APTN National NewsOTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper sidestepped questions Monday on whether the federal government plans to directly engage with the dozens of First Nations that have vowed to stop the planned Northern Gateway pipeline project to transport Alberta mined bitumen to the British Columbia coast.Harper has said the construction of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline is “in the national interest.”The pipeline would transport raw bitumen from Alberta 1100 kilometres to a B.C. port at Kitimat where it would be transferred onto tankers bound for China, which has a stake in both the pipeline and in the tar sands.Dozens of First Nations from B.C., Alberta and the Northwest Territories have signed a declaration opposing the pipeline. Some have vowed to block the project at all cost.Liberal interim leader Bob Rae pressed Harper on the issue Monday during question period. He asked Harper if the government planned to set up a separate process to engage First Nations directly.Rae said the existing regulatory process doesn’t really deal with the constitutional requirement requiring consultation with First Nations before the development of projects impacting Aboriginal rights and title.“Does (the prime minister) contemplate some additional process that will involve a direct Crown-First Nations discussion with respect to the impact of this project on First Nations?” said Rae.Harper avoided the question and instead repeated the standard government line that there is a constitutional requirement to consult with First Nations.“Consulting with Aboriginal groups is a constitutional requirement and, of course, that is part of any process,” said Harper.The prime minister also stated that the pipeline was in the “national interest” and needed to be constructed.“It is vitally important to the national interest of this country that we are able to export our energy products to Asia,” said Harper.It remains unclear how the review panel currently holding hearings on the pipeline could possibly recommend against the project when the Conservative government has publicly declared it in the national interest.The Harper government’s position on the pipeline appears to put it on a collision course with First Nations.On Friday, First Nations in Alberta and the NWT signed onto the Save the Fraser Declaration opposing the pipeline.The new signatories include the Dene Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Swan River First Nation, Smith’s Landing First Nation, Katlodeeche First Nation, Liidlii Kue First Nation, Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation, and Deh Cho First Nations.B.C. First Nations along the pipeline’s proposed corridor have all signed on to the declaration.“We will stop them,” said Saik’uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas on Friday.First Nations leaders say the environmental risks associated with the pipeline, either a pipeline spill or an oil tanker wreck, outweigh any of the project’s economic benefits.While Enbridge has claimed to have achieved the support of a number of First Nations for the project, the identities of these communities remain a mystery.
By Kathleen MartensAPTN National NewsVANCOUVER —Another serious breach within the residential schools settlement process could be resolved sooner rather than later.That’s because the judge hearing the case Wednesday told the parties to try and work things out on their own.Justice Brenda Brown of the Vancouver Supreme Court took this unusual step at the beginning of a three-day hearing into allegations of extortion involving a convicted killer and the Vancouver lawyer who allegedly hired him.This is an “excellent opportunity for the parties to discuss what can be done,” Brown told Lou Zivot, the lawyer for the court monitor that oversees the compensation process. “I think this is the time to try.”Court was adjourned till the afternoon when the parties were asked to report back on their progress.The last time a violation emerged involving a lawyer and the compensation process was November 2011. Brown ordered an extensive investigation that took many months and wound up costing an estimated $3.5 million.Brown cited the timing and cost of another investigation in sending Zivot and Mark Andrews, who represents the lawyer involved this time, to try and reach a resolution.The murderer has been identified as Ivan Johnny, 62. But the lawyer’s name and evidence connected to the case are protected by a court order.“We’ve made some progress,” Zivot told Brown when court reconvened in the afternoon. He then asked for more time to meet with Andrews.Brown said, “Alright. Sounds good to me. As long as you’re making progress.”APTN Investigates obtained parole documents, which are not covered by the publication ban, to learn more about the case.The documents reveal Johnny’s full parole was revoked Jan. 23 after two members of a parole board heard the new allegations against him: that Johnny worked for a lawyer distributing and collecting compensation application forms from former residential school students, that he persuaded some students to drop their existing lawyers in favour of the one he worked for, that he coached them to exaggerate claims to obtain more financial compensation, and that he threatened and intimidated them for “substantial sums of money” when their compensation arrived.Johnny denies the accusations and has not been charged with a crime in connection with the case. He did confirm, however, that the lawyer bought him a truck to do his work. Parole documents also say Johnny was involved with 275 claims.The compensation is paid through a program called the Independent Assessment Process. It is money for former students who suffered serious physical and sexual abuse in the notorious schools they were forced to attend when they were children.Johnny’s alleged victims are described as “vulnerable” and, in some cases, “cognitively deficient” in the parole documents.The IAP was established as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. It ran for five years, expiring in September 2012. Due to the complicated and historic nature of the claims, many of them take up to nine months, and are still working their way through the process.The lawyer involved spoke to APTN outside court today but declined to say anything on the record at this time.Other parties at the hearing also declined to comment publicly citing the strict publication ban and the sensitive nature of potential resolution discussions; they are all parties to the original settlement agreement, and include the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat.The Secretariat has posted a warning about Johnny on its website. It says Johnny has now been kicked out of the IAP (by Justice Brown on Jan. 18) and that anyone who dealt with Johnny doesn’t have to pay him or anyone trying to collect on his behalf.Johnny was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder from May 1985, after shooting a man he fought with in a Kamloops bar.Meanwhile, one notable absence before the judge yesterday was the Assembly of First Nations. It is a key party to the settlement agreement, having filed the original class-action lawsuit on behalf of survivors.Any steps taken to deal with breaches must be approved by all the parties to the email@example.com
APTN National News The Pictou Landing First Nation is moving ahead with a lawsuit to clean up Boat Harbour.For decades, the First Nation has had toxic waste dumped in its backyard.The effluent from a local pulp mill flows into the harbor behind the reserve. It’s been an emotional struggle for the community.In the first of three stories, APTN’s Trina Roache takes us back to the beginning.
