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  1. OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday dismissed a suggestion that Ottawa block the extradition of a top executive from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to the United States, saying it would set a dangerous precedent. FILE PHOTO: Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on U.S. fraud charges in Vancouver last December, will challenge Washington’s extradition request at hearings that are set to begin next January. China angrily demanded Canada release Meng and detained two Canadians on spying charges. It has also blocked imports of Canadian canola seed and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he fears further retaliation. The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday said former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had floated the idea of the government intervening to stop the extradition case and thereby improve ties with Beijing. “When it comes to Ms Meng there has been no political interference ... and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed,” Freeland told a televised news conference in Washington. “It would be a very dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behavior when it comes to honoring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure,” she added, saying to do so could make Canadians around the world less safe. Canadian officials say they see no prospect of relations with China improving until Meng’s future is resolved. Trudeau said last week he would look at whether it was “appropriate or desirable” to seek a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month. Trudeau plans to visit Washington for talks on June 20 which will address the case of the two detained Canadians. Source
  2. Canadian Copyright Review Rejects Site-Blocking Regime, Keeps Safe Harbors The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has published its long-awaited review of Canada's Copyright Act. The review, which serves as guidance for the Government, rejects a non-judicial site-blocking regime and keeps the current safe harbors intact. Late 2017 Canada’s government requested the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) to carry out a thorough review of the Copyright Act. After dozens of hearings, where it heard hundreds of witnesses and reviewed input from various stakeholders, the final review is now ready and published in public. In a detailed report spanning 182 pages, the Committee issues 36 recommendations, covering a wide range of copyright issues. Interestingly, the first suggestion from the Committee is to remove the mandatory five-year review, which it just completed. Through various hearings and briefs, many rightsholders stressed that stronger copyright protections are required to deal with online piracy. This includes regular pirate sites but covers also copyright-infringing material uploaded to sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Several stakeholders, including the Motion Picture Association-Canada, argued that ‘content filters’ would be appropriate. This is comparable to the requirement put forward in Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive, which may result in ‘upload filters.’ Related proposals suggested narrowing the ‘safe harbor’ for online service providers (OSPs). This includes changes to sections 31.1 and 41.27 of the Copyright Act, including abolishing these altogether. While the Committee acknowledged the “value gap” problem for rightsholders, it stresses that the rights of Internet users should be taken into account as well. “[P]roposed amendments to sections 31.1 and 41.27 of the Act would be too blunt a solution to address the issue, especially since there is no consensus among stakeholders about which OSPs cause problems and why. Subjecting OSPs to increased regulations should also reflect a balanced approach,” the report reads. The Committee finds it questionable, for example, that online services would be required to take down or de-monetize content, without allowing the uploader to respond to allegations of copyright infringement. That appears to refer, indirectly, to the EU’s Article 17. Instead of making any concrete suggestions, the Committee recommends keeping an eye on how the EU deals with this issue, and draw lessons from this approach. Ultimately, however, any changes should be in the best interests of all Canadians, which is summarized in two recommendations. “Recommendation 21: That the Government of Canada monitor the implementation, in other jurisdictions, of extended collective licensing as well as legislation making safe harbour exceptions available to online service providers conditional to measures taken against copyright infringement on their platforms.” “Recommendation 22 That the Government of Canada assert that the content management systems employed by online service providers subject to safe harbour exceptions must reflect the rights of rights-holders and users alike.” Moving onto enforcement against traditional pirate sites, the Committee reviewed input from various stakeholders who suggested the introduction of a site-blocking regime. “The fight against piracy should focus more on large-scale, commercial infringers, and less on individual Canadians who may or may not understand that they are engaged in infringement,” the Committee notes, adding that it sees value in pirate site blocking. To this end, the Telecommunications Act could be revised to streamline the blocking process. However, creating a separate regime that would bypass the courts, as several rightsholders have suggested, goes too far. “It is for the courts to adjudicate whether a given use constitutes copyright infringement and to issue orders in consequence. The courts already have the expertise necessary to protect the interests of all involved parties,” the Committee writes. Among other things, a separate regime without oversight would increase the risk of overreach, which could lead to net neutrality violations. The Committee, therefore, suggests that any changes that would simplify site-blocking should keep net neutrality in mind. “Recommendation 27: Following the review of the Telecommunications Act, that the Government of Canada consider evaluating tools to provide injunctive relief in a court of law for deliberate online copyright infringement and that paramount importance be given to net neutrality in dealing with impacts on the form and function of Internet in the application of copyright law.” That’s a major disappointment to the Fairplay Coalition, which came up with the site-blocking regime. However, rightsholders did succeed in convincing the Committee that higher statutory damages are needed to deter infringement. Another piracy-related issue that came up relates to the notice-and-notice scheme. This allows rightsholders to send infringement notices to ISPs, which must be forwarded to subscribers. ISPs complained that this is very resource intensive, as there is no standard notice format. That also opens the door to abuse, where rightsholders demand settlements from subscribers, even though that’s outlawed. The Committee agrees and recommends standardization of the notices. “Recommendation 25: That the Government of Canada make regulations to require notices sent under the notice-and-notice regime be in a prescribed machine-readable format.” The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) was also heard by the Committee. The organization wants ISPs and other large companies to maintain a Whois database of IPv6 IP-addresses and numbers. This would help to track down copyright infringers. Such a database is already in place for IPv4 numbers but the Committee recommends expanding this so it covers IPv6 resources as well. “Recommendation 26: That the Government of Canada examine ways to keep IPv6 address ownership information up-to-date in a publicly accessible format similar in form and function to American Registry for Internet Numbers’ IPv4 ‘WHOIS’ service.” The last issue we highlight is a proposed limitation to fair dealing for educational use. Several publishers requested this noting that they’re losing revenue, but the Committee believes that a further review is needed before it can make any concrete recommendations. At the same time, the Committee proposes to expand current fair dealing rights by making the examples which are listed in the Copyright Act illustrative, instead of exhaustive. This would make it easier to classify new types of creative expressions as fair dealing. All-in-all the review of the Copyright Act provides a mixed bag for all involved. While the recommendations are clear, it is still up to the Canadian government to act on them. University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, who has followed the developments closely, describes the report as balanced. However, we expect that many rightsholders had hoped for more. The Committee makes it clear, however, that their conclusions represent a compromise. Not everyone will agree, but it’s what they have to work with going forward. “Reviewing the Act is not about deciding who is right between stakeholders, but about capturing as many perspectives as possible to ensure that, on the whole, the resulting recommendations reflect the reality of living together,” the Committee writes. “This report’s success lies in making stakeholders feel compelled to respond to it with passion, integrity, and rigour –whether or not they agree with its content,” it adds. –— Source
  3. Toronto police used facial recognition technology to attempt to identify people in 2,591 searches since March of last year, according to a report by Chief Mark Saunders which revealed the force’s use of the technology, the Toronto Star reports. A report submitted to the Toronto police services board shows that images from public and private cameras are matched against an internal database of 1.5 million mugshots, and that the system’s use so far has cost CAD $451,718 (just over US$335,000). According to Saunders, the system was purchased to help police more quickly and efficiently identify suspects, including violent offenders. A provincial grant for police modernization funded the purchase. New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Charlie Angus told the Star that no legislative oversight is in place, and therefore “we need to hit the pause button.” Angus is also part of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, which is currently studying artificial intelligence ethics. Angus told Mobile Syrup that his office is considering legislative changes to restrict facial recognition. Facial recognition is limited in Canada by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which requires consent for the collection, use, or transmission of personal information, but does not specifically deal with AI or facial recognition. “I think we really need to look at putting limits on facial recognition technology and lay the ground rules before it gets widely implemented,” Angus says. Toronto police’s implementation generated matches for roughly 60 percent of 1,516 searches between March and December of 2018, about 80 percent of which led to the identification of criminal offenders, according to the report to the police services board. The report also states that facial recognition is not used as a sole basis for arrests, unlike fingerprint identification, but rather to produce potential candidates for further investigation. Information provided by facial recognition helped to solve four homicides, multiple sexual assaults, armed robberies, and gang-related crimes. The Star asked Toronto Police Services about false positive rates overall and for different ethnic groups, and was told the technology is not used to make a positive identification. A representative of the police also said the force has no plans to extend its database beyond the existing mug-shot collection, it does not use real-time facial recognition, and does not have legal authorization to do so. Only six FBI-trained officers have access to the system, while body camera images can be used in the case when a criminal offence is captured on camera, court permission is still required. Saunders’ report notes that the police began a year-long pilot project in September, 2014, and conducted a Privacy Impact Assessment in 2017. “The fact that there has been very little — virtually no — public conversation about the fact that this is happening, despite the fact that they’ve been looking into it for at least the past five years … raises questions for me,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Project Director Brenda McPhail told the Star. Calgary is the only other Canadian city where police are known to use facial recognition technology. No federal legislation is imminent, but the house committee is attempting to set up the next sitting of parliament to move the issue forward, according to Angus. Liberal MP and committee co-chair Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told Mobile Syrup that there are benefits to some AI technologies, but acknowledged that negative outcomes could necessitate a ban. “Where it is not mitigated and in the case of San Francisco, if there is clear evidence that employing the algorithm leads to racial profiling then governments, be it local or national, should prohibit the use of that technology,” Erskine-Smith says. Canada’s government recently set up an Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence. Source
