Trudeau government leaks support in wake of SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould matter: Ipsos poll – National

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The Trudeau government is leaking political support in the wake of the resignation of its former justice minister, making its chances of re-election this fall far less certain than they seemed to be at year’s end, according to a new poll provided exclusively to Global News.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s personal approval ratings are down; a declining number of Canadians think his government deserves re-election; and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives narrowly lead the Liberals on the ballot box question.

“This is the worst couple of weeks the PM has had since the India trip,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of polling firm Ipsos. “The biggest problem is that it hits at what gives the Liberal Party its appeal: the prime minister.”


READ MORE:
Charges against SNC-Lavalin explained — and how the PMO allegedly got involved

Ipsos was in the field last week, after revelations surfaced that, last fall, while she was justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould felt that unnamed individuals in the prime minister’s office were pressuring her to intervene in a criminal court case in favour of Quebec-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. Those allegations were first reported by the Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources.

If she did feel pressured, she did not act and did not intervene on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. But a few months later, she was shuffled out of her job as justice minister and attorney general and into the job of veterans affairs minister.

Then, last week, as Liberals themselves seemed divided over the optics of seeing the country’s first-ever Indigenous justice minister being shuffled aside for what appeared to be craven political calculations, Wilson-Raybould stepped down from cabinet altogether.

WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould quits Trudeau cabinet






Meanwhile, all through the week, Trudeau and other Liberals struggled to explain what had happened while Wilson-Raybould announced she had retained a former Supreme Court justice to provide her with advice about what, if anything, she might say about the whole matter.

Voters took notice.

Ipsos found that, among the 1,002 Canadians it surveyed online from Thursday through to Monday, nearly half or 49 per cent said they were aware of this rapidly shifting story involving SNC Lavalin, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould.

And it appears many are changing their opinion of the government as a result.


READ MORE:
Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin affair

Support for the Trudeau Liberals is now at 34 per cent, down four percentage points, from a poll Ipsos did in December. In the 2015 election, the Trudeau Liberals won their commanding majority with 39 per cent of the vote.

Scheer’s Conservatives appear to have benefited from this slide. That party is now at 36 per cent support, up three points since the end of 2018.

“The big trouble spot is now Ontario, where the Tories have a six point lead over the Liberals,” said Bricker. “The way the vote breaks in Ontario suggests that the Tories are doing well in the 905, where the Liberals won their majority in 2015.”

The NDP and its leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, continue to languish, with 17 per cent support right now versus 18 per cent at year-end.

The poll was out of the field before Monday afternoon’s bombshell news that Gerald Butts had quit his post as the prime minister’s principal secretary. Butts, one of Trudeau’s closest friends, had played a critical role in the revival of Liberal fortune and was, along with Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, central to Trudeau administration. Butts said he had done nothing wrong but was resigning to avoid being a further distraction to the government’s agenda.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin controversy







In any event, Ipsos found that even before that additional turmoil, voter approval of the Trudeau government had dropped nine points since the beginning of the year down to 42 per cent in its most recent pulse-taking.

Trudeau’s own personal approval rating is now two points lower than it was after his disastrous trip to India this time last year.

“Those who strongly disapprove of his performance now outnumber those who strongly approve by a margin of four to one,” Bricker said.


READ MORE:
Halifax artist apologizes for controversial cartoon of Jody Wilson-Raybould

And yet, Trudeau is still doing better than his two main rivals, Scheer and Singh, who continue to have lower approval ratings than Trudeau.

“All is not bad for Trudeau,” Bricker said. “When assessed head to head with his major rivals, Scheer and Singh, he still does well on specific leadership attributes. Although the gap appears to be closing now.”

And just 38 per cent of those surveyed believe the Trudeau Liberals deserve re-election, while 62 per cent agreed that it was time to give another party a chance at governing.