Dennis WardAPTN National NewsWINNIPEG – Police in Canada’s largest urban Aboriginal community will soon take steps they hope will better protect Indigenous women and girls from violence.The Winnipeg police board unanimously approved a plan to direct Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis to provide the board regular updates on ongoing cases.The face of murdered Tina Fontaine, 15, has become an unofficial symbol of Indigenous women who were murdered or went missing in Winnipeg. But there are many others, like Millie Flett, Felicia Solomon and Sunshine Wood.In one of its last orders of business, the previous Winnipeg city council supported calls for a public inquiry or national roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women. They also urged the incoming police board to do all it could to prevent, investigate and solve the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the city.On Friday, the board unanimously approved a resolution that calls for better protection for Indigenous women, prevention measures to reduce further violence and stepped up efforts to solve cases of missing and murdered women.“With the prominence, unfortunately of assaults against Indigenous women, this is a priority,” said Scott Gillingham, chair of the board. “We’ve heard from the public and we’re trying to respond.”The board also plans to establish an Indigenous advisory council on policing and prevention by June 2015. The advisory council is expected to identify priorities, programs and strategies to improve the safety and well being of Indigenous people in Winnipeg.Gillingham said the police board has no position on whether there should be a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Instead, the board will focus on actions that can be taken now.Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said much of the debate on missing and murdered women has been focused on what the federal government can do, but cities, like Winnipeg that have “far too many victims,” have a role to play too.Bowman said city council has plans of its own to address the issue and promised there would be announcements coming in the new year.The police board has also directed Clunis to provide regular updates on the current activities to solving outstanding cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women.A report is expected to be tabled at the board’s next meeting in January.firstname.lastname@example.org
(Businessman J.P.Gladu APTN/Photo)Trina Roache APTN National NewsAn Aboriginal business leader says the economy is a vital path for reconciliation with First Nations in Canada.J.P. Gladu was in Halifax recently talking to industry, government and Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples. He heads the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.Some of the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission focus on economic development. They call for “meaningful consultation” and “equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector.”“The business lens is a way we can help reconcile,” said Gladu. “We can help empower our communities by providing direct source contracting, we can get more training in front of our people, as I mentioned we’ve got a strong demographic, that is a real asset to Canada but we’ve got be able to put the resources behind it to make it become a reality.”The news for First Nation economies on reserve has been bleak. A recent report by the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board (NAEDB) points out a widening gap for First Nations, with on reserve communities faring the worst.It puts the average income for Aboriginal people at $20, 000 a year, which is $10,000 lower than non-Aboriginal workers. The employment rate on-reserve sits at just 35 per cent.In the report, Chair of the NAEBD Chief Clarence Louie writes that “the opportunities for economic development for Aboriginal people today are greater than ever.” Yet at the same time, “Aboriginal people in Canada are currently not on track to achieving parity with non-Aboriginal Canadians.”Gladu says while Indigenous communities have been marginalized, he’s sees things changing for the better. He says First Nations just have to remember their own history.“We used to be amazing entrepreneurs back in the days of the fur trade, so we’re embracing that entrepreneurial spirit. There are a number of impediments in our way and past challenges that we’re still dealing with,” said Gladu. “But the timing is good. The idea of trades and skill development are top of mind especially with the Truth and Reconciliation Report that just came out so Canada is listening.”The Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia is bucking the trend. The urban reserve situated in Sydney, Cape Breton, is an economic driver for the region. A growing business park features a mix of big box and small retail stores, a Hampton Inn Hotel, and the ever-popular Tim Horton’s.Chief Terry Paul’s office on the third floor of Membertou’s Trade and Convention centre overlooks the construction of a new sports centre.“Membertou’s own revenues top $100 million,” said Paul. “We employ 700 people at peak seasons. Those are all people with jobs, who pay taxes, or buy consumer goods, pumping more money into the economy.”Half of those jobs are non-Mi’kmaw people coming to work on the reserve. A sure sign that times have changed. But Paul said there’s still a lot of work to do, starting with public perception. It’s shifting, but he still runs into a lack of understanding.“People think we’re getting something the rest aren’t, that we don’t want to work, that we don’t pay taxes,” said Paul. “We do what needs to be done to educate the public. We are good to deal with, we improve the economy, improve the tax base of the city. The jobs here? The municipality benefits more than ourselves. We contribute.”The biggest obstacle to success for aboriginal business is the Indian Act. In the early 1900s, Indian Affairs bureaucrat Duncan Campbell Scott was famously quoted as saying he wanted to “get rid of the Indian problem.”“Despite all the barriers, we’re still here,” said Paul. “Making a living. We’ve adapted.”And now, Membertou is working on how to rid of the problematic Indian Act.