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From masks to cohorting, a guide to back-to-school rules across the country

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 2nd, 2020

Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send students back to school in the fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Here is a look at what the various provinces have said about getting kids back to classes.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia has laid out its plan for studies to resume in “learning groups” this fall. School districts are to post final back-to-school details online by Aug. 26.

Back to class: Schools were initially scheduled to welcome students back full time on Sept. 8, but the province announced it is pushing back the restart date by two days to Sept. 10.

Groups: Students will be sorted into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with. For elementary and middle school students, groups will be no larger than 60 people. Secondary school groups will be capped at 120.

Physical distancing: Students and staff don’t need to maintain physical distancing within their learning group, but contact should be minimized. Outside the group, physical distancing is required. Students should be more spaced out in classrooms.

Masks: Students and staff will not be required to wear masks in schools, but the province says it’s a “personal choice that will always be respected.” It says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommends non-medical masks be worn by adults and older students when they are unable to physically distance like in hallways and on buses.

New routines: The province is urging schools to stagger recess, lunch and class transition times and take students outside whenever possible.

Transportation: Middle and high school students are asked to wear masks on buses. Students should be assigned seats, and a transparent barrier may be used to separate the driver.

ALBERTA

The province is planning to fully reopen schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 this fall. Measures will be tightened if an outbreak occurs and class sizes could be reduced to 20.

Back to class: School will be back in session with extra safety measures, but the province says there are programs to support remote and alternative learning.

Groups: Schools should sort students into cohorts by class when possible to minimize contact with others.

Physical distancing: Physical distancing is recommended when possible. Rooms should be rearranged to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for staff and many students in some school settings. Students in Grades 4 to 12 must wear masks in all common areas, such as hallways and on buses. Staff are required to wear masks whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Mask use will be optional for kids in kindergarten through Grade 3. The government says all students and staff will receive two reusable masks as part of the policy.

Transportation: Parents are asked to bring their children to school if they can. Students who take the bus will sit in the same seat every day.

New routines: Schools are advised to consider a “no sharing policy,” with each student bringing their own supplies. Class, lunch and recess schedules will be staggered.

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan first unveiled a set of back-to-school guidelines in June, but released more details and made some changes in August.

Back to class: Students will return to class on Sept. 8 after the province pushed the date back from as early as Sept. 1

Groups: Groups of students and staff members assigned to them should stick together throughout the day and try not to mingle with other groups. Schools should aim to minimize the number of different instructors who interact with students throughout the day.

Physical distancing: Officials say maintaining physical distance is “less practical” for younger children, and the focus should be on limiting physical contact. Officials suggest limiting hugs and hand holding and suggest using alternative greetings such as air high fives. Schools are also to have dedicated quarantine areas where symptomatic students can go before they are picked up by parents.

Masks: The province says it’s up to school boards to decide whether to make masks mandatory for students and staff. The chief medical health officer advises Grade 4 to 12 students should wear them in busy areas such as hallways and on buses.

Transportation: Parents should take their kids to school when possible, and pickup and drop-offs should happen outside. Students using school transportation should be assigned seats, and a partition may be used to separate the driver.

New routines: Start times, recess, lunch and class transitions may be staggered to allow for more space for physical distancing. Schools should rearrange their classrooms to space out students. Students and staff are asked to bring hand sanitizer. In school public health visits for routine vaccinations will include COVID-19 testing, with parental consent.

MANITOBA

The Manitoba government says students are going back to the classroom on Sept. 8 with new guidelines.

Back to class: All students from kindergarten to Grade 8 are to have in-class instruction five days a week. High school students will also be in class full time, however, there may be some days of remote learning.

Groups: When physical distancing isn’t possible, students will have to be organized into cohorts of no more than 75, and minimize contact with others. In these cases, there must be at least one metre between their desks.

Physical distancing: The province says students are required to maintain a two-metre distance to “the greatest extent possible.” When it isn’t possible, physical barriers may be an option. Spaces should be arranged to encourage separation.

Masks: Masks are strongly recommended for students in Grades 5 to 12. They are required when taking the bus.

Transportation: All students, drivers and any other passengers on school buses will be required to wear masks. Parents are encouraged to transport their children to school if they can.

New routines: Lunch and recess are to be staggered to minimize congestion, and in many cases teachers will change classrooms instead of students.

ONTARIO

Ontario students will be back in class September, but their schedules and class sizes may vary depending on where they live.