A margin-of-error could not be calculated for this poll as the sample surveyed was not drawn randomly. That said, Ipsos says the accuracy of its polls can be gauged using a statistical measure known as a credibility interval. Applying this technique to this poll, Ipsos believes this poll would be accurate to within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, compared to a poll of all Canadian adults

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Feb. 14 and Feb. 18, with a sample of 1,002 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.

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

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‘I felt helpless’: Teachers call for support amid ‘escalating crisis’ of classroom violence

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Last fall, a Grade 2 teacher was with her class when a student planted himself in front of the doorway.

The seven-year-old boy yelled, « No one’s gonna leave the classroom! »

« It was a hostage situation, » the Ontario teacher recalled.

When she called the office, the student began to kick and punch an educational assistant, yelling « in a fit of rage » as 17 other students watched helplessly.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why young children act out against their teachers, said Judith Weiner, a psychology professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

She filed a report and spoke to representatives from her school board and union, but she said nothing happened.

After working as an elementary teacher for over 20 years, she recently took medical leave due to stress.

« I absolutely feel like I failed, » she said. « I’m still beating myself up about the fact that I couldn’t cope. »

The Sunday Edition has agreed not to name the teacher, who fears being identified could affect her employment.

Root of violence complex

Educators say incidents of verbal and physical violence by students targeting staff and fellow classmates are leaving them exhausted — and they’re calling on governments and school boards to provide more support.

Sherri Brown, director of research and professional learning at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), describes the current state as an « escalating crisis. »

Last year, the national organization compiled the results of a survey conducted for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). The online survey, which polled its 81,000 members, found that 70 per cent of Ontario elementary teachers reported experiencing or witnessing violence during the 2016-17 school year.

Verbal threats, physical assault and incidents involving weapons were among the most frequently reported, according to Brown.

These were the results of an online survey conducted for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario in relation to the 2016-17 school year. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

But it’s difficult to pinpoint why young children act out against their teachers, said Judith Weiner, a psychology professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Elementary students, in particular, struggle with « emotion regulation » and may be « modeling » behaviour learned at home.

« They hear parents issuing verbal threats at each other, » she said. « That’s a very big part of what the kid has learned of how to deal with issues when someone doesn’t do what you want. »

As for physical violence, Weiner explained, younger children are more likely to display this kind of aggression because of how socialization works.

Children have challenges and complexities, and the system is just starved.– Sherri Brown, Canadian Teachers’ Federation

« Kids just don’t know how to problem-solve in any type of conflict situation, » she said. « As kids get older, they know not to use their fists. They realize that is going to have bigger consequences. »

While CTF’s review of its survey did not identify a root cause, Brown said a child’s socio-economic background, mental health and special needs all possess « escalation potential » for violence.

« Children’s disabilities manifest in behaviours when they don’t have access to proper supports and services, » said Brown.

Larger class sizes have also « exacerbated » the potential for violence, she said.

« It’s not about children somehow being in the wrong. Children have challenges and complexities, and the system is just starved, » Brown said.

Last spring, Ontario’s former Liberal government released the Workplace Violence in School Boards: A Guide to the Law to help schools develop workplace violence policies. At the time, the province also pledged to fund an online reporting tool to simplify the process. The Sunday Edition reached out to Ontario’s ministries of education and labour regarding the status of these measures, but did not receive a response.

Reluctance to report violence

Educators are also reluctant to report incidents of violence by students for « fear of repercussions, » Brown said.

Results from ETFO’s members showed only 22 per cent of teachers said they would report cases of verbal or physical violence, and less than a quarter said steps were taken to prevent future incidents.

« Many feel reporting isn’t going to garner new supports or services, so why would they report it? » Brown said.

The Toronto District School Board declined an interview with The Sunday Edition, but said in an email statement « when incidents happen, the principal investigates and then works with staff, students and/or their families to address the issue.

« As each case is unique, there is no one solution. However, any act of violence can and does result in discipline, which can include suspension, » said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.