“The Indian Act gets in the way,” said Paul. “Always the first thing to come up, it’s hard to do anything. The land designation process is ridiculous. A major hold up is in the addition to reserves. It takes four and a half years, on average, to designate lands. Compared to six months for the municipality.”Paul borrows a popular quote, “We need to move at the speed of business.”And the Indian Act is an albatross in more ways than one.“As we know, we can’t leverage, there’s no collateral,” said Gladu. “It’s really difficult to create or attract investment in our communities if there’s no safeguards to protect the investment.”Under Section 89 of the Indian Act, reserve lands or assets can’t be mortgaged or levied. It’s an issue that came up at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development back in February.Andrew Beynon, Deputy Minister for the Lands and Economic Development with the department, said the provision “was originally intended to prevent unscrupulous creditors from taking advantage of individuals, but it has now become a key obstacle to raising capital.”Beynon outlined some of the “legislative tools” government has come up with to get around the Indian Act, namely a number of other Acts, including First Nations Land Management and Fiscal Management.Membertou, like many First Nations, is developing its own land use codes. So the band can decide what it will do with its own land. So it can continue to take advantage of its urban location, with a new highway interchange to draw in more traffic, more business.Location, Location, Location. If the real estate adage rings true, many reserves are remote or tucked away off the beaten path, plagued by poverty and high unemployment.Reserves are hemmed-in by artificially drawn boundaries. In Mi’kmaq and Maliseet territories in the Atlantic provinces, the Peace and Friendship Treaties never ceded land. Tripartite negotiations are on-going in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI to establish how those rights to land and resources will play out in a modern context.“The Treaties open up huge possibilities,” said Paul, who’s also co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs. “On the table – ownership, employment, royalties, investments. The Supreme Court of Canada has told us our rights are real. Let us be part of the economy.”Paul said it’s vital for First Nations to develop their own-source revenues. Whether it’s an urban reserve pursuing commercial opportunities, or a remote First Nation utilizing its natural resources.“As Aboriginal People we recognize the value is our land,” said Gladu. “And that’s always been our starting point, as people, that’s where we get our sustenance from, and that needs to be on the table in negotiations when we talk to industry and government. Respecting the treaties, respecting our rightful place in Canada as a First People and leveraging our natural resources together. That’s our catalyst. That’s our starting point and that’s our strength.”But the reality is First Nations are often excluded from Canada’s economy, said Paul. And it shows.“Most times on reserve, standards of living, education levels, housing conditions, poverty, all in the negative,” he said.Paul, who sits on the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, said, “There’s all kinds of money out there. But First Nations only have access to 0.1 per cent of one per cent of the available capital in Canada.”At the House of Commons Committee meeting for Aboriginal Affairs, Beynon said, despite the challenges, “There really should be some tremendous optimism. You have a growing reserve land base. You have greater closeness of First Nations with neighbouring communities as they expand. You have more and more experience of many First Nations with heavy-duty commercial activity. You have an increasing generation of tax revenues and this initial experience with bond financing.”“I would suggest again moving away from the Indian Act restrictions, which I think we’ve talked about both on lands and moneys management,” said Beynon. “We need to build more capacity and stable capacity among First Nation governments. We have programming where we try to do that. The more that they have the experience, and the direct capacity and knowledge of financial systems, the more effective they’re going to be at unlocking these opportunities.”Everyone agrees – First Nations have great demographics. A fast growing young population. The statistics show that 400, 000 aboriginal youth will enter the Canadian workforce by 2025. That potential is tarnished by the stats on education.The NAEBD reports a high graduation rate of 62 per cent. It is still lower than the mainstream Canadian population, but an improvement from levels a decade ago.The TRC has called on Ottawa to close the gap on education and employment by coughing up more money for First Nations.In Membertou, gains in the economic base translate into better education. The First Nation boasts a new $8 million state-of-the-art, eco-friendly elementary school. And a 100 per cent high school graduation rate in recent years.As the band’s economy has taken flight, said Paul, so has community pride. And he sees it at the annual youth conference Membertou hosts.“At first heard they all wanted to work for the band or be chief. And that’s great,” said Paul. “But now we’re hearing lawyers, accountants, police officers, and that’s even better.”Paul’s own son is in the third-year of a commerce degree.“And I asked him what he’d like to do, would he come back to the reserve? And he said, no Dad, I want to see the world, I hear the euro needs help,” said Paul.Paul laughs. But he’s proud. And though he hopes his son brings his smarts back to the reserve someday, he appreciates the “sky-is-the-limit” email@example.com@trinaroache
Tina House APTN National NewsThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially kicked off their tour of British Columbia and the Yukon over the weekend.They have many stops, including Indigenous communities.Something one AFN regional chief says is a sign of goodwill.
