goodbye to Sarah, Cosima, Alison and the rest of the clones on “Orphan Black.” BBC announced Tuesday that  the fifth and final season of the critically acclaimed series will premiere Saturday, June 10 at 10 p.m. The show’s Twitter account also welcomed fans to “the final trip” with a GIF of Sarah and the many clones’ silhouette.Tatiana Maslany returns to her Emmy award-winning role as Sarah and the many Leda clones. While fans may be rejoicing at the return of the show, the premiere date may prove to be an obstacle come awards season. Its summer premiere date disqualifies it for Emmy contention this year. Maslany, winner of the 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and the rest of the crew will now have to wait until next year for any consideration. Advertisement Facebook Login/Register With:last_img read more

Shania Twain Focusing On SelfCare After Battle With Lyme Disease I Take

first_imgREAD MORE Advertisement Advertisement Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Shania Twain is opening up about how her struggle with lyme disease led her to undertake a complete lifestyle overhaul as she placed her focus on her health.In an interview with Australia’s Herald-Sun, the Canadian country superstar reveals that she takes her health “very seriously” in order to avoid any future health scares.“I take my health seriously,” Twain told the newspaper … Login/Register With: Twitterlast_img

SOCAN Launches Dataclef Music Services

first_img Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2018 – Drawing on years of strategic planning, including the acquisitions of Audiam, MediaNet, Royalty Guru, and SODRAC as well as its expansion into Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, SOCAN today launched Dataclef, the new services arm of the music rights organization. Twitter “Dataclef is a milestone for SOCAN and the music industry on a global level,” said SOCAN Group CEO Eric Baptiste. “For the first time ever, organizations can go to one place for state-of-the-art license administration, worldwide reporting, and intelligent royalty tracking and delivery, improving their efficiency and bottom-line to return superior results.”With “Dataclef Suite,” Collection Organizations and Rightsholders can unlock maximum back office ROI with flexible and infinitely scalable multi-territory, multi-right licensing and royalty tools.Other products and services will be announced in due course, as Dataclef solutions meet the high-scale needs of global music use across the entire digital supply chain. At every stage, Dataclef offers tools to increase efficiency, lower costs, manage liability, supercharge user experience, and increase payment volume and accuracy to rights holders.SOCAN’s services team, led by Dataclef Chief Operating Officer & Head of Sales Janice Scott, will operate at arm’s length from SOCAN’s core business teams and on segregated systems, ensuring complete privacy and confidentiality with all clients.As the global music services company of the future, Dataclef actively invests in forward-looking technologies which allow customers to benefit from more accurate, transparent data and payments, and leverage high-tech, intelligent business tools for music use. Dataclef is a bilingual organization (English and French), and will be expanding language support to Spanish and Arabic in the coming months.“SOCAN has asserted a position in leading the global transformation of music rights,” Scott added. “Dataclef is the latest strategic move forward for the SOCAN Group, resulting from years of investment in technology development and acquisition, integration of complementary leading-edge companies and, most importantly, the world’s best collective team of industry experts.”Dataclef adds IPRS to roster of clientsDataclef is now providing back office services through the Dataclef Suite of products and services to facilitate rights management for IPRS – Indian Performing Rights Society Limited, the country’s only registered copyright society administering musical works. This includes administering mandates, processing all types of music usage data, and working with IPRS to deliver royalty revenue to its members in the region. Dataclef’s powerful data management and cleansing systems will ensure maximum accuracy and timely payments.“IPRS is excited to work with Dataclef to leverage their data and systems for maximized efficiency and royalty delivery to our members,” said Javed Akhtar Chairman of IPRS. “Dataclef’s revolutionary systems and database are unlike anything we’ve had access to before. We anticipate many years of mutual success working with their impressive technology and team.”SOCAN announced in May 2018 that the company had struck a services deal with the Dutch Caribbean performing rights organization, Ducapro, which will now be served by Dataclef.Brand identityThe Dataclef brand identity is symbolic of Dataclef’s music specialization and commitment to financially empower music stakeholders of all sizes. Our logo depicts forward motion with an arrow comprising the five lines of a musical staff, and colors transitioning from red to black.About DataclefDataclef is the world leader in solutions supporting music licensing, related data management, and digital delivery technology. Powered by SOCAN, Dataclef enables collection organizations, rights holders, DSPs, and brands with trailblazing music technologies and big data solutions including artificial intelligence. Organizations of all types and sizes will benefit from Dataclef’s services, empowering music use that is accurate, transparent and, most importantly, economical. That’s global music expertise you can bank on.About SOCANSOCAN is a rights management organization that connects more than four-million music creators worldwide and more than a quarter-million businesses and individuals in Canada. More than 150,000 songwriters, composers, music publishers and visual artists are its direct members, and more than 100,000 organizations are Licensed To Play music across Canada. With a concerted use of progressive technology and unique data as well as a commitment to lead the global transformation of rights management, with wholly-owned companies Audiam, Dataclef, MediaNet, RoyaltyGuru and SODRAC, SOCAN is dedicated to upholding the fundamental truths that music and visual arts have value and creators and publishers deserve fair compensation for their work. For more information: www.socan.comAbout IPRSThe Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) is the sole Indian copyright society, registered by the Government of India under the Copyright Act, 1957, administering musical works and literary (lyrics) works associated with musical works. The members of IPRS comprise Authors (lyricists), Music Composers and Music Publishers. Javed Akhtar, eminent lyricist, screenplay writer and poet is chairman. Dataclef has created the most authoritative global music services platform ever built, empowering customers to thrive in the hyper-competitive modern music industry with revolutionary, fully-customizable service suites that simplify complex back-office and technology tasks. Relying on SOCAN’s well-established data management expertise, Dataclef has developed a unique comprehensive authoritative music database from more than 200 world territories.center_img Advertisement Facebook Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

