Canada’s recognition of Juan Guaido as true Venezuelan leader was months in the making – National


The politician Canada and its allies recognizes as Venezuela’s real leader stood in a Caracas plaza Friday and exhorted his supporters to “stay the course” if he winds up behind bars.

Juan Guaido’s defiant pronouncement against President Nicolas Maduro – whom Canada has branded a dictator who stole an election – marked the latest dramatic development in Venezuela’s political crisis. It followed Guaido’s decision two days earlier to declare himself his country’s interim leader, two weeks after Maduro’s contested inauguration.

WATCH: Every country ‘ought to recognize constitutional leader’ of Venezuela: Pompeo

But emboldening Venezuela’s opposition has been a labour of months, The Canadian Press has learned. Canadian diplomats in Caracas, with their Latin American counterparts, worked to get the country’s opposition parties to coalesce behind the one person who emerged strong enough to stand against Maduro: 35-year-old Guaido.

The turning point came Jan. 4 when the Lima Group – the bloc that includes Canada and more than a dozen Latin American countries – rejected the legitimacy of Maduro’s May 2018 election victory and his looming Jan. 10 inauguration, while recognizing the “legitimately elected” National Assembly, sources say.

WATCH: Elliott Abrams joining State Department as point person on Venezuela

“They were really looking for international support of some kind, to be able to hold onto a reason as to why they should unite, and push out somebody like Juan Guaido,” said one source.

The Canadian Press interviewed senior Canadian government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the crisis in Venezuela. They detailed Canada’s role in aiding democratic forces to rescue the once oil-rich country from the economic and political spiral that has forced three million Venezuelans from their homes.

Canada anticipated this week’s developments because its diplomats have been keeping in close contact with Guaido and other opposition figures in Venezuela. “We listen to them. We listen to the diaspora in Canada and elsewhere in the world, and we do what we can,” said one source.

‘Fulfill my order’: Defiant Maduro recalls Venezuelan diplomats from the U.S.

The quiet Canadian diplomacy was conducted in tandem with Lima Group allies such as Chile, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. It was part of a Canadian diplomatic tradition that included efforts in the 1980s to shield Chilean dissidents fighting the Pinochet dictatorship.

And in 2000, foreign-affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy led a multilateral mission to Peru that ousted strongman Alberto Fujimori, said Canada’s former ambassador to Venezuela Ben Rowswell.

“The tradition here is that Canada believes in the principles of human rights and democracy and takes pragmatic measures on the ground to unblock political situations,” said Rowswell.

WATCH: Political crisis in Venezuela as military backs Maduro

Rowswell said he drew on that tradition while he was in Venezuela, hosting a high-profile award party at the Canadian Embassy to honour a local civil-society leader. The annual gathering sent a message that the world was watching pro-democracy efforts in the face of Maduro’s growing authoritarianism.

After Rowswell’s 2017 departure, the Lima Group was born and Canada began working within that coalition – which does not include the United States – to further human rights and democracy in the hemisphere.

Maduro’s May 20, 2018 election victory galvanized the Lima Group’s efforts. The group denounced the vote as illegitimate and downgraded diplomatic relations.

WATCH: Venezuela facing power crisis as international community looks on

The diplomats who remained focused on building bridges with a fractured opposition that was as much at odds with itself as it was with Maduro.

In a November report, the International Crisis Group documented the divisions and urged the groups to set aside their “personal and political rivalries.”

The top contenders to lead the opposition were long-time leaders Leopold Lopez and Julio Borges, but there were problems with both. Lopez has been under house arrest since 2014, while Borges is living in exile.

Maduro vs Guaido: Venezuela is split between leaders and the world is taking sides

Borges put forth Guaido as a contender, said one source.

Guaido made a clandestine trip to Washington in mid-December to brief U.S. officials on his strategy for dealing with Maduro’s Jan. 10 inauguration. He secretly crossed his country’s border with Colombia so Venezuelan immigration officials wouldn’t know he’d left and prevent his return.

As talks among Venezuelan opposition factions progressed, one source said, they began to set aside their differences. A key realization set in: “This is not about us. This is about the country.”

The source said the opposition groups deserve full credit for getting to that point. But it helped that Canadian diplomats “could facilitate conversations with people that were out of the country and inside the country” with other foreign diplomats.

WATCH: Kremlin: Nicolas Maduro is Venezuela’s legitimate president

On Jan. 5, Guaido assumed the presidency of the National Assembly, which the Lima Group regards as “the only remaining democratically elected institution in the country.”