Back to class: Elementary students and many high schoolers will be in school five days a week in standard class sizes. However, secondary students at two dozen boards that are higher risk will only attend class half the time, and will spend the rest of the week working on “curriculum-linked independent work.” Parents will also have the option to keep their kids out of class, and boards must provide options for remote learning.

Groups: For high schoolers in high-risk districts, class sizes will be capped at 15. Meanwhile, elementary students won’t be broken up into smaller groups, but will be grouped into cohorts and their exposure to different teachers will be limited.

Physical distancing: While Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the aim is to keep students one metre apart from each other, a guidance document says only that schools should promote “as much distancing as possible” rather than being strictly enforced.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 through 12, and will be strongly encouraged for younger kids when they’re in indoor common areas. Staff will be expected to wear masks.

Transportation: Some school boards may have more than one student assigned to a seat. When physical distancing isn’t possible, masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, and younger students will be encouraged but not required to do the same.

New routines: Students in some districts will have to pre-register for in-person schooling. Some schools may limit or even ban visitors, including parents. Breaks will be scheduled to allow students to wash their hands.

QUEBEC

All elementary and high school students in Quebec will be required to attend class in September unless they have a doctor’s note indicating they’re at high risk of COVID-19 complications or they live with someone at risk. Those students will be allowed to study remotely.

Back to class: Class attendance is mandatory for elementary and high school students. For Grades 10 and 11, schools have the option of alternating schedules where students attend one day out of every two — as long as schools cannot maintain stable classroom bubbles. Grade 10 and 11 students are encouraged to attend classes as much as possible.

Groups: Each classroom will be its own bubble and students will not be required to maintain a two-metre distance between classmates.

Physical distancing: Students will need to keep a two-metre distance from all school staff, as well as all other students outside their classroom bubble. There are no physical distancing requirements for children or teachers in pre-school.

Masks: All students in Grade 5 and up — as well as all school staff — must wear a mask inside all common areas of the school except the classroom. Masks can also be removed when students are eating.

Transportation: No more than 48 students will be allowed on a school bus, with no more than two students sitting on the same bench. Preschool and elementary school students are strongly encouraged to wear masks, while older students are required to wear them.

New routines: When schools return in the fall, teachers will move from classroom to classroom, but students will stay put.

Backup plans: In the event of an outbreak in one class, the entire classroom bubble will be sent home to continue studies remotely. Authorities are also putting together an emergency protocol in the event of a second wave to ensure instruction continues online if entire schools are again forced to close. Ideas include quickly distributing tablets or laptops to students needing them and establishing a digital platform to continue courses and maintain communication.

NEW BRUNSWICK

The province has outlined a set of requirements schools must follow in developing their plans for the fall.

Back to class: Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 are to attend school full time, while those in Grades 9 to 12 are to be taught using a combination of in-class and remote instruction. At-home course work can include online learning, guided projects and experiential education.

Groups: For kindergarten through Grade 2, group sizes will be reduced to about 15, wherever possible. Group sizes should also be shrunk for Grades 3 to 5. Grades 6 to 8 will resume at regular class sizes. Students in Grades 9 to 12 will not be grouped because of their schedules and course options. Students up to Grade 8 will also be kept in classroom bubbles to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Physical distance: Grade 9 to 12 classrooms are required to maintain a one-metre distance, while a two-metre distance is recommended in common areas at all grade levels. Students up to Grade 8 will be allowed to interact within the classroom without physical distancing, but they will be required to keep a two-metre distance from anyone while outside their class bubble.

Masks: Mask-wearing will be required in common areas and on school buses for students in Grade 6 and up, and it will be encouraged for younger students. Masks won’t be required inside classrooms. Teachers for kindergarten to Grade 8 can choose whether they want to wear a mask or shield in the classroom, while teachers for Grades 9-12 will be required to wear one when they cannot physically distance from students.

Transportation: Curtains will be installed inside school buses to separate drivers from students. If physical distancing is not possible, drivers will be required to wear a mask or face shield. Students must sit in the same seat every day. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will sit alone or with a member of their household. Students in Grades 6-12 wearing masks will sit two to a seat, and if they are sitting alone or with a member of their household, they do not have to wear a mask.