Canadian school test changing after student finds that the answers are Indigenous

first_imgThe Canadian PressSASKATOON – An achievement test used in Canadian schools is being changed after a student in Saskatoon noticed that some of the options in multiple choice questions included negative stereotypes about aboriginal people.The exam recently given to Grade 10 students in Saskatoon public schools included two questions “where the available multiple-choice options included two incorrect answers which were negative stereotypes about aboriginal people.”School spokesman Rod Drabble says the answers said Aboriginal people have a “lack of interest and motivation” and many Aboriginal people are unemployed.A student writing the Level 19 test book of the Canadian Achievement Tests, Fourth Edition, told a parent and it was brought to the attention of the school board and division administrators.Drabble says the school system has stopped using that test until further notice and has notified the Canadian Test Centre.David Galati, director of operations for the Canadian Test Centre, says the answers will be changed in any Level 19 test books sent out from now on.last_img read more

Calgary hosts public hearing on federal tax reform

first_imgGovernment officials, tax experts, local businesses and others will be giving their opinion on the federal government’s proposed tax report Tuesday.The Senate Committee on National Finance is in Calgary as part of cross country public hearings.Tax changes could impact Alberta’s doctors, farmers, lawyers, and small business owners.Some of the people appearing before the committee are Barry Munro with Ernst and Young, Kim Moody with Moodys Gartner Tax Law, Derrick Hunter with Bluesky Equities and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.The public hearing takes place from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. at the Delta Calgary downtown.last_img

Vancouver limits shortterm Airbnb rentals in laneway houses basement suites

first_imgVANCOUVER – Vancouver has banned owners of basement suites and laneway houses from listing them on Airbnb after a heated debate in which some city councillors warned that homeowners would not be able to pay their mortgages without the extra income.City council approved new regulations in a 7-4 vote Tuesday for vacation websites such as Airbnb and Expedia. The rules prohibit hosts from listing homes that are not their principal residence, including any secondary suites on their property.Mayor Gregor Robertson and members of his Vision Vancouver party defended the rules as necessary because the vacancy rate is just above zero and housing is needed for long-term renters.“I’m stunned to hear that some councillors don’t believe there’s a problem here. We have 6,000 illegal short-term rentals in the city,” he said.“I can’t imagine doing nothing.”The new regulations will come into effect on April 1, 2018. Hosts must buy a business licence that costs $49 annually, plus spend $54 on a one-time application fee, and display their licence number in online listing. Those who fail to comply will face a $1,000 ticket per violation.Homeowners will still be allowed to list an individual room inside their principal residence. Tenants who are renting a basement apartment or laneway house will be allowed to list it on Airbnb, as long as it’s their principal residence and they have permission from the owner.Some short-term rental hosts criticized the proposed rules at a public hearing last month, saying the changes will deprive them of much-needed income.Councillors from the opposing Non-Partisan Association echoed those concerns on Tuesday, with Coun. George Affleck warning that homeowners who depend on the extra income will be forced to leave Vancouver or lead “very challenging lives.”Affleck said the city should instead focus on ensuring more rental housing gets built.“We’re just creating more bureaucracy, more taxation, more sticks and we’re not solving the problem. We’re making Vancouver more unaffordable and a harder place to live, whether you’re a renter or an owner,” he said.But Coun. Andrea Reimer of Vision Vancouver said secondary suites and laneway houses were approved to provide accommodation for local residents, not tourists.She said she just received an eviction notice at her rental home on Monday night — her second eviction in 16 months due to “speculation and flipping.If the vacancy rate rises to four per cent or higher, city staff will report back to council on whether to allow owners to list their secondary suites on short-term rental websites.Council also passed a voluntary transaction fee of three per cent on bookings, which would be remitted to the city.Alex Dagg, public policy manager for Airbnb Canada, said the company is unable to impose a voluntary fee and instead would like to see the province amend the hotel tax so that it applies to short-term rentals.Dagg applauded Vancouver for making short-term rentals legal, but she criticized the ban on listing secondary suites. Many people list them on Airbnb because they’re in use by family or friends for most of the year and can’t be rented to long-term tenants, she said.“What short-term renting does is allow a homeowner or someone in a primary residence to use their space in a flexible way,” she said in an interview.The city estimates 80 per cent of short-term rentals will become legal under the new rules. Dagg said the estimate lines up with Airbnb’s numbers on people who are renting their principal residences.Vancouver is the latest jurisdiction to crack down on vacation websites. Seattle council voted Monday to impose a levy of $14 per night for short-term rentals of entire homes, and $8 per night for rooms, with the taxes to kick in by 2019.— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.last_img read more

