Daughter, 18, charged with 2nd-degree murder after woman reported missing in Ottawa


An 18-year-old woman has been charged with second-degree murder after her mother was reported missing earlier this month. 

Ottawa police asked for the public’s assistance Thursday to help locate 37-year-old Susan Kublu-Iqqittuq. The Inuk woman was last seen in the area of Elgin Street and Laurier Avenue on Jan. 10, police said.

Lennese Kublu has been charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a human body, police said.

The family confirmed with CBC News that Kublu is the daughter of the woman who was reported missing.

Ottawa police are using the spelling « Kuplu » for both women. Police said that their major crime unit is investigating.​

The suspect appeared in court Saturday morning. 


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Halton police investigating 2 reported ATM thefts in Oakville – Hamilton


Halton police are investigating two ATM thefts in Oakville.

Halton police looking for suspects after armed robbery in Oakville

Police say in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 18, three suspects in an older model pickup truck pulled up to the front doors of the Sobeys on Lakeshore Road West and pried open the sliding door.

A chain connected to the truck was tied around the ATM machine, and the driver then accelerated, hauling the ATM through the doors of the store, before it was loaded onto the vehicle.

Police say the second incident, involving three suspects and a pickup truck, happened early Thursday morning at the ‘Film.Ca Cinemas’ movie theatre on Speers Road, where the same technique was used to remove the ATM.

Hamilton police charge teacher with first-degree murder in house fire death of Dundas couple

However, the suspects were caught on surveillance video.

To view their descriptions and suspect vehicle, please click here.

Anyone with information about these ATM thefts is asked to contact Det.-Const. Ross Amore at the 2 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 ext. 2246.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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6 flu deaths among kids reported in Canada


Flu activity remains high in Canada, according to a new report released on Friday that confirms children and teens were hit hard.

A total of  17,743 laboratory-confirmed flu cases have been reported, the Public Health Agency of Canada said in its weekly FluWatch report.

Six pediatric deaths occurred so far this season, all children under the age of 10. There were also 95 pediatric admissions to ICU for flu.

Influenza A is the most common form of the virus circulating in Canada, and the majority of these viruses are H1N1. 

The Canadian report covers the period Dec. 30 to Jan. 5.

Elsewhere on Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 69,000 to 84,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in the last three months.

The U.S. saw one of the worst flu outbreaks in nearly a  decade during the 2017-2018 season, with more than 900,000 cases of hospitalizations and over 80,000 deaths, the CDC estimates .

The H1N1 virus is also the predominant strain in the U.S. this year. 

Flu infections bring fever, cough, general malaise and achy muscles and joints.

Health officials in both countries say  it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

They also recommend that people stay at home and not go to work or school if ill. Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands often, and to cough and sneeze into your elbow.


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Located safe: young First Nation teen reported missing from North Okanagan – Okanagan


UPDATE: RCMP said 14-year-old Haven “Jack” Williams has been located safe.

ORIGINAL STORY: A 14-year-old Spallumcheen girl has been missing since Sunday, Dec. 30, and RCMP are asking for help finding her.

Haven “Jack” Williams disappearance is out of character, according to police.

“Police are very concerned for Haven’s health and well-being,” RCMP said on Wednesday.

Williams is described as having:

  • Black hair
  • Is of medium build
  • A height of five-foot-six

Anyone with information about the teen’s whereabouts is urged to contact local police of by leaving an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or by leaving a tip online at www.nokscrimestoppers.com.


© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Federal departments and agencies reported 200 serious privacy breaches in 2017


OTTAWA–The federal government reported more than 200 significant privacy breaches affecting the personal information of thousands of Canadians and Canadian businesses, a number that Ottawa’s privacy watchdog suggests is the “tip of the iceberg.”

The Star obtained documents under access to information law detailing every privacy breach reported by federal departments and agencies in 2017. Over 600 pages, government employees describe breaches ranging from misplaced student loan documents to outing confidential RCMP drug informants.

But privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien’s office suggested the official numbers likely mask the scope of privacy violations at federal departments and agencies.

“Given the sheer volume of personal data that is collected and used by government institutions, we believe many material breaches likely go unreported, if not undetected,” wrote spokesperson Tobi Cohen in a statement to the Star.

In 2014 Treasury Board, the department that handles most internal government rules and regulations, required all federal departments and agencies to report any “material privacy breaches” to the privacy commissioner.

