Canada's $4.2 billion cruise industry risks being permanently decimated by proposed U.S. law

The Norwegian Bliss en route from Alaska to Seattle makes it's way towards Ogden Point in Victoria, B.C., on June 1, 2018.

Canada’s multi-billion dollar cruise ship industry could end up being one of the most permanent economic casualties of the

COVID-19

pandemic if the U.S. follows through with a suite of new laws intended to help vessels bypass Canadian ports.

This week, U.S. Senator Mike Lee introduced a bill that, among other things, would repeal a 135-year-old requirement for cruise ships to make a Canadian stopover enroute to Alaska.

“This arcane law benefits Canada, Mexico, and other countries who receive increased maritime traffic, at the expense of American workers in our coastal cities,” wrote Lee in a

June 10 statement

.

The Passenger Vessel Service Act, passed in 1886, slaps foreign-flagged ship owners with a fine of US$762 per passenger if they schedule a “closed loop” cruise that only visits U.S. ports. If, for example, the Royal Caribbean-owned Symphony of the Seas loads up its full complement of 6,680 passengers and then goes on a day cruise from Seattle to Portland, its owners can expect a $5 million fine on arrival.

For Canada, the effect of the law has been to spur a booming trade in visits by cruise vessels looking to dodge the act’s strictures.

This is most apparent on the West Coast, where the 1.7 million people who annually take a cruise ship from the Continental U.S. to Alaska must make a stopover in either Victoria or Vancouver.

In Vancouver, the year 2019

saw 288 visits

by Alaska-bound ships, bringing more than a million passengers into the city — a 22 per cent increase in passenger volumes as compared to the prior year. Victoria welcomed a record-breaking 257 ships, pulling in an estimated $130 million in local spending,

according to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority

.

 A cruise ship docks at the Port of Vancouver in 2016. Cruise arrivals in B.C. have grown exponentially in recent years in tandem with the rise in Alaskan cruise traffic.

Each year under pre-pandemic conditions, the cruise industry is estimated to bring $4.2 billion in direct and indirect spending to Canada, according to a

recent study by the Cruise Lines International Association

. Almost all of this is thanks to vessels originating in U.S. ports. On the Atlantic Coast, ships originating mostly from New England bring an annual tide of 1.3 million passengers to Montreal, Quebec City or Halifax.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 – as well as a number of high-profile outbreaks aboard cruise vessels – Canada initially

delayed the start of its cruise season until July

, before cancelling it entirely.

At the time, Transport Canada’s ban was in line with maritime countries around the world. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control similarly issued a “no sail” order in March 2020. Even when that order was lifted in November, the Cruise Lines International Association,

voluntarily agreed to suspend worldwide cruise operations until at least the end of 2020

.

 The cruise ship MS Zaandam seen transiting the Panama Canal in March, 2020. The vessel was the site of one of the first major outbreaks of COVID-19 outside China.

But as mass-vaccination campaigns now cause COVID-19 numbers to plummet across the developed world, regulators are beginning to back off their pandemic restrictions on cruising. Last month, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control cleared cruise lines to begin operating out of U.S. ports

provided that 95 per cent of passengers were fully vaccinated

. Once on board, conditions are virtually the same as in pre-pandemic times, with minimal social distancing, no masking requirements and even buffet service.

Europe has also begun to reopen to cruises. Spain lifted its ban on cruise arrivals

just this week

, while the British cruise industry started back up in late May, provided passengers were either vaccinated or could

provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test

.

 The cruise liner MSC Grandiosa sails out of Valletta, Malta on June 10, 2021, a sign of the gradually reopening European cruise economy.

Despite all this, Canada has held fast to a blanket ban on cruise ships

until at least February 2022

. Regardless of the vaccination status of those aboard, “cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters,” according to Transport Canada.

In February, a trio of Alaska representatives directly petitioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconsider, saying they believed “there are many ways to achieve a safe sailing season without the extreme measure of a one year total ban.”

“As neighbors and economic partners, we are discouraged by Canada’s lack of outreach before announcing this long term closure,” read the letter, signed by Alaska Congressman Don Young as well as the state’s two senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

When Ottawa refused to budge, U.S. lawmakers instead started passing workarounds to the Passenger Vessel Service Act.

The 2021 Alaska cruise season is already safely bypassing Canadian ports thanks to the

Alaska Tourism Restoration Act

, a bill signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden that “temporarily allows foreign-owned and flagged cruise ships to transport passengers directly between ports in the states of Washington and Alaska without stopping in Canada.”

The Passenger Vessel Service Act originated as a protectionist law, since it’s designed to ensure that intra-American passenger vessel traffic is reserved exclusively for U.S.-owned vessels.

Although some of the world’s largest cruise companies are American-owned — such as the Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines — virtually every modern cruise vessel is considered a foreign ship since they fly “flags of convenience” in order to avoid U.S. taxes and labour regulations. The 23 ships operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, for instance, all fly the flags of either Panama, The Bahamas or Malta.