Get Bach to work Company orchestras a German tradition

first_imgFRANKFURT – Can performing Beethoven symphonies together help employees team up on projects at work, too? Some companies — above all in Germany and Asia — seem to think so.A conspicuous number of big German corporate names — along with a handful in Japan and Korea — have their own company-linked symphony orchestra. That means 60 or so accountants, engineers, sales reps and computer specialists who bring violins, cellos, oboes and trombones and gather in their spare time to rehearse and perform lengthy, complex pieces of classical music.The orchestras serve as public relations tools, playing charity concerts and livening up corporate events.But there’s more to it than that.It’s hard to quantify, but the engineer and accountant musicians — and some business experts — argue that a symphony orchestra is an excellent model for the creative teamwork companies need to compete.“There’s no activity in the world where you have to react so quickly to each other and work together so well as in an orchestra,” says Johanna Weitkamp, conductor of the symphony orchestra at the enterprise software company SAP.“Down to the hundredth of a second, you have to listen to the other person, respond to the other person, pass the ball to each other — it’s a prime example of good co-operation among people.”Other companies with employee orchestras include engineering firm Siemens, maker of trains and medical scanners; carmakers Daimler, BMW and Ford; auto components and electronics maker Robert Bosch GmbH; airline Lufthansa, and chemical firm BASF.At a recent rehearsal, Weitkamp and the SAP musicians filled the cavernous, 2,300-seat Rosengarten auditorium in the southwestern German town of Mannheim with rich, warm string sound, practicing first a bouncy pop mix of Mozart’s Prague Symphony and Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.” Then the brass blared out the stirring opening notes of John Williams’ theme music for the Olympics, as the orchestra prepared to play at a graduation ceremony for the local college.Most of the orchestras seemed to have started from the bottom up, from employee initiatives. The SAP orchestra started after Weitkamp joined the company in 1997 and noticed that there were a lot of skilled amateur musicians among her colleagues. “I asked, who wants to join in,” she said.Weitkamp herself is no mere amateur; she studied conducting at the University of Music and Theater in Leipzig in her native East Germany. Her teachers included the renowned conductor Kurt Masur, a future music director of the New York Philharmonic. But after the Berlin Wall fell, she got another degree, this time in information technology, and moved into the computer field.She said it’s no surprise that people with math or technology backgrounds are often musical: “You need a high degree of abstract thinking to understand how music functions, and I think there’s a connection that exactly in this field you find so many people who can play violin, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, flute or horn.Anna Medina, who manages translation projects at SAP and plays in the violin section, said music “gives you skills that you can then apply to basically any job.”“It gives you a sense of effort, that you have to practice to get things right. It also teaches you that you cannot wait until the last minute. You need to work on it all the time if you want to be successful,” she said before heading out on stage to rehearse.Management expert Christian Scholz at Saarland University in Saarbruecken says an orchestra embodies the complex blend of skills needed for business teams to perform at a high level.“It’s team building, but it’s team building in a highly structured way, like business runs. You have the activity of people who are specialized in certain instruments, who have specialized in certain roles, where you even have some competition between them,” he said. “You have democracy, you have hierarchy, you have all these elements of regular business in this task of doing a symphony orchestra.”In the SAP orchestra, amateur musicians among SAP’s employees mix with professional musicians, giving them a chance to learn from more skilled partners, and giving the orchestra’s sound a glossy finish. All concert proceeds go to charity.Different companies have different approaches to supporting employee orchestras, ranging from SAP and Daimler, which provide company funding, to BASF, where the employee orchestra, the Collegium Musicum Ludwigshafen, is financially independent and supported by musician dues. While the SAP orchestra is semi-professional, others — like those at Bosch and Lufthansa — are strictly amateur.Luka Mucic, SAP’s chief financial officer and the orchestra’s official patron in top management, said in a statement that “music, and the complex work of an orchestra, is a great way to amplify our company’s values such as teamwork, discipline and diversity.”There is one reason behind this burgeoning corporate orchestral scene that should not be forgotten: classical music is a part of Germany’s national culture and a lot of people learn instruments as children.The same appears true in Asia, where Western classical music has caught on in a big way in recent decades. Company orchestras also can be found in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, according to Alex Van Bevereren, the Brussels-based chair of the World Federation of Amateur Orchestras.In Asia, the science and technology theme pops up again: companies with orchestras in Korea include electronics and chemicals conglomerate LG and automaker Hyundai Motor Group, and Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba in Japan.At Bosch, Georg Blume, a 37-year company veteran, considered a career as a cellist but is glad he chose engineering instead.That way, music remains a hobby and “a wonderful respite” from his professional duties as head of product management for automated driving.The orchestra, he said, is “a platform for informal exchange among employees, which in an organization as large as Bosch is very important, because the organization doesn’t just function according to reporting lines — but through colleagues getting to know one another.”last_img read more