Trina Roache APTN National NewsPeople rallied against a massive hydro-electric project in Labrador Friday.It’s a last ditch effort to voice their concerns about Muskrat Falls.The Labrador Inuit who live downstream from the dam fear it will destroy their way of life.See related stories here: Muskrat Fallstroache@aptn.ca
BARCELONA, Spain – In one of the most momentous days in recent Spanish history, Spain fired Catalonia’s regional government and dissolved its parliament Friday after a defiant Catalan declaration of independence that flouted the country’s constitution.Lawmakers in the Catalan parliament voted to unilaterally declare independence, prompting the swift crackdown by the Spanish government, which also called an early election in the region.Hours after Catalonia’s secession move, the Spanish Senate granted the government special constitutional powers to stop the wealthy region’s move toward independence.Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government then called an urgent Cabinet meeting late Friday, after which Rajoy emerged to announce the emergency measures, including regional elections called for Dec. 21.In Barcelona, Catalonia’s regional capital, Rajoy’s announcement in a televised address was greeted with jeers and whistles of disapproval from crowds who had gathered at the gates of the government palace to celebrate their parliament’s moves toward independence.“It’s not about suspending or meddling in the self-government (of Catalonia), but to return it to normality and legality as soon as possible,” Rajoy said.The government and Spain’s constitutional Court have both said the secession bid was illegal, and after Friday’s independence vote, Rajoy said it was a move that “not only goes against the law but is a criminal act.”Rajoy also said he was firing the head of the Catalan regional police, shutting down the Catalan government’s overseas offices, and dismissing its representatives in Madrid and in Brussels, where the European Union has its headquarters.After the Catalan parliament independence vote, Rajoy said it was a move that “in the opinion of a large majority of people not only goes against the law but is a criminal act.”The Senate’s decision giving Rajoy special powers trumped the Catalan regional parliament’s vote to secede, which was doomed because the constitutional Court has already consistently ruled against any steps toward independence.The battle around Catalonia’s future is far from over, however.Madrid’s move to take away Catalonia’s regional powers was sure to be seen as a humiliation and a provocation by Catalans and a backlash was expected, with planned street protests and the possibility that regional government workers could follow a policy of disobedience or non-co-operation.On top of that, the Dec. 21 election could deliver a steadfastly pro-independence Catalan parliament, even if recent polls have suggested the region of 7.5 million people is roughly evenly split on secession.Many Catalans strongly oppose independence and a group of so-called unionists was organizing a large-scale protest in Barcelona on Sunday.A spokesman for Spain’s prosecutor’s office, meanwhile, said it would seek to bring rebellion charges against those responsible for the Catalan independence vote.The tense day, featuring emotional speeches and scenes of joy and despair, went to the heart of Spain’s political and cultural history.The 1978 constitution, drawn up after the end of Gen. Francisco Franco’s decades-long dictatorship, created a decentralized Spanish state that devolved power to 17 autonomous regions, including Catalonia. The regions have broad administrative and legal powers. The Spanish constitution, however, also describes Spain as “indivisible.”Catalonia has its own cultural traditions and its own language. Having long seen itself as different from the rest of Spain, the Catalan drive for independence began in 2010 when the constitutional Court struck down key parts of a groundbreaking charter that would have granted the region greater autonomy and recognized it as a nation within Spain.Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product and many want the tax revenues generated by the prosperous region to remain at home.The motion to secede was approved by the 135-member Catalan parliament, where secessionists hold a slim majority, with 70 votes in favour. Opposition lawmakers had walked out of the chamber in protest ahead of the vote.After the vote officials and lawmakers let loose cries of “Freedom!”In an emotional scene, regional leader Carles Puigdemont called on cheering fellow separatists to remain peaceful.“In the days ahead we must keep to our values of pacifism and dignity. It’s in our, in your hands, to build the republic,” Puigdemont said.Outside parliament, thousands who had gathered cheered the news, some dancing and raising a toast. In Barcelona, people crowded around TV sets to watch the historic events unfold. The famous Sant Jaume Square outside the regional government office was packed with thousands of people celebrating. Many were draped with the “Estelada” flag that adds a blue triangle to the red and yellow Catalan flag and has become a symbol of the separatist struggle.“I feel so emotional after the huge fight we went through, we finally got it … the independence of Catalonia!” said 74-year-old Rosalina Cordera Torelles.Nearby, 24-year-old Rita Carboneras could hardly contain her excitement.“I’m super, super, super happy. Super excited,” she said. “So relieved. Now we are Catalan at last. We can be ourselves. We are just happy, look everyone around. Everything is so exciting.”The exhilaration was short-lived. Some 500 kilometres (300 miles) to the southwest, the Senate in Madrid voted by an overwhelming margin of 214 to 47 in favour of granting the government exceptional powers.The main opposition Socialist and pro-business Citizens parties support Rajoy’s stance on Catalonia, and many Spaniards outside the region are scornful of Catalonia’s secession ambitions.Rajoy has also received support from outside Spain, with other European leaders, including Germany, France and Britain, rejecting Catalonia’s claims. The U.S. administration also backed Rajoy, after President Donald Trump last month branded the Catalan independence ballot as “foolish.”“Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.Also supporting Rajoy’s warnings of trouble in Catalonia if it forges ahead with its secession bid, more than 1,500 businesses have moved their official headquarters out of Catalonia this month to ensure they can continue operating under European Union laws if Catalonia secedes.The EU says Catalonia will be tossed out of the bloc if it leaves Spain and would have to apply to become a member, a lengthy process.___Giles reported from Madrid. Elena Becatoros and Joseph Wilson in Barcelona contributed.