« Depending on the circumstances, additional supports can also be offered to help support the students and/or classroom. »

I am not a trained psychologist. I am not a trained social worker. But I am expected to provide these roles for these students every day.– Kindergarten teacher

But a kindergarten teacher, who The Sunday Edition has also agreed not to name, decried « a shortage of support. »

She said she is « kicked, punched, slapped, hit with objects, thrown chairs at, spat at, sworn at » on a daily basis.

Behavioural consultants at the school have suggested calming corners, dimmed lighting and meditation, she claimed, but did little to calm an angry child.

« The list is really endless of what I’m trying and it’s very sad not to be able to have an answer or a strategy that’s working. »

« I am not a trained psychologist. I am not a trained social worker. But I am expected to provide these roles for these students every day. »

Verbal threats, physical assault and incidents involving weapons were among the most frequently reported incidents of verbal and physical violence, according to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

The teacher recalled an incident when a seven-year-old boy was hitting other students with a shovel in the schoolyard.

When she intervened, he « hit me with a shovel on my right leg, repeatedly, over and over again, while he swore at me, » she said.

The teacher called for help from staff, but in the meantime, stood motionless in the hopes the boy wouldn’t turn his attention back to the students.

She filed the required reports, but nothing happened, she said.

The kindergarten teacher recently took an extended leave, though she’s now back in the classroom.

« I don’t want to be forced out of my profession and my love of my job because of a lack of support. »

David Mastin, ETFO’s Durham local president, says his region is losing teachers within their first five years on the job.

« We have so many of our members off on long-term disability because of the anguish and mental strain that is part of their jobs, » he said.

Teachers, unions leery of training

Some Ontario schools and boards are encouraging educators to take Nonviolent Crisis Intervention training, a de-escalation program, run by the Milwaukee-based Crisis Prevention Institute. The training can range from a one-day classroom seminar to four days to become certified to teach it.

Trainees learn how to calm a child in the midst of a crisis by detecting signs of anxiety and anger, and how to respond to a physical altercation, including how to safely hold a child. 

« I really don’t believe half a day or a day is enough, » said Terri-Lynn Platt, health and safety coordinator with the Elementary Teachers of Toronto. « It can become very violent, very quickly. »

The training stresses that physical intervention should only be used if the child is in « imminent danger, » Platt said. Regardless of that caveat, teachers and unions remain leery of the program.

Platt argued that whoever takes the training ends up becoming the school’s defacto crisis person.

« I will tell teachers it is wise not to have that training. »

Chris Broadbent, a former health and safety manager at the Toronto District School Board who is part of the province’s Working Group on Health and Safety, stressed that in the case of a violent incident, teachers can always « summon immediate assistance, » whether it be from principals, educational assistants or other staff.

« There’s no doubt that there are issues in our province and some of our schools. But to paint the situation that this is happening every day in a majority of our schools in the province is probably not accurate. »

I felt helpless not being able to reach out and wrap my arms around these kids and say, ‘We’re going to have a good day.’– Grade 2 teacher

Broadbent said where the safety of a child is in danger, teachers are required to intervene just as a judicious parent would.

« The Education Act is pretty clear about the expectations of a teacher, » he said.

« I understand … the hesitation … because there have been situations in the province where a teacher is seen to have violated that expectation and is sent home pending an investigation. »

« But, if they have followed [training], then there should be no further consequences. »

Students are ‘the victims’

For the Grade 2 teacher, the last straw came when her vice-principal gave her a package that included a protective jacket, with padding in the chest and shoulders.

« As I opened it up, I’m looking at it, going, what the hell is this? »

Personal protective equipment can include Kevlar jackets, neck, shin and wrist guards, helmets and spit guards.

« Nowhere in my teaching career did I ever expect to have to put one of these on in a classroom, » she said.

She went on medical leave shortly after.

But wants to make it clear that despite the physical and emotional duress she has endured, she worries most about the students — those who act out, and others in the classroom.