Alberta sees big drop in charitable donations

first_imgAnother sign of the hard times in Alberta; people are really starting to tighten the purse strings when it comes to charitable donations.The latest figures from Statistics Canada show total donations reported by Canadian tax filers fell almost three per cent in 2016 to $8.9 billion.The largest decrease was in Alberta: a drop of 10.7 per cent.The next biggest drop was Prince Edward Island at a little more than five per cent.Even with the decrease, Alberta still had a higher number of people making donations, about 21 per cent, than the national average, 20.5 per cent, and the second highest median donations at $470 compared with the national median donation of $300.Donors in Lethbridge had the second highest median charitable donations in the country at $620.Calgary United Way COO Beth Gignac said the trend of year over year declines continued in 2017.She explained the economic turbulence means a lot of people are out of the work force, and now rely on agencies they would normally donate to.“What we’re doing and have been doing over the past year is working with our agency partners to talk about ways in which we can think our way through this problem together,” she said.That includes working with corporate workplace partners and getting the message across that even a small contribution can have a big impact.Gignac said the greatest challenge as an organization, given what’s happening, is to still be able to provide sustainable funding to the 104 agencies they support.last_img read more

Trial begins over fuel spill in English Bay one defendant doesnt show

first_imgVANCOUVER – A port worker says he suspected large plumes of oil that were shining on the surface of the water in Vancouver’s harbour nearly three years ago was bunker fuel, based on the smell.A B.C. provincial court judge heard Monday that Mark James of the Port of Metro Vancouver responded to reports of a spill on April 15, 2015.“When you smell gasoline, you know the smell of gasoline,” James testified on the opening day of a trial for a company and vessel charged after the spill. “We knew it was bunker oil, which was serious.”The charges were laid after 2,700 litres of fuel leaked into English Bay.A judge earlier allowed the trial to go ahead even without one defendant attending the hearing.The Greek shipping firm Alassia NewShips Management Inc. and the vessel MV Marathassa face 10 environmental related charges, including alleged violations under the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environment Protection Act.Alassia has denied ownership of the Marathassa and the company was not represented in court on Monday. Judge Kathryn Denhoff previously ruled the trial would proceed without Alassia’s participation, and she affirmed that decision as the trial began.Outside court, Crown attorney Jessica Lawn said Alassia is the alleged operator of the vessel and evidence supporting that assertion could be valuable to the case.“It’s the Crown’s duty to prove that Alassia, as charged on the information, committed the offences in the way that we’ve alleged,” she said.In his testimony, James said he spotted patches of oil as long as 4.5 metres and as wide as two metres while he tried to investigate the source. He described collecting samples and investigating about a half dozen vessels that were anchored in the bay at the time.When he boarded the Marathassa, James said the captain gave him a blank sheet of paper with the vessel’s letterhead so that he could take some of the notes he relied on in court.The Crown had James read the footer of the sheet to the court, which included Alassia’s name, address and contact information.Marathassa’s counsel, David Jones, was in court to cross-examine James.Alassia explained its reasons for not appearing in provincial court in a separate decision from the B.C. Supreme Court, saying to do so would indicate it recognizes the court’s authority to hear the case.In that case, the firm is fighting the process used to serve a summons. The court supported a justice of the peace’s certification of the summons in a ruling last fall, but Alassia has filed an appeal.Lawn said if convicted, the firm and vessel could face significant fines, with maximum penalty for some of the violations set at $4 million.First responders, investigators from Transport Canada and environmental experts are expected to testify in the coming weeks, Lawn said.The trial is scheduled to continue until April 20.last_img read more

