FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – More than 500 families are living in newly built homes two years after a wildfire roared through parts of Fort McMurray, Alta.The flames in May 2016 forced more than 80,000 people to flee the area for at least a month.The fire destroyed more than 2,500 buildings, including many homes.Fire Chief Jody Butz says mental health continues to be a big issue for the first responders who faced the wildfire that was dubbed “The Beast.”But Butz says he believes his staff are in a much better place mentally now.He says the biggest change for him is knowing that people in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo have a lot more knowledge about emergency preparedness. (CFVR)
WINNIPEG – Winnipeg Transit is proposing a pilot project to test safety barriers for bus drivers following the killing of one of its employees.Driver Irvine Jubal Fraser was stabbed multiple times in February when he tried to remove a sleeping passenger from the bus. It had reached the end of the line late at night and Fraser was about to go off shift.A city council committee is to consider the recommendation along with other ideas to improve safety, including some form of transit police and encouraging passengers to report bad behaviour on buses.John Callahan, head of the union local that represents 1,120 Winnipeg bus drivers, called the recommendations a good start Friday.He said Fraser’s violent death three months ago is still on their minds.“There is not a day that has gone by where it hasn’t been a hot topic,” said Callahan, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505.“This is long overdue. We aren’t done yet.”Winnipeg Transit said the recommendations are based on talks it held with its employees, the union and city police.Discussions to find other ways to bolster safety are expected to continue with a proposed transit advisory committee.Greg Ewankiw, a Winnipeg Transit spokesman, said the city provides about 170,000 passenger rides a day, or about 48 million a year.“I think our transit system is safe, but things do happen on transit systems throughout Canada,” he said.The pilot project will see drivers test three kinds of safety barriers on six buses.If the pilot is successful and union members support the idea, a proposal to install barriers on the bus fleet would go to city council.Callahan said he is disappointed the city is not proposing bus fare collection in which drivers would not be required to ensure that passengers paid.The union will keep pushing for the change, he said.“That is key,” he said. “Most of the altercations and assaults are the result of fare disputes.”A freedom-of-information request in 2015 showed more than one million cases of underpayment during the first year of new electronic fare boxes in Winnipeg.Callahan said safety barriers could work if they are well designed and don’t leave drivers too cramped, and most union members support the idea.Right now, all buses are equipped with cameras and there is a proposal to install more.Callahan said cameras are OK for reviewing fights, but the emphasis should be on taking steps to prevent assaults.Brian Kyle Thomas was charged in February with second-degree murder in Fraser’s death.Callahan said at the time that there had been 60 assaults on Winnipeg transit drivers in 2015. The number went down to 45 assaults in 2016, partly due to undercover officers who intervened in some disputes.In March, passengers on a Winnipeg bus disarmed a man who had an axe and brass knuckles. Police said passengers took the weapons away from him without incident before they and the driver escorted him off the bus.The man was charged with possession of a weapon and breaching a recognizance.— By John Cotter in Edmonton
HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government says it is poised to help black residents who have struggled for decades to gain clear title to land that has been in their families since many arrived as Loyalists in the 1800s.African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince issued a statement Monday saying an announcement for “new supports” will be made Wednesday in Cherry Brook, a predominantly African Canadian community east of Halifax.“We have made a commitment to deal with these systemic issues … to ensure that we don’t repeat what has gone on in the past,” Ince said in an interview.He declined to release any details about the government’s plan.In the 1800s, the Nova Scotia government provided land to black and white Loyalists, but the Crown didn’t present land titles for black settlers, creating long-standing confusion over ownership in 13 predominantly black communities.The province’s announcement came the same day an expert panel presented a report on anti-black racism in Canada to the UN Human Rights Council, saying the specific challenges facing African Nova Scotians had to be dealt with.The UN experts said they were particularly concerned with the province’s failure to properly implement the Land Titles Clarification Act of 1963, which was introduced to help people of African descent get title to land that had been given to their families long ago.The act was supposed to provide a simple and inexpensive method for clarifying land titles, but Nova Scotia residents told the panel that the process had become expensive, unjust and discriminatory, resulting in many rejected claims. Funding for the program had also dried up over the years.“Residents must bear the burden for submitting all the documentation, as well as the application, lawyer and surveyor fees necessary to have the land title clarified,” the report said.“(The) Department of Natural Resources … acknowledged that the process was unclear and stated they were attempting to pilot a project to assist residents in the community to obtain the title to their property … The working group emphasized that the act must be implemented in collaboration with, and for the benefit of, the affected population group.”Ince said he couldn’t explain why it has taken so long for the province to fix the problem.“I can’t speak to what other governments did,” he said. “From the African Canadian community (point of view), it’s not a surprise. Those are issues that we live and deal with on a daily basis.”The CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Christine Hanson, said she was pleased to learn the government is taking a new approach.“It’s a real bright spot in Nova Scotia to see that there’s political will to take action on a pretty significant recommendation from the UN working group,” Hanson said in an interview.Michelle Williams, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the UN report and the government’s decision to clarify the title process were welcome signs of progress for a file that had sat dormant for too long.“It’s an ongoing problem that should have been resolved long before this,” said Williams, director of the Indigenous Blacks and Mi’kmaq Initiative at the Schulich School of Law. “It’s had a long-term impact on our ability to grow and be healthy.”Williams said the province’s Liberal government should appoint a commission with judicial authority to resolve all claims. As well, it should have access to enough resources to hire lawyers, surveyors and community outreach workers, she said.