  4. Bell Wants Canada to Criminalize Pirate Streaming Services Canadian telecoms giant Bell is recommending that the Government should criminalize people who are involved with pirate streaming services, including those who advertise or sell pirate set-top boxes. The proposal is seen as a prime tool to combat online piracy. In the same submission, Bell also revives its call to institutionalize site blocking. To ensure that the Internet is able to function to the benefit of the broader public, the Government of Canada appointed an external panel to review Canada’s communications legislative framework. The panel is expected to release its findings next month, which will in part be based on input received from public submissions earlier this year. Thus far, most submissions have surprisingly been kept from public view. However, University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist filed an Access to Information Act request and will publish the responses he receives. The first one comes from Canadian telco Bell and stretches to 167 pages. Bell’s submission deals with a wide variety of topics ranging from online video regulations to online privacy requirements. For the purposes of this article, however, we focus on the company’s suggestions when it comes to piracy and copyright infringement. One of the Government’s prime policy priorities, according to Bell, should be to combat content piracy. “Canadian creators, the Canadian broadcasting system, and the Canadian telecommunications system do not have effective tools to protect the content that is central to the creative and digital economy against the rampant growth of digital piracy,” Bell writes. The submission goes on to cite various piracy studies that support this claim. It reports, for example, that 26% of all Canadians admit to having accessed pirated content online. In addition, it mentions that 15.3% of all Canadian households use set-top-boxes with piracy add-ons or access piracy subscription services. According to Bell, now is the time to address the online piracy issue and it provides two concrete proposals. The first one is aimed at tackling pirate online streaming services, including the previously mentioned streaming sites and set-top boxes. Bell equates this relatively new type of piracy to the boom in black market satellite piracy roughly three decades ago. At the time, lawmakers responded by updating the Radiocommunication Act to criminalize the decoding of encrypted signals and the possession and sale of devices intended for that purpose. “This stimulated law enforcement activity in the area of satellite piracy, which contributed to the investigation and shutting down of piracy operations and also had a significant deterrent effect,” Bell notes. The telco stresses that a similar response is now required to deal with the online streaming epidemic. Most pirate streaming services no longer rely on encryption but are based on rebroadcasting content over the Internet instead. This type of streaming activity should be criminalized in the Broadcasting Act, Bell recommends. Not just the services and sites that do the ‘broadcasting,’ but also people who advertise or sell related products. “Accordingly, we recommend that a provision be added to the Broadcasting Act making it a criminal offense for anyone subject to an exemption from the requirement to hold a license to knowingly operate, advertise, supply, or sell or offer to sell access to a distribution undertaking that retransmits broadcasting without lawful authorization from a programming undertaking.” Criminalize “Such an approach would concentrate criminal liability on commercially-motivated operators engaged in organized crime and would stimulate additional law enforcement activity to address this pressing threat,” Bell adds. This measure doesn’t appear to be aimed at end-users but will certainly affect pirate streaming sites, vendors of pirate set-top boxes, as well as those who promote them. The second anti-piracy proposal put forward by Bell is to make it possible for ISPs to block pirate sites more easily. This is the same plan proposed by Fairplay Canada Coalition last year, but with a twist. “By far the most important tool that modernized legislation should adopt is the ability for an independent authority to grant orders requiring all Internet service providers (ISPs) to disable access to sites that are blatantly, structurally, or overwhelmingly engaged in piracy,” Bell writes. This Fairplay blocking proposal was deniedby the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) last fall, which noted that it lacks jurisdiction. According to Bell, this is something the Government could change through an update of the Telecommunications Act. Specifically, it wants the Government to amend current legislation to authorize the CRTC to approve and require Internet providers to disable access to sites that are blatantly, overwhelmingly, or structurally engaged in piracy. That blocking is not a perfect solution, shouldn’t matter. Even a partial reduction in traffic to pirate sites, as has happened in other countries, should already be rather effective, Bell argues. “A policy that reduces the total level of piracy by up to 40% from the level that would otherwise have prevailed, and that substantially increases the legal consumption of content, can only be considered incredibly effective. The fact that it does not eliminate 100% of piracy is not a justification for inaction,” the telco writes. Website blocking also finds support in a separate submission from Shaw Communications, another major Canadian telco. Similar to Bell, Shaw believes that an update to the Copyright Act is required to achieve that. The company, however, rejects a proposal to tax ISP subscriptions to support copyright holders. By criminalizing pirate streaming services and blocking pirate sites, Bell hopes to make a significant dent in Canada’s piracy rates. Whether the government’s expert panel will adopt these recommendations has yet to be seen. Many copyright holders are likely to side with Bell, but there is plenty of opposition as well. Michael Geist, for example, characterizes Bell’s submission as “self-serving in the extreme,” noting that it poses shocking risks to many stakeholders in Canada’s communication industry. Source
  5. Canadian Parliamentary Report Proposes Tough Copyright Measures Canada's Heritage Committee has released the results of its study on artists remuneration. In a new report, it recommends that the Government takes a series of measures to strengthen the position of creators. The far-reaching proposals include an extension of the copyright term, limiting fair dealing rights for educational purposes, holding ISPs accountable, and increasing anti-piracy efforts. The Canadian Government is currently exploring if and how the current Copyright Act should be amended to better fit the present landscape. To this end, Canada’s Heritage Committee organized several hearings on remuneration models for artists, where it received input from various stakeholders. The outcome provides input for the Committee on Industry, Science and Technology’s broader review, which will determine the future course for Canada’s copyright policy. The Heritage Committee hopes that its findings will be included. The report, titled “Shifting Paradigms,” leads to a set of 22 recommendations. These cover a variety of issues ranging from addressing the value gap and holding ISPs accountable, through limiting fair dealing, to extending the copyright term. These themes are in large part meant to further support creators and copyright holders. Much like the EU’s copyright reform, there is a lot of emphasis on the so-called value gap, i.e the notion that artists don’t currently receive fair compensation for their work. This is also reflected in the report. For example, the payouts at streaming services such as Spotify are often seen as too low. Similarly, services such as YouTube can distribute music and profit from it, while only paying a small fee to copyright holders. “The inability of policy to evolve with technology has prevented artists from receiving fair market value for their work. According to witnesses, these outdated rules have diverted wealth from creators to large digital intermediaries on which artistic content is consumed,” the committee writes. There are also rightsholders who have highlighted the possible aspects of technology on their industries. Content creators have many new distribution platforms, for example, which can bring in extra revenue. However, it’s clear that creators can use some guidance, which results in the first recommendation. Recommendation 1: That the Government of Canada increase its support for creators and creative industries in adapting to new digital markets. Online piracy in general is another major theme. Torrent sites and streaming sites remain a significant problem which is hard to address, for example. In addition, ISPs currently have little incentive to help combat piracy. One issue that the Government will look into is whether safe harbor exceptions for ISPs should change, to make these companies accountable for pirating users under certain circumstances. Recommendation 5: That the Government of Canada review the safe harbor exceptions and laws to ensure that Internet service providers are accountable for their role in the distribution of content. More generally, the report also suggests that Canada should do more to tackle online piracy overall. One of the options, as suggested during the consultation, is to criminalize online streaming. Recommendation 6: That the Government of Canada increase its efforts to combat piracy and enforce copyright. Not dumb pipes The recommendations are mostly meant to strengthen the position of rightsholders. This also includes an extension of the copyright term from 50 to 70 years after the creator’s death. This follows requests from several copyright groups and is in line with the new trade agreement with the US and Mexico. According to the committee, no witnesses expressed outright opposition to extending of the copyright term, which leads to the following recommendation. Recommendation 7: That the Government of Canada pursue its commitment to implement the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death. Large copyright intermediaries are also presented with a setback, which appears to have been largely initiated by Canadian singer Bryan Adams. During a hearing last year, Adams suggested changing the text of the Copyright Act to made it easier for artists to regain their copyrights. At the moment, Canadian copyright reverts to a creator’s heirs 25 years after “death.” By changing the word “death” to “assignment”, creators will be able to terminate a copyright assignment while they’re still alive. This is helpful to artists who sign away their rights to labels early in their career, which they may regret later. The Heritage Committee sides with Adams and includes the following recommendation. Recommendation 14: That the Government of Canada amend subsection 14(1) of the Copyright Act so that it reads “from 25 years after assignment. Following more music- and movie-related recommendations, many of which deal with licensing and remuneration, the committee shifts its focus to the publishing industry. Specifically, it addresses a commonly heard complaint from publishers that Canada’s fair dealing exemptions are too broad. Currently, schools are allowed to copy texts for educational use, but this should change, the committee argues. Recommendation 18: That Government of Canada amend the Act to clarify that fair dealing should not apply to educational institutions when the work is commercially available. All in all its clear that the recommendations made in the report are favorable to copyright holders, who will welcome it with open arms. However, not everyone is positive. University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, who has followed the developments closely, describes the report as the most one-sided Canadian copyright report issued in the past 15 years. “Representing little more than stenography of lobbying positions from Canadian cultural groups, the report simply adopts as recommendations a wide range of contentious proposals: copyright term extension, restricted fair dealing, increased damages, as well as several new rights and payments,” Geist writes. “There is no attempt to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, much less grapple with contrary evidence or positions.” While the Heritage committee did hear several witnesses from people with contrasting views, such as Professor Jeremy de Beer, lawyer Howard Knopf, and author Cory Doctorow, these positions were not reflected in the final report. The Heritage Committee’s recommendations will now be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, which is tasked the broader copyright review. That report is expected to come out later this year. As such, there’s still a long way to go before any of these proposals are acted upon, if that’s the case at all. Source
  6. There's some uproar in Canada about a supposed 'novel' tactic that's being used to sue alleged BitTorrent pirates. In reality, however, these lawsuits have been ongoing for years. They are typically known as "copyright trolling" efforts and have targeted thousands of Canadians already. For the record, this has nothing to do with Game of Thrones. This week Canadian news outlets are reporting about a supposed new legal campaign against people who pirate movies and TV-shows via BitTorrent. This includes an article from CBC, which featured a still from Game of Thrones, suggesting that downloaders of the popular HBO series are at risk too. The coverage comes a bit as a surprise, because there is nothing new to these lawsuits. “Reverse class-action” suits have been ongoing for a few years in Canada now. Also, HBO or ‘Game of Thrones’ are not part of it. The lawsuits in question are a variant of what is commonly known as “copyright trolling.” This practice is limited to a few movie production companies that have targeted hundreds of thousands of alleged pirates all over the world. In Canada, we are aware of 18 of these lawsuits which target thousands of alleged pirates in total. These cases were filed by the rightsholders of films such as The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Mechanic: Resurrection, Criminal, London Has Fallen, and Dallas Buyers Club, The defendants are listed as “John Does,” who are initially only known by their IP-addresses. After the movie companies obtain a Norwich order from the court, they obtain the contact details of these people, who they can then approach with a settlement demand. This has led to settlements of thousands of dollars in some cases, where the maximum damages for non-commercial infringement is CAD$ 5,000. As said before, this isn’t new. However, the news started rolling again following a tweet from Nova Scotia-based lawyer David Fraser, who posted a copy of a “statement of claim” online. The lawyer also pointed to an article, where the law firm offered help, suggesting that this is a ‘novel’ procedure. “Using a novel legal procedure called a ‘reverse class-action’ Hollywood studios are consolidating what would otherwise be hundreds of lawsuits into just a handful of lawsuits,” the article reads. This then led to a report on Mobilesyrup, where it was again suggested that this is a new phenomenon. Interestingly, the date of the statement of claim is almost a year old now, which is a clear hint that this isn’t as fresh as some people think. Indeed, a reverse class-action lawsuit against alleged BitTorrent pirates was already filed in 2016, and many have followed since. This week’s reporting shows that the cases have progressed quietly in the courts. That’s not a complete surprise, as they generally don’t go to trial. The goal of the movie outfits is to settle the matter out of court. That brings us to a final point of confusion. These settlement requests are entirely different from the automated settlements that ISPs forward via email. The latter practice is part of the notice-and-notice system. While these automated settlement requests were outlawed last year, they’re still coming in. The letters that are part of a reverse class-action, which are delivered through the postal system, are entirely different. They are part of a legal proceeding and people who receive a statement of claim should not ignore it. Those who do face a default judgment, which is generally higher than a settlement. Attorney James Plotkin of law firm CazaSaikaley previously informed us that it’s wise to consult an attorney instead. “Get competent legal advice. It is important to understand the legal playing field. Defendants are not helpless in these actions, so ignoring the claim and allowing the plaintiff to proceed in obtaining a default judgment is probably not the best option for most people,” he said. That is the type of advice one would expect from an attorney. However, in this case, it is certainly warranted. And the outcome could be positive as well, as Plotkin has already helped one defendant to get rid of the claim, without a settlement. Summarizing, we can conclude that lawsuits continue to target alleged BitTorrent pirates in Canada. The cases are filed by a small number of movie production companies and have nothing to do with Game of Thrones. Those who are unfortunate enough to get caught up in this should carefully research their options. Unlike the “notice-and-notice” emails, ignoring the legal paperwork is generally not a good option. View Original Article.