Now that the federal government has rolled back the internet protections it put in place two years ago, the big question is: What does the repeal of “net neutrality’ rules mean to you?In the short term, the answer is simple: Not much. But over time, your ability to watch what you want to watch online and to use the apps that you prefer could start to change.Your mobile carrier, for instance, might start offering you terrific deals for signing up to its own video service, just as your YouTube app starts suffering unexpected connection errors. Or you could wake one day to learn that your broadband provider is having a tiff with Amazon, and has slowed down its shopping site in order to extract business concessions.All of which would be perfectly legal under the new deregulatory regime approved Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission, so long as the companies post their policies online. Broadband providers insist they won’t do anything that harms the “internet experience” for consumers.WHAT HAPPENEDOn Thursday, the FCC repealed Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, junking the longtime principle that all web traffic must be treated equally. The move represents a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight.The big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, contending they are heavy-handed and discourage investment in broadband networks.“What is the FCC doing today?” asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican. “Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.”Under the new rules approved Thursday, companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T would be free to slow down or block access to services they don’t like. They could also charge higher fees to rivals and make them pay up for higher transmission speeds, or set up “fast lanes” for their preferred services — in turn, relegating everyone else to “slow lanes.”Those possibilities have stirred fears among consumer advocates, Democrats, many web companies and ordinary Americans afraid that the cable and phone giants will be able to control what people see and do online.WHAT HAPPENS NEXTIn the near term, experts believe that providers will stay on their best behaviour. In part, that’s because inevitable legal challenges to the FCC’s action will keep the spotlight on them.Public-interest groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge have said they’ll be involved in litigation against Pai’s rules. New York’s attorney general vowed to lead a multistate lawsuit; the attorneys general of Massachusetts and Washington state also announced plans to sue.“The fact that Chairman Pai went through with this, a policy that is so unpopular, is somewhat shocking,” said Mark Stanley, a spokesman for the civil liberties organization Demand Progress. “Unfortunately, not surprising.”Rep. Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said he would introduce legislation to overturn the FCC’s action , restoring the previous net-neutrality rules. That move, however, could face tough opposition, given that Republicans control both houses of Congress.ONCE THE KLIEG LIGHTS FADEThings could be different assuming the rules survive legal and congressional challenges.AT&T senior executive vice-president Bob Quinn said in a blog post that the internet “will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.” Like other broadband providers, AT&T said it won’t block websites and won’t throttle or degrade online traffic based on content.But such things have happened before. The Associated Press in 2007 found Comcast was blocking some file-sharing services. AT&T blocked Skype and other internet calling services — which competed with its voice-call business — from the iPhone until 2009.Thursday’s rule change also eliminates certain federal consumer protections, bars state laws that contradict the FCC’s approach, and largely transfers oversight of internet service to another agency with relatively little experience in telecommunications policy, the Federal Trade Commission.Angelo Zino, an analyst at CFRA Research, said he expects AT&T and Verizon to be the biggest beneficiaries because the two internet giants can now give priority to the movies, TV shows and other videos or music they provide to viewers. That could hurt rivals such as Sling TV, Amazon, YouTube or startups yet to be born.
EDMONTON – Aurora Cannabis Inc. is taking further steps to convince CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. shareholders that the proposed acquisition of Newstrike Resources Ltd. is a “terrible deal” compared to its own hostile bid of the Saskatoon-based medical marijuana producer.Aurora (TSX: ACB) plans to file a dissident circular and will solicit votes against CanniMed’s resolution to issue shares in connection with its proposed acquisition of the Tragically-Hip backed Newstrike (TSXV:HIP).Edmonton-headquartered Aurora argues that CanniMed (TSX:CMED) is Newstrike’s “last lifeline” and a significant portion of its capacity is unfunded.Last month, Aurora launched an all-stock takeover bid for CanniMed, with one of its conditions being that CanniMed abandon its own proposed deal for Toronto-based Newstrike.“We reviewed all disclosed and public information on Newstrike and on CanniMed management’s proposed acquisition, and in our opinion it’s a terrible deal for CanniMed shareholders,” said Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora, in a statement Monday.“It doesn’t take a genius to see that a company with no revenues, no sales licence, no patients, no intellectual property of significant value… should not be worth giving 35 per cent of CanniMed away to Newstrike shareholders,” he said of the smaller Newstrike.CanniMed has said its plan to acquire Newstrike is the better plan and alleges that Aurora has launched an “insider bid” working jointly and in concert with some of its shareholders.Both CanniMed and Aurora have called on regulators to intervene, with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.CanniMed’s chief executive Brent Zettl on Monday called Aurora’s plan to file a dissident circular a “desperate attempt to stop what they know is a better deal for CanniMed shareholders” and “take the spotlight off its own operational deficiencies.”“Aurora is a pumped-up stock listing which relies on proven producers to supply its customers and has had two product recalls in the last year it has been in business,” he said in a statement.“The uncertainty around Aurora’s projected production capacity is one of the main reasons — along with its Monopoly Money offer for CanniMed — why the CanniMed Board rejected its offer.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Aurora’s headquarters is in Vancouver.