VICTORIA – The advocate for seniors in British Columbia says costs for both renters and homeowners are going up while home and community supports are failing to meet demands.Isobel Mackenzie released her annual report Thursday saying increased costs and lack of services could drive up the number of seniors moving into residential care.Mackenzie said up to 15 per cent of seniors already in care could be living independently if they had proper supports.Seniors who rent are at greatest risk because they have the lowest median income of any group over age 25 and unlike the rest of the population, face challenges with fixed incomes, she said.“Seniors’ income only rise by the rate of inflation,” she said, referring to Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan. “Private pensions can rise at the rate of inflation, sometimes they don’t rise at all, and those who are living off investment incomes will see fluctuations.”While income remains relatively stagnant, the report says rent for a one-bedroom apartment has gone up by an average of 6.7 per cent in B.C.Mackenzie said “extraordinary pressures” on rents in the last five to six years have also made seniors less attractive tenants to landlords.“Ten years ago landlords wanted to keep seniors as their renters because they were good tenants and they were guaranteed their rents and landlords weren’t necessarily increasing their rent every year,” she said.Today, landlords make more money if they rent to new tenants, she said during a conference call.Mackenzie has again recommended the government help seniors stay in their homes by increasing the elderly renters’ subsidy cap.She said she wants to see the province build more rental units in rural communities where stock is inadequate.More than 80 per cent of seniors own their homes, but the report found they are also feeling the effects of rising costs.The report says the number of homeowners who applied for property tax deferment this year nearly doubled to 10,775.Property taxes and utilities have increased significantly, making the deferment program an attractive option for homeowners, Mackenzie said.The proportion of seniors in B.C. is growing, now making up 18.4 per cent of the population compared with only 17.9 per cent last year.While there are many home care and community programs to support those living independently, Mackenzie said the number of services for seniors aren’t keeping pace with the growth in population.—By Linda Givetash in Vancouver.
OTTAWA – One of Canada’s most prominent Muslim groups is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to designate the anniversary of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting as an official day of remembrance.The National Council of Canadian Muslims wants Trudeau to endorse Jan. 29 as a national day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia.In a letter to the prime minister released today, executive director Ihsaan Gardee says such a designation would help enhance public education about hate, bigotry and Islamophobia.Last January, six Muslim men were shot and killed and 19 others were wounded in an attack on the mosque during prayers. Alexandre Bissonnette of Quebec City is to stand trial in March on six charges each of first-degree murder and attempted murder.Gardee says Canadian Muslim communities are still feeling the aftershocks of the attack.He says the call for a day of remembrance is supported by dozens of other Canadian Muslim groups and community partners.Elected leaders like Trudeau need to work to ensure that such a tragedy is not repeated, Gardee writes.“We must not allow voices of hate, even ones that initially appear to be on the margins, to permeate our public discourse and damage our social fabric.”
OTTAWA – The federal government will make changes to federal law to ensure payments to grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren in Prince Edward Island and other provinces are not clawed back.Finance Minister Bill Morneau and National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier announced today the government will put forward amendments to the Income Tax Act to clarify eligibility for the Canada Child Benefit.These changes will ensure grandparents and other caregivers receiving payments through provincial assistance programs will continue to receive their full Canada Child Benefit.In December, grandparents in P.E.I. caring for grandchildren became eligible for a new provincial financial assistance program for children in need of protection from parental harm and who require out-of-home care for safety reasons.But in February, they were alarmed to learn the federal government might claw back their Canada Child Benefit if they received the provincial payments of $700 a month — something P.E.I.’s Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy called “unacceptable.”Lebouthillier says government will now make a clarifying adjustment to ensure grandparents or other care providers who step in to take care of a child under kinship programs in P.E.I. and all provinces and territories are eligible for the federal child benefit.