Four days later, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland telephoned Guaido to “congratulate him on becoming president of the National Assembly and his work on uniting the opposition,” said another source.

The next day, Maduro was sworn in as president with support of countries such as Cuba, Russia and China; Freeland said “the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship.”

WATCH: Chilean president says Chile, Lima Group recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president

On Wednesday, after Guaido declared himself to be the interim president, Venezuelans took to the streets in protests across the country. “It’s an important day for Venezuela,” Freeland said in Davos, Switzerland.

On Friday, Maduro told a news conference he’d be willing to talk to the opposition to settle the question of who leads the country, but he defended his presidency. He also called Guaido’s declaration “a desperate act” backed by the U.S.

Canadian officials said that while U.S. leaders such as President Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also denounced Maduro, there has been no direct co-ordination between the Lima Group and Washington.

WATCH: Trump backs Maduro rival amid protests in Venezuela

As for this week’s rallies, the Venezuelans have full ownership of those.

“It was completely done by the opposition and their people on the ground in Venezuela,” said one official. “We couldn’t have helped them get to this point … if they weren’t willing and really putting their necks out.”

— With files from the Associated Press


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Olderbrother Is a Gender-Neutral Fashion Line Making Saffron the New Black | Healthyish


This story is part of the Healthyish 22, the people changing the way we think about wellness. Meet them all here.

Bobby Bonaparte and Max Kingery, the duo behind the fashion line Olderbrother, could give a TED Talk on the nightmarish impact the garment industry has on the environment. But they would rather not. Instead, they quietly construct their whimsical unisex clothes from sustainably harvested fabrics like organic Japanese cotton and use vivid dyes made from almost exclusively edible pigments. In conceiving each season’s limited-run colorways, they draw inspiration from ingredients that are animating the wellness world at that particular moment—fiery-orange turmeric, golden saffron, the muted earth tones of healing mushrooms—and spend months of R&D figuring out how to best translate those hues to evocative, relatable garments that integrate seamlessly into people’s lives.

“We’re not looking at a Pantone book and asking, “What’s pretty this season?” Kingery explains. “Just the idea that these are natural dyes might spark interest, but we want to transcend that, explore things that people have a specific relationship with. We want people who love chaga mushrooms to see a chaga-dyed shirt and get amped.”

By limiting production and declining to repeat most colors from season to season, Olderbrother blends the principles underpinning both the Slow Food movement and hypebeast streetwear culture. “Keeping things seasonal helps to make them more special,” Bonaparte says. “If you want a coffee sweatshirt from a year ago, you’re kind of out of luck. We have too much exploring to do; we’re really just scratching the surface.”

Bonaparte and Kingery both grew up in Portland, OR—who would’ve guessed!—but sunny Los Angeles is home for them now. Below, the duo walks us through some vibe-y scenes from their production facility and brand-new Venice Beach retail store.


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Krista Scruggs Is Making the Most Exciting, Most Delicious Natural Wine Right Now | Healthyish


This story is part of the Healthyish 22, the people changing the way we think about wellness. Meet them all here.

I was at a party in Oakland last spring when I first tried Krista Scruggs’ wine. It tasted like a pineapple that had been salted, lightly misted in tanning oil, and struck by lightning in the bottle. It was tropical and inviting but with such racing acidity that I was lusting for another glass before I finished the first. “Who made this?!” I cried. The crowd parted, and there was Krista Scruggs.

The wine was a bone-dry pétillant-naturel, one of those crown-capped sparkling wines that finishes its single fermentation in the bottle to create carbonation. But Scruggs’ provocatively titled “Jungle Fever,” made from La Crescent—a white grape that oscillates between laser acidity and ripe fruitiness—had a continuous beady effervescence that could rival anything you brought back from France. It was one of five releases from Scruggs’ first vintage of her Vermont-based label, Zafa, which is named after the word for a good-luck charm in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Her all-natural operation produces wines and ciders and also blends the two to create vinous ciders, an increasingly cool category in the natural wine world. I couldn’t get any of them out of my head.

By the time I got to Vermont to drink more, ahem, I mean, write about the wildly intoxicating Zafa releases, Scruggs had become the hottest name in natural wine since Action Bronson did that Facebook video with Frank Cornelissen. Articles painted her as a “rule breaker” and a “trailblazer,” and now,
a mere six months after she’d poured her first glasses of wine for the public, she was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2018. It was a come-up most winemakers could only dream of. But for Scruggs—a black queer female winemaker—it didn’t feel supportive; it felt slanted. “There is this narrative that I’m this poor black girl from Oakland who got plucked out of a wine bar, started making wine in Vermont on a lark, and became an overnight success,” Scruggs said from the driver’s seat as we started the two-hour drive from her wood-paneled studio apartment in Burlington to the expansive hillsides of Barnard. “I’m from Fresno, from central California’s farming belt,” she told me with equal parts pride and exasperation.

zafa gradient

Photo by Marissa Ross

The kaleidoscope of Zafa Wines’s hybrid grape offerings.