  7. CALGARY—When energy companies go bankrupt, the cleanup of their old oil and gas wells must take priority over paying off creditors, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday. On Thursday morning, the nation’s highest court made a decision in the Redwater case, which could have implications for the handling of oil and gas wells across Canada. “Bankruptcy is not a licence to ignore rules,” wrote Chief Justice Richard Wagner in the court’s decision. Though the Alberta government, the province’s energy regulator and environmental groups hailed the court’s decision as a victory, critics noted the underlying problems that led to the Redwater case remain. In some bases, a company’s assets may not be enough to cover cleanup costs. “The fact of the matter is that when these companies go bankrupt, they have very little resources left,” said Daryl Bennett, director of Action Surface Rights, a group that helps farmers with inactive wells on their land. Such wells can cause safety issues and contamination for the people living around them, Bennett added. “We still have a huge problem ... with the energy regulator not holding companies to account, not requiring companies to post security deposits.” If the court had gone the other way, the Alberta Energy Regulator might have had to look at introducing harsher measures — such as up-front bonding requirements — to ensure there’s enough money set aside for cleanup, said Nigel Bankes, a professor and chair of natural resources law at the University of Calgary. Though this outcome allows already-struggling oil and gas producers to avoid those costs, it may also affect their ability to get loans, Bankes added. “Creditors should be a little more risk-averse,” he said. “It will have some implications in the future for how much money a company will be able to borrow.” Speaking in Calgary, Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd blamed the previous Progressive Conservative government for failing to act on the problem sooner. Though she previously said her government is looking at imposing cleanup deadlines on old wells, McCuaig-Boyd declined Thursday to say if it will happen before the provincial election this spring. “Working families across this province, as well as all of Canada, should not have to pay for the financial and environmental liabilities left behind when companies walk away from their obligations,” she said, noting that the province has accelerated its cleanup of orphaned sites. “I want to be clear that the vast majority of companies are responsible ... they as well need to be protected from the bad actors in the system.” United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney said Thursday that he wasn’t aware of the court’s decision, but would review the implications for policy in Alberta. Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel called on the NDP government to take immediate action, while Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan praised the Supreme Court’s findings. The case revolved around the failure of Redwater Energy, a small, Calgary-based oil and gas company that went bankrupt in 2015 amid the global oil price collapse. The dispute was between the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and accounting firm Grant Thornton, which is Redwater’s receiver — a bankruptcy trustee appointed to liquidate a failing business. When Redwater became insolvent, it owed $5 million to provincially owned ATB Financial. Very few of the company’s wells were producing and profitable, while the rest were in need of expensive, legally required cleanup processes. The receiver wanted to sell Redwater’s profitable wells to pay off the company’s debts and leave the nonproducing ones to Alberta’s industry-funded Orphan Well Association (OWA), a group which handles the cleanup of sites whose owners have gone bankrupt. Under Alberta law, the move wouldn’t be allowed — money from the sale of Redwater’s assets should be used to return the company’s well sites to a natural state, the AER argued. However, federal bankruptcy law gives priority in such cases to lenders. Two lower courts found the federal law took priority over the provincial one and sided with the receiver. The Supreme Court heard the appeal, led by the AER, in February 2018. In the end, the court decided the AER is not a creditor and therefore, there’s no conflict between the two laws. The federal law doesn’t allow trustees of a bankrupt business to walk away from the company’s environmental responsibilities, the decision said. Grant Thornton must now obey an order from the AER requiring it to use money from the sale of Redwater’s assets to properly plug the company’s wells and return the land to a natural state. The case attracted national attention and input from a wide variety of intervenors, third-parties who the court allows to make arguments in a case. The list included provinces concerned about the implications — Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Ontario — as well as environmental groups, Alberta farmers concerned about wells on their land, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). In its filings, ATB Financial suggested the fault lies with Alberta’s regulatory system, which unlike other jurisdictions, doesn’t require up-front bonds to cover cleanup costs. At the time it went bankrupt, the AER hadn’t required Redwater to post any financial security. The reversal of the lower court decision could also drive away investment in the already-struggling energy sector, ATB Financial argued. However, the AER argued that the impact of dismissing its appeal would be “catastrophic,” potentially putting the public on the hook for “billions of dollars in environmental costs.” Not only would it undermine a long-standing system, the regulator said, it could drive up the number of orphan wells, encouraging lenders to place companies into insolvency and dump weak assets. CAPP also sided with the regulator, saying a dismissal of the appeal would unfairly push the financial burden onto responsible companies. In November, a joint investigation involving the Star found the cost of cleaning up Alberta’s oil and gas wells could reach $100 billion. So far, the AER has collected $200 million in security. With the help of a $235-million loan from the Alberta government, the OWA is already struggling to work through its current inventory of more than 3,000 wells, up from 700 in 2015. It may take a generation to complete the cleanup of the association’s current backlog, the Supreme Court’s decision notes. In a statement, the OWA said it’s “encouraged” by the court’s decision. It plans to decommission 700 wells in its current fiscal year and increase its activity thanks to a boost in industry funding in 2019. “The vast majority of sites in our inventory are considered low-risk and therefore do not require immediate closure,” the statement read. The number of orphan sites in B.C. has also grown substantially in recent years — from 45 in 2016 to 326 as of early November 2018. According to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, the increase was largely due low commodity prices and the bankruptcy of both Terra Energy and Quattro Exploration. So far, at least 16 orphan sites have been restored and another four are expected to be completed by March, the commission says on its website. In Saskatchewan, the government is handling nearly 650 orphan wells, according to a 2017-18 report. Cleanup in both provinces is industry-funded. Bennett said governments are currently facing a catch-22 situation: if they start requiring companies to put up more money before they go out of business, some won’t be able to afford it. However, either the public or industry will eventually have to pay for the cleanup process, and neither the governing NDP or the Opposition UCP have shown willingness to take action, he said. “They have to address these issues before the problem gets so big it’s unsolvable.” Source
  8. These recent confirmed cases demonstrate that these incidents are still ongoing' A view of the Canadian Embassy in Havana, Cuba, where a 14th Canadian has now fallen ill to an unexplained illness. The Cuban government is criticizing Canada's decision on Wednesday to halve its embassy staff after a 14th Canadian fell ill to an unexplained illness in Havana. Josefina Vidal, Cuba's ambassador to Canada, says the reducing embassy personnel in Havana will do nothing to help find the cause of a mysterious ailment that has affected Canadian and American diplomats. Canada and Cuba have been co-operating to find the cause to the mysterious set of circumstances, but the Americans have criticized the Cubans over the matter, walking back major improvements in their strained relations that had begun under former U.S. president Barack Obama. Vidal said that "Canada's decision made public today is incomprehensible." She said the decision will "not help find answers to the health symptoms reported by Canadian diplomats, and which will have an impact on the relations." Canada's decision comes after a new report concerning a diplomat who arrived in Cuba in the summer who was found to have symptoms on Dec. 29 of the mysterious illness that causes problems including nausea, dizziness, headaches and trouble concentrating. The fact that a recently arrived diplomat reported symptoms underscores the likelihood that the undiagnosed ailment that has afflicted Canadian and American diplomats is still a threat. Canadian government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that Global Affairs Canada will consider halving its diplomatic presence in the Cuban capital, potentially reducing its representation by eight people from the current 16 serving in the Havana embassy. The remaining diplomats will deliver full consular services but other programs will have to be adjusted in the coming weeks. 'Frustrating' The move follows the downsizing in April that determined that diplomats posted to Cuba would not be accompanied by families and dependents due to the uncertainty. In November, a 13th Canadian reported symptoms, sparking a new round of medical testing that turned up the next case in December. The November case was the first to be reported since October 2017, officials said. "These recent confirmed cases demonstrate that these incidents are still ongoing," said one official. The RCMP is leading an investigation into the cause of the ailments that have affected both serving diplomats and family members and have also struck several American diplomats in Havana. Canadian authorities say they are getting good co-operation from the Cuban government, which is also frustrated by the incidents. "Overall, we have a multifaceted relationship with Cuba, which is very positive and continues," said another official. 'Crickets' The Cuban envoy said that is not how her government sees it. "This behaviour favours those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba," said Vidal. The Cuban government has said the Trump administration is using the issue to roll back new measures instituted by the Obama administration to re-engage with its Caribbean island neighbour after five decades of tensions dating back to the height of the Cold War. The U.S. withdrew most of its non-essential diplomatic staff in September 2017 but Canada did not. Officials said the government made assessments based on "evidence" in taking its various decisions to gradually reduce Canada's diplomatic footprint in Cuba, which hosts an average of one million sun-seeking Canadian tourists annually. "There is no evidence that Canadian travellers to Cuba are at risk," Global Affairs Canada said Wednesday, adding that travellers should continue to consult the government's travel advisories. Canadian officials say they are co-operating fully with their American counterparts but refused to say whether the fact the Cubans and Americans aren't getting along is having an effect on the search for the mysterious cause. Speculation has focused on some kind of acoustic or microwave assault, unknown contaminants and even chirping crickets. Officials have all but ruled out environmental factors — such as toxins in the air, soil or water — and no longer suspect a sonic attack is to blame. Source
  9. Air traffic controllers in the U.S. must stay on the job under partial government shutdown 'Thanks to our friends to the north at Moncton Center for the pizza, Air traffic controllers from Atlantic Canada directed a fleet of special arrivals into the New York Air Traffic Control Centre on Friday night, as a gesture of solidarity and respect. And each was covered in a layer of gooey melted cheese. The Canadian Air Traffic Controller Association units in Gander, N.L., and Moncton, N.B., ordered pizzas for all of their colleagues at the control centre on Long Island, who have been working without pay since the partial U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22. U.S. President Donald Trump wants $5.7 billion to build a border wall with Mexico, and says he won't put through a bill to cover the cost of operating parts of the government until he gets it. The Democrats have put forward a funding bill, but don't support the wall. "It's been so overwhelmingly negative and it's nice to see that there's solidarity out there. There's people out there who are just saying, 'Hey, I work with you as a friend or a colleague and here's a nice gesture of friendship, that we care,'" said David Lombardo, a former air traffic controller who lives in Long Island and runs a social media site for people in the industry. He posted a notice to Reddit about the impending pizza arrival seen in the hallways of the New York control centre. "Aviation is a really tight-knit group of people, it's like a family. And plus, it goes against the whole rhetoric here that we're talking about because it's an international boundary!" Air traffic controllers in Cleveland enjoy pizza from their counterparts in Toronto. Workers at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Centre also enjoyed pizza from the Winnipeg Area Control Centre. Air traffic controllers provide essential services and are unable to suspend work or take any other job action during the government shutdown, he said. As a result, with no other government services running, they're working without paycheques. "They're worried about their mortgages, their medical bills. It's one thing to have a date set and say, 'Hey you're going to get your back pay in a week or two,' but they have absolutely no idea when they're going to get paid, And you can imagine that's pretty disheartening and pretty scary for many people." Sometimes solidarity comes with a soft crust and a layer of melted cheese. According to Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the U.S., there are currently 14,000 controllers working without pay. And they're thrilled about the pizzas. "It's just a really good shot in the arm of positive energy and positive emotion to know that, 'Hey they've got our back,'" he said. "On behalf of the entire NATCA and air traffic control around this country, we extend our thanks and our gratitude." A concerted, Canada-wide pizza delivery The pizza-delivering task force from the Gander and Moncton crews is part of a national effort on behalf of Canadian air traffic controllers to show support for their American counterparts, said Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA). Duffey said local unions have been asking the national union what they could do to help since the U.S. government shutdown began. On Thursday evening, controllers in Edmonton had the idea to send pizzas across the border to controllers in Alaska. It snowballed from there. As of Sunday morning, Canadian units have sent pizzas to 35 different units in the U.S. "This is as grassroots as it gets, with our members just jumping on board this like crazy," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of what my members are doing." 