Const. Robb Costello would often tell his spouse that no matter what happened to him on the job, he would always come home.On Friday, the Fredericton officer didn’t return.Instead, police showed up at Jackie McLean’s home to tell her the 45-year-old was among four people killed in a shooting that took place in a quiet residential neighbourhood.“This is the first day he did not come back home,” McLean, Costello’s common-law partner, told The Canadian Press in an interview. “I am having a really hard time envisioning my life without him.”Costello and Const. Sara Burns were the first officers to arrive at the scene of the early morning shooting. They were shot as they rushed over to two people lying on the ground.McLean said Costello, a 20-year veteran of the force, had left early for his Friday morning shift, which began at 7 a.m.“He is always really prompt and on time, and he always says that if you are not early you are late,” said McLean, adding that her partner would always leave for work with a smile.“He loved being a police officer and he lived for being a police officer,” she said. “He is the only police officer who I have ever known who could write someone a ticket and have the person thank them after.”Costello had two daughters from a previous relationship, but McLean said he was also a role model for her own two children.“He is phenomenal as a father, he is very generous with his time and loved my children just as though they were his own,” she said. “We were very close to one another, we spent all of our free time together.”Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the force is struggling to cope with the loss of Costello and Burns, a 43-year-old mother of three.Burns told a newspaper in 2015 that she saw policing as a demanding career.“(Policing) is something that I think challenges you physically, mentally and socially; you need to be aware of those components,” she told the Journal Pioneer newspaper. “It’s a really challenging field and to survive you need to keep all of those in check.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Costello and Burns for their bravery.“They did not think twice about what they had to do to keep their fellow Canadians safe,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We will not forget the two fallen police officers whose sacrifice no doubt saved lives and prevented even greater tragedy.”McLean said Costello had planned to retire in the next six to seven years.“We were looking forward to building years with just the two of us,” she said. “I still am in complete shock, and I don’t really quite know how to process it.”Family members were flying in to Fredericton from across Canada on Friday, she said. Wives of other police officers had reached out to offer their support, while others had stopped by with food and coffee, she said.McLean said she didn’t know yet when a funeral might be held but she knew what Costello would want.“Robb was very adamant … that if something was ever to happen to him he did not have a sad funeral,” she said. “He wanted to have a true Irish Wake and wanted to have a party with lots of laughs and happy memories.”
OXFORD, N.S. – A large sinkhole that has swallowed trees and picnic tables in a Nova Scotia park has now taken a bite out of a parking lot, as the natural phenomenon continues to capture the attention of geological experts and curious onlookers alike.The Town of Oxford said Friday the unpredictable sinkhole had remained relatively inactive Thursday.But it said the muddy hole has been “undercutting” the pavement of the nearby Lions Club parking lot, and pieces of pavement are now falling in.Amy Tizzard, a geologist with the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines, said the sinkhole was 37 metres by 29.8 metres on Friday, up from 34 metres by 29 metres on Tuesday.She said the sinkhole’s growth has slowed.“However, it’s still unpredictable,” said Tizzard. “So we’ll continue to monitor the area.”Tizzard has said the likeliest cause is an underground cavern caving in the soft gypsum rock that’s common in the region.Todd Ventura, a professor in the geology department at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, said sinkholes usually form over limestone, and it’s less common to have a sinkhole formed from gypsum, which is an evaporite — a mineral resulting from the evaporation of water.“We’re quite intrigued by this, because these are much more rare events,” said Ventura. “It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens here. How much more it will grow? Are there others around?”Ventura said gypsum is not hard like limestone, and behaves almost like a wax under pressure.“It can move. And so as you’re dissolving the gypsum, instead of the gypsum then creating typically a cave, it just sort of creates a slump,” said Ventura, a geochemist.“Imagine that you had a matchbox but there were no matches in it, and you cut a small circle on either side of the matchbox, and you stuck on either side a tube of toothpaste and started squeezing — you’re filling in the empty space with toothpaste.“That’s more or less, when you think in terms of geology, how that gypsum would behave as a rock under pressure if part of it had been erased by groundwater or other types of events.”Venutra said sinkholes happen when the roof of an underground cave becomes so unstable it essentially collapses. All the rock, soil and sediment above will also collapse and fall down to fill the void below, he said.He added that there’s not much one can do to stop a sinkhole from growing: “This is nature.”“The one thing about sinkholes is no one knows when they will happen or where they will happen,” he said.“You might get some clues — cracks in the ground — but more often than not, they just surprise people and hopefully there isn’t too much property damage or loss of life.”A nearby playground was removed after officials found hairline cracks on the pavement near the equipment.Tizzard said she has been measuring the hole daily, as well as surveying reference points across the parking lot to look for “subtle changes” in the surface.She has also been recording and measuring cracks in the pavement and surrounding forest to see if the cracks are growing.The spectacle has been drawing curious onlookers to the small town, located roughly 30 minutes from the New Brunswick border.Officials said the influx of visitors has caused a few fender-benders, and even a collision in which someone was injured.Linda Cloney, a deputy clerk with the town, said the sinkhole is not visible from the road because of the perimeter that has been set up, so people should refrain from slowing down when driving by.Tizzard added: “The public has to stay their distance and stay safe.”Police are asking people to use caution when travelling near the sinkhole, situated near a giant statue of a blueberry with cartoonish eyes and a smile — a mascot for a town that promotes itself as the “blueberry capital of Canada.”— By Aly Thomson in Halifax