 In this aerial view from a drone, five luxury cruise ships are seen being broken down for scrap metal at the Aliaga ship recycling port on October 02, 2020 in Izmir, Turkey. With the global coronavirus pandemic having pushed the multi-billion dollar cruise industry into crisis, some cruise operators were forced to cut losses and retire ships earlier than planned.

Lee has moved to make the Alaska exemption permanent with a suite of bills gutting the Passenger Vessel Service Act, which the senator has called “bad news.” Most notably, his Safeguarding American Tourism Act would exempt any vessel of more than 800 passengers from the requirement to stop in Canada.

“This ‘protectionist’ law is literally protecting no one, as there hasn’t been a cruise ship built domestically in over half a century,”

said Lee

, who fingered Canada as the primary beneficiary of the “arcane” law.

In a Friday statement, B.C. transport minister Rob Fleming said that while he wasn’t worried about the temporary measures of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, “this new proposed legislation is of greater concern to British Columbia and Canadians.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which has seen its revenues hit hard by the cruise cancellation, called on Ottawa to rescind its order against cruise ships in Canadian waters. As the group wrote in a Friday statement, “the threat of any temporary legislation becoming permanent exists and could decimate the $2.7 billion cruise industry in British Columbia.”

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Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Remove, rename and cancel: A cross-country look at fallout from discovery of the Kamloops graves

Elder Junior Peter Paul (sitting) points to a Sir John A. MacDonald statue in Charlottetown, next to 215 pairs of children's shoes placed in remembrance of the children's graves discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, May 31, 2021. The statue has since been removed.

The discovery of the graves of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has pushed Canadians further toward a reckoning with our past, as those whose names and likenesses adorn murals, statues and school across the country are being assessed over whether or not they deserve commemoration.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation, on May 27, said preliminary findings from ground-penetrating radar searches had found unmarked graves — not a mass grave, as some media have erroneously reported — on the Kamloops school site, and it spurred a wave of mourning and made international headlines.

Since then, many have moved swiftly toward erasing some of Canada’s history.

From big cities such as Toronto and Ottawa, to smaller communities such as South Indian Lake in Manitoba, jurisdictions across the country are confronting Canada’s legacy — pulling down statues, renaming schools and roads and even cancelling Canada Day celebrations.

 The toppled statue of Egerton Ryerson, one of the architects of indigenous boarding school system, in Toronto on June 6, 2021.

Toronto

Last Sunday, the statue of Egerton Ryerson, who contributed to the development of residential schools, was toppled at his namesake Ryerson University.

By Thursday, the head showed up on a spike in Caledonia, Ont., the site of an ongoing land dispute between the Six Nations of the Grand River and local developers.

Also in Toronto, the Church-Wellesley Village BIA has asked the city to remove a statue of Alexander Wood. The statue, erected in 2005, was meant to honour Wood as a forefather of Toronto’s gay community, referencing a sex scandal in 1810.

But, the BIA said Wood, who died in 1844 in Scotland, was a member of the Society for Converting and Civilizing the Indians and Propagating the Gospel Among Destitute Settlers in Upper Canada.

Ottawa

Unsurprisingly, Canada’s capital has a lot of stuff named after the country’s founding prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, including the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge and the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.

In early June, three Ottawa city councillors called for the renaming of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.

Because of complex jurisdictional issues, the parkway isn’t a city responsibility — it involves the federal government and the National Capital Commission, a Crown corporation that manages properties in Ottawa and Gatineau.

Kingston

Protesters in the hometown of Sir John A. Macdonald covered a statue of him in a tarp and are calling on the city to remove it. Meanwhile, Global News reported there are calls for an Indigenous art installation to go beside the statue.

Victoria

On the other side of the country, city councillors in British Columbia’s capital city voted to cancel its virtual Canada Day broadcast, instead announcing a different sort of event would happen at some point in the future.

Local indigenous leaders who usually participate in Canada Day ceremonies declined after the Kamloops discovery.

Victoria will “produce a broadcast to air later this summer guided by the Lekwungen people and featuring local artists, that explores what it means to be Canadian, in light of recent events,” Mayor Lisa Helps said.

Helps noted, though, reported the Victoria Times Colonist, that people may still celebrate Canada Day should they so desire.

Halifax

A task force from last year recommended that the name of Cornwallis Park be changed. Edward Cornwallis, the founder of the city, infamously offered a bounty on scalps of Mi’kmaq people in 1749.

It was renamed Tuesday, to Peace and Friendship Park. Though not specifically linked to the Kamloops discovery, it happened in the immediate aftermath.

Charlottetown

Just days after the discovery in Kamloops was announced, city council in Charlottetown voted to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald. It was taken down and put in the back of a pickup truck the next day.

“A statue is not history. By removing Sir John A., it’s not removing any history,” Coun. Greg Rivard told the CBC earlier this month.

Picton, Ont.

In a 13-1 vote, Prince Edward County council voted this week to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from Picton’s downtown, CBC reported, and toss it into storage. That statue, like others in the country, had had red paint splashed on it.