New routines: Arrivals, breaks and lunches are to be staggered. Public access to school buildings will be limited, and students, staff and visitors may also be subject to screening. High school students will be expected to have their own laptop or similar device, and some subsidies will be available. Drinking fountains will be replaced with water bottle-filling stations. The government says singing and music classes will be allowed, but should take place outdoors as much as possible and students will be asked to sing softly. Children in kindergarten to Grade 8 will be allowed to share instruments, while students in Grades 9 to 12 must maintain physical distancing and can share instruments only if they’re disinfected between each use.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Schools on the Island are preparing to welcome all students back to class, while drafting backup plans for remote studies if required.

Back to class: Schools are to reopen for teachers and staff on Sept. 1 and for students on Sept. 8.

Groups: Students will be organized into cohorts when possible and limit their exposure to others.

Physical distancing: Students will be taught about the importance of physical distancing, and extra teaching and cleaning staff may be hired. Schools are also asked to reduce class sizes as much as possible, reconfigure classrooms and make use of spaces such as libraries and multipurpose rooms.

Masks: The province says all staff and students in Grades 7-12 are “strongly recommended” to wear masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students from kindergarten through Grade 6 may wear masks when physical distancing is impossible. Staff interacting with children who have complex medical needs are strongly recommended to wear face shields and gloves.

Transportation: Parents are asked to take their kids to school whenever possible. To reduce the number of riders on buses, schools may add vehicles and routes or implement walk-to-school programs. It is strongly recommended that all students and drivers wear masks on the bus.

New routines: P.E.I. education authorities are revising curricula for this school year to make up for learning gaps caused by lockdown constraints. Schools will stagger schedules to minimize congestion. The provincial school food program will be expanded next year in keeping with public health precautions. Elementary school students will stay in their classrooms for lunch.

NOVA SCOTIA

Education Minister Zach Churchill says the province’s objective is for schools to return to 100 per cent capacity in the fall, but its plan includes measures to address the possible onset of a second wave of COVID-19.

Back to class: The province aims to have all elementary and high school students in classrooms by Sept. 8.

Groups: Students will be asked to keep to cohorts.

Physical distancing: Students and staff will be encouraged to maintain a two-metre distance whenever possible. Lecture rooms will be reorganized to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks are not required in classrooms, but students and staff may choose to wear them. While it’s recommended that they bring their own, masks will be provided to those who don’t have one. Staff and students in Grades 10 to 12 must wear masks when physical distancing is difficult.

Transportation: Students who take the school bus will be required to wear non-medical masks.

New routines: Only students and staff will be permitted to enter school buildings. When possible, teachers will be asked to move their classes outdoors. Students will be asked to bring their own computers to school, and the province says it has acquired an additional 14,000 devices for those with limited access to technology.

Backup plans: If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs during the academic year, schools will move to a blended learning model with smaller class sizes and home learning for older students.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

The province’s back-to-school plan aims to maximize in-class attendance with the option of a return to remote learning if the COVID-19 risk increases.

Back to class: The province’s plan outlines three scenarios — in-class instruction, remote learning or a combination of both, depending on the COVID-19 risk in a particular community.

Groups: Cohorting by class is recommended when it’s feasible, but students’ schedules shouldn’t be disrupted to support smaller groupings.

Physical distancing: Schools should aim to create a two-metre distance between desks, or as much distance as possible. However, provincial authorities say these precautions should not interfere with the daily school routine, and strict physical distancing should not be “over-emphasized” to children, because it is not practical and can cause psychological harm.

Masks: The province does not recommend masks for children, but says their use should not be “stigmatized” for those that choose to wear them. Staff will not be required to wear masks if physical distancing is possible.

Transportation: It will be up to school districts to determine their transportation operations, considering precautions such as assigning seats and separating the driver with a physical divider.

New routines: All students must bring their own supplies in keeping with a “no sharing” policy. Parents will be allowed to accompany kindergartners for their first day. It says suggestions will be provided to school administrators to accommodate parents.

Backup plans: In the event of moderate-to-widespread transmission of COVID-19, school districts will move to online learning. Classroom attendance should be limited to about 50 per cent when the COVID-19 risk in a community is considered low to moderate. Newfoundland and Labrador says it will spend $20 million to purchase laptops for teachers and students in Grades 7 through 12 to support remote learning.

YUKON

The territorial government says it’s making plans for the next school year that include flexibility around the number of students in classes if there’s a second wave of COVID-19 or increased risk of transmission. It says each school will determine how it will adjust its operations to meet those guidelines, and school principals and staff are expected to share that information prior to September.