Scruggs rarely speaks without passion, but there is nothing she is more fervent about than farming. Her grandfather had a farm in Visalia, California, when she was growing up, and she would spend every weekend working either on his land or in the garden with her grandmother. After two years as the shipping coordinator for one of the largest wine companies in the country, Constellation Brands, Scruggs decided to work a harvest in France. She came back knowing that she wanted to own land, to farm it, and to be not just a winemaker but also a vigneron, the French term for grape farmer. And it deserves a fancy French word because there are plenty of winemakers who don’t grow their own grapes, but Scruggs does. “Farming is a part of me, a part of my story,” she says. “When you understand that, it makes sense why I make wine in Vermont—because it’s impossible to farm in California today.”

As a Golden State native who covers wine from Los Angeles, I know she’s right. There’s not enough land, and the land that there is, no one has enough money for—not to mention climate change and the wildfires. In 2016, Scruggs met Vermont winemaker and visionary Deirdre Heekin at Oakland wine bar Ordinaire, where Scruggs had taken up hanging out and honing her palate. Within the year Scruggs had moved to Vermont and become the assistant winemaker and farmhand at Heekin’s winery, La Garagista. In 2017 she made the first vintage of Zafa, her own wine, sourcing grapes from one of La Garagista’s vineyards and foraging wild apples around Mount Hunger. Last year she converted a conventionally farmed vineyard to biodynamic practices by working more than 100 days straight. “I don’t think it’s ‘overnight success’ to work your ass off for eight years, for up to 120 hours a week, making $15 an hour. But people don’t want to hear that,” Scruggs said. She shook her head, shifting anxiously under her seat belt.

“It’s not ‘overnight success’ to work your ass off for eight years, for up to 120 hours a week, making $15 an hour. »

“Instead of talking about my farming or my wines, I’m spotlighted for my race and my gender because that is the story people want,” Scruggs told me as we drove through the broad strokes of green on Interstate 89. “I’m proud of those things, and I’m happy people want to highlight them because it means they are acknowledging that I have struggled more in a homogenized industry. But they want the angle for a story without ever getting to know me, or they want my name in their portfolio without ever trying my wines. They say they ‘need’ me, meaning ‘We need someone who looks like you doing what you’re doing.’ They’re commoditizing the fact I’m a black woman in Vermont. It doesn’t just undermine the last eight years of my life, it erases my history, which already happens as a black person.”

She parked the car outside our first stop, winemaker Todd Trzaskos’ Stockbridge farmhouse, and sighed, giving each of her eyes a single swipe with the heels of her palms. By the time she hopped out of the car, she was back to wearing her infectious trademark smile.


Photo by Marissa A. Ross

The sun-dappled vines at La Garagista

That day in central Vermont was the most incredible day I’ve ever had tasting wine in America. At Trzaskos’ we drank vibrant La Crescent and Marquette from huge glass jugs that caught the early September light, illuminating the room in neon pops of gold and coral. In the idyllic Tuscan barn of cult cider producer Fable Farm Fermentory, we had a long lunch of fresh greens and stews and a dozen other delicious things I can’t remember because I was so enthralled by the bottles on the table. We topped it off with dinner at La Garagista, a property so beautiful with vines and colorful bursts of flora and damigianas tucked along garden paths that I would need to double my word count to do it justice. Heekin’s biodynamic paradise is where she has produced some of the most acclaimed and beloved American wines of the last decade, elevating hybrid grapes out of obscurity. I drank a bottle of La Garagista’s “Stolen Roses,” a stunning sparkling rosé made by fermenting cider on top of red wine pomace that smells like ripe wild strawberries, white lilies, apple blossoms, and lavender, and tastes like a field of raspberries with pomegranate arils and sprigs of rosemary crushed under bare feet. There was no questioning that this was where Scruggs cut her teeth.

On the drive back to Burlington, Scruggs raved about La Crescent and ranted about how underrated it was. She lamented over exes and excitedly told me of new releases she was dedicating to new loves. Near tears, she gushed gratitude for her community in Vermont: Her friends who produce Shacksbury, one of Vermont’s most popular ciders, gave her a personal loan to open her new cellar and tasting room in Burlington, and her apple supplier, Carl Cobb of Canamak Farms, helped her secure a lease of 40 acres on Grand Isle to plant ten acres of vines and two acres of apple trees.