'We're all taking care of the skies over North America' Duffey echoed Lombardo's sentiment that air traffic controllers keep each other close, even though they don't work side-by-side and often only hear each other's voices in headsets. "We always stand together, especially with our American counterparts," he said. "Our members just want to reach out to those people that they consider to be co-workers. We're all taking care of the skies over North America." The nature of the job also builds a strong bond, he said. "We always say that we have to be 100 per cent correct, 100 per cent of the time, with zero room for error. That's the nature of our job. To have somebody have to report to work with the added pressure of knowing they're now into their second period of work with no paycheque, they don't need that kind of added stress and pressure. We just want to send them a message that says, 'Hey we're with you, we stand with you, and we're sorry that this is happening to you.'" Church agreed that the current working conditions only made a tough job tougher. "We hold our aviation system and the safety of it in a very high regard and treat it with the utmost professionalism. It's very painful to see that system suffer because of political dispute and it really needs to end now." It was tasty pizza Lombardo said the shipment from the Gander and Moncton units were the first evidence he saw of the pan-Canadian pizza effort, but that he knew there were a lot of pies being ordered from north of the border. Gander, he said, may be a small town in a small province, but they play a big role in the skies. "They have a massive chunk of airspace that they handle," he said. "They're well-known for being very, very important in the aviation world, and it's so nice to see them care about everyone else around them." They may now be known for having good taste in pizza, too. Reddit users responded to Lombardo's post asking about the pizza place the Gander and Moncton crews chose — Gino's of Ronkonkoma — he assured them the folks at the New York control centre had a good feed. "It's really good pizza," he wrote. "And this is Long Island. Believe me, we are pizza perfectionists." Source
  10. Canadian privacy laws mean they first have to ask Canada's largest telecommunications group is getting mixed reviews for its plan to follow the lead of companies like Google and Facebook in collecting massive amounts of information about the activities and preferences of its customers. Bell Canada began asking its customers in December for permission to track everything they do with their home and mobile phones, internet, television, apps or any other services they get through Bell or its affiliates. In return, Bell says it will provide advertising and promotions that are more "tailored" to their needs and preferences. "Tailored marketing means Bell will be able to customize advertising based on participant account information and service usage patterns, similar to the ways that companies like Google and others have been doing for some time," the company says in recent notices to customers. Giving away valuable information If given permission, Bell will collect information about its customers' age, gender, billing addresses, and the specific tablet, television or other devices used to access Bell services. It will also collect the "number of messages sent and received, voice minutes, user data consumption and type of connectivity when downloading or streaming." "Bell's marketing partners will not receive the personal information of program participants; we just deliver the offers relevant to the program participants on their behalf," the company assures customers. Teresa Scassa, who teaches law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy, says Bell has done a good job of explaining what it wants to do. But Scassa says Bell customers who opt into Bell's new program could be giving away commercially valuable personal information with little to no compensation for increased risks to their privacy and security. "Here's a company that's taking every shred of personal information about me, from all kinds of activities that I engage in, and they're monetizing it. What do I get in return? Better ads? Really? That's it? What about better prices?" Toronto-based consultant Charlie Wilton, whose firm has advised Bell and Rogers in the past, says there's "tonnes" of evidence that consumers are increasingly aware of how valuable their personal information can be. Privacy and security concerns "I mean, in a perfect world, they would give you discounts or they would give you points or things that consumers would more tangibly want, rather than just the elimination of a pain point — which is what they're offering right now," Wilton says. Scassa says there are also privacy and security concerns to consider. Google tracks your movements, like it or not Here's what Facebook knows about you At the macro level, Bell's data security could be breached by hackers. At the micro level, she adds, there's the potential for family friction if everybody starts getting ads based on one person's activities. Ads for pornography, birth control or services for victims of abuse could trigger confrontations, for instance. "Some families are open and sharing. Others are fraught with tension and violence," Scassa says. Wilton says a company in Bell's position also runs the risk that customers will feel betrayed if their information is leaked or the advertising they receive is inappropriate. In the age of social media, he says, "one leak or one transgression gets amplified a million times." For its part, Bell spokesman Nathan Gibson notes in an email that its customers aren't required to opt into its new marketing program and they can opt out later by adjusting their instructions to the company. Ads that are relevant to customers "Bell is responsible for delivering the advertising we believe would be most relevant to customers who opt in to the program, rather than the random online ads they would receive otherwise," Gibson says. "Customer information is always protected, enforced by our strict privacy policy and in accordance with all Canadian privacy regulations." Gibson noted that "international competitors like Google or Facebook, who deliver targeted marketing services in this country, are not subject to the rules that we as a Canadian company must and do follow." A spokeswoman for the federal privacy commissioner says that it hasn't received any complaints about Bell's new program. However, Tobi Cohen noted that Bell withdrew and replaced its earlier Relevant Ads Program for its mobile service after the commission concluded in 2015 that dissatisfied consumers shouldn't be required to take the initiative to opt out. Numerous requirements "Following further consultations and discussions with our office, Bell did make improvements and relaunched the program with opt-in consent in 2016," Cohen says. She added that the privacy commission hasn't scrutinized the new "tailored" marketing program but added that the federal privacy law governing private-sector organizations has numerous requirements. Among other things, organizations "need to explain what risks of harm may come to the individual from the collection, use or disclosure of the various information." Source
  11. You can be denied entry at the U.S. border if they know you've purchased weed. Marijuana became legal in Canada this past October, and while most Canadians were more than pleased with the choice by the federal government, there have been a handful of hiccups. Because cannabis is an illegal substance in most other countries, the personal information of Canadians who are making legal purchases within Canada is very "sensitive," according to the guide. This sensitivity is, of course, due to the fact that countries can deny entry to Canadian citizens if they know they have purchased cannabis, even if it was purchased within the limits of the Canadian law. This of course is most pertinent to Canadians travelling to the United States. Because marijuana has not been legalized by the federal American government, Canadians who have purchased marijuana can still be under scrutiny at the border, and can certainly be turned away. Ambiguity about the spread of personal data through legal marijuana purchases is exactly why the Privacy Commissioner has released this document — while any personal information collected should be kept private at all times, it can be difficult to ensure. Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, retailers are required to inform individuals about "what personal information is being collected, to which parties it will be disclosed, the purposes for its collection, and any residual risks of harm" to the customer. The guide is clear that while marijuana dispensaries are required to confirm the age of customers before purchase, there is no reason to record this information. Moreover, because marijuana has been legalized recreationally, customers should not feel the need to provide medicinal information upon purchase. With that said, a retailer cannot avoid collecting personal information when completing a transaction with a credit card. As we all know, "a purchase made using a credit card would involve the collection of the credit card number and cardholder’s name." This is also the case with a mailing list or a membership club, where a retailer might choose to collect an e-mail address associated with the customer. The privacy guideline suggests that retailers "consider only collecting the minimum amount of personal information required for mailing lists or memberships." The guideline also makes reference to the safety of online information, going so far as to advise consumers to "ask retailers whether they store [...] personal information on servers outside of Canada," inevitably implying that the safety of information stored on international servers may run the risk of being compromised. Guide https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/collecting-personal-information/gd_can_201812/ Source
  12. A United Nations committee is calling on Canada to act on the “forced sterilization” of Indigenous women and girls dating back to the 1970s. The Committee against Torture took issue with Canada’s human rights record in a report released Friday in Ottawa. The “extensive forced or coerced sterilization” of Indigenous women and a failure to address outstanding issues related to the Tyendinaga stand-off in 2008 were among them. The committee’s report comes as groups like the Assembly of First Nations and Amnesty International sound the alarm on ongoing human-rights violations in Canada. A proposed class-action lawsuit representing at least 55 women was launched in October 2017. “To engage in an invasive, medically unnecessary surgery without one’s free, full and informed consent is a very serious violation of a person’s right to bodily integrity,” Native Women’s Association President Francyne Joe told a news conference responding to the report, “The Canadian medical profession must respect consent and the Canadian government must defend consent.” Prior to the release of the report, Justice Minister Jodi Wilson-Raybould’s office said the government is taking a “public-health approach” to the issue, though the government believes everyone must receive culturally safe health services no matter where they live. Wilson-Raybould’s office has pointed to existing provisions within the Criminal Code meant to forbid “a range of criminal behaviour” that would cover forced sterilizations, including on aggravated assault and on terminating pregnancies against expectant mothers’ wishes. The committee called on Canada to ensure all allegations are “impartially investigated” and persons responsible are held accountable. Canada should also adopt legislative and policy measures to prevent and criminalize involuntary sterilization and define free, prior and informed consent. While Canada was commended for establishing a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the committee expressed serious concerns about continued violence against Indigenous women. The report points out Canada has not provided any information on “the number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and sentences imposed on cases of gender-based violence, in particular against Indigenous women and girls.” It also says the state needs to take legislative and policy measures to stop women from being sterilized against their will. The committee also urged Canada to undertake an independent review of police actions during a Mohawk land dispute in 2008. This is the second time it expressed concerns with how the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) handled the protests in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. “In the previous review of Canada and now in this review, they keep coming back to this and saying there has to be accountability,” said Craig Benjamin, who works for Amnesty. For the last decade, Amnesty International has been pushing for that accountability over what it calls an “excessive” and “disproportionate use of force” by the OPP. The OPP had deployed over 200 officers to police the Mohawk protests, including the Tactics and Rescue Unit, commonly called the sniper squad. After five Mohawk men were arrested in April, 2008, they were kept in nylon restraints – or zip-ties – for up to 13 hours in cells at an OPP detachment. In 2016, the OPP did an internal review and claimed that the use of zip ties on the Mohawk men in