Back to class: Preliminary plans indicate that in rural communities, all students will return to school full time. In Whitehorse, however, kids in kindergarten through Grade 9 will return to full-day in-school instruction, while Grades 10 to 12 will spend half their day in the classroom, and the rest learning remotely.

Groups: Class sizes may be smaller to meet safety restrictions.

Masks: Wearing masks is a personal choice.

Transportation: Bus school and schedules will be posted to the territory’s website.

New routines: Schedule shakeups may mean that some students won’t have their regular teacher or the same classmates. School meal programs may be adapted with new safety measures and pickup options.

Backup plans: The territory has outlined a spectrum of school options if the risk to the community increases, ranging from rotating schedules to suspension of face-to-face learning.

 

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

All N.W.T. schools have submitted plans to reopen their doors this fall. The territory says education authorities are taking a flexible approach in their planning to account for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

Back to class: While plans will vary from school to school, the territory will offer in-person instruction whenever possible, while ensuring alternative options are available.

Groups: Students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will be in classroom “bubbles,” and won’t have to practise physical distancing within these groups.

Physical distancing: For Grades 7 to 9, students are asked to maintain a one-metre distance from each other, and two-metre distance from staff. Grade 10 to 12 students are asked to allow for two metres of distance from their peers and instructors.

Masks: Students of all ages may be required to wear masks in situations where physical distance cannot be practised, such as moving through the hallways.

Transportation: There may be changes to bus schedules, and all riders will be required to wear masks.

New routines: More time will be spent learning outside. School hours and schedules may also look different. Students are asked to label personal items and not share.

Backup plans: The territory says schools are preparing to shift between in-person, distance and blended learning at short notice should there become active COVID-19 cases.

NUNAVUT

The territory has released a four-stage plan for reopening schools based on the risk of the novel coronavirus in a community.

Back to class: There are no reported COVID-19 cases in Nunavut, so all schools are set to reopen  this fall with enhanced cleaning and safety precautions.

Groups: It is recommended that schools cohort students by class and limit mixing as much as possible.

Physical distancing: Distance requirements will depend on what stage a community is in, and will primarily be achieved by limiting school attendance.

Masks: In most cases, the use of masks is not recommended for children. If there are exceptions, parents will be notified, and masks will be provided.

Transportation: As it stands, bus schedules are set to resume. Students older than 13 may be required to wear masks.

New routines: Group activities will be limited. Students won’t be allowed to share food in lunchrooms.

Backup plans: The territory says schools could go part-time if contact tracing were to identify a possible source of COVID-19. All schools would be closed if community transmission were to take place.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Sept. 2, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 2

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 2nd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 2, 2020:

There are 129,425 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,614 confirmed (including 5,762 deaths, 55,438 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,421 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,369 resolved)

_ Alberta: 14,066 confirmed (including 241 deaths, 12,427 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,848 confirmed (including 209 deaths, 4,505 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,622 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,567 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,232 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 759 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 129,425 (0 presumptive, 129,425 confirmed including 9,132 deaths, 114,604 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Would you do jury duty in a pandemic?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Sep 2nd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s already something some people try to avoid—and the thought of spending hours in a courtroom with others, masked or not, doesn’t make jury duty any more appealing. But jury trials are returning this month, and so jury questionnaires are already on the way to mailboxes.

But what’s being done to keep jurors safe? To make it worthwhile for them to serve? And to mitigate that added burden on any disruption to work or home life that comes with COVID-19? Should we be trying to make jury trials function well enough, or take this opportunity to rethink jury duty forever?

GUEST: Mark Farrant, CEO of the Canadian Juries Commission

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify.

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 1

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 p.m. EDT on Sept. 1, 2020:

There are 128,948 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,492 confirmed (including 5,760 deaths, 55,353 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,309 confirmed (including 2,811 deaths, 38,277 resolved)

_ Alberta: 13,902 confirmed (including 239 deaths, 12,293 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,790 confirmed (including 208 deaths, 4,406 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,619 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,561 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,214 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 731 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,013 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 185 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 128,948 (0 presumptive, 128,948 confirmed including 9,126 deaths, 114,158 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Inside the Trudeau government’s own-goal on solitary confinement

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the practice of solitary confinement in Canada had been found to violate inmates’ human rights. The government had been given a year to fix it, and last December, the year was almost up.