But what amounts to a “material” breach is somewhat open to interpretation. According to Treasury Board rules, a breach is “material” if it involved sensitive personal information and could “reasonably be expected to cause serious injury or harm to the individual” or involves a large number of people.

In 2017, only 27 federal departments and agencies reported a material breach to Therrien’s office. Most of the violations, some 113, were reported by Employment and Social Development Canada. But many of ESDC’s breaches were relatively minor, and most involved single student loan applications.

There were, however, more serious incidents:

  • Public Prosecution Service of Canada (seven breaches): On Jan. 9, 2017, a lawyer with the service provided defence counsel in a drug case with disclosure for the trial. About 30 “Information to Obtain” warrants were included on a CD, related to search warrants granted to police in Atlantic Canada.

The defence lawyer gave a copy of the documents to his client. The problem was that, while the prosecution service “vetted” the documents, it failed to properly censor information about four confidential police informants — meaning the person up on drug charges could see information about four people, including two names, who talked to police about the case.

The police alerted two of the informants whose names had been revealed, but felt the other two were unlikely to be fingered by the information in the documents.

  • Canada Border Services Agency (one breach): In April 2017, Calgary police sent a copy of a “Wanted Bulletin” to CBSA employees at the airport and in the intelligence division. That bulletin was forwarded to the CBSA’s main Calgary email list.

According to the documents, a CBSA employee snapped a cellphone picture of the bulletin and forwarded it to a third party. That person then forwarded the picture to the Calgary police and the person who was wanted by police, who expressed “concerns about the content.”

  • RCMP (11 breaches): In May 2017, the name of an RCMP employee accused of harassment was mistakenly sent to an email list of 73 co-workers. It took the employee’s manager a full day to ask to recall the email, and an undisclosed number of recipients had already opened it.

The RCMP asked the recipients to delete the email from their inboxes.

  • Royal Canadian Mint (one breach): As a sales rep was preparing to leave the Mint, they forwarded information about 705 Mint customers — including 14 customers’ credit card information — to their personal email account.

“This information was used by the individual post-Mint employment to contact Mint customers … to solicit their business in his new professional capacity,” the documents read.

After an investigation, the Mint sent a cease-and-desist letter to the former employee, who agreed to delete all the information purloined from the Mint’s databases.

  • Canada Revenue Agency (24 breaches): Between 2005 and March 2017, employees at one of CRA’s Ontario offices had been uploading social insurance numbers and business numbers to the Electronic Land Registration Database — apparently without knowing that media, lawyers, and financial institutions regularly use the database.

A total of 2,921 individuals and businesses were affected by the breach.

Of all the departments reporting privacy breaches, CRA has likely received the most attention. The 2017 documents show that the agency is still grappling with the problem of employees improperly looking up the tax information of friends, family, colleagues and others.

The largest breach reported by the agency in 2017 appears to be a single employee looking up the tax information of 5,935 Canadians.

A spokesperson for the agency said CRA has cracked down on employees improperly accessing taxpayer information since 2013, including limiting tax workers’ access to just the files they require to do their work. In 2017, the agency brought in a fraud management program that allows the agency to “proactively monitor and detect” unauthorized access.

“When misconduct has been established, the employee is disciplined in keeping with the seriousness of the misconduct and the circumstances of the case,” wrote CRA spokesperson Dany Morin.

Still, Therrien’s office notes that cracking down on unauthorized access at CRA has been a priority for almost five years.

“The fact that unauthorized/inappropriate access by employees is still happening at all, despite the measures CRA has taken, remains an ongoing concern,” wrote spokesperson Cohen.

Cohen said the privacy watchdog’s office is still pushing the government to require all privacy breaches to be reported by law, rather than simply Treasury Board rules.

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier


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Ranking Nova Scotia MLAs by reported expenses – Halifax


A direct correlation can be drawn between factors, such as mileage and living accommodations, and the higher-end costs taxpayers are shelling out for MLA expenses.

The most recent six-month MLA expense report covers the period between April and September of this year and shows a bill of $1,586,836.48 was picked up by Nova Scotians.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia MLAs expensed $175,000 in advertising over 6-month period

Each member’s expenses are broken down into categories, such as constituency expenses and travel expenses.

MLAs whose ridings are situated more than 100 kilometres away from Province House are also eligible to claim living expenses, which cover lodging, parking, electricity, cable, phone, and internet charges.