« I felt helpless. I felt helpless not being able to reach out and wrap my arms around these kids and say, ‘We’re going to have a good day; we’re going to learn; we’re going to have fun; we’re going to feel safe; it’s going to be OK, » she said.

« They are the victims. »

The Sunday Edition wants to hear your thoughts and experiences about violence in the classroom. Send us a message here.

‘Hard Lessons’ is produced by The Sunday Edition’s Alisa Siegel. Story written by Jonathan Ore and Amara McLaughlin.

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Ford won’t ask Lisa MacLeod to resign after group says it was pressured to support revised autism program

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he won’t be asking his social services minister to resign after an association of behaviour analysts said she pressured them to support changes to the province’s autism program.

Ford says he hasn’t spoken with Lisa MacLeod about the allegations made by the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis but has already ruled out asking her to quit cabinet.

The group says the minister told the association it would be a long four years for them if they did not publicly support the revamped autism program, which they say will leave many children without adequate levels of therapy.

Ford stood by MacLeod when asked about the matter on Thursday.

« I never ever, I want to repeat that, ever, ask Lisa to resign, » Ford said. « She’s done an incredible job. »

MacLeod’s office has not denied the group’s allegations and has said its priority is supporting families of children and youth with autism.

The head of province’s largest public sector union, opposition politicians and parents of autistic children are calling on MacLeod to resign over the matter.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said if MacLeod doesn’t quit, Ford should force her out.

« Lisa MacLeod is supposed to be a voice for children and parents at the cabinet table, » Horwath said in a statement. « Instead, she’s threatened them. »

Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said he was appalled by reports of MacLeod’s actions and called for her to step down.

« I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Lisa MacLeod, » he said in a statement. « It’s unbelievable she would bully others to pay lip service to Doug Ford’s attack on autistic children. »

MacLeod announced last week that in order to clear a backlog of 23,000 children waiting for publicly funded autism therapy, families will get up to $140,000 to pay for treatment, though funding will be subject to annual caps that families and advocates say will fall far short of what’s needed for intensive therapy.

The funding is dependent on age, rather than individual needs. Families will receive a maximum of $140,000 for a child in treatment from the ages of two to 18, also dependent on family income, but advocates say intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 per year.

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Trudeau moves to shore up Liberal caucus support as SNC-Lavalin controversy continues

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to shore up support in his Liberal caucus as the aftershocks of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet rocked both Parliament Hill and members of his own party.

Multiple caucus sources told CBC News that Trudeau convened an extraordinary caucus meeting by telephone Tuesday evening to reassure them that nothing untoward had taken place in his office’s interactions with Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin case when she was justice minister.

But unlike the party’s normal caucus meetings, this was a one-way call — with Trudeau doing the talking. Caucus members were not able to ask Trudeau questions. MPs were told to follow up with the PMO or regional offices.

MPs on the call that spoke to CBC News on condition their names not be used said they believed Trudeau when he told them neither he nor the PMO had pressed Wilson-Raybould. 

Multiple MPs also told CBC News that while there was a consensus in caucus that Wilson-Raybould should no longer sit at the cabinet table, there was no justifiable reason to remove the MP for Vancouver-Granville from the Liberal caucus. 

The unusual call to Liberal MPs came as Trudeau’s government scrambled to deal with the aftershocks of Wilson-Raybould’s abrupt resignation Tuesday as Veterans Affairs minister. 

Her resignation came only days after a Globe and Mail report, quoting anonymous sources, said members of the Prime Minister’s Office tried to get Wilson-Raybould to help Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges through a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).

The SNC-Lavalin case is before a court in Montreal, charged with fraud and corruption in connection with payments of nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi’s government and allegations it defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated $130 million. Its preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Friday.

To date, the director of public prosecutions has refused to allow the company to avoid a trial by negotiating a DPA or remediation agreement.