Since then, a lot has changed in the world. But it seems not a lot has changed in our prison system. And if anything had really changed, we likely wouldn’t know, because the government won’t tell us. It won’t even tell the panel it appointed to watch over its work. Why?

GUEST: Justin Ling

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Canadians don’t know much about Erin O’Toole but poll finds openness to him

JOAN BRYDEN THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2020

OTTAWA — Most Canadians know very little about new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole but a new poll suggests his personal qualities and policy positions could eventually give his party a boost.

Fifty-two per cent of respondents said they didn’t know enough about O’Toole to say whether they have a positive or negative impression of the new leader, who took the helm of the Official Opposition one week ago.

But 21 per cent had a favourable impression while 18 per cent had an unfavourable impression.

Moreover, the poll, conducted Aug. 28 to 30 by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found there was no bump in support for the Conservatives following O’Toole’s leadership victory.

Support among decided voters for the Conservatives actually dropped one point to 29 per cent versus the previous week. Liberal support also dropped, by three points, to 35 per cent, with the NDP moving up three points to 21 per cent and the Greens down one point to five per cent.

The online survey of 1,521 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples, but all those changes are small.

“We’re still at the Erin Who? stage.”

In Quebec, the poll found the Bloc Quebecois ahead with 34 per cent support to the Liberals’ 30 per cent, the NDP’s 18, the Conservatives’ 14 and the Greens’ two per cent.

“There’s no O’Toole effect on Conservative voting for now because, for the most part, we’re still at the Erin Who? stage,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Still, the poll asked respondents if they’d be more or less likely to consider voting Conservative based on various O’Toole attributes and policy positions. And those results suggest he could eventually become more of an asset to his party as he becomes better known, although he could face some regional challenges particularly with regard to his energy policies.

Forty-four per cent said they’d be more likely to consider voting Conservative once informed that O’Toole is personally in favour of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion and supports same-sex marriage. Twelve per cent said they’d be less likely.

Respondents were not asked about O’Toole’s vow to allow socially conservative MPs to express their views, put forward private members’ bills and vote freely on matters of conscience.

A plurality (29 per cent nationally and 44 per cent in Quebec) were more likely to consider supporting the Conservatives when told that O’Toole was born in Montreal and is bilingual, although the fluency of his French has been questioned.

A plurality also were more likely to consider voting Conservative when told that O’Toole is a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, advocates a harder line against China, supports building new pipelines and is opposed to a carbon tax.

However, a regional divide was apparent over his energy policies. His stance sat particularly well with respondents in Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan but a strong plurality of respondents in Quebec said his support for pipelines made them less likely to consider voting Conservative while Quebecers were almost evenly split over his opposition to a tax on carbon (23 per cent more likely to vote Conservative versus 21 per cent less likely).

The fact that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney endorsed O’Toole in the leadership contest was the only overall negative, with 20 per cent nationally saying it made them less likely to vote Conservative and 15 per cent saying they’d be more likely. Even in Alberta, 34 per cent said Kenney’s support made them less likely to consider O’Toole’s party federally, to 26 per cent who said they’d be more likely.

“He’s clearly not ready yet.”

Bourque said the results suggest an openness towards O’Toole but he said the new leader’s ultimate success will depend on his ability to distance himself personally from the socially conservative wing of the Conservative party (whose support was a decisive factor in his leadership victory), and on his ability to sell his energy policies in vote-rich central Canada.

All told, Bourque said the poll suggests O’Toole needs time to make himself known to Canadians and would be wise not to try to defeat Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government this fall.

“He’s clearly not ready yet.”

Should there be an election this fall in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 78 per cent of respondents said all Canadians should have the option of voting by mail.

B.C. rescuers, experts concerned about condition of three entangled humpbacks

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 31st, 2020

A humpback whale is seen just outside of Hartley Bay along the Great Bear Rainforest, B.C. Tuesday, Sept, 17, 2013. The head veterinarian at the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Centre and the Vancouver Aquarium says if animals are unable to forage with gear restricting either the mouth or impairing ability to dive and swim, then they will starve to death. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER — Marine mammal specialists and whale rescue groups say they’re not sure how much fishing gear three entangled humpback whales spotted off the coast of British Columbia are still carrying, leaving experts worried.

Paul Cottrell, the Pacific marine mammals co-ordinator for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, says while rescuers managed to get some gear off one of the animals, they are not sure how the other two are faring.