“I am one of the luckiest people in the world in that I actually get to do what I want to do. I get to create, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.”
She paused. “But I’m away from my family, I’m away from anything that looks like me. If that is the cost for me to farm and make wines with purpose, then that is the cost. All I can do is keep doing what I’m doing and let my work speak for itself.”

And it does. Zafa’s first vintage tells a tale of tug-of-war between California and Vermont, from “Against All Odds,” a vinous cider that tastes like an electrified Dole Whip, to “No Love Lost,” another vinous cider made with Frontenac Noir that’s like sipping on a spiced cider wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of tannins next to a fire crackling with acidity, to “Anchors Away,” a straight Frontenac Noir that tastes like an experimental track at the end of an album. Its notes of savory barbecue, honey, and violets leave you wondering, and waiting for, what Zafa will release next and what story it will tell.


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Elise McMahon Is the Designer Making Restaurants Way More Fun | Healthyish


This story is part of the Healthyish 22, the people changing the way we think about wellness. Meet them all here.

Trendy interior designers seem to have the same checklist: Mid-century modern furniture? Check. Tropical wallpaper? Check. Rose gold accents everywhere? Check.

Not Elise McMahon, the brains behind LikeMindedObjects, a furniture and design studio based in Hudson, New York. She’s got decidedly different priorities A pink-highlighted, hexagon-ish-shaped table that bends the rules of geometry? Check. It anchors Relationships, a breezy cafe in New York City. Hanging fixtures that project kaleidoscopic light from floor to ceiling? Check. You bask in that psychedelic glory at the newly redesigned Lil’ Deb’s Oasis in Hudson, New York, which she just recently finished up. “It feels more like an installation than a basic eating space,” McMahon explains to me over the phone. “The chefs were up for a wild design, so of course I love to be as wild as a client will allow.”

Untethered creativity has been a constant in McMahon’s life. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, she lived in a house filled with hexagonal rooms designed by architect Edward Humrich. Her artist parents worked from home—sculpting, metalworking—so she had a front-row seat for the life ahead of her. “It was a very experimental household,” McMahon says. “Their work put the small-business mentality in me, and now I’m following that same lifestyle.”

Eventually, she went on to study furniture at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, where she met Hannah Black, one of the chefs at Lil’ Deb’s Oasis and at that time a painting student. At school, Black threw elaborate, epic dinner parties and commissioned McMahon to set the scene, with floral arrangements, lighting, and furniture.

“Food is such a equalizer of enjoyment,” McMahon reminisces. “I love making beautiful, fun furniture because it enhances the experience.”

After graduating from school—and brief stints teaching furniture classes, carving pumpkins, and designing small-scale farming equipment—she reconnected with Black when she moved to Hudson. Soon they were back to throwing experimental dinner parties—but this time at Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, Black’s kitschy, vibrant restaurant with co-chef Carla Perez-Gallardo. Since opening in 2016, it’s garnered a cult following—not just as a gathering place for Hudson’s queer community or the bright, tropical-y comfort food but for the funky, fun atmosphere McMahon has helped conjure in the space. Now, with the recent renovation of Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, she’s channeled more of an ’80s ski lodge for the brand-new upstairs lounge filled with furniture she’s designed as well as local artisans she wants to support.

“I know that furniture isn’t exactly solving world issues, but being a small business that can create spaces I support in a social way is a noble pursuit for me,” McMahon says. “By making these interiors, I feel like I can actually directly affect my community.”


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Ottawa says it won’t be ‘deterred from making the right decision’ on Huawei 5G networks


SHERBROOKE, QUE—Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the federal government won’t be “deterred” as it considers whether to allow Huawei access to 5G networks, pushing back on an implied threat from China that Canada would face economic reprisals if the technology firm is blocked.

Goodale said Friday that the government continues to examine the security and technical considerations around 5G networks, the next generation of wireless technology, but offered no timeline when to expect a decision.

Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale says Ottawa will weigh all factors of allowing Huawei access to Canada’s 5G infrastructure. New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. as well as other countries have already banned the tech company’s access.
Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale says Ottawa will weigh all factors of allowing Huawei access to Canada’s 5G infrastructure. New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. as well as other countries have already banned the tech company’s access.  (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

But he said the coming decision would be based on “Canada’s national interest” and not pressure from Beijing.