custody was reasonable. Benjamin said there are too many serious questions to leave it at that. “It’s that possibility that police officers sworn to protect the public would use those powers to deliberately inflict harm, or try to hurt these men, humiliate these men by keeping their hands tied for hours and hours,” said Benjamin. “And did this happen because of racism or because the attitudes of these officers towards land defenders?” When the UN committee reconvened in late November, Canada’s response was that it was satisfied with the OPP’s internal review and had no plans for any further investigation. The UN report made note that “the committee remains concerned about the absence of an independent inquiry into the allegation of ill-treatment and excessive use of force against Mohawk men detained by the OPP during the protests. “The State party should conduct an independent inquiry into the Ontario Provincial Police’s handling of the incidents at Tyendinaga in 2008.” Benjamin said Canada’s inaction on this issue is at odds with how the country projects itself as a human rights champion on an international stage “What we have here is a very strong message that simply having the mechanism and the possibility of justice isn’t good enough if you fail to use them,” he said. Dan Doreen is a Mohawk land defender and one of the men arrested and zip-tied in cells in 2008. He’s thankful to Amnesty for bringing the concerns forward, but he’s not optimistic anything will change. “What has Canada done about it? Nothing really,” said Doreen. “They answer it by saying there was a review by the OPP and that was good enough for Canada, so should I expect anything more? Not really.” In November, Amnesty sent a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking for an apology and independent review of police actions. No response to date. “We have the next Mike Harris as the premier of Ontario and I don’t expect anything good to come from Doug Ford,” said Doreen. Doreen said he’s happy to have the story out there people know what happened. There’s no mechanism that forces Canada to comply with the recommendations from the United Nations committee. “What we do have is public pressure,” said Benjamin. He said these recommendations coming from an international body of human rights experts can act as a “catalyst or eye-opener.” “It can lead to this moment where the public says the government response to say we trust the police to investigate themselves, isn’t good enough,” said Benjamin. APTN requested comment from the OPP but was told its new commissioner doesn’t officially start until December 17. APTN did hear back from Public Safety Canada, which said it was up to the government of Ontario to respond. With files from Canadian Press Source
  13. BEIJING/OTTAWA (Reuters) - China warned Canada on Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] chief financial officer, calling the case “extremely nasty.” Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. The executive is the daughter of the founder of Huawei. If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, a Canadian court heard on Friday, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge. No decision was reached at the extradition hearing after nearly six hours of arguments and counter-arguments, and the hearing was adjourned until Monday. In a short statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng had issued the warning to release Meng to Canada’s ambassador in Beijing, summoning him to lodge a “strong protest.” There was no immediate reaction from the office of Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Saturday. When asked about the possible Chinese backlash after the arrest of Huawei’s CFO, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday that Canada has a very good relationship with Beijing. Canada’s arrest of Meng at the request of the United States while she was changing plane in Vancouver was a serious breach of her lawful rights, Le said. The move “ignored the law, was unreasonable” and was in its very nature “extremely nasty,” he added. “China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person, and earnestly protect their lawful, legitimate rights, otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused.” The statement did not elaborate. “There will probably be a deep freeze with the Chinese in high-level visits and exchanges,” David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China, said on Friday. “The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the ice box for a while. But we’re going to have to live with that. That’s the price of dealing with a country like China.” Meng’s arrest was on the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump met in Argentina with China’s Xi Jinping to look for ways to resolve an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The news of her arrest has roiled stock markets and drawn condemnation from Chinese authorities, although Trump and his top economic advisers have played down its importance to trade talks after the two leaders agreed to a truce. A Huawei spokesman said on Friday the company has “every confidence that the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will reach the right conclusion.” The company has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations. Source
  14. TORONTO/BEIJING (Reuters) - A top executive of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] argued that she should be released on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing, citing fears for her health while incarcerated in Canada along with other factors, court documents showed on Sunday. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is fighting to be released on bail after she was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver at the request of the United States. Meng, 46, faces U.S. accusations that she misled multinational banks about Huawei’s control of a company operating in Iran. This deception put the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions and incurring severe penalties, court documents said. China has criticized her detention and demanded her immediate release. The arrest has roiled global markets as investors worried it could torpedo attempts to thaw trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. In a sworn affidavit, Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, said she is innocent of the allegations and will contest them at trial in the United States if she is surrendered there. Meng said she was taken to a hospital for treatment for hypertension after being detained. She cited hypertension as a factor in a bail application seeking her release pending an extradition hearing. She also said she has longstanding ties to Vancouver dating back at least 15 years, as well as significant property holdings in the city. Her family also sought leave to remain in Vancouver if she was granted bail, according to the court documents, with her husband saying he plans to bring the couple’s daughter to Vancouver to attend school during the proceedings. Earlier on Sunday, China’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to lodge a “strong protest” over the arrest, and said the United States should withdraw its arrest warrant. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told U.S. ambassador Terry Branstad that the United States had made an “unreasonable demand” on Canada to detain Meng while she was passing through Vancouver, China’s Foreign Ministry said. “The actions of the U.S. seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty,” Le told Branstad. He made similar comments to Canada’s ambassador the night before. China strongly urges the United States to pay attention to China’s solemn and just position and withdraw the arrest warrant on Meng, Le added. “China will respond further depending on U.S. actions,” he said, without elaborating. Le also told the Canadian ambassador on Saturday there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Meng. The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei shipped U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, Reuters reported in April. In the Canadian court documents released on Sunday, Huawei said its Iran operations were “in strict compliance with applicable laws, regulations and sanctions” of the United Nations, United States and European Union. In a company presentation from 2013 that was released with the Canadian court documents, Huawei said it communicated with U.S. government agencies on a “day-to-day” basis to obtain what it called “professional guidance” on trade compliance. Companies are barred from using the U.S. financial system to funnel goods and services to sanctioned entities. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said on Sunday he would “100 percent absolutely” introduce a measure in the new Congress that would ban Chinese telecom companies from doing business in the United States. “We have to understand Chinese companies are not like American companies. OK. We can’t even get Apple to crack an iPhone for us in a terrorist investigation,” he told CBS “Face the Nation.” “When the Chinese ask a telecom company, we want you to turn over all the data you’ve gathered in the country you’re operating in, they will do it. No court order. Nothing like that. They will just do it. They have to. We need to understand that.” Rubio was a strong critic of China’s ZTE Corp, which pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran. Source
  15. New data suggests teen smoking rates in Canada are also rising Using data gathered in the last six months, University of Waterloo professor David Hammond found a disturbing trend in Canadian teen vaping rates. As he tallied his latest data on vaping rates among Canadian teens, University of Waterloo Prof. David Hammond tried to find reasons not to believe his own research. That's because the results were troubling. According to his numbers, Canadian teenage vaping rates have increased substantially, similar to the dramatic increase in the U.S. where rates shot up by 80 per cent in one year, a trend the FDA called "epidemic." "We have been trying to find ways why this data isn't robust. We have not been able to find any reason," said Hammond, a public health professor. "All signs are very worrisome." And even more disturbing — cigarette smoking in teenagers appeared to be rising for the first time in 30 years. "There are also troubling findings on smoking rates and signs that progress in reducing youth smoking may have stalled," he said, adding that there's a need for more research to confirm his results. "We all want these findings not to be true." First snapshot since Juul came to Canada Hammond's data is the first evidence of what has happened since Canada's vaping landscape changed dramatically in May. That's when the new federal law made it legal to sell nicotine vaping products. A second major change happened a few months later when the vape juggernaut Juul officially entered the Canadian market. The slick Juul vaping device is designed to deliver a rapid nicotine hit to the brain just the way a cigarette would. And teenagers love it. Students outside West Carleton Secondary School in Ontario hold e-cigarettes. Once Hammond saw the disturbing trends from the last six months he decided he couldn't hold the data until it was published in a scientific journal months from now. Instead he presented his findings at a meeting of the federal Scientific Advisory Board on Vaping Products when it met on Nov. 19. There were six or seven Health Canada officials in the room. "Part of my job as an expert is to speak to the evidence that I know and as I understand it, and we have that evidence." He knew Health Canada would not see any new data emerging from the ongoing Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey for another year. He wanted the policy experts to be aware of the new and potentially alarming trend. "If your job is to regulate vaping, I don't know how someone wouldn't be concerned about some of the market trends we've seen." Yet when Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor was asked Wednesday about teen vaping rates, she said Canadian rates did not match the U.S. trends. "The numbers that are coming out of the States are not the same numbers as Canada," Petitpas Taylor told reporters. Citing data gathered a year and a half ago, she said, "At this point in time we don't see an alarming increase. However, we continue to look at the situation. If anything happens we certainly will address it." Health Canada officials told CBC News in an email that the minister hadn't seen Hammond's research when she made those comments. On Thursday Hammond sent his entire paper to Health Canada, at the same time as he submitted it for publication. "Any new and emerging data that suggest an increase in youth vaping or tobacco use would be a concern to the minister," said Sean Burgess, Health Canada media relations officer, in an email. Health Canada will 'assess' actions "Upon review of the recently provided data, Health Canada will assess what additional actions are warranted, and leverage additional authorities in the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act." But Hammond's data is not the only sign that teenage vaping has taken off in Canada. Last week a North Vancouver high school shut down almost all of its student bathrooms to stop kids vaping at school. In Ontario, the Durham Region Health Department said local data from the area around Oshawa, Ont., shows 17 per cent of high school students are vaping. "That's five students in every class of 30!" the department tweeted this week. On Nov. 27, Dante Caloia risked the wrath of his high school classmates by publishing a dispatch from the vaping front lines, in a column published by CBC News Ottawa. "I found many many times I've walked into bathrooms and seen tons of kids vaping," Caloia said. "I actually have a few friends who literally can't go a few minutes without having to hit their Juul or their Vape." So far Health Canada's primary method of controlling teen vaping is through restrictions on how vape products are promoted. As of Nov. 19, there can be no candy labels and no commercials appealing to youth by using celebrities or animal characters. Candy flavours can still be sold, just not advertised. In the meantime vape fans are advertising to each other on YouTube and social media, posting videos blowing vaping rings and performing other dazzling tricks. All of that as health officials repeat their mantra — if you don't already smoke, don't vape. "What we don't want to see is a new generation of people who were not going to be smokers become long-term vapers or worse yet, moving through into