‘I do wish her well’

During the political firestorm that followed the report, Wilson-Raybould refused to comment on the case, saying she was still bound by solicitor-client privilege.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, who served with Wilson-Raybould in cabinet until January 2017, said neither Trudeau nor his staff ever pressured her when she was minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

« I made a lot of change and I really pushed the envelope … I never had a call from the prime minister or the Prime Minister’s Office to push me in a certain direction. »

Some Liberal MPs suggested anonymously in media reports that Wilson-Raybould was difficult to deal with and didn’t have friends in caucus. Mihychuk said that’s not the case.

« I feel she’s a good friend and she is an amazing leader so I do wish her well. »

Mihychuk said Wilson-Raybould also worked closely with fellow cabinet minister Jane Philpott, who has supported Wilson-Raybould on social media in the wake of her resignation.

« Jane and Jody were a team right from the start. They were working immediately on assisted dying for Canada, which has been a really terrific program, helping a lot of people. But it was complicated, so they spent a lot of time together. »

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

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Autism group says minister warned of ‘long, hard four years’ if they didn’t support changes

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Behaviour analysts say children’s minister Lisa MacLeod and her staff threatened to make their lives miserable for the next four years if they didn’t endorse the government’s changes to autism services.

In a memo to members Wednesday, the board of the Ontario Association for Behavioural Analysts said “the minister and her staff requested that ONTABA provide a quote of support, without providing full details on the program, and indicated that failure to do so would result in “four long years’ for the organization.”

It went on to say that “the minister also indicated that if a quote of support was not forthcoming, a communication that behaviour analysts are ‘self-interested’ would be released from her office … In spite of the implied risk, the organization refused.”

One analyst who attended the meeting said it was more “akin to dealing with a mob boss than an elected official.”

The rift with ONTABA is part of an escalating division between the Ford government and some in the autism community in the wake of its overhaul to the system, which MacLeod has pledged will clear the massive wait list for services in two years.

Parents of children with autism are also feeling bruised by the government’s dismissal of the Ontario Autism Coalition, a grassroots Facebook group of parent advocates, as “professional protesters.”

A senior source in the community and social services ministry said staff had met with ONTABA four times — and had provided details of the coming changes, and was under the understanding a supportive quote was planned. However, the source said, different representatives attended the final meeting and the tone changed.

The government “had a number of productive and cordial meetings” with the therapists as well as others in the autism community, from parents to service providers, said the source.

The source did not recall MacLeod saying that should the group not provide public support, rocky relations would ensue.

“She certainly said that we are committed to this plan,” said the source.

Several service providers and hospitals provided endorsements of the plan.

Meanwhile, the government faced more opposition from Autism Ontario, which said despite ministry claims, the organization will not be managing intake or dispersing money to families over the next year while the province overhauls autism funding.

Autism Ontario said its statement is aimed at correcting a “number of misunderstandings or assumptions,” since the government announced age-based funding caps to clear a therapy wait list of 23,000 kids, the organization said.

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The organization came under fire from angry parents last week when MacLeod suggested Autism Ontario was playing an integral part in her government’s plan to shift control of provincial funding for autism services from regional agencies to parents.

In at least one media interview, MacLeod said Autism Ontario will be directly involved with the new funding regime.

Under the changes announced by MacLeod Feb. 6, children with autism up to age 6 will receive lifetime caps of up to $140,000 until age 18, while those over age 6 will get $55,000. Funding will be aimed at low- to moderate-income families with those earning more than $250,000 no longer eligible, she said.

But parents, whose noisy protests in 2016 convinced the previous Liberal government to reverse a similar age-based funding scheme, say the Progressive Conservative plan makes the same mistake. They say the new funding falls woefully short of meeting the needs of children with complex needs whose therapy may cost as much as $80,000 a year. And it may be too much for others. It will likely mean cuts to 8,400 children currently receiving help with no funding cap, they add.

In a statement, ministry officials confirmed Autism Ontario will not be directly involved with the wait list or the funding.