VICTORIA – Major shifts in direction are being considered to ensure good drivers in British Columbia receive lower insurance rates, says the minister responsible for the province’s public auto insurer.David Eby said the government introduced an online survey Monday that poses questions about the public mood to realign coverage at the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia in order to offer major incentives for low-risk drivers by changing discount and penalty provisions.The proposed changes are part of the government’s plan to modernize the Crown corporation and restore its dismal finances, which Eby has described as a “dumpster fire.” The provincial budget forecasts a $1.3-billion deficit at ICBC this year.Eby said the government wants to hear from people in B.C. about the government’s plans for change. The public consultation ends April 5.Last month, he said the government will introduce legislation to change ICBC, including a $5,500 cap on claim payouts for minor pain and suffering.“The question is, who is a bad driver and how much more should they pay,” Eby said. “Is it someone who has two speeding tickets? It is someone who has at-fault accidents? Is it someone who has a single infraction with excessive speed?”The survey asks for input on changing policies for at-fault crashes, discounts and penalties.Under the proposed changes, one at-fault accident would be allowed without penalty after 20 years of safe driving, instead of the current 13 years. After an at-fault accident, it would also take drivers 10 years to return to their pre-accident discount rate status instead of the current three years.The proposal includes increased driver penalties and risk points for excessive speeding offences.“Car insurance rates in our province aren’t fair,” Eby says in a video on the government website. “Low-risk drivers with perfect records are paying more than they should. High-risk drivers who are driving up costs for everyone aren’t paying enough. We want to fix this problem.”The government says the auto insurance rating system is 30 years old and has not been updated in 10 years.
MILLVILLE, Ky. – The whiskey quit flowing decades ago from a landmark Kentucky distillery housed in a picturesque castle. Nearly a half-century of neglect reduced the one-time tourist draw to a decaying relic.Now, two newcomers to the whiskey business have resurrected the Old Taylor distillery and renamed it. And along with bourbon and rye, they hope once again to generate tourism.Will Arvin and Wes Murry saw potential where others perceived only blight. In the past four years they’ve spent millions to restore the old glory of the castle-like entrance, sunken garden and colonnaded springhouse.“The spirit of the place really called to us,” Arvin said. “The bones of the building were solid. And we could just see through the decay and the brush to know that this place really needed to be brought back and saved as an iconic place.”Renamed Castle & Key Distillery, the facility resumed spirits production in late 2016 — the first year whiskey was produced there since the distillery shuttered in 1972.On Wednesday, the grounds reopened to visitors.Arvin and Murry are following in the footsteps of the distillery’s founder, Col. E.H. Taylor. A bourbon giant of his time, he built the Old Taylor distillery in the late 1880s and made it a forerunner of today’s bourbon tourism business. Ownership eventually passed to National Distillers, and production ended during a lean time for bourbon producers.Now bourbon sales are booming again, and the new owners are preparing bourbon and rye whiskey to hit the market under the Castle & Key label. The brown spirits are still maturing in barrels nestled in the distillery’s warehouses. Master distiller Marianne Eaves hopes rye can make its debut in about a year, and says the brand’s bourbon could be ready in 2021.“We’re letting flavour drive the decision on the release date,” she said.Murry said they hope to turn a marginal profit within a couple of years. In the meantime, the owners have found other ways to generate income. The brand’s vodka and gin reached store shelves in April. The distillery also produces bourbon and rye on contract for several corporate customers.Tourism should help the bottom line, especially if the iconic facility joins the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory is among those predicting tourism success for Castle & Key. The central Kentucky distillery between Frankfort and Versailles sits a few miles from the Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace distilleries.“It will be one of the most visited bourbon tourism sites in Kentucky — quickly,” Gregory said.Bill Samuels Jr., who retired after a long career as top executive at Maker’s Mark, remembers admiring the castle-like distillery on a boyhood trip with his father. As years passed and the decay took its toll, he wondered if it would ever return. Twenty-five years ago, there was exciting talk of a restoration — but it came to nothing. Finally, he said, “we just gave up, thinking this will never happen.”Enter Arvin and Murry. Looking to become a distillery owner and tap into bourbon’s resurgence, Arvin discovered the Old Taylor site on the internet. A mutual friend connected him with Murry, 40, who was looking for an entrepreneurial venture.They paid about $950,000 for the distillery in 2014. Restoring it took longer and cost more than expected, and it meant career changes. Arvin, 51, left a law career behind; Murry worked in finance.The enormity of the renovation would have driven many to drink. Most of the windows were boarded up. One storage warehouse had collapsed. Roofs were failing. The grounds were a jungle of weeds.