OTTAWA – The energy and financial sectors helped boost Canadian economic growth in August despite weakness in manufacturing due to auto assembly plant shutdowns.Statistics Canada said Wednesday real gross domestic product edged up 0.1 per cent in August, the seventh consecutive month to see an increase.Economists had expected no change for the month, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Growth in oil and gas extraction and the finance and insurance sector helped to more than offset declines in 12 of the 20 industrial sectors tracked.Overall, Statistics Canada says services-producing industries edged up 0.1 per cent, while goods-producing industries were essentially unchanged.CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld called the August figures “a mixed bag” with the strength in the oil and gas sector offset by weakness in manufacturing.“Canada’s economy had neither tricks nor treats for market observers on this Halloween release, with August’s GDP growth not scary enough to create fears of a slump, but not strong enough for the Bank of Canada to spook investors with a December rate hike,” Shenfeld wrote in a note to clients.Helping drive the growth was the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sector which rose 0.9 per cent.The increase was boosted by a 1.9 per cent gain by the oil and gas extraction subsector including a 3.2 per cent increase in non-conventional oil as crude bitumen and total crude production in Alberta reached record levels.Also climbing higher was the finance and insurance sector which rose 1.0 per cent in August, the largest monthly gain since May 2017.On the flip side, the manufacturing sector contracted 0.6 per cent in August due in part to shutdowns at some auto assembly plans in the month.The construction sector also pulled back by 0.4 per cent in the month, while transportation and warehousing slipped down 0.5 per cent.The GDP report followed the Bank of Canada’s decision last week to raise its key interest rate target by a quarter of a percentage point to 1.75 per cent and signalled rates are headed higher.Central bank governor Stephen Poloz has said the current rate is still too stimulative for the improved economy and warned it will rise to what the bank considers its neutral range of between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent.
VANCOUVER — The man accused of killing a 12-year-old British Columbia girl more than 40 years ago has been found guilty of first-degree murder.A B.C. Supreme Court jury began deliberating the fate of Garry Handlen on Tuesday after an 11-week trial.Twelve-year-old Monica Jack disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike along a highway in Merritt, B.C., and her remains were found 17 years later.Handlen was the subject of a RCMP sting operation in 2014 and told an undercover officer that he sexually assaulted and strangled Jack after abducting her.Handlen’s defence team maintained the confession was coerced.The Crown’s lawyer told the jury the man had no motivation to confess to a crime he didn’t commit and Handlen felt relief at having unburdened himself from a secret that he’d carried for decades.More coming.The Canadian Press
More than one year after rescuers swam from home to home in a low-income neighbourhood devastated by flooding in Grand Forks, B.C., some residents say they were rattled to learn the property buyouts they’ve been waiting for will be based on post-disaster values.It’s one of several steps in the community’s recovery process that could be replicated elsewhere as climate change brings more extreme weather.Dave Soroka, a 65-year-old musician who lives on the flood plain, says it’s the latest bad news in what has been a difficult year.“We all understood that was possible but with the optimism that was being thrown at us, that line ‘We’ve got your backs,’ it all sounded good,” he said.Soroka and his wife own two properties in North Ruckle that were assessed before the flood at a combined $270,000 and after at $150,000. They are pensioners who had paid off their mortgages but may now go into debt to buy a new home.They have organized a neighbourhood meeting to discuss options but Soroka said he can’t afford a lawyer on his own.“We’re not rich people down here on the flood plain, we’re low-income folk,” he said.Recovery efforts in Grand Forks have been somewhat slow moving, in part because the situation is unprecedented. It’s the first community of its size in B.C. to experience flooding on this scale in decades and has become the test site for recovery efforts that could be duplicated in other places given the extreme weather brought on by climate change.“This is the first circumstance like this that the province had dealt with in recent history,” said Dave Peterson, assistant deputy minister for B.C.’s office of recovery, planning and disaster risk reduction.With that background, it makes sense that the top question on a city webpage dedicated to frequently asked questions about the recovery plan is: “Why don’t you know what you’re doing?”Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor said part of the community has been thrown into a “panic” over the news.Joint funding for “disaster mitigation and adaptation” was announced on June 26, with about $20 million coming from Ottawa, $29 million from B.C., and $3 million from the city.The money will support the purchase of properties to restore the North Ruckle neighbourhood to a natural flood plain, the reinforcement of about 1,300 metres of river bank and the construction of a new retention pond.The city estimates the project will make the homes of more than 800 residents safer during spring thaws and reduce the number of residents who go without essential services during flooding by almost half.The buyouts won’t be based on property damage but instead on whether a home is on the land needed for structural and flood mitigation work.About 100 properties are affected and offers will be made on a case by case basis.The city advocated for pre-flood buyouts, but the best it could get from the provincial and federal funding streams was based on post-flood, the mayor said. “It’s really difficult for me to rationalize why the federal and provincial governments have taken this decision when you know that there are some examples in Manitoba, I think, and Quebec where the post-flood value was not used and they used a pre-flood value,” Taylor said.Infrastructure Canada, which provided Ottawa’s portion of funding, said in a statement that it’s not involved in determining the values. It did not answer questions in time for deadline about why communities in other provinces have received funding based on pre-disaster evaluations.Federal help for disaster relief kicks in once costs surpass what lower levels of government could reasonably be expected to cover on their own.Public Safety Canada said in May that provinces and territories have asked for about $137.9 million to help cover costs related to 10 floods.Peterson said the province followed Ottawa’s lead when it determined funding support for buyouts would be based on pre-flood values, but added that focusing on property assessments doesn’t tell the whole story.Creating equitable support for residents is complicated when some were insured and received disaster relief funding and others didn’t, some also already invested in property improvements after the flood.Housing is also only one piece of the recovery strategy that involves fortifying the city and landscape against future extreme events. The escalating consequences of natural disasters is “new ground” for all levels of government, Peterson said.“It’s difficult enough to find what’s the right answer at the community level on how to move forward, and that is much more true when you move to each individuals’ case,” he said.Graham Watt, the city’s flood recovery manager, said he reached out to other jurisdictions to learn how they’ve dealt with disasters since there’s little institutional memory in B.C.New Brunswick flood victims were eligible for a payout based on pre-flood property value assessments.In Alberta, Calgary offered voluntary buyouts while High River focused on land reclamation to build dikes and other infrastructure, he said.“We’ve got to do a lot more in all the jurisdictions within the province to look at how housing recovery fits into a disaster framework,” Watt said.“I feel like we’re not prepared from a policy perspective to fully deal with this, we’re still a work in progress. I’m hoping we can learn from our experience and others across Canada to improve it in the future.”Although the city of about 4,000 is limited by a small tax base, council has asked staff to come up with creative ways to offer “in kind” support to those in need, Taylor said, adding that North Ruckle is one of its poorest neighbourhoods.“It’s us trying to find ways of using city resources and power — we don’t have a lot — to do something about the people who are most dramatically affected by the loss,” Taylor said.Case workers have been assigned to each home and those residents are the city’s top priority before it moves to build dikes or other recovery efforts, he added.“The anxiety level is only going to decrease once we sit down and deal with those people on a case by case basis,” he said.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
Five stories in the news for Thursday, July 18———SCHEER CALLS TRUMP’S COMMENTS OFFENSIVEFederal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says there is no place in society for comments such as the ones U.S. President Donald Trump has made about four Democratic congresswomen. Scheer says he believes people should be free to criticize their governments without having their backgrounds questioned or being told to leave the country. Trump is being called a racist for suggesting on Twitter that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from if they don’t like America. Scheer didn’t go so far as calling the tweets racist when asked by reporters in Saskatoon, but he said they were offensive. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Trump’s comments would not fly north of the border because diversity is one of Canada’s strengths. ———MANY TSX 60 FIRMS’ OPAQUE ON DIVERSITY DATAOn Tricia Davis’s first day of work at a coal mine in B.C.’s Elk Valley, she says she spotted a heart and a penis scrawled on some dusty equipment. And on a bus ride home one day from the Teck Coal Ltd. operation, Davis — who started there as a truck driver in June 2017 — says two male co-workers insinuated she was working as a prostitute. They allegedly told her: “Oh look it’s your corner, that’s where you belong.” “I waited for two years to finally have the opportunity to work at Teck and have never been so humiliated in my life,” Davis, who quit that job, said in a complaint filed to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.———CDN MILLENNIALS WANT ELECTION CLIMATE DEBATESeveral hundred Canadian millennials planned to rally in at least 30 cities across the country Wednesday, demanding a federal leaders’ debate on climate change. Emma Jackson, a field organizer with the group Our Time, said the science is clear that humanity only has 11 years to get a grip on greenhouse-gas emissions before global warming becomes catastrophic and irreversible. Last fall, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report warning that the world was nowhere near being on track to cut emissions enough to hit the Paris climate-accord target to keep global warming to as close to 1.5 C above pre-industrial times as possible. We are already close to 1 C of warming, and a recent report from Environment and Climate Change Canada warned this country is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.