Read more:

China’s ambassador accuses Canada of ‘backstabbing’ in arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

Canada Huawei 5G decision said to be months away

The promise of 5G is the problem with Huawei in eyes of critics

“We’ve made it abundantly clear that we will not compromise national security,” Goodale told reporters at the Liberal’s cabinet retreat.

Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye said Thursday that if Huawei is banned when there is “no evidence” to justify any security concerns, there will be “repercussions” for the bilateral relationship. He said he was unsure what those would be.

Asked Thursday for his reaction, Goodale sought to downplay the warning of economic punishment.

“We understand that those sorts of comments will be made in the process but we will make our judgment based on what’s right for Canada and not be deterred from making the right decision,” he said.

“It’s a tough decision-making process but you can’t shrink from the challenges,” Goodale said.

Other countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, have banned Huawei from their 5G infrastructure, citing national security concerns that the firm could be exploited for espionage by the Chinese government.

“Other countries have obviously made their views known and their views are important to us. We will weigh all of that very carefully in the decision,” he said.

“Ultimately this decision has to be made in the best interests of Canada,” he said.

A negative decision could further complicate already frosty relations between Canada and China.

Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant has angered Chinese authorities. China has since detained two Canadians and a third Canadian has seen a 15-year jail term for drug smuggling turned into a death sentence.

Lu, the Chinese ambassador, told reporters in Ottawa Thursday that Meng’s detention was a “politically motivated” act in violation of international law norms.

With files from Tonda MacCharles

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier


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Naturopaths still making ‘unacceptable’ number of dubious claims face minimum $500 fines


B.C.’s naturopathic college is promising immediate action against practitioners who make false claims and spread anti-vaccination disinformation after finding an « unacceptable » number of violations of its policies.

The regulator says it’s giving every naturopath in the province until Monday to make sure all public materials comply with college advertising policy and other  bylaws. After that, everyone who is found to be in violation will be referred immediately to the college’s inquiry committee for investigation and discipline.

« At minimum, it is expected that the inquiry committee will seek fines of $500 per infraction in addition to other sanctions, » the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. says in a notice posted on its website.

Naturopaths who continue to break the rules are putting self-regulation of their profession at risk, according to the college.

The enforcement drive follows CBC reporting last year on three naturopaths who have offered a homeopathic treatment for autistic children called CEASE therapy — « complete elimination of autism spectrum expression. »

In response, the college banned the treatment in May, saying the name alone implied « inaccurate » and « unverifiable » claims. College registrar Howard Greenstein also asked all B.C. naturopaths to immediately review their websites and social media for violations of advertising policies and rules for discussing immunization.

‘College staff continue to find advertising infractions’

Since then, the college says many naturopaths have complied and brought themselves in line with provincial law.

« Unfortunately — and with unacceptable frequency — college staff continue to find advertising infractions, » the college says in its enforcement notice.

Those violations include advertising services that naturopaths are not certified to provide, false claims about the effects of treatment and claims of specialization. College policy also forbids naturopaths from including patient testimonials on their websites and advising against immunization without a sound, documented medical rationale specific to the patient.

College policy forbids naturopaths from spreading anti-vaccination materials. ( Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The college says it’s up to each naturopath to review all its marketing and social media and ignorance is not an acceptable excuse from breaking the rules.

« These registrants are placing self-regulation, a privilege that gives naturopathic physicians direct involvement in how the profession is regulated, at risk, » the notice says.

« When naturopathic services are misrepresented and/or professional and ethical standards are disregarded, strong regulatory sanctions are required, if the profession is to maintain self-regulation. »

The enforcement drive follows similar action from the B.C. College of Chiropractors, which began a crackdown on misleading claims late last year.

Fifty chiropractors in this province refused to remove unproven claims from their advertising and websites about treating everything from autism to cancer and were referred to the college’s inquiry committee for investigation and possible discipline.

Meanwhile, one of the naturopaths who was under investigation for providing CEASE therapy has surrendered her registration. Victoria’s Anke Zimmermann gave up her licence in November, pledging to continue working as a homeopath and advising parents against vaccination.


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Wind power making gains as competitive source of electricity


It’s taken a decade of technological improvement and a new competitive bidding process for electrical generation contracts, but wind may have finally come into its own as one of the cheapest ways to create power.

Ten years ago, Ontario was developing new wind power projects at a cost of 28 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), the kind of above-market rate that the U.K., Portugal and other countries were offering to try to kick-start development of renewables. 

Now some wind companies say they’ve brought generation costs down to between 2 and 4 cents — something that appeals to provinces that are looking to significantly increase their renewable energy.