Autism Ontario has been supporting families and people with autism in Ontario for the past 46 years and has parent representatives across the province through 25 local chapters, said spokesperson Katharine Buchan. It supports and advocates on behalf of both children and adults with autism through workshops, training and individual support, she added.

Social media attacks against the organization’s staff and volunteers, many of whom are also parents with autistic children, have been difficult, she said.

One part-time Autism Ontario staffer in a local chapter, who is a mother of an autistic child, called police over what she felt were threatening Facebook posts from another mother, Buchan confirmed.

“The anger is justified, but I’m not sure it makes sense to be directing it at one another when we need to be working together ensure that all children’s needs are met,” she said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government should not be “labelling groups of parents who are doing their best for their children as professional protesters.

“It’s despicable. Shameful.” she added.

“They are using these tactics to try to besmirch these parents, parents who are very worried about their children,” she said in an interview

She called analysts’ claim they were pressured to endorse the autism overhaul “strong arming professionals in the autism field, trying to knuckle them down and prevent them from providing their professional opinion on the government’s changes.”

Kendra Thomson, the incoming president of ONTABA, said her organization was not provided with any details about how their profession would be regulated, and because they weren’t told what the government’s planned registry would look like, they could not publicly support it.

As for allegations ONTABA is a lobby group, she said it is a non-profit that represents a number of professionals and promotes evidence-based services.

She also said the group was not “meaningfully consulted” on the autism changes, and despite the discord, “if we were given the opportunity to provide meaningful conversation, that would surpass the tone and anything (communicated) to date.”

She said ONTABA’s representatives left that final meeting feeling very disappointed, though “the tone was consistent with previous meetings with myself and others.”

Louis Busch, a past-president of ONTABA who attended the final meeting with the minister and her staff, said he went as a “private citizen” and that it was a tense meeting from the outset, unlike any he has attended with the past five ministers to hold this portfolio.

Busch, a board-certified behaviour analyst who works with adults, said after pressing for details, they were told a regulatory college would not be announced, but a website would provide a list “which is not regulation.”

Busch noted that MacLeod said without public support from ONTABA, “it’s going to be a long, hard four years for you.”

“This was more akin to meeting with a mob boss than an elected official,” Busch said.

Meanwhile, at a Wednesday announcement on Ontario’s fiscal situation, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said there will no additional funding for autism services beyond the $321 million announced last week.

“There were 23,000 families with children with autism who received no help whatsoever, so this plan is a fair, sustainable, and equitable plan,” said Fedeli, noting it has been well-received in his hometown of North Bay.

“We all don’t have the same services that are readily available in the south, so we’ve delivered on that. That’s why at home they’re very happy with this plan,” the treasurer said.

With files from Robert Benzie

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

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Indigenous-led truck convoy rolls through northern Alberta to support pro-pipeline movement

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Indigenous truck drivers staged a pro-pipeline rally in the tiny community of Lac La Biche, Alta, Sunday as laid-off oil and gas workers struggle to make ends meet.

Sunday’s rally, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, was billed as the first Indigenous rally in support of pipelines.    

Organized by the local Region One Aboriginal Business Association, more than 30 trucks made their way around Lac La Biche and through a couple of neighbouring communities, such as Plamondon, Alta.

Family and friends gathered in the Bold Center community hall, many holding signs reading: « I love Canada oil and gas. »

ROABA held the rally to highlight what it considers Alberta’s northern Indigenous communities’ support for pipelines and opposition to Bill C-69, federal legislation that aims to change the way energy projects are approved. 

Shawn McDonald, president of ROABA, believes the legislation will delay projects and add to the unemployment. 

He said the association is trying to « show support for Alberta families that are really hurting right now. »

« That’s our main objective, is just to show our support. »

Robert White, from the Kikino Metis Settlement south of Lac la Biche, was one of dozens participating in the convoy. He drives a truck for a company that supplies heavy equipment to the oil patch.