Recent retail sales far weaker than initial estimates revisions suggest

first_imgOTTAWA – Canadian retail sales during the crucial holiday shopping season were far lower than previously projected as consumers appeared to pull back on spending.Statistics Canada has released revised estimates for its retail-trade figures — and they are considerably weaker when compared to the initial readings published by the federal agency.The agency now estimates retail sales for November contracted 1.1 per cent compared to the previous month, which is a downward revision from its previous figure of 0.5 per cent growth.For December, the agency now says retail trade likely fell 1.2 per cent, which is deeper than its previous estimate of just a 0.7 per cent contraction.The report says retail sales grew by only 0.1 per cent in January, compared to the initial estimate of a 0.3 per cent expansion.Statistics Canada also released its monthly number for February, when it estimates retail sales increased 0.4 per cent to $49.8 billion — with the biggest increases coming from new car dealers and general merchandise stores.last_img read more

CNN chief Jeff Zucker undergoing heart surgery

first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – CNN’s top executive, Jeff Zucker, is undergoing heart surgery and will take a six-week leave of absence from running the news network.CNN said Zucker made the announcement to his staff Thursday following a morning editorial meeting. His top deputy, Michael Bass, will be in charge during his absence.The network said Zucker’s surgery is elective, to address a condition that he has had for a decade. He’s already a cancer survivor. Brian Stelter, CNN’s media reporter, tweeted that Zucker assured staff members that he is going to be fine.CNN, and Zucker in particular, have been frequent targets of President Donald Trump’s campaign against the media.last_img

Iran votes to join pact to combat terror financing

first_imgTEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to join a global convention to cut off terror financing, hoping to avoid further international sanctions as the 2015 nuclear accord unravels.Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said 143 out of 268 lawmakers voted to join the “Combating the Financing of Terrorism,” or CFT. The bill must be ratified by the Guardian Council, a constitutional authority, to become a law.Iran has long provided support to the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group as well as Palestinian armed groups, which Western countries view as terrorist organizations. Joining the CFT is unlikely to prevent Iran from continuing to support such groups.President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal with world powers in May and has vowed to ramp up sanctions unless Iran dramatically changes its policies, including halting its support for regional militant groups.By joining the CFT, Iran would be required to comply with some ideas offered by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization that targets money laundering around the world. After Sept. 11, the body increasingly offered ideas on how to combat terror funding.Hard-liners in Iran opposed the bill, saying it would erode the country’s sovereignty, and hundreds of hard-line students protested the bill outside parliament on Sunday. Others saw the bill as a positive gesture toward European countries as they try to salvage the nuclear accord.Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Sunday’s vote a “historic decision” that would make it easier for Russia and China — which also signed the nuclear accord — to continue doing business with Iran as the U.S. restores sanctions.last_img read more

Italy on trail of Mafia boss seizes villas yacht and more

first_imgROME — Anti-Mafia authorities in Sicily on the trail of the No. 1 fugitive Mafia boss have confiscated 1.5 billion euros ($1.32 billion) in property.The seizure of tourist resorts, a 21-meter (70-foot) yacht, companies and other property Saturday was called one of the biggest hauls in Italy’s strategy to weaken criminal syndicates by going after ill-gained wealth.The property belonged to heirs of a tour company owner who authorities allege had links to Mafia boss.Italian news agency ANSA quoted lawyers for heirs to the late tourist magnate Carmelo Patti as vowing to sue to regain the properties.A top anti-Mafia investigator, Giuseppe Governale, contends there are links between the properties and a crime clan in western Sicily headed by convicted mob boss Matteo Messina Denaro, on the run since 1993.The Associated Presslast_img read more