The cost of electricity varies across Canada, by province and time of day, from an average of 6.5 cents per kWh in Quebec to as much as 15 cents in Halifax.

Capital Power, an Edmonton-based company, recently won a contract for the Whitla 298.8-megawatt (MW) wind project near Medicine Hat, Alta., with a bid of 3.9 cents per kWh. That price covers capital costs, transmission and connection to the grid, as well as the cost of building the project.

The Halkirk Wind project in east-central Alberta, which began operating in 2012, was built by Capital Power. The company’s Whitla project near Medicine Hat is still under development. (Jimmy Jeong/Capital Power)

Jerry Bellikka, director of government relations, said Capital Power has been building wind projects for a decade, in the U.S., Alberta, B.C. and other provinces. In that time the price of wind generation equipment has been declining continually, while the efficiency of wind turbines increases.

Increased efficiency

« It used to be one tower was 1 MW; now each turbine generates 3.3 MW. There’s more electricity generated per tower than several years ago, » he said.

One wild card for Whitla may be steel prices — because of the U.S. and Canada slapping tariffs on one other’s steel and aluminum products. Whitla’s towers are set to come from Colorado, and many of the smaller components from China.

« We haven’t yet taken delivery of the steel. It remains to be seen if we are affected by the tariffs. » Belikka said.

Another company had owned the site and had several years of meteorological data, including wind speeds at various heights on the site, which is in a part of southern Alberta known for its strong winds.

But the choice of site was also dependent on the municipality, with rural Forty Mile County eager for the development, Belikka said.

Alberta aims for 30% electricity from wind by 2030

Alberta wants 30 per cent of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 and is encouraging that with a guaranteed pricing mechanism in what is otherwise a market-bidding process.

While the cost of generating energy for the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) fluctuates hourly and can be a lot higher when there is high demand, the winners of the renewable energy contracts are guaranteed their fixed-bid price.

The average pool price of electricity last year in Alberta was 5 cents per kWh; in boom times it rose to closer to 8 cents. But if the price rises that high after the wind farm is operating, the renewable generator won’t get it, instead rebating anything over 3.9 cents back to the government.

On the other hand, if the average or pool price is a low 2 cents kWh, the province will top up their return to 3.9 cents.


This contract-for-differences (CfD) payment mechanism has been tested in renewable contracts in the U.K. and other jurisdictions, including some U.S. states, according to AESO.

Competitive bidding in Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, the plan is to double its capacity of renewable electricity, to 50 per cent of generation capacity, by 2030, and it uses an open bidding system between the private sector generator and publicly owned SaskPower.

In bidding last year on a renewable contract, 15 firms submitted bids, with an average price of 4.2 cents per kWh.

One low bidder was Potentia with a proposal for a 200 MW project, which should provide electricity for 90,000 homes in the province, at less than 3 cents kWh, according to Robert Hornung of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

« The cost of wind energy has fallen 70 per cent in the last nine years, » he says. « In the last decade, more wind energy has been built than any other form of electricity. »

Ontario remains the leading user of wind with 4,902 MW of wind generation as of December 2017, most of that capacity built under a system that offered an above-market price for renewable power, put in place by the previous Liberal government.

In June of last year, the new Conservative government of Doug Ford halted more than 700 renewable-energy projects, one of them a wind farm that is sitting half-built.

The feed-in tariff system that offered a higher rate to early builders of renewable generation ended in 2016, but early contracts with guaranteed prices could last up to 20 years.

Hornung says Ontario now has an excess of generating capacity, as it went on building when the 2008-9 bust cut market consumption dramatically.

But he insists wind can compete in the open market, offering low prices for generation when Ontario needs new  capacity.

« I expect there will be competitive processes put in place. I’m quite confident wind projects will continue to go ahead. We’re well positioned to do that. »


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The Art of the Dinner Salad: 5 Tips for Making a Pile of Veggies Feel Like a Meal


I love salad. Big fluffy green ones. Crunchy ones. Hearty ones. Every salad have a special place in my heart. If I’m being honest, I’ve been caught on many occasions making a midnight snack out of a head of lettuce and some leftover dressing, a time when any normal person would be munching on shredded cheese from the bag or jarred salsa and chips. (I’m just living my truth people!) But the hard reality is that most people don’t share this feeling with me—and it’s my mission in life to change their minds. And that starts with the dinner salad.