———STUDY DETAILS RENT AFFORDABILITY IN CITIESA minimum-wage worker could afford to rent in just a few neighbourhoods in Canada, suggests a new analysis of the country’s rental market that also raises questions about a promised federal rent-supplement program. The report being released Thursday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says someone earning minimum wage would only be able to afford a one-bedroom rental in nine per cent of 795 neighbourhoods in Canadian cities in the study. The figure drops to three per cent of neighbourhoods when looking at the affordability of two-bedroom units. The federal Liberals’ decade-long national housing strategy includes programs to build more rental housing, hoping a boost in supply will drive down costs.———SUMMER TRAVEL DEALS REQUIRE FLEXIBILITYAs social media feeds fill up with pictures of friends and family on vacation and last-minute deals on flights become harder to score, the fear of missing out is real for procrastinators who have not yet booked their summer holiday. But Elyshia Derbach of Flight Centre says there are still deals to be had on great trips, if you are flexible and open to considering alternatives you might not have thought about. Being open to different styles of travel than what you’re used to, such as a cruise or tour, could also help score you a deal, she added. Before starting your search, Derbach says it is important to know when you are able to travel. Some deals come and go quickly, she says, so if you’re looking for a deal you might want to avoid having to check with your boss or travel partners before you book.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— WTO panel holds its first substantive meeting with the parties Thursday and Friday, and then a third party-session Friday over Australia’s complaint in how B.C. governs wine sales at grocery stores.— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joins supporters for an armchair discussion at a Liberal fundraising event.— Finance Minister Carole James releases the provincial public accounts for 2018-2019. The event starts with a presentation by James, goes to a non-for-attribution technical briefing and then James will be back for follow-up questions.— Edmonton police media availability on fake Connor McDavid hockey jerseys being sold.— The Tsilhqot’in Nation holds a ceremony to commemorate the wrongful trial and hanging of Chief Ahan.———The Canadian Press
Ricky Martin has started living la vida vegetariana, and PETA couldn’t be prouder. Now, just in time for Meatout 2013, PETA is honoring Martin for choosing meat-free meals—and for tweeting about how “amazing” the switch has made him feel—by sponsoring a rescued chicken named Olivia in his name.Olivia was rescued by Florida’s Kindred Spirits Sanctuary, where she is now thriving. She spends her days taking dust baths, roosting in trees, and basking in the sun.“PETA is delighted that Ricky is sharing with his millions of fans how increíble he feels as a vegetarian,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “He’s not alone: People who go vegetarian boost their energy and cut their risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity—and they help save animals like Olivia, too.”Not all chickens are as lucky as Olivia. Chickens raised and killed for their flesh are bred to grow so large so fast that many become crippled from the weight of their massive upper bodies. They have their throats slit while they are still conscious, and many are scalded to death in defeathering tanks.Meatout, which began in 1985, occurs every year on March 20, the first day of spring. It encourages people to see for themselves how easy, delicious, and healthful meat-free meals can be. Many people who try eating vegetarian decide to stick with it—just as Martin has.PETA is proud to recognize Martin’s compassion. He has joined a long list of celebrities — including Anne Hathaway, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Silverstone, Joaquin Phoenix, Jessica Chastain, and former President Bill Clinton — who enjoy healthy, humane, eco-friendly meat-free meals.Source:PETA
A huge number of stars are to celebrate the music of Tom Petty as part of Petty Fest on April 3.Petty FestAmong the stars set to perform are Flea, Albert Hammond Jr., The Walking Papers, Brendan Benson, Nikki Lane, Dhani Harrison, Jason Lee, Butch Walker, Ruby Amanfu, Eric Pulido of Midlake, James Valentine of Maroon 5, Pete Yorn, Matt Sorum & Ace Harper, Lukas Nelson, Chase Cohl, Zane Carney, Danny Masterson, Adam Busch, Dakota Johnson & Ruby Stewart, Cory Chisel, Adriel Denae, Emily Armstrong of Dead Sara, Danny Clinch, Jordan Beckett of Bootstraps and Many More Big Surprises!100% of ticket sale proceeds will benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Founded in 1993 by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.The event takes place on April 3 at the El Rey Theatre in LA.Find out more here.
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, the 21st Annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk For Women will take place in Los Angeles.Created by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), Revlon, and Lilly Tartikoff, the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women has become one of the largest single-day fundraisers for women’s cancers in the United States. More than 25,000 participants are expected to join and to help raise critical funds to support women’s cancer research, counseling and outreach programs.The event will be hosted by Revlon Global Brand Ambassador Halle Berry, Golden Globe and double Emmy-winning actor Bruce Willis, and Emmy Award-winning actress Christina Applegate with special guest Entertainment Tonight’s Brooke Anderson.There will be special performances by Grammy Award-winning artist Brandy, who will sing the National Anthem during the opening ceremony, and British crooner and recording artist Matt Goss will perform for participants after crossing the finish line. Additional guests to be announced soon.Launched in 1994 through the combined efforts of Lilly Tartikoff, Ronald O. Perelman (Chairman of Revlon, Inc.) and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), the EIF REVLON Run/Walk for Women has distributed more than $70 million to date for cancer research, counseling and outreach programs. The events have raised much needed funds that have helped to deliver a novel, non-toxic treatment for breast cancer called Herceptin with another promising non-toxic treatment on the way.Find out more about the event here.