tobacco," said James Van Loon, director general of the Tobacco Control Directorate at Health Canada. "We really think that no young people should be using electronic cigarettes because of the health risks that we know and possibly more important the health risks that we don't know." Limited evidence that vaping helps smokers quit The underlying vaping philosophy is based on the theory that smokers will give up cigarettes for vaping, and then eventually stop vaping and shake their nicotine addiction altogether. But there's little good evidence of that. "By far most smokers who try vaping don't succeed in quitting, and they either become dual users or they revert to smoking cigarettes exclusively," said Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit. While they wait for adult smokers to switch, health officials appear prepared to risk exposing an entire generation to a nicotine addiction. That's because, unlike other smoking cessation products, vaping did not sit quietly on the shelf beside the nicotine gum and the patches. Instead, a powerful vaping industry is amassing as the world's tobacco companies introduce new vape products and invest in successful startups. This week there were reports that tobacco giant Altria, the parent company of Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris, is considering buying a piece of Juul, which dominates the multibillion-dollar e-cigarette market. It's a product revolution that tobacco industry tried, and failed, to launch decades ago. Stanford University historian Stephan Risi discovered documents revealing how tobacco companies began secret research programs aimed at designing a smoke-free cigarette in the 1960s. "It was also the moment when a lot of tobacco companies began to come around to the idea that what they're selling is not so much tobacco, it's really individual doses of nicotine," Risi said, pointing to evidence from industry archives. "The cigarette should be conceived not as a product but as a package. The product is nicotine," Philip Morris scientist William Dunn, wrote in a confidential memo in 1972. The same year, R.J. Reynolds research executive Claude Teague wrote in a confidential planning report "A tobacco product is, in essence, a vehicle for delivery of nicotine, designed to deliver nicotine in a generally acceptable and attractive form." Now that Juul and others have solved that problem, the tobacco industry is on the front lines, marketing a new device that, when used as intended, will create a nicotine dependence in the user. Source
  16. A scathing new report shows that Canada has a long way to go when it comes to closing the country’s digital divide. Canada has “no plan” to wire up remote communities that lack high-speed broadband connections, Canada’s auditor general said in a scathing report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The report comes just two years after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, an Indigenous community at the border of Manitoba and Ontario, and vowed that his government would work to end the digital divide that leaves rural and remote communities without high-speed internet. “This report says what we already knew, which is that there is no strategy to bring the rest of Canada online,” Laura Tribe, executive director of advocacy group Openmedia, said in a phone call. “What we keep hearing from the government is increasing numbers—80 percent, 90 percent—but until we’re at 100 percent, the problem isn’t solved.” Canadian politicians have for years promised to close the connectivity gap in a nation that is geographically larger than the entire US but has the population of California. This has so far resulted in a series of moving targets, lofty proclamations, piecemeal programs, and ultimately big letdowns. Some underserved Indigenous communities have moved to build their own internet infrastructure, and in northern regions of Canada infrastructure is so frail that a single satellite outage can result in a total connectivity blackout. The auditor general’s report notes that earlier this year Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) endorsed a high-speed connectivity target for 90 percent of the population—a plan that left out millions of Canadians who live in rural and remote areas. “For them, the government had no plan” to deliver adequate internet speeds, the report states. In response to an April 2018 House of Commons report that recommended the federal government come up with a national connectivity strategy, ISED balked. “Instead of agreeing to implement a national broadband strategy, the government said that its current approach was comprehensive,” the report states. “I hope that this gives [the government] some push and incentive to actually do something about this rather than just talk about it,” Tribe said. “The fundamental finding in this report is that talk is cheap.” Some programs that the government has actually implemented are not being properly administered either, the auditor general said. The report states that a $500 million program to wire up 300 remote communities—slated to continue until 2021—has so far failed to maximize the use of public money. Additionally, broadband spectrum auctions have favored large industry players by auctioning off large geographic areas, and licenses are set up so that the winners can easily fulfill connectivity targets by focusing on urban centers rather than rural communities. ncumbents are also not incentivized to share their licenses with smaller players, the report states, noting that out of more than 1,000 licenses held by the top three telecommunications companies in Canada, only 108 sub-licenses have been issued to smaller providers. There is some indication that the auditor general has already succeeded in nudging the federal government to action. Last month ISED announced that it intends to work with its provincial and territorial counterparts to come up with a national broadband strategy to ensure universal access, although details remain scarce on what that might look like. In response to the auditor general’s report, ISED said that it will develop a national strategy and noted that work is already underway. It’s a heartening step in the right direction, but it’s unlikely that underserved Canadians in rural and remote areas—long fed up with the state of their networks—will be holding their breath. Source
  17. A law against pretending to practice witchcraft will soon be repealed in Canada. But that hasn't stopped local police from prosecuting those who use the "dark arts" to bilk people for thousands of dollars. Two Canadian women have been charged with pretending to practise witchcraft, breaking a little-known law in Canada's criminal code that could soon be out the door. The first charge was levied against Dorie "Madeena" Stevenson, a fortune teller from Milton, Ontario on 18 October after a months-long investigation. She is accused of defrauding a client of C$60,000 ($45,700; £35,700) in cash and property. A week later, Toronto psychic Samantha Stevenson was also arrested in a similar but unrelated investigation. Police allege she convinced a man the only way to get rid of "evil spirits" in his home would be to sell it, and transfer the proceeds into her account. The accused often advertise themselves as a psychic or religious healer, and demand large sums of money to help remove curses or evil spirits from clients, police say. "What we typically see is a tendency for perpetrators to take advantage of persons when they are in their most vulnerable state," wrote Det Sgt Dave Costantini of Halton Regional Police, in a press release. "Victims are manipulated into believing something bad will happen to them unless they remit cash. We even see incidents where victims are required to make purchases and remit these purchases in order to be cleansed. "When victims cannot be squeezed any longer, the perpetrators rely on the victim's embarrassment in not contacting police." The charges could lead to Canada's last witch trials, as the section of the law banning pretending to practise witchcraft will soon be repealed. In June 2017, the federal government proposed a bill repealing dozens of outdated sections of the criminal code, including the law against pretending to be a witch. "I suspect police had just forgotten [the laws against witchcraft] existed, and it was the publicity over the fact that they were being removed that made police even remember that they were there," said Dalhousie University law professor Stephen Coughlan. Is witchcraft illegal in Canada? It is not illegal to practise witchcraft in Canada - either as part of a religion like Wicca or as an occult practice. However, according to Section 365 of Canada's Criminal Code, it is illegal to "fraudulently pretend to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration". The law has generally been interpreted as a provision against using the occult to perpetuate fraud, say by someone promising to cure a disease with magic. The conviction can lead to a C$2,000 fine and up to six months in jail. The law has rarely been applied in the 21st Century, although it is not unheard of: In 2017, astrologist and psychic Murali Muthyalu was charged with witchcraft after a client allegedly paid $100,000 to have a curse removed. The witchcraft charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to fraud In 2012, a man who billed himself as a "healer" was charged with witchcraft after clients paid him tens of thousands of dollars to remove curses. All charges were dropped after he agreed to pay restitution In 2009, Vishwantee Persaud was charged with witchcraft in addition to multiple fraud charges. The charge of witchcraft was eventually dropped. Prosecutors withdrew the witchcraft charge after she pleaded guilty to fraud The law has been criticised for targeting women and cultural groups where beliefs in magic are more widespread. "The provision that differentiates this type of fraud from others is mired in historic oppression of women and religious minorities, and is not necessary to prosecute fraud," wrote Natasha Bakht and Jordan Palmer in a working paper published in the journal Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues. Canada's last witch trial? All this is about to change. A proposed bill to repeal antiquated or redundant criminal offences passed its third reading in the Senate last week, and it is expected to come into force as soon as it receives royal assent. The bill would repeal the law against pretending to be a witch, as well as other old-fashioned prohibitions such as laws against duelling and blasphemous libel. Coughlin, the legal expert, told the BBC the bill is necessary to help bring the criminal code, parts of which date back to 1892, into the modern era. "A lot of them are just out of step with the time, out of step with the facts or really, are duplicative of other offences," says the Dalhousie University professor. "In the case of the witchcraft [law], realistically any behaviour that would fall within that provision... would also be captured by other provisions in the criminal code, like fraud." Until the law comes into force, however, police have every right to charge being with pretending to practice witchcraft. "It's not uncommon for police to lay every charge they can think of, simply because it gives them a bargaining chip," he says. A witch weighs in Canadian Monica Bodirsky, a witch and artist in Toronto, welcomed the change in the law, which she said is "a holdover from stereotypes and fears of witches being evil". She says current fraud laws are strong enough to target people who take advantage of others, and that witches shouldn't be singled out. "Fraud is fraud," she says. There's a big difference between providing a service - like a tarot reading - and preying on people's beliefs or fears of magic to manipulate them out of large sums of money, she said. "Fortune telling and phony psychics, it's very easy to tell the difference generally by the price tag," she says. She charges for tarot readings, and believes genuine fortune tellers never tell clients they're cursed or that they can cure an illness. Instead, she says she offers general life advice, and clients have the choice whether to take her advice or not. She says you shouldn't have to prove that magic is real in order to practise it, or earn a living from it. "If you're going to invest $20, $40, $60 in a tarot reading and you find it's irrelevant to you, or did you no good, why would that being any different than going to a reiki treatment and finding that didn't work?" she asked. "Would you charge a reiki practitioner with fraud?" Source
  18. 'Some that have smoked are saying no, because they're scared that they may be banned for life' The mayor of Estevan, Sask., says local residents have been turned away at the nearby U.S. border after admitting to past pot use. "It is a fairly serious concern," said Roy Ludwig, mayor of the 11,258-person city located just 16 kilometres north of a North Dakota border crossing. "Even people that might have smoked it 20, 30 years ago, they're being asked, 'Have you ever smoked cannabis?' when they get to the U.S. border. We understand some people have said yes, that they have, and have been turned back." Ludwig said several Estevan residents have undergone strict questioning at the U.S. border since recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada less than two weeks ago. He said he knows of two people who were turned away and not allowed to cross the border. Recreational cannabis use is not legal in North Dakota, and pot possession is still illegal under U.S. federal law. The Canadian government warned people pre-legalization that "previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S." Not everyone who wants to cross the border is reacting the same way to those rules, according Ludwig. "Some are saying the truth, saying yes, they have smoked it, and then some that have smoked are saying no because they're scared that they may be banned for life," he said. Store opening soon Estevan is one of the 32 Saskatchewan communities that either has or will have a recreational cannabis store. It's the southernmost place people will be able to buy legal cannabis in Saskatchewan. The community was originally supposed to get two stores, but the city — after consulting Estevan Police Services — asked that the second permit be put off until factors like traffic could be reviewed after the first store opened. That store is being prepared by Prairie Sky Cannabis, the same company currently operating legal pot stores in Martensville and Battleford. They operate those stores under the name Jimmy's Cannabis. Everything, except a steady supply stream, is in place for the Estevan store to open soon, said John Thomas, the president of the company. But that store will create a new wrinkle for American travellers coming to Estevan. An American customs official recently told CBC News that those found at the border with cannabis on their person, or in their car, could face arrest and prosecution by U.S. officials. That's why the Jimmy's Cannabis store in Estevan might tweak its product line compared with its sister stores. "There might be more things like pre-rolls and things that are higher-convenience for short-term use [inside Saskatchewan]," said Thomas. Stay overnight for the 'fine hotels' Ludwig said city councillors have talked about whether the flow of cannabis-craving Americans into Estevan might present the community with a business opportunity that also discourages people from driving under the influence. "People advertising and saying, 'Stay at some of our fine hotels and enjoy some of our fine restaurants and indulge in cannabis if you want to try it out. And then stay overnight and go back sober.' "We haven't done that yet," said Ludwig, "but we've definitely talked a little bit about it." Source