Raw and Roasted Chopped Salad

I get that a lot of folks are resistant to the idea of eating salad—and only salad—for dinner. But as a person who almost always has friends staying over at my place, and am therefore responsible for keeping them fed, I’ve had plenty of practice converting salad skeptics. Through much trial and error, I’ve come up with a formula for a dinner salad that will satisfy both my salad hater friends and my salad obsessed self. It produces a pile of veggies that is substantial, satisfying, and a main course in and of itself—no post-meal snacking required. Here’s how to do it.

kale and brussels sprout salad

Photo by Heidi’s Bridge, styling by Molly Baz

Massaged kale makes for a more substantial salad base.

Hearty Greens

A substantial base is the key to a proper dinner salad. This is no place for boxed « spring mix » or a head of delicate butter lettuce—you need something with some oomph. I love to use cabbage (red, green, savoy, napa), kale, collards, or mustard greens, which will be able to stand up to all the flavorful add-ins, toppings, and dressings that this salad wants without wilting. The trick to making these non-lettuce salad bases delicious is to massage them with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt after they’ve been cut up. This helps to break down the tough cell structure these veggies have, rendering them tender and ready to soak up flavor.

ba basics crispy thai chicken salad plucking rotisserie chicken

Alex Lau

Leftover rotisserie chicken, tinned fish, and crispy roasted chickpeas all add protein and heft.


A dinner salad needs protein to make it really feel like dinner. Anything goes! Shredded rotisserie chicken. Last night’s roasted salmon. Jammy boiled eggs. But nobody’s saying you have to use leftovers—you can sizzle up a steak or a pork chop just for this salad endeavor if you want to make it feel less hodge-podge. And do not despair, vegans of the world: Crumbled tofu, frozen-then-thawed edamame, or crispy chickpeas are all welcome here, too.

twice roasted squash with parmesan butter and grains

Photo by Marcus Nilsson, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, Prop Styling by Angharad Bailey


Raw & Cooked Veg

Now that you’ve got a sturdy base and some protein in the mix, it’s time to incorporate some supplementary cooked and/or raw veggies. Again, this could be repurposed leftovers—roasted squash from a few nights ago, stir-fried broccoli—or some odds and ends from meal prep, like quick-pickled cukes or shaved radishes. You want to shoot for contrast, if at all possible—soft, sweet roasted carrots paired with crunchy raw cauliflower, for instance, or tender herbs and sprouts with steamed chunks of sweet potato. And don’t forget about fruit! Slivers of tart-sweet apple or Asian pear can bring both acidity and a bit of welcome sweetness to the party.

tahini ranch dressing

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Emily Eisen

This creamy Tahini-Ranch Dressing is the kind of sauce that dinner salad dreams are made of.


This is not the time for light vinaigrettes and the like—you want a dressing that packs a punch, something that has a little heft to it. Remember: Because you started with hearty greens instead of delicate lettuces, this salad can handle it. Think yogurt-based dressings, a rich tahini sauce, or a garlicky homemade ranch. If you are inclined towards something closer to a classic vinaigrette, consider adding a bit of extra citrus, a healthy spoonful of Dijon mustard, or a bunch of chopped herbs, all of which will give it the extra something-something this salad wants.


Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Toasted nuts and seeds are always welcome.


Starting to look like a pretty great salad, huh? Hearty base, protein, extra veg, a knockout dressing. Only one thing stands between you and the best salad you’ll eat all year: TOPPINGS! Don’t. Skip. This. Step! Toppings are what makes a dinner salad the crunchy-salty-creamy-craveable meal it should be. The more the merrier, but as a rule, I like to make sure to have something crunchy (think pita chips, fried shallots, croutons, nuts, seeds) and something cheesy (crumbled feta, grated Parm, nuggets of goat cheese) to really take that salad to the next level. Toppings are like the icing on a cake, or the star on the top of a Christmas tree: optional, but…not optional.

Want to see the formula in action? Try this dinner salad on for size:



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Feds should consider making some criminal pardons automatic: public safety panel – National


OTTAWA – A panel of MPs wants the federal government to look at making criminal pardons automatic for some offenders who have served their sentences.

The House of Commons public safety committee also suggests lowering the $631 fee for a pardon and simplifying the often complex process for applicants.

Committee members say in a recent report that a criminal record can hinder a person’s ability to get a job, find housing, go to school or travel.

READ MORE: Supreme Court rules mandatory payments for minor offences unconstitutional

Under changes brought in by the former Conservative government, lesser offenders – those with a summary conviction – must wait five years instead of three before they can apply for a suspension.

Offenders who have served a sentence for a more serious crime – an indictable offence – must wait 10 years instead of five.