Members who incur those additional costs make up the first 19 places of the 51-person list, although there are several, such as Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster and Victoria-The Lakes MLA Keith Bain, who are further down the list than a number of HRM-area representatives.

“We are committed to transparency, and are the first government to make cabinet ministers’ expenses available online,” said the Liberal Caucus Office in a statement.

Glace Bay Liberal MLA Geoff MacLellan topped the list at $48,617.89, followed by NDP MLA for Cape Breton Centre, Tammy Martin, with $45,925.84.

The PC’s Chris d’Entremont, who represents Argyle-Barrington, rounded out the podium, charging $43,251.49 to taxpayers.

Just over 20 per cent of MacLellan’s costs came from living expenses with $10,200 solely spent on six months of rent. Another $5,707.25 was listed under the travel heading.

Martin’s expenses include $8,374.50 in living costs, which are made up of electricity and cable charges, along with a $1,250 per month apartment rental. The Cape Breton Centre MLA’s living expenses are the lowest of the three, while her travel costs top them at $6,864.45.

D’Entremont’s living expenses of $8,628.29 are made up of one NS Power bill, a pair of Eastlink bundle charges and $1,375 in monthly rent. Travel charges reached $6,189.73.

WATCH: Here’s how much your Nova Scotia MLA is costing you

Liberal members occupy the final two top five spots; Gordon Wilson of Clare-Digby and Lloyd Hines of Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie each expensed over $42,000.

“As the representative for Cape Breton Centre, I live further away than almost any other MLA, which means there are higher travel costs to get to and from Halifax for meetings,” said NDP MLA Tammy Martin. “I wish more government meetings actually took place in Cape Breton instead of always being in the city.”

When a comparison is done of the distance between constituency offices and Province House, MacLellan and Martin are tied for the longest journey at 424 kilometres each.

PC MLA for Northside-Westmount Eddie Orrell ranks third with a 406 kilometre trip every time he heads to the legislature, although he is barely above the average amount spent at $32,911.77, landing him at 18th on the list.

The PC’s own the fourth farthest riding from the capital as well. Victoria-The Lakes MLA Keith Bain is one kilometre short of 400 away, but despite the sprawling constituency and the long drive to Province House, Bain only cost taxpayers $30,402.96 this time around, resulting in him ranking 29th.

Liberal MLA Derek Mombourquette, who represents Sydney-Whitney Pier, is just shy of that distance with a 397 kilometre one-way trip. It is the fifth furthest away. He landed seventh in costs by expensing $40,930.27.

Nova Scotia Premier and MLA for Annapolis, Stephen McNeil, sits in the middle of the pack at 26th. New PC Leader Tim Houston ranks just outside the top ten at 12th, while NDP Leader Gary Burrill, the only party leader with a Halifax-region seat, landed in 35th.

The PC Party indicated that in some instances, geographic size of constituencies can require MLAs to hold two consituency offices but that “PC MLAs take great care to ensure their expenses fall within the rules and are approved by the Speaker’s Office.”

The PC’s hold three of the five least expensed rankings, including the two lowest amounts.

Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage MLA Barbara Adams charged the least to taxpayers with a total of $18,748.15 spent, while Larry Harrison of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley expensed $19,634.28.

Liberal MLAs Chuck Porter and Kelly Regan were third and fourth lowest, with PC MLA for Dartmouth East Tim Halman rounding out the bottom five.

Follow @Jeremy_Keefe


© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Children of Grassy Narrows have higher reported rates of health problems, learning disabilities


Though it has been 50 years since a mill dumped mercury upstream from Grassy Narrows First Nation, the reserve’s children are showing troubling signs that the neurotoxin is still poisoning the community.

Children whose mothers ate fish at least once a week while pregnant are four times more likely to have a learning disability or nervous system disorder that is slowing their efforts in school, says new research led by a leading mercury expert. Those kids were compared to Grassy Narrows children whose mothers hardly ever ate fish.

Dr. Donna Mergler and a team of scientists surveyed the families of 350 children ages 4 to 17. The research is part of an ongoing, comprehensive study that has already revealed the adults of Grassy Narrows report higher rates of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts compared to other First Nations adults.

During the 1960s, the Dryden pulp and paper mill, operated by Reed Paper, dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon River that feeds Grassy Narrows downstream. The mill was using the mercury to bleach paper. The mercury contaminated the walleye downstream and poisoned the people who ate the fish. They developed tremors, slurred speech, impaired hearing and tunnel vision, and lost muscle co-ordination.