  19. Members of Parliament from Great Britain and Canada are pushing to have Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testify before them and answer questions about his company’s data privacy practices and disinformation being spread on the social media platform. “Given your self-declared objective to “fix” Facebook, and to prevent the platform’s malign use in world affairs and democratic process, we would like to give you the chance to appear at this hearing,” Damian Collins, chairman of Great Britain's Commons Digital Culture Committee, and Bob Zimmer, chairman of the Canadian parliament's Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, wrote in a letter to Facebook. The two requested in their letter that Zuckerberg appear before their committees in a joint hearing in London on Nov. 27. It's unclear why the two countries are teaming up, but the move is unprecedented. The two parliaments have never before held a joint hearing. Zuckerberg has already appeared in front of the U.S. Congress and European Parliament but has sent other representatives to speak to members of the British and Canadian parliaments, who have both requested his testimony. “We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments,” Collins and Zimmer wrote. “However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organisation—directly, via yourself.” Zuckerberg has told Parliament in the past that he has wanted to send employees to speak on issues who are "at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position.” The company is still dealing with the fallout of its data privacy practices and revelations of how it has been manipulated to spread misinformation in an attempt to influence U.S. and U.K. politics. Facebook was fined 500,000 pounds earlier this month, the maximum possible, for its practices of data sharing that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the data of 87 million of its users was compromised. The company has also announced coordinated misinformation campaigns by foreign governments targeting American politics several times since July. The company is still struggling to crack down on misinformation spread by domestic groups. Over the past week, two such hoax theories have circulated. One states that the migrant caravan in Mexico is being funded by Democratic mega-donor George Soros. A second false story alleges that bombs sent to high profile Democrats are a "false flag" operation meant to inspire goodwill for the left before the midterms. Source
  20. Canada’s legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, which went into effect last week, has prompted the Japanese government to issue warnings that Japan’s law on cannabis use may apply to its nationals even when they are abroad. A woman smokes marijuana during a legalization party at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto last Wednesday. In an Oct. 4 message posted on its website, the Japanese Consulate in Vancouver said that while Canada was set to legalize the possession and use of marijuana on Oct. 17, acts such as possessing or purchasing the drug are illegal in Japan and are subject to legal penalties. It said the Cannabis Control Law may be applicable for actions taken overseas. The consulate asked that Japanese nationals living or traveling abroad respect Japanese law and stay away from marijuana, including food and drink products that contain the substance. An Oct. 11 Japanese language notice issued by the consulate general in Toronto made a similar request. Japan’s law makes growing, importing or exporting marijuana punishable by up to seven years in prison. The punishment can reach up to 10 years — and possibly a maximum ¥3 million fine — for those proven to have engaged in those acts with the intent to profit. Possession, distribution or receipt of marijuana can mean up to five years prison, while those with a profit motive can get a maximum seven-year jail term and up to a ¥2 million fine. An official of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry suggested that all individuals, not just Japanese nationals, are technically subject to this law, wherever they are. But there are limits to what authorities can do to pursue someone who violates the law when abroad, especially in a country where the acts are legal. “It boils down to whether it can be proven that someone had committed acts in question while abroad after that person returns to Japan,” the official said. “It’s probably difficult to go after a case unless it involves a situation in which the person has been caught abroad and deported to Japan.” Any individual bringing marijuana from overseas to Japan would certainly be subject to the domestic law, and Canada also warns against such action. In an email reply to The Japan Times, John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, a government organization, said that the legalization of cannabis in Canada will not change the country’s border rules. “Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis across Canada’s international borders — either exiting or entering — will remain illegal and it can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad. Transporting cannabis used for medical purposes will also remain illegal,” Babcock said. “Each country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements,” he added. Over the years in Japan, there have been a number of high profile arrests of foreign nationals and Japanese for marijuana possession. In 1980, former Beatle Paul McCartney was caught with eight ounces of marijuana when he arrived at Narita airport and deported nine days later. In 2017, former actress Saya Takagi was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for three years, for possessing about 55 grams of marijuana, while Koki Tanaka, a former member of the boy band Kat-tun, was arrested for allegedly possessing a small amount of marijuana. Tanaka denied the allegation and prosecutors decided not to indict him. Last year police took action against a record 3,008 people in marijuana-related cases. The National Policy Agency noted that there was a rise in marijuana cases among those between 14 and 19 years old, a fivefold increase since 2013. A separate police survey last year showed that only about 30 percent of those who were investigated for alleged involvement with marijuana thought its use was dangerous. Source
  21. South Koreans who use cannabis while in Canada could face criminal charges when they return to their home country, Korean police are warning. An official from South Korea’s narcotics unit gave the message earlier this week, saying marijuana is treated as a serious offence. Violators could face up to five years in prison. “Weed smokers will be punished according to the Korean law, even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal. There won’t be an exception,” said the official, according to the Korea Times. The South Korea government also put out a warning last week, the day before Canada legalized marijuana. On Oct. 16, the South Korean Embassy in Canada said on Twitter: “Even if South Koreans are in a region where marijuana is legal, it will be illegal for them to consume it. Please take care not to commit an illegal act and be punished.” Korean police said they plan to hold briefing sessions in Canada and Uruguay (the first country in the world to legalize pot) to explain the risks of smoking marijuana to Korean residents, the Korea Times reported. “It’s possible that a country could make it an offence … as there are issues of sovereignty there,” said Harrison Jordan, a Toronto-based cannabis lawyer. “There are certainly other countries who have done so … like Saudi Arabia, (which makes) it illegal to have any THC in your system.” Japan also gave its residents a warning. On Oct. 4, the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver issued a statement saying the possession and purchase of the drug is not only illegal in Japan, but “may be applied … in foreign countries.” Under South Korea’s narcotics law, selling, buying or consuming marijuana is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 50 million won, around $57,000. The use of marijuana is illegal and considered a serious crime in South Korea. According to Korean media, “marijuana is on the same level of taboo as a hard drug like heroin or crystal meth.” In July 2017, South Korea pop star T.O.P, was given a suspended 10-month jail sentence for smoking marijuana. The singer was charged after using marijuana four times in October 2016 at his home in the capital, Seoul. How will South Korea test for marijuana? “South Korea can’t screen everyone who visited a foreign country, but the police maintain a blacklist that leads to certain individuals being supervised,” Lee Chang-Hoon, a professor in the department of police administration at Hannam University in Daejeon told the Guardian. “But the police are more concerned with the transportation of marijuana into South Korea, and the police messaging shows they are anxious about tackling this issue in the near future.” Around 286,000 South Koreans visited Canada in 2017, according to Statistics Canada. Source
  22. Amazon is expanding its footprint in Canada with a fulfilment centre in Ottawa that will create 600 full-time jobs. The e-commerce giant announced Tuesday that employees at the new warehouse in the capital city’s eastern suburb of Orleans will pick, pack and ship large items such as household decor, sporting equipment and gardening tools. The warehouse will be the company’s eighth in Canada, joining others in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and a technology hub in Vancouver that is undergoing an expansion. The Ottawa announcement came as Amazon is hunting for a home for its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Toronto is the lone Canadian city still in contention to house the headquarters, whose location the company said it will announce sometime this year. “Ontario continues to be a great place for Amazon to do business and we look forward to adding a fulfilment centre in the National Capital Region,” Glenn Sommerville, Director of Amazon Operations in Canada, said in a release. “Our ability to expand in Ontario and create more than 600 new jobs is the result of two things: incredible customers and an outstanding workforce. Amazon is committed to providing great opportunities for employment and creating a positive economic impact for the region.” The 92,900 square metre facility in Ottawa will be constructed by Broccolini, the real estate developer behind the forthcoming CBC and Radio-Canada headquarters in Montreal and a 50-storey, mixed use tower across from the Bell Centre in the same city. < Here >
  23. What do you do if 10 quadrillion high-energy collisions in the world’s largest particle accelerator fail to reveal any new truths about the nature of reality? The answer: Revamp your machine and go for 10 times that number. In a nutshell, that explains the groundbreaking ceremony that took place on Friday at the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, near Geneva, Switzerland. Canada is one of dozens of countries participating in the project, which will eventually see the collider’s performance increase tenfold by the middle of the next decade. Researchers hope the higher number of collisions that result will increase the likelihood that they will spot some extremely rare clues to a more fundamental theory of matter than the current standard model of particle physics. “It’s the next step in the development of the LHC,” said Oliver Kester, an associate director at the TRIUMF accelerator in Vancouver, which co-ordinates Canada’s participation in the international experiment. The $11-billion LHC made headlines in 2012, when it verified the existence of the Higgs boson, a long predicted particle that was seen as a crucial signpost on the way to a deeper understanding of the laws that govern the universe’s basic constituents. However, in the nearly six years since the Higgs showed up, the journey for LHC has been like a long, featureless drive with no indication of anything more to see. The situation has perplexed physicists who are looking to replace the standard model with a new theory that can encompass dark matter, a substance whose existence has been inferred by astronomers through its gravitational influence on stars and galaxies, but that has never been directly detected. The LHC’s operators say they want to pin down the properties of the Higgs boson with as much precision as possible to see if there are any small divergences from expected values that current theory can’t explain. “We are looking for the tiniest possible deviations,” said Fabiola Gianotti, director-general of CERN, the sprawling European research facility where the LHC is based. The LHC works by accelerating protons in two opposing beams around a 27-kilometre-long circular tunnel. The beams cross at only four points where protons that are travelling at nearly the speed of light can collide and release enough energy to spontaneously form new particles, such as the Higgs. These decay in an instant, but they leave their traces in the building-size detectors built around the collision points. Canada supplied hardware for one of those detectors, called ATLAS, and is currently developing new components for an intermediate upgrade that will begin after the beams are shut down for two years starting in November. After another round of data-gathering that will last from 2021 to 2023, the experiment is set to undergo a far more ambitious overhaul, which was set in motion by Friday’s groundbreaking. The overhaul will ultimately require replacement of the collider’s superconducting magnets, a change aimed at increasing the amount of data coming from the experiment by adding more protons to the beams and boosting the rate at which they collide. About 150 Canadian researchers are working with the LHC, including planning for its future improvement. Jens Dilling, a research scientist at TRIUMF, said that the souped up collider will need more robust detectors and sensors that can withstand the high radiation environment. He added that Canada could have additional opportunities to contribute expertise in machine learning, because the sheer amount of data the collider is expected to produce after the overhaul is completed around 2025 would overwhelm scientists working with conventional computer systems. “We will need artificial-intelligence-driven analysis tools to tease out new physics,” he said. Yet, in spite of such frontier-pushing improvements, it is also possible the Large Hadron Collider will have nothing more to find, leaving physicists to try other approaches. “At the end, the answer is in nature’s hands,” Mr. Gianotti said. “And nature is always more elegant and more simple than all our theories.” < Here >