WATCH: Gov. to move forward with ‘free and rapid pardons’ for simple marijuana possession charges

In addition, the application fee quadrupled to $631 from $150 to ensure full cost recovery.


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Critics accuse PCs of making ‘misleading’ claims about lower gas prices in Ontario


Drivers in Ontario have been enjoying relatively low gasoline prices this holiday season and, according to a number of Progressive Conservative MPPs, they have the provincial government to thank for it. 

Over the past week, some big names in the PC caucus, including Premier Doug Ford, have taken to social media to tell Ontarians that the cancellation of a « carbon tax » is fuelling a drop in prices at the pump. 

« Taking the carbon tax off gas prices has helped lower the cost of driving your car across the province! » Ford tweeted in response to one of his MPs, Natalia Kusendova‏, who had just posted her own tweet documenting the price board at a Mississauga gas station. 

Other PC MPPs, including Vic Fedeli, the province’s finance minister, and Christine Elliott, minister of health and long-term care, quickly followed suit with posts of their own. Some garnered considerable criticism from Twitter users, many of whom pointed out that the price of gasoline has dropped throughout Canada

An environmental advocate says the messaging campaign amounts to « intentionally misleading » the public by claiming credit for a decrease in the cost of gasoline in Ontario. 

Keith Brooks, programs director at Environmental Defence, a non-profit based in Toronto, says low prices are primarily due to external, global factors — not provincial government policy.

« The idea that getting rid of cap-and-trade is responsible for this big decrease in gas prices is just not true at all, » Brooks said on Sunday, noting that the provincial government did indeed repeal Ontario’s cap-and-trade system.

« I don’t think that the government has a great matter of control over gas prices, quite frankly. It’s market forces at play here, » said Keith Brooks. (CBC)

It has also vowed to challenge the federal government’s impending carbon tax, but the province’s cancelled cap-and-trade program and Ottawa’s carbon tax are two different things. 

« What’s happened here in Ontario with gas prices is no different than what’s happened across the rest of country. Cap-and-trade is a very small factor, » Brooks said. 

‘Market forces at play’

The PC government is « confusing » the situation by equating its cap-and-trade climate change program with a carbon tax, he added. 

Cap-and-trade is a form of carbon pricing that Ontario eliminated in October. It aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by capping the amount of pollution companies in certain industries could emit. If companies exceeded those limits, they had to pay for it. 

« From the get go, this new government has conflated the cap-and-trade system with a carbon tax. They know ‘tax’ is a word that sets people off, » Brooks said.

Michael Ervin, senior vice-president of Kent Group Ltd., a consulting firm that provides data and analysis on the downstream petroleum sector, said in an interview from Victoria that low gasoline prices are largely a result of wholesale gasoline prices. 

Michael Ervin, senior vice-president of Kent Group Ltd., said gas prices have been dropping across North America in recent weeks. (CBC)

« It is very correct to say that the reduction in gasoline prices in Ontario are partly a result of the Ontario government getting out of the cap-and-trade system, » he said.

But that move accounts for a drop of only about five cents per litre, he added.

According to, an online aggregator of gas prices, a drop in oil prices caused a 22-cent-a-litre drop in overall gasoline prices in recent months.

« Most of the reduction has nothing to do with getting out of cap-and-trade and much more to do with the fact that wholesale gasoline prices are declining right across North America right now, » Ervin said.

« Fundamentally, gasoline prices go up and down as a result of changes in wholesale gasoline prices. The retail market follows wholesale prices quite closely. The wholesale price, being just driven by supply and demand, is really what causes the volatility in prices. »

In an interview earlier in December with the Canadian Press, Ervin said there’s a glut of gasoline on the North American market brought on by lower than expected demand and refineries being forced to produce excess gasoline in order to manufacture diesel — a gasoline byproduct that is in high demand.

In an email statement sent on Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Ford’s office said the provincial government is following through on its promise « to make life more affordable » in Ontario.

« Under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford, our government moved quickly to eliminate the ineffective cap-and-trade program, » Laryssa Waler said. 

« Since then, refiners have removed the additional 4.6 cents per litre, cap-and-trade fee they had perviously been passing onto consumers. Recognizing that gas prices fluctuate based on a variety of reasons, drivers in Ontario are now saving an additional 4.6 cents a litre that they wouldn’t otherwise be saving. »

Meanwhile, many twitters users continued to respond to tweets from MPPs throughout the weekend. Elliott’s post seemed to draw particular ire, with some 800 people voicing an opinion on her message. Some suggested that she was not presenting factual information. 


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