The robust fishing tourism industry, especially at famous Ball Lake Lodge, was decimated. The commercial fishermen and guides went on welfare.

Over the past two years, the Star and scientists have revealed that fish downstream near Grassy Narrows remain the most contaminated in the province, that there is mercury-contaminated soil and river sediment at or near the site of the old mill, and the provincial government knew in the 1990s that mercury was visible in soil under that site and never told anyone in Grassy Narrows or nearby Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) Independent Nations. Scientists strongly suspect that old mercury still contaminates the mill site and is polluting the river.

Parents or caregivers responded to the lengthy survey about their kids between December 2016 and March 2017.

The effort was spearheaded by community leaders and Mergler, a mercury expert at Université du Québec à Montréal. It was funded by Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

The adult survey was supported by records of mercury levels in hair, blood and umbilical cord blood. Those same adults answered questions about their children for this survey.

It shows that Grassy Narrows children age four to 11 have a higher reported rate of ear infections, speech problems and learning disabilities compared to that reported by parents of other First Nations children. Grassy teens are struggling in school, with shorter attention spans than other First Nations teens, the research found.

This comparison is possible because the adult and children surveys were adapted from an older 2008 and 2010 survey that had been given to 12,000 people in First Nations communities across Canada.

Mergler has told the Star that the Grassy Narrows surveys were significant because “it’s the first time that there has been a population-based study of the community that links fish consumption to health outcomes and that looks at the difference between Grassy Narrows and other First Nation communities.

“Grassy Narrows, of course, has all the other issues of the other First Nations, such as residential schools, poverty, poor access to health care, poor access to food and, in addition to that, they have the legacy of mercury poisoning.”

She has said that the survey shows the river must be remediated to protect future generations and that the community needs bolstered health care and education resources.

A report on the survey’s findings recommended that a learning centre be set up to give information on mercury’s impact on a developing fetus and child. It also called for more supports for children, including a full-time child psychologist and speech therapy programs, as well as a community kitchen that serves uncontaminated food. Finally, the report urged officials to revisit the current guidelines on walleye consumption as damage could be occurring at levels lower than previously believed.

Indigenous Services Canada said it welcomes the new survey and will carefully review the results. A spokesperson also said the government “acknowledges that the best health outcomes for Indigenous peoples will be achieved through programs, supports and the identification of required infrastructure that are designed, developed and led by Indigenous communities.”

The research also found:

  • At least 10 per cent of all Grassy Narrows teens have anxiety or depression.
  • The children of mothers who ate fish at least once a month during pregnancy are twice as likely to have visual problems and three times more likely to have chronic ear infections, compared to children of Grassy Narrows mothers who hardly or never ate fish during pregnancy.
  • Two-thirds of children and youth eat bannock and walleye, traditional foods, with half eating walleye at least a few times during the past year.
  • 92 per cent of the children whose pregnant mothers ate fish at least once a week had a grandfather who was a fishing guide.
  • The likelihood of these grandchildren of fishing guides having been in the care of child and family services is five times greater than those whose grandfather was not a fishing guide.

“The tradition and culture of fishing and fish consumption have been passed down from one generation to the next,” the report said. “However, since the 1970s, so, too, has the loss of the traditional economy, unemployment and sickness. Fishing guides and their familes were the most highly exposed to mercury and the first to lose their jobs.

“The legacy of mercury compounds and exacerbates the legacies of colonialism and residential schools on the health and wellbeing of the next generation.”

Last year, the provincial government committed $85 million to clean up the river and the federal government has pledged to help build a mercury care home that will help some of the sickest residents. The clean-up work has not yet begun, though experts are conducting research to determine how to best remediate the river.

And this year the province retroactively indexed payments from the Mercury Disability Board to inflation. The board, which was set up during the 1980s to compensate those who can demonstrate symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning, had long been criticized as being inadequate. Roughly 70 per cent of applicants had been turned down for compensation. Earlier this year, the board’s longtime neurologist quit after an allegation of bias. The doctor said he had done no wrong and wanted an apology, and when he did not get one, he said, he quit.

“We are proud of our kids. They amaze me every day with their humour, their pride, and their strength,” said Judy Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows mother and community activist. “They should not have to fight again and again for basic justice that others in Canada take for granted. They should not have to overcome hunger, poverty, and poison in order to succeed.”