« At times, we can have up to 600 employees, » he said. « And right now, we probably got about 60, which is not fair. »

He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to go to work.

And he’s one of the lucky ones. As a supervisor, he’s had to lay off workers in recent weeks. 

Dozens of pipeline supporters joined a rally at the Lac La Biche community centre Sunday. (Hugo Levesque/CBC)

« It really affects our community as a whole, like our local businesses. »

White didn’t want to speculate as to why some First Nations communities, especially in B.C., tend to oppose pipelines.

« We have to get to work, that’s the bottom line. »

The federal government paid $4.5 billion dollars in taxpayer money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.

But the pipeline expansion project is stalled after a federal court order cancelled its approval, ruling that the government hadn’t consulted enough with Indigenous groups.

Another protest convoy is planned for this week, starting from Red Deer, Alt., and heading to Ottawa with a projected arrival date of Feb. 19.

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Funeral workers launch peer support group to help their mental health

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Organizers of a peer-counselling group for funeral home workers in Ottawa say they had a hard time finding help for their industry’s mental health challenges, so they made their own service.

« We’re trying to create a network, » said Melanie Giroux, an embalmer with Ottawa’s Hulse, Playfair & McGarry funeral home and co-founder of Ottawa Funeral Peer Support.

« We want to be able to bring people into our group, to allow them to grow this in other parts of Canada, so we can help every funeral director in Canada. Everyone needs it. » 

There is not a lot of research into the trauma experienced by people working in the death industry, but a peer counselling facilitator for the group said he’s been struck with how similar their stories are to the experiences of paramedics and police officers

« It’s a different level of trauma, but there’s been no support, » said Tom Kelly at a meeting on Tuesday night.

‘Vicarious trauma’

Giroux said she’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

« I think the injury is vicarious trauma, » said Giroux of the day-to-day experiences of workers.

« We deal with the trauma other people are experiencing. »

Melanie Giroux helped start Ottawa Funeral Peer Support. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

Co-founder Michael Dixon was first diagnosed with depression and PTSD three years ago.

He is a supervisor for Ottawa Mortuary Services, which transports human remains —  often working with police and the coroner, sometimes attending horrific collisions and homicide scenes. 

Last month he went to the scene of the fatal bus collision at Westboro station

He said when he started sharing his experiences caused by on-the-job trauma, he began hearing from colleagues who wanted to share their own. 

During the same period, he said two colleagues killed themselves and others had left the business. 

Creating a service

When Dixon went looking for some kind of peer counselling, he said not only was there none in Ottawa — but he couldn’t find any in Canada. 

That’s when he and a handful of colleagues got together to design the group.

Now about a dozen members — mostly funeral directors and other employees in the death services industry — meet to share their experiences.

They talk about how they build support networks to talk about « a really terrible call » and if a colleague is in crisis, they can line up professional counselling.

Dixon said the group has changed the way he monitors his staff and checks in after disturbing jobs. 

Giroux said the meetings help her understand the power of mutual support.

« I’ve learned I’m not alone, » she said.

Giroux said the group has been approached by workers in other communities and some of its members are planning to travel to meet with them.

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Trudeau offers ‘Canada’s continued support’ in call with Venezuela opposition’s Guaido

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says he has spoken with the man Canada and many of its allies consider the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Trudeau’s office says he spoke with Juan Guaido about the need for countries to send a clear message about what the PMO calls « the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime. »

A statement from the PMO says the two also discussed the need to respect Venezuela’s constitution and to have free and fair presidential elections.

« The prime minister commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support, » the statement read.

The call comes a day before Canada and its allies in the so-called Lima Group are set to meet in Ottawa.

The gathering of more than a dozen of Canada’s Western Hemisphere allies is meant to find new ways to support the Venezuelan opposition and ease the refugee crisis in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia

The agenda was still being finalized on Friday, in part because of the speed at which the Venezuelan crisis is unfolding.