“You only walked where animals had beaten a path,” Murry said. “That was how you got around.”Gregory, who trudged through the thicket with Arvin during an early visit, said, “You were expecting some ghost at any moment … because it was just so overgrown and so abandoned.”Eaves, 31, was a rising star during her time at Brown-Forman Corp., whose products include Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Woodford Reserve bourbon. She was drawn by the Old Taylor site and the new owners’ ambitious plans to revive it. Creating the Castle & Key spirits lineup as master distiller seemed a “once in a lifetime opportunity” when she signed on in early 2015. Soon, though, the size of the challenge became apparent — and that was long before whiskey was mentioned as a tariff target in an international trade war.“We didn’t have any heat, no running water, no restrooms,” she said. “It was a stark change from working at a very comfortable corporate job to coming to this start-up environment.”Now, the distillery hums with activity seven days a week. The workforce is 60 and growing. The grounds are manicured, thanks to renowned Kentucky landscaper Jon Carloftis, and a quarter-mile botanical walking trail beckons.Gregory said the hidden treasures among Kentucky’s abandoned distilleries “are getting very few and far between.” But as Castle & Key achieves more milestones, he thinks some of the prospective buyers who passed up the chance might regret their decision.“They’re probably kicking themselves already,” he said.
CALGARY – Shares in Ensign Energy Services Inc. closed about eight per cent higher at $5.49 Monday after it reported a smaller loss in its third quarter compared with a year ago, while revenue grew 17 per cent.The drilling company says it lost $32.8 million or 21 cents per share on revenue of $289 million, compared with a loss of $36.5 million or 23 cents per share on revenue of $247 million in the third quarter of 2017.The results closely matched analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Ensign, which moved a drilling rig from Canada into the U.S. earlier this year, reported third-quarter revenue from activity in Canada dropped by 11 per cent from last year, while U.S. revenue rose by 30 per cent.Last week, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada predicted a total of 6,600 wells will be drilled in Canada in 2019, down about five per cent from an expected 6,980 wells this year, adding that translates to a year-over-year decrease of up to $1.8 billion in capital spending by exploration and production companies.Calgary-based Ensign had no update on its hostile takeover bid of $470-million in cash for cross-town rival Trinidad Drilling Ltd. it launched in August.Trinidad’s board last month recommended shareholders accept instead an all-shares bid valued at $540 million from Calgary-based Precision Drilling Ltd.Companies in this story: (TSX:ESI, TSX:PD, TSX:TDG)
TORONTO — The New York Rangers are the NHL’s most valuable franchise for a fourth consecutive year, according to Forbes.The Rangers top the annual list of franchise valuations at $1.55 billion, up 3 per cent from last year.The Toronto Maple Leafs are second at $1.35 billion, and Montreal Canadiens third at $1.3 billion, 4 per cent increases for both clubs.Original Six clubs make up the top five, with the Chicago Blackhawks fourth at $1.05 billion and the Boston Bruins fifth at $925 million. The Detroit Red Wings are not far behind in eighth ($775 million) and have seen an 11 per cent increase thanks to a new downtown arena.Los Angeles (sixth, $810 million), Philadelphia (seventh, $800 million), Vancouver (ninth, $735 million) and Washington (10th, $725 million) round out the top 10. The Capitals enjoyed a league-best 16 per cent boost with their first Stanley Cup title.The Vegas Golden Knights are 12th at $575 million after reaching the Cup final as an expansion team.At the other end of the list are the Florida Panthers (30th, $295 million) and Arizona Coyotes (31st, $290 million). The clubs were the only two to lose value according to Forbes, down 3 per cent each.___More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press
SEATTLE — The hemp industry still has work ahead to win legal status for hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD oil. The head of the Food and Drug Administration says adding CBD to food or dietary supplements is still illegal.President Donald Trump signed a farm bill Thursday designating hemp as an agricultural crop. The same day, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement saying CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore illegal to add to food or supplements without approval from his agency.Courtney Moran, a lobbyist for Oregon hemp farmers, says she plans to work with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, to nudge the FDA toward greater acceptance of CBD.CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp, a type of cannabis plant.Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Residents are being reminded to make sure all campfires are out this long weekend.The B.C. Conservation Officers shared a tweet on Friday showing a campfire they found left unattended and still smouldering. Although so far this long weekend, there haven’t been any major new forest fires, Fire Information Officer Amanda Reynolds said that most of Northeast B.C. is currently sitting at a ‘high’ fire danger rating, with pockets of ‘extreme’ fire danger near Hudson’s Hope, Mackenzie, and Fort Nelson. Reynolds said that there isn’t any precipitation in the forecast east of the Rockies this weekend, which could see the fire danger upgraded to ‘extreme’ in more areas. A theme encountered this weekend by Peace BCCOS patrolling the backcountry. An abandoned & smouldering campfire. Please ensure your fires are out before leaving them. “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”- A. Einstein