The new research also found signs that the children of Grassy Narrows are active despite their significant challenges.

More than two-thirds of all children and youth participate in community-organized cultural events, and 88 per cent of children swim, jog or mountain bike.

Many of the teens of Grassy Narrows have participated in logging blockades and marches to protest governmment inaction on the mercury contamination. Their song “Home to me” has more than a quarter-million views on youtube, the website says.

“Our youth are brave and talented people who have overcome great obstacles to leave their mark on Canada,” said Chief Rudy Turtle. “But every day they face the legacies of mercury, colonialism, and residential schools, so it is an uphill battle for them. They deserve to have a good life and to enjoy themselves like other youth do, without having to fight again and again for basic fairness.

David Bruser is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidBruser

It looks as if you appreciate our journalism. Our reporting changes lives, connects communities and effects change. But good journalism is expensive to produce, and advertiser revenue throughout the media industry is falling and unable to carry the cost. That means we need you, our readers. We need your help. If you appreciate deep local reporting, powerful investigations and reliable, responsible information, we hope you will support us through a subscription. Please click here to subscribe.


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Canadians reported record high of more than 2,000 hate crimes in 2017


More than 2,000 hate crimes were reported to Canadian police last year, marking a record high since comparable data first became available in 2009, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

In 2017, Canadians reported 2,073 hate crimes to police services, a sharp rise of 47 per cent compared to the previous year. This growth was primarily fuelled by Ontario, which saw the biggest spike in hate crimes with 1,023 incidents — a 67 per cent increase from 2016, with the majority of cases targeting Muslim, Black and Jewish communities.

A playground slide was vandalized with anti-Semitic and anti-Black graffiti in a Markham schoolyard in 2017. A Statistics Canada report released Thursday shows hate crimes are on the rise in Canada.
A playground slide was vandalized with anti-Semitic and anti-Black graffiti in a Markham schoolyard in 2017. A Statistics Canada report released Thursday shows hate crimes are on the rise in Canada.  (Submitted photo)

This was followed by Quebec, where hate crimes grew by 50 per cent and largely victimized the Muslim community — especially in the month after the Quebec City mosque shooting, which accounted for 26 per cent of anti-Muslim incidents reported in the province last year.

For anti-racism and advocacy groups, the report is just the latest testament to an alarming rise in hatred — and the time for effective action and leadership is long overdue.

“These attitudes remain prevalent in our society and this is unacceptable,” Brittany Andrew-Amofah, a board member with the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said in a statement. “It’s time for political leaders to unequivocally speak out against hate and intolerance and in support of a multicultural society where everyone feels safe to participate and contribute.”

This new data comes with caveats. It’s unclear whether last year’s spike is due to a rise in incidents or improved reporting and hate crimes still represent a small proportion of overall crimes, accounting for just 0.1 per cent of the 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by police last year.

But police data also depends on a service’s ability — and resources — to effectively investigate hate crimes, which are vastly under-reported. In 2014, another Statistics Canada survey found that Canadians self-reported more than 330,000 criminal incidents motivated by hate, but only a third filed police reports. Groups like the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network also criticize the current classification systems for being overly broad — making it difficult, for example, to discern whether a Muslim Arab man might have been targeted for his race, religion or both.

There is no specific offence under the Criminal Code called “hate crime,” but any crime can qualify as such — and, accordingly, increase a person’s jail sentence — if hatred is proven to be a motivating factor. Three sections under the Criminal Code also deal with hate propaganda, but the bar for laying charges is particularly high.

Last year, the majority of reported hate crimes were non-violent and involved incidents of mischief, like graffiti or vandalism. But violent incidents accounted for 53 per cent of hate crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation; by comparison, 24 per cent of hate crimes targeting religion and 47 per cent of incidents based on ethnicity were categorized as violent.

The leading motivation for a reported hate crime was race or ethnicity, with 878 incidents last year — an uptick of 32 per cent from 2016. The Black community was the most frequently targeted, with anti-Black incidents up by more than 50 per cent and accounting for 16 per cent of all hate crimes across Canada.

Hate crimes based on religion also grew by more than 80 per cent, with the biggest rise in incidents targeting Muslims. While anti-Muslim hate crimes dropped in 2016, the number of reported incidents more than doubled last year to make a total of 349.