Last week, will.i.am – musician and STEM education advocate – hosted Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson as they toured the i.am College Track after-school tutoring center in will.i.am’s hometown neighborhood of Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, California.Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, i.am.angel Foundation President, will.i.am and The Duke of York in front of the i.am College Track Boyle Heights Boyle Heights center.Credit/Copyright: Jerod Harris/GettyThe visit was part of an information exchange between the i.am College Track program and iDEA, a recently launched Digital Enterprise Award, which aims to support more than 1 million young people in the U.K. to develop their digital skills and business ideas over the next five years. will.i.am serves on the Steering Board of iDEA. The Duke of York chairs the Steering Board. Learn more at www.onemillionyoungideas.org.uk.After a class assembly, The Duke of York, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of Yorkand i.am.angel Foundation President, will.i.am, join students from the i.am College Track Boyle Heights program for a group photo.Credit/Copyright: Jerod Harris/GettyStudents in the i.am College Track Boyle Heights program hosted a facility tour, showing The Duke of York project-based learning designed to teach computer graphics, robotics and Mandarin Chinese. After the tour, will.i.am and The Duke of York addressed students during an assembly. During the assembly The Duke of York invited i.am College Track students to visit the UK and to meet and interact with iDEA initiative participants who attend Hackney Community College in greater London.Musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist will.i.am is President of the i.am.angel foundation. The foundation operates an after-school STEM-focused tutoring center, i.am College Track, in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles. The center serves 120 at-risk, underserved high school students who receive the equivalent of one extra year of high school education with the mission of keeping every student in school and earning grades that will qualify them to graduate and then attend college/university. To learn more about the foundation and its programs, please visit www.iamangelfoundation.org.
Roger Waters headlined a charity event in East Hampton on Saturday to raise awareness of Perfect Earth Project.The Pink Floyd star joined other performers, such as Rufus Wainwright, for the event, with stars such as Martha Stewart and Kim Cattrall in attendance.The Perfect Earth Project promotes toxin-free lawn and landscape management for the benefit of human health and the environment. For photos and more info, click here.
A selection of celebrity clothes – including items belonging to Harper Beckham, donated by Victoria Beckham – are being sold to raise money for Save the Children.The doors of the Mary’s Living & Giving shop for Save the Children in Primrose Hill opened at 10am on Thursday, with the first outfit being sold at a record time of 10:05am. All money raised from the sale for Save the Children could help give children around the world access to lifesaving healthcare that they are currently denied.The complete outfits – including outerwear and shoes – put together by style icon Victoria Beckham from Harper’s wardrobe, included items from designers such as Chloe, Roksanda Ilincic, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Charlotte Olympia. One Harper Beckham outfit, a pink Mischka Aoki dress which retails at £3,693.34, was placed in an auction which runs from today until 4pm on 28th June.Customers can place a bid in store or by telephone by calling 020 3763 0049.Victoria Beckham said: “I am delighted to be supporting the wonderful work of Save the Children through the Fashion Saves Lives Sale. As a mother, I passionately believe that all children, wherever they live, have the right to a happy, healthy life.“Everyone out there can do their part by purchasing or donating, ensuring children all around the world have the opportunity of a brighter future.”Helena Wiltshire, Head of PR at Save the Children, said: “The excitement down at Mary’s Living & Giving in Primrose Hill today has been overwhelming; we are extremely grateful for Victoria Beckham’s support of the Fashion Saves Lives sale as this increased awareness and money raised could give children around the world access to lifesaving healthcare that they are currently denied.”Fronted by Save the Children ambassadors Erin O’Connor and Mary Portas, the Fashion Saves Lives sale also sees pieces from Kate Moss, Jade Jagger, Stanley Tucci and many more famous faces being auctioned on the Mary’s Living & Giving eBay store for Save the Children for a ten day period from 18th – 28th June.Every day, 17,000 children die from preventable causes such as pneumonia and malaria due to a lack of adequate health services. Save the Children is backing a campaign to ensure that at the UN summit in September world leaders make a commitment to ensuring that by 2030, every child has the basic healthcare that they need to survive – no matter who or where they are.Show your support by signing Save the Children’s petition calling on world leaders to agree to a commitment to end child deaths by 2030 at savethechildren.org.uk.For more information and to purchase an item from the sale, please visit savethechildren.org.uk/fashionsaveslives and follow the hashtag #FashionSavesLives