pic.twitter.com/u5JVHf1yEO— BC CO Service (@_BCCOS) May 19, 2018 Reynolds said that this has so far been a fairly active fire season, though not nearly as bad as last year or the year before. Despite this, she said that residents looking to go camping for the unofficial start of summer need to take precautions, especially when having a campfire.Category 2 fires are currently prohibited across the Prince George Fire Centre – which includes all of Northeast B.C. – meaning that campfires need to be smaller than a half-metre in dimension. Sky lanterns, burning barrels, and binary exploding targets are also prohibited, as are grass fires smaller than 2,000 square metres. Reynolds said that in anticipation of a spike in wildfires this weekend, the BC Wildfire Service does have firefighters on standby in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and Fort Nelson at the ready to respond to any flare-ups. Smokejumpers and an air tanker are also in Fort St. John on standby. The Fire Danger rating in Northeast B.C. remains at High – B.C. Wildfire Service
The eighteen projects across the province will be getting a total of $6.11 million from BikeBC this year. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The provincial government has announced that Fort St. John is one of eighteen communities across B.C. getting funding for cycling projects.The City will be getting $433,736 in funding for a multi-use path along 93rd Ave. from BikeBC, the Province’s cost-sharing program that helps communities build cycling projects. Earlier this year, the Province announced enhancements to BikeBC, to better support rural communities, and offer more flexibility in the kinds of projects eligible for funding.“B.C. is a leader in North America when it comes to cycling infrastructure, and I’m pleased to see 18 more communities building a culture of cycling and encouraging healthy living,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “I’m excited this year’s grant recipients represent diversity in the kinds of projects being built and the size of participating communities – both urban and rural.”
Funds raised from the event will go to help boost community programs in the Fort St. John area. The United Way in Fort St. John supports 18 different community programs that fall within United Way’s three pillars of all that kids can be, poverty to possibility, and healthy people strong communities. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Over $62,000 has been raised for the United Way in Fort St. John with this weekends Fire Truck Pull.The amount was made possible by a $50,000 donation from Progress Energy and the money raised by 10 different teams who participated in the event. The team from Enbridge raised the most money with a team donation of $8,647.90.Last year’s Fire Truck Pull raised over $35,000.
The fund, which focuses on providing support and access for remote communities, reducing reliance on diesel generators and remote electrification, help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and support the transition to clean energy for communities throughout the province.In Budget 2019, CleanBC investments include $18 million to work with Indigenous and remote communities to move to cleaner energy sources. These initiatives are in addition to the projects already announced.Applications for the next First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund intake will be accepted until the end of May 2019.“Since having our Aboriginal title recognized, we have been looking for diverse opportunities within our territory. The development and operation of this solar farm is not only useful for the area, but also brings employment and training to our Nation. As a Nation, we have always said that to do business with us, you need to come through our doors and sit at the table in a meaningful way. The solar farm is a great example of that.” Chief Joe Alphonse, Tsilhqot’in Tribal Chairman“First Nations are moving forward with greener alternatives, such as solar, in meeting their energy needs. This work is an important part of our CleanBC strategy and supports self-determination. All of us in every area of the province have an important part to play in putting B.C. on a path that powers our future with clean, renewable energy and reduces air pollution.” Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation VICTORIA, B.C. – Fourteen First Nations pursued cleaner energy in 2018 with support from the provincial government.West Moberly First Nations received $150,000 for the construction of a biomass conversion project to make the Twin Sister Native Plant Nursery more energy efficient.The 14 Indigenous-driven projects were supported by the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (FNCEBF), with $2.49 million invested in run-of-river hydropower, solar farms, energy-efficiency plans and numerous feasibility studies.
Later in the day, the RCMP had located the vehicle in Grande Prairie and arrested the two occupants within the vehicle at a gas station on the east side of the city.According to Police, the pair were arrested in a stolen vehicle and a quantity of stolen property was located inside the vehicle.Facing charges are 31-year-old Michael Robert Corris and 56-year-old Joseph William Kelly, both of Fort St. John.Both males have been remanded in custody and will appear in Grande Prairie Provincial Court on September 26, 2019. GRANDE PRAIRIE, A.B. – The Western Alberta District RCMP Rural Crime Reduction Unit has charged suspects in connection to an armed robbery in Pouce Coupe.During the early morning hours of August 7, at around 5:00 a.m., Dawson Creek RCMP received a report of an armed robbery at a local business in the Pouce Coupe area.The RCMP say a description of the suspect vehicle was obtained and shared with RCMP Detachments in the Peace Region.