“The numbers are quite astonishing,” said NCCM spokesperson, Leila Nasr. “At the same time, I have to say it’s not surprising to us. 2017 was a massive year for the Muslim community, starting with the massacre of six Muslim men while out praying in (a Quebec City) mosque. So I really think that set the tone for the rest of the year.”

Proportionally speaking, Jewish people were targeted the most, with anti-Semitic hate crimes accounting for 18 per cent of all reported incidents in 2017. Recent years have seen a growth in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, but anxieties within North American Jewish communities have become particularly acute since 2017 — especially in the wake of the violent rallies in Charlottesville, Va., which were characterized by blatant anti-Semitism, and last month’s synagogue attack in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people, making it the deadliest anti-Semitic attack on North American soil.

“Whenever you have polarization, distrust of mainstream authorities and a dynamic of political demonization, this is where anti-Semitism can find an environment in which to grow,” said Steve McDonald, director of policy with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Often you’ll see that when people are angry about a current political situation, if they’re anti-Semitic, they’ll link it back to Jews and point to Jews as a source of evil in the world.”

A mourner reacts during a funeral ceremony in Montreal for three victims of a deadly shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. The Jan. 29, 2017 shooting left six Muslim worshippers dead. A Statistics Canada report released Thursday shows hate crimes are on the rise in Canada.
A mourner reacts during a funeral ceremony in Montreal for three victims of a deadly shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. The Jan. 29, 2017 shooting left six Muslim worshippers dead. A Statistics Canada report released Thursday shows hate crimes are on the rise in Canada.  (CHRIS WATTIE / AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Canada is now at a “critical moment” and politicians — especially those who are increasingly resorting to dog-whistle politics and xenophobic rhetoric — need to examine their own role in fuelling this growing tide of hatred, said Mohammed Hashim, a board member with the Urban Alliance for Race Relations.

“Economic anxiety is creating a level of discord amongst people and politicians are using minorities as scapegoats for it,” he said. “This is the result of continued and increasingly amplified scapegoating done by politicians who are preying upon people’s anxieties.”

Both CIJA and the NCCM are calling for more intervention from the Canadian government, including a national strategy on combating online hate and strengthening anti-racism efforts at the federal level. Local police services also need to be better trained on hate crimes, Nasr said; many Muslim-Canadians who report incidents to the NCCM say they were not believed by local law enforcement.

This latest report by Statistics Canada speaks to the urgent need for more funding and resources dedicated towards hate crime policing, said Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. As a category of crime, “hatred” is particularly difficult to investigate and prosecute and recent years have seen an atrophying of hate crime units within police services, he said.

“There is no question that hate crime has the potential to lead to violence and even death, and we ignore that to our peril,” Farber said. “It is time for hate crime units to be restored and given proper funding and to get it back on track.”

Jennifer Yang is a Toronto-based reporter covering identity and inequality. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar

It looks as if you appreciate our journalism. Our reporting changes lives, connects communities and effects change. But good journalism is expensive to produce, and advertiser revenue throughout the media industry is falling and unable to carry the cost. That means we need you, our readers. We need your help. If you appreciate deep local reporting, powerful investigations and reliable, responsible information, we hope you will support us through a subscription. Please click here to subscribe.


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Think few reported oiled seabirds is good news? Not so fast, says MUN biologist


The first dead oiled seabird has been found after Husky Energy’s SeaRose FPSO spilled an estimated 250,000 litres of crude into the Grand Banks region of Newfoundland’s waters, and a Memorial University biologist is bracing for more — possibly 100,000 more.

The province’s offshore regulator reported Wednesday that 14 live oiled birds have been found, and four of them have been taken for cleaning at a rehabilitation centre set up by Husky in St. John’s.

But it’s misleading to think simply washing the birds can save them, says Ian Jones, a seabird ecologist at MUN.

« It’s more of a public relations thing, » he said. « As soon as you get an oiled bird on camera being washed, everybody’s happy. »

Jones, a professor at Memorial University, says although it’s heartbreaking to see the birds suffer, efforts shouldn’t be focused on cleaning up individual animals. (Gary Locke/CBC)

And though the numbers of birds found so far may seem low, Jones says even a few sightings right now could indicate catastrophic mortality.

« My guess is it means there’s a horrendous number of dead birds out there. »

They’ll die an agonizing death, even if they get exposed to a tiny amount of oil.– Ian Jones

Sea conditions since the spill have been extremely rough, hampering everything from cleanup efforts to a full damage assessment by remotely operated vehicles.