Glide’s 17th Annual eBay Auction for Power Lunch with Warren Buffett, offered through eBay for Charity, opens at 7:30 pm PDT on Sunday, June 5 and runs until 7:30 pm PDT on Friday, June 10.For the past 17 years, legendary investor Warren Buffett has hosted an annual power lunch in support of GLIDE, which serves San Francisco’s homeless, poor and most vulnerable residents. To date, with the help of eBay for Charity, over $20 million has been raised through this unique auction experience for the winning bidder to dine with Buffett and up to seven friends at New York City steakhouse Smith & Wollensky. Bidding starts at $25,000 and all bidders must pre-qualify at eBay.com/glide.“I am proud to be part of something that has directly benefited so many people in need,” said Buffett. “GLIDE is a bridge for thousands of people on the brink of despair, helping them achieve dignity and opportunity by providing them with basic services. Their vital work has a direct and immediate impact.”“As a partner with us on our mission of unconditional love and support for those in need, Warren Buffett is a great humanitarian and friend who has helped us provide tens of thousands of our neighbors with basic services and the opportunity to improve their lives in an authentic way,” said GLIDE’s Co-Founder and Minister of Liberation Reverend Cecil Williams.“Empowered by the kind generosity of Warren Buffett and the bidders, GLIDE is able to provide meals, shelter, childcare, legal assistance, counseling and more to help lift people out of hard times and give them hope in their future,” said GLIDE Co-Founder Janice Mirikitani.“With eBay for Charity, we enable our community to connect to the causes they care about through what we do best — technology-enabled commerce,” said eBay’s Vice President of Corporate Communications and Global Impact, Claire Dixon. “To date, we’ve helped thousands of organizations around the world raise more than $650 million through the eBay platform. We’re proud to be GLIDE’s partner for this iconic auction and help in its mission of alleviating suffering and breaking the cycles of poverty and marginalization.”The auction was conceived in 2000 by the late Susie Buffett, who long maintained a strong affinity for GLIDE’s efforts to provide dignity and opportunity to all people, regardless of income, gender, religion, political persuasion or any other factor. Winning bids have ranged from $25,000 to $3,456,789, with funds going directly to support GLIDE’s programs. Last year’s auction brought in $2,345,678.For information about the Auction for a Power Lunch with Warren Buffett, contact GLIDE at 415.674.6001, Buffett@Glide.org or ebay.com/glide.
Celebrities are expected to turnout for a special 9.11 benefit performance for non-profit River Street Theater Company of 110 Stories to be presented on Sept 10th and Sept. 11th.110 Stories benefit performance – River Street Theater CompanyAcademy Award Nominee, Robert Forster (The Confirmation, The Descendants, Jackie Brown), Elizabeth Greer (Bates Motel, Ray Donovan, Corbin Nash) SAG Nominee Mark Pellegrino (Quantico, The Big Lebowski, The Number 23), Emilio Rivera (Sons Of Anarchy, Z-Nation, Hitman: Agent 47), SAG Award Winner Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Guys With Kids, Entourage, Sopranos), Academy Award Winner Mira Sorvino (Falling Skies, Do You Believe, Mighty Aphrodite), Michael Welch (Twilight, Z Nation, Grace Unplugged) and Brian White (Chicago Fire, The Cabin In The Woods, Fighting) have joined Image Award Nominee Nicki Micheaux (Animal Kingdom, Lincoln Heights, The Shield), SAG Nominee & American Movie Award Winner Stelio Savante (Where The Road Runs Out, The Making Of The Mob: New York, Eisenstein In Guanajuato) and Golden Globe Nominee Diane Venora (The Insider, Heat, Bird) in the cast of River Street Theater Company’s Staged Reading of the Sept 11th play, ‘110 Stories’ (by Sarah Tuft).To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, 110 Stories (written by Sarah Tuft), will be presented in Los Angeles on Sept. 10th and Sept 11th at The William Alderson Acting Studio. The play is directed by iconic acting teacher William Alderson, produced by William Alderson and Stelio Savante, and additional celebrity performers will be announced soon.Trained by Sanford Meisner, William Alderson taught alongside Mr Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in NY from 1967 and was the school’s associate director for twenty years. The Los Angeles studio was formed in 1995, and some of his former students clients include Allison Janney, Kim Basinger, Luis Guzman, and Jeff Goldblum.The board of River Street Theater Company ( a 501c3 non profit) in Los Angeles includes such names as Matthew Carnahan, Robert Carnegie, Jeff Goldblum, David Mamet, and Jon Voight; and William Alderson serves as president.110 Stories has a prestigious history, having been performed by A list casts at The Geffen Playhouse, Joseph Papp Public Theater, NYU Skirball, The Vineyard and various others for charities like The Red Cross, Dennis Leary Firefighters Foundation and the New York Says Thank You Foundation.“110 Stories” is a powerful way to memorialize a shared tragedy. It weaves first-person accounts – selected from hundreds collected right after September 11th – into a journey that recalls our wounds as well as works towards healing them. It’s the human side of history, without politics and agenda, giving voice to those who experienced 9/11 directly… a firefighter, homeless couple, police officer, iron-worker, massage therapist, chaplain, K9 handler, a mother, an elderly bulldog, a South American photojournalist. Together, these accounts shine a light into the human spirit – revealing hope, humor and compassion in the midst of tragedy.Tickets can be purchased here.The Saturday (Sept 10th) performance starts at 7:30 pm and the Sunday (Sept 11th) matinee is at 3pm, tickets are fixed at $40.