  24. A study commissioned by Canada's Innovation, Science and Economic Development department has revealed that three-quarters of the Canadian public consume online content exclusively from legal sources. Perhaps surprisingly, just 5% identify as hardcore pirates. Meanwhile, 10% of the population have received infringement notices, with a quarter throwing them straight in the trash. Back in January, a coalition of companies and organizations with ties to the entertainment industries called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a national website blocking regime. Under the banner of Fairplay Canada, members including Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media, spoke of an industry under threat from marauding pirates. But just how serious is this threat? The results of a new survey commissioned by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) aims to shine light on the problem by revealing the online content consumption habits of citizens in the Great White North. While there are interesting findings for those on both sides of the site-blocking debate, the situation seems somewhat removed from the Armageddon scenario predicted by the entertainment industries. Carried out among 3,301 Canadians aged 12 years and over, the Kantar TNS study aims to cover copyright infringement in six key content areas – music, movies, TV shows, video games, computer software, and eBooks. Attitudes and behaviors are also touched upon while measuring the effectiveness of Canada’s copyright measures. General Digital Content Consumption In its introduction, the report notes that 28 million Canadians used the Internet in the three-month study period to November 27, 2017. Of those, 22 million (80%) consumed digital content. Around 20 million (73%) streamed or accessed content, 16 million (59%) downloaded content, while 8 million (28%) shared content. Music, TV shows and movies all battled for first place in the consumption ranks, with 48%, 48%, and 46% respectively. Copyright Infringement According to the study, the majority of Canadians do things completely by the book. An impressive 74% of media-consuming respondents said that they’d only accessed material from legal sources in the preceding three months. The remaining 26% admitted to accessing at least one illegal file in the same period. Of those, just 5% said that all of their consumption was from illegal sources, with movies (36%), software (36%), TV shows (34%) and video games (33%) the most likely content to be consumed illegally. Interestingly, the study found that few demographic factors – such as gender, region, rural and urban, income, employment status and language – play a role in illegal content consumption. “We found that only age and income varied significantly between consumers who infringed by downloading or streaming/accessing content online illegally and consumers who did not consume infringing content online,” the report reads. “More specifically, the profile of consumers who downloaded or streamed/accessed infringing content skewed slightly younger and towards individuals with household incomes of $100K+.” Licensed services much more popular than pirate haunts It will come as no surprise that Netflix was the most popular service with consumers, with 64% having used it in the past three months. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were a big hit too, visited by 36% and 28% of content consumers respectively. Overall, 74% of online content consumers use licensed services for content while 42% use social networks. Under a third (31%) use a combination of peer-to-peer (BitTorrent), cyberlocker platforms, or linking sites. Stream-ripping services are used by 9% of content consumers. “Consumers who reported downloading or streaming/accessing infringing content only are less likely to use licensed services and more likely to use peer-to-peer/cyberlocker/linking sites than other consumers of online content,” the report notes. Attitudes towards legal consumption & infringing content In common with similar surveys over the years, the Kantar research looked at the reasons why people consume content from various sources, both legal and otherwise. Convenience (48%), speed (36%) and quality (34%) were the most-cited reasons for using legal sources. An interesting 33% of respondents said they use legal sites to avoid using illegal sources. On the illicit front, 54% of those who obtained unauthorized content in the previous three months said they did so due to it being free, with 40% citing convenience and 34% mentioning speed. Almost six out of ten (58%) said lower costs would encourage them to switch to official sources, with 47% saying they’d move if legal availability was improved. Canada’s ‘Notice-and-Notice’ warning system People in Canada who share content on peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent without permission run the risk of receiving an infringement notice warning them to stop. These are sent by copyright holders via users’ ISPs and the hope is that the shock of receiving a warning will turn consumers back to the straight and narrow. The study reveals that 10% of online content consumers over the age of 12 have received one of these notices but what kind of effect have they had? “Respondents reported that receiving such a notice resulted in the following: increased awareness of copyright infringement (38%), taking steps to ensure password protected home networks (27%), a household discussion about copyright infringement (27%), and discontinuing illegal downloading or streaming (24%),” the report notes. While these are all positives for the entertainment industries, Kantar reports that almost a quarter (24%) of people who receive a notice simply ignore them. Stream-ripping Once upon a time, people obtaining music via P2P networks was cited as the music industry’s greatest threat but, with the advent of sites like YouTube, so-called stream-ripping is the latest bogeyman. According to the study, 11% of Internet users say they’ve used a stream-ripping service. They are most likely to be male (62%) and predominantly 18 to 34 (52%) years of age. “Among Canadians who have used a service to stream-rip music or entertainment, nearly half (48%) have used stream-ripping sites, one-third have used downloader apps (38%), one-in-seven (14%) have used a stream-ripping plug-in, and one-in-ten (10%) have used stream-ripping software,” the report adds. Set-Top Boxes and VPNs Few general piracy studies would be complete in 2018 without touching on set-top devices and Virtual Private Networks and this report doesn’t disappoint. More than one in five (21%) respondents aged 12+ reported using a VPN, with the main purpose of securing communications and Internet browsing (57%). A relatively modest 36% said they use a VPN to access free content while 32% said the aim was to access geo-blocked content unavailable in Canada. Just over a quarter (27%) said that accessing content from overseas at a reasonable price was the main motivator. One in ten (10%) of respondents reported using a set-top box, with 78% stating they use them to access paid-for content. Interestingly, only a small number say they use the devices to infringe. “A minority use set-top boxes to access other content that is not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (16%), or to access live sports that are not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (11%),” the report notes. “Individuals who consumed a mix of legal and illegal content online are more likely to use VPN services (42%) or TV set-top boxes (21%) than consumers who only downloaded or streamed/accessed legal content.” Kantar says that the findings of the report will be used to help policymakers evaluate how Canada’s Copyright Act is coping with a changing market and technological developments. “This research will provide the necessary information required to further develop copyright policy in Canada, as well as to provide a foundation to assess the effectiveness of the measures to address copyright infringement, should future analysis be undertaken,” it concludes. The full report can be found here (pdf) Source
  25. A Canadian company, backed by Bill Gates, says it has reached an important threshold in developing technology that can remove CO2 from the air. Carbon Engineering has published a peer-reviewed study showing that they can capture carbon for under $100 dollars a tonne. This would be a major advance on the current price of around $600 per tonne. The company says their immediate goal is to produce synthetic liquid fuels made from carbon and renewable energy. Science sceptics Technological "fixes" to the carbon emissions driving climate change have always been regarded with some suspicion by scientists. Plans to build solar shields in space or to seed the seas with materials to soak up carbon have been seen as dangerous and a distraction to the more mundane but difficult task of getting people to cut their emissions. However, plans to capture CO2 directly from the air have been regarded as somewhat more substantial - essentially mirroring the actions of trees. The idea was first developed by a scientist called Klaus Lackner in the mid 1990s and since then a small number of technology companies have built expensive prototypes of carbon removing devices. Last year, a Swiss company called Climeworks unveiled a direct air capture installation that extracted carbon and supplied it to a neighbouring greenhouse to fertilise tomatoes and cucumbers. Now, Canadian firm Carbon Engineering say they have taken a big step forward on cutting the costs of direct air extraction. Set up in 2009 with funding from Microsoft's Bill Gates and Canada oil sands financier Norman Murray Edwards, their pilot plant has been running since 2015, capturing about one tonne of CO2 per day. The process works by sucking air into a modified cooling tower with fans, where it comes into contact with a liquid that reacts with the CO2. After several processing steps, a purer stream of CO2 is extracted and the capturing liquid is returned to the air contactor. A previous study carried out by the American Physical Society in 2011 suggested that the cost per tonne of direct air capture would be around $600. But Carbon Engineering say that by adapting existing technologies they have been able to slash this significantly. "This is a real step forward, and it's not just our company saying it," Prof David Keith from Harvard University, and a founder of Carbon Engineering told BBC News. "I hope this changes views about this technology from being this thing which people think is a magic saviour which it isn't, or that it is absurdly expensive which it isn't, to an industrial technology that is do-able and can be developed in a useful way." Prof Keith's "useful way" is not to simply suck carbon out of the air but to use the extracted gas as a key raw material for synthetic liquid fuel. The company is currently making around one barrel a day by combining the pure CO2 with hydrogen derived from water, using renewable energy. "What Carbon Engineering is taking to market is first of all carbon neutral fuels, in that sense we are just another emissions-cutting technology, there is no net removal from the atmosphere," he said. "We see our long-term fuels plant as being roughly 2,000 barrels a day, but the next one we build will be the first real commercial plant but will be 10 times smaller than that - we are developing that right now, looking for very cheap solar or wind power and looking for investors." Better than biofuel? The firm believes that this approach to liquid fuel has major advantages over biofuels in that it uses far less land and water. Prof Keith said that if their fuel gets the same subsidies as other carbon neutral approaches then they will be able to raise funds and build plants very quickly. Others in the industry welcomed the fact that Carbon Engineering were bringing down costs, but felt that further incentives from governments were needed for carbon capture, utilisation and storage to achieve its potential. "Although direct air capture cost of around $100 per tonne is still somewhat steep, in our current situation where sticks and carrots for similar technologies are sorely lacking, the cost can only be brought down through further development and streamlining of individual technologies and conjugated processes," Edda Sif Aradóttir, from Reykjavik Energy told BBC News. She has been involved in a project in Iceland where CO2 from direct air capture is being turned into rock, deep underground. "The biggest challenge we are facing is, however, that the words agreed on in the Paris agreement must be followed by actions. The technical solutions to climate change are already available but national legislations do not provide enough incentive or obligations for them to be applied at a large scale. This must change quickly if we are to fulfil the Paris agreement," she explained. Those involved with Carbon Engineering are acutely aware of the challenges. Prof Keith said there "are a hundred ways in which we can fail". However he believes the question of decarbonising aviation and heavy transportation cannot be met by electric vehicles alone. "For liquid fuels we need better answers, this approach, CO2 from the air plus hydrogen you get from renewables to make fuels, that's the pathway." The study has been published in the journal Joule. < Here >
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