The chance of spotting birds in the towering waves, Jones said, is extremely low.

« Imagine being on a roller-coaster in a blizzard and then trying to make a bird count, » he said. « I’m amazed they’ve seen any oiled birds. »

As many as 100,000 seabirds, primarily murres and dovekies, risk hypothermia and poisoning in the wake of the spill, biologists have said. CBC News has requested access to Husky’s bird rehabilitation centre, but a spokesperson for the company said only medical personnel may be admitted while birds stabilize.

Frothy oil mixture can be deadly

Those rough sea conditions have also whipped the oil into a frothy mix that could be even more lethal for the birds, Jones said.

« It’s getting pulverized into an emulsion like and oil and vinegar salad dressing, » Jones said.

According to Jones, just one drop of the petroleum mixture can cause a dovekie to die of hypothermia in a matter of days, separating the watertight coat and allowing cold water to penetrate to the birds’ skin.

A teaspoon could kill a murre, he said.

Sometimes the damage isn’t visible, as the coat may look untouched, he said.

« But there might be a bird inside horribly suffering. »

The regulator and the federal environment ministry said Wednesday that no oil sheens were spotted in the Grand Banks area during recent observation flights.

« One of the big questions that’s emerging is where is the oil? » he said.

Since the oil spilled from a flowline near the bottom of the sea, large quantities of it may still be migrating up to the surface, he said.

The water temperature, weather and density of the oil will all affect how quickly that happens, he said.

‘At death’s door’

Jones said during the province’s last major spill in 2004, responders would capture and wash the birds’ coats to the point of being « squeaky clean » — only for their feathered wards to die just hours later.

Oiled birds like this one were found washed ashore after the Terra Nova spill in 2004. (CBC)

At the point of recovery, seabirds are already weak, stressed and poisoned, Jones explained.

« They’re at death’s door, and just washing the oil off them isn’t going to do anything, » he said.

Seabird populations are distinctly more fragile than other bird populations, he said. Murres, for example, wait until they’re much older to breed, and they lay just one egg at a time.

« They just can’t handle mortality, » he said. « A loss of 10,000 or 100,000 seabirds is huge damage to a seabird population. »

All creatures at risk

While seabirds bear the brunt of ecological risk, other marine species are also susceptible to poisoning.

Whales, dolphins, fish, krill and plankton — practically all links of the food chain — could be killed through contact with toxic oil particles, Jones said.

Biologists say an estimated tens of thousands of seabirds died after the 2004 Terra Nova spill. (CBC)

« Any amount of crude oil suddenly released into the cold ocean is very damaging, » he said.

When animals ingest those particles, it ruins their internal organs, he added.

« So they’ll die an agonizing death, even if they get exposed to a tiny amount of oil. »

With files from Carolyn Stokes

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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Pedestrian bridge connecting condo to school partially collapses, no injuries reported


Parts of a pedestrian bridge that connects an East York condo to an elementary school collapsed early Saturday morning, leaving a hole in the middle of the walkway.

Toronto Fire Services got a call at 6:22 a.m. about concrete that had fallen from the underside of the bridge. When they arrived, there was a hole in the bridge, which stands 5 metres off the ground.

Mayor John Tory said he will inquire with officials about how the bridge could have collapsed and look at its maintenance throughout the year.
Mayor John Tory said he will inquire with officials about how the bridge could have collapsed and look at its maintenance throughout the year.  (John Tory via Twitter)

The bridge is commonly used by students to get to Crescent Town Elementary School, but there were no injuries reported. “We will be advising parents that the bridge is not accessible until further notice,” Ryan Bird, Toronto District School Board spokesperson, said in an email.

The bridge is owned by both the TDSB and Pinedale Properties, the owner of the condo. Bird said Pinedale’s portion of the bridge was the section that collapsed and that the TDSB has secured it’s own side of the bridge.

Toronto Fire noticed there had been reinforcements placed on the bridge, indicating work had been previously done on the infrastructure.

Mayor John Tory visited the school later in the day, tweeting that it was a “miracle” it happened when no one was crossing the bridge to go to school.

“I will be making inquiries of (TDSB and Pinedale) as to how the bridge got into this state including a review of repairs done in the past year,” he tweeted. “I will also be asking questions about inspections done on this bridge (and) others like it.”

Bianca Bharti is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @biancabharti


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