He says the first whale, known as Checkmate, was spotted last week and has a trap and line running through its mouth. However, because someone had cut off a buoy attached to the gear, Cottrell says rescuers haven’t been able to attach a line to the animal and help it.

He says another yet-to-be-named whale has a fishing net over its head and was last seen more than three weeks ago.

Cottrell says rescuers managed to remove more than 60 metres of fishing line off a third whale named X-ray, but the animal was also last seen more than three weeks ago so they don’t know how it is faring.

Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Centre and the Vancouver Aquarium, says if animals are unable to forage because of gear either restricting their mouth or impairing their ability to dive and swim, they will likely starve to death.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Black Quebecers drive to Legault’s office to protest racial profiling

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 31st, 2020

People take part in a Driving While Black protest in Montreal, Sunday, Aug 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Djennie Dorvilier still remembers the excitement of getting a brand new car after graduating from college 20 years ago, using the money she saved from working night shifts at McDonald’s.

She also remembers being stopped nine times for random police checks within the first month and a half of owning her new car, a 2000 Mazda Protege.

“I was even told it’s because I didn’t look like someone who could afford such a car,” Dorvilier said at a protest in Montreal on Sunday.

Dorvilier was among a convoy of nearly 60 Black motorists who drove to Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s office in the suburb of L’Assomption, about an hour outside the city, to protest racial profiling.

The demonstration, titled “Driving While Black,” comes amid a widespread movement to bring attention to police treatment of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) communities.

“Now people are listening, but we’ve been going through this for many years. It’s important to raise awareness about, when you’re racialized, how you’re treated by the police when stopped while driving your car,” Dorvilier said.

The demonstrators eventually made it to Legault’s office, where they read out their demands from a letter detailing 10 ways to stop Black people from being targeted by police while driving.

The proposals include a call to revise Quebec’s Guide to Police Practices to eliminate any act that allows officers to discriminate or racially profile anyone they come across.

The guide was in the news last week, when the province’s Ministry of Public Security unveiled guidelines to make sure that police stops aren’t racially motivated. But the move was met with criticism by some advocacy groups who said they weren’t consulted.

The province’s human rights commission ruled at the end of 2019 that the city of Montreal should stop police checks as they “disproportionately affect certain groups.”

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research Against Race Relations, said Sunday he’s been receiving complaints from people across the province — including as far west as Gatineau — about police checks. He said there’s a growing number of them coming from suburban areas, where more and more Black people are moving.

“We have some people being stopped practically two, three times a months just because they drive a flashy car,” Niemi said. “To the point where one of our clients has to basically change his car.”

Vladimir Dorceus said he has lost track of the amount of times he has been pulled over for a random check by police in his Black BMW. Dorceus brought his nine-year old son to Sunday’s event to show him how Black people can come together to protest the issue.

“Even if he’s young, I think he has to be informed of the situation. Because he’s a young Black person who lives in Montreal and it could happen to him in the future,” Dorceus said.

Josue Corvil, who was elected as a city councillor for the Montreal borough of Saint-Michel in late 2018, said he remembers being stopped by police who were unaware of his work for the city last year.

He said he doesn’t believe all police officers are racist, but he feels some of their ways must be changed in order for better relations to be had between Black people and police.

“It’s very frustrating to be stopped,” Corvil said.

Legault’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2020.

Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia candidate’s withdrawal shrinks Green Party leadership field

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Aug 31st, 2020

A supporter holds a sign for the Green Party of Canada as a group of candidates and supporters marched towards a discussion on climate with Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Toronto, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. The field of contenders vying to become leader of the federal Green Party just got a little smaller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

OTTAWA — The field of contenders vying to become leader of the federal Green Party just got a little smaller.

Nova Scotia computer scientist and veteran Judy Green is withdrawing from the race and throwing her support behind fellow candidate David Merner of British Columbia.

Green’s withdrawal follows a battle just to get on the ballot after the party’s vetting committee rejected her candidacy in early June, before she successfully appealed the decision.

Green did not say in her Facebook post announcing her withdrawal on Sunday why she was stepping down from the race, which will see a new leader elected to replace Elizabeth May in October.

But party records released earlier this month showed that she was outside the top five in terms of fundraising among the party’s nine leadership hopefuls.

The records showed Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul was far and away the fundraising leader, as she had pulled in about one-third of all the money donated during the leadership race.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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