Watch: Power Panel on Canada and the Venezuela crisis

The Power Panel – Jen Gerson, Martin Patriquin, Paul Wells and John Paul Tasker discuss the ongoing political crisis gripping Venezuela and Canada’s role in attempting to resolve it. 11:17

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Supporters rally in support of Hamilton family facing deportation to Hungary – Hamilton

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Thirty people have rallied outside of the Bay Street Federal Building in support of a Hamilton family that faces deportation to Hungary.

The four members of the Almassy-Palfi family have spent more than seven years building their lives in Canada, but will have to leave this weekend without a last-minute suspension of their deportation order.

Elizabeth Almassy has a PhD and was a college professor in Budapest, but has been working in Hamilton alongside her husband as building superintendents.

Elizabeth says she fled domestic violence in Hungary, along with her now teenaged sons, claiming refugee status in September 2011 but their claim was rejected last Spring.

If the deportation order can be suspended, she is hoping to eventually get the right to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Otherwise, the deportation order will be enforced on Sunday.

Her sons, 18-year-old Adam and 16-year-old Marton Palfi, just started new semesters at Westmount Secondary School. Adam hopes to start his post-secondary education in the fall, noting that he was just accepted into Carleton University.

Hamilton-East/Stoney Creek Liberal MP Bob Bratina says he supports the family’s desire to stay in Canada and is still advocating for what he calls “the right decision” to their active file.

In the meantime, Elizabeth says they are “so nervous, so stressed,” and “wish to stay here forever if we can.”

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

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Nova Scotia premier seeks to ‘support’ First Nation after string of suicides – Halifax

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Premier Stephen McNeil says Nova Scotia is looking to find ways to support the province’s largest Mi’kmaq community after a string of suicides.

McNeil, who is also the province’s Aboriginal Affairs minister, said the province already funds a crisis call centre at Eskasoni First Nation and may “enhance” that funding.

“It’s been a real tragedy in Eskasoni in the last month and we’ve seen a number of people who felt in despair, where they did the unthinkable really in lots of ways,” McNeil told reporters after a cabinet meeting Thursday.


READ MORE:
Aboriginal group calls for more mental health funding in wake of Eskasoni First Nation suicides

Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny said last week multiple suicides have underscored the need for more health-care resources in the Cape Breton community.

Denny called on all levels of government to step up, noting that more long-term funding is needed for culturally informed mental health, trauma and addictions services.

“We’re looking at how do we support him,” McNeil, who spoke with Denny last week, said Thursday. “We’re looking at it from a provincial point of view and the crisis call centre, and other initiatives that we can do to help support him.”

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs has called on Ottawa to put more money into the crisis line and mental health supports for the roughly 4,500 people who are part of the Eskasoni First Nation.

Chief Bob Gloade of the congress called the situation “extremely urgent.”

WATCH: Cape Breton’s Eskasoni First Nation experiencing mental health crisis






The congress is asking for $600,000 in annual funding for the distress line, $150,000 for a clinical therapist, $75,000 for resources to support focus groups for people 20 to 40 years old and $90,000 for suicide prevention training.

McNeil said he has spoken with the local MP, Mark Eyking, about what they can do together and with Eskasoni.

“I would agree with the chiefs the federal government should play a role,” McNeil said.

“The crisis line in Eskasoni is one that has been used broadly for Mi’kmaq across the province, not just in Eskasoni. So we’re working with … the chief, he has some proposals into Aboriginal Affairs provincially but we would certainly welcome any help at the national level.”


READ MORE:
First Nations community in Cape Breton grieving after multiple deaths

Eskasoni health director Sharon Rudderham said last week the community has experienced multiple deaths, both expected and unexpected, intensifying its grief.

“The compounding effects and the re-traumatization that are impacting our community we believe require a more effective response to dealing with the situation,” she told a press conference at the Eskasoni Health Centre last week.

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