 A mural of Catholic church Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin depicting the residential school system, at the Grandin LRT Station in Edmonton. The mural has since been covered.

Edmonton

This week, orange panelling was put up to cover a mural of Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin at the Government Centre LRT station in downtown Edmonton. The mural has long been controversial, but the city moved rapidly to cover the mural and is stripping Grandin’s name from city property. Grandin was an advocate for residential schools. Mayor Don Iveson, the Edmonton Journal reported, had introduced the motion to cover references to Grandin.

Calgary

The Calgary Catholic School District intends to make a decision on changing the name of Bishop Grandin High School by the end of the month, it said this week. It comes after the Calgary Board of Education changed the name of Langevin School — named after Hector-Louis Langevin, the federal public works minister when the residential school system was started — back to Riverside School, a move made in the spirit of reconciliation.

Winnipeg

The Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg has voted to review the name of Ryerson School, an elementary school in the city. “The situation in Kamloops was, in a way, the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Ted Fransen, the superintendent to the CBC.

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, there have also been calls to rename Bishop Grandin Boulevard, for Grandin’s affiliation with residential schools.

South Indian Lake, Man.

The Frontier School Division noted it would change the name of Oscar Blackburn School, in the northern Manitoba community. Blackburn, who died in 2007, reportedly had connections to the residential school system.

The signage at the school was taken down this week, reported CTV.

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Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Tories allege 'insider access and backroom dealing' after lobbying watchdog clears spouse of Trudeau’s chief of staff

Rob Silver, who is married to Katie Telford, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief of staff.

OTTAWA — The Conservative Party on Friday took issue with a recent report by the lobbying commissioner that cleared the spouse of Trudeau’s chief of staff, saying the ruling was evidence of the sort of “insider access and backroom dealing” that go largely unchecked in Ottawa.

The federal commissioner on Thursday cleared Rob Silver, whose wife Katie Telford has worked as Trudeau’s chief of staff since 2015, saying his conversations with federal officials over a key COVID-19 subsidy program fell “well short” of the threshold that would have required him to register as a lobbyist.

Even so, commissioner Nancy Belanger said that ruling rested largely on an overly high threshold in Canada of what constitutes lobbying activity, and called on the government to change the relevant legislation.

Michael Barrett, Conservative shadow critic for ethics, seized on the recommendations, saying the Lobbying Act in its current form allows “insiders and elites” to gain “special access” to federal officials.

“Canadians should be shocked by the fact that in this country, the spouse of Justin Trudeau’s top staffer can secretly lobby senior government officials on behalf of his company without penalty,” Barrett said in a statement.

Belanger’s ruling came after media reports last summer that Silver, a senior vice-president at private mortgage company MCAP, had approached former finance minister Bill Morneau’s office in April 2020 asking for legislative changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which could have benefited his firm. In his dealings with Morneau’s office, Silver, who is not a registered lobbyist, went so far as to suggest a specific wording for the legislative change he was seeking, according to a report by the

National Post

citing anonymous sources.

Belanger on Thursday reiterated her call to remove a key threshold in the Lobbying Act that effectively allows unregistered lobbying activity so long as it does not involve a “significant part” of a person’s official duties, or consumes less than 20 per cent of their time.

Silver spent a cumulative 70 minutes speaking with federal officials about two different COVID-19 aid programs, her report found, which fell well short of that threshold. MCAP staff, she found, put another two hours of preparation work ahead of those meetings.

“However, this investigation also demonstrates the challenges of tracking, monitoring, and accounting for the time spent engaging in what amounts to in-house lobbying activities for the purposes of applying the ‘significant part of duties’ registration threshold,” she wrote in her concluding remarks. “In practice, this standard is difficult to apply and enforce.”

In a statement last year, a spokesman for MCAP did not deny any of the details of its lobbying efforts, and said any interactions were done after consultations with the Lobbying Commissioner. Telford did not take part in any conversations with MCAP, and had established “screens” to protect her from any potential conflicts of interest involving the firm.

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Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Ivison: Collapse of the Green vote could help Trudeau win next election

Join columnist John Ivison and guests Marcella Munro and Andrew Balfour to laugh about the week’s political follies.

This week, John, Marcella and Andrew discuss Conservative premiers behaving badly; the return of the magnificent G7; and, the plight of Green leader, Annamie Paul, who has just watched one third of her caucus defect to the Liberals. Watch the video below for the latest episode of Ivison.

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Lottery win leads to a home

91 Elmers Lane (15th Sideroad and Keele Street).

King City

91 Elmers Lane (15

th

Sideroad and Keele Street)

Asking price: $5.99 million

Sold for: $5.8 million

Taxes: n/a

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 8

Square footage: 8,000

Garage: 4

Parking: 12

Days on the market: 1

At 8:45 a.m., a man who helped real estate agent Brock Gonchar put up for-sale signs was at his coffee table trying to figure out how to save enough to move north and retire. Fifteen minutes later, his phone rang and the caller told him he had won the 2021 Princess Margaret grand prize show home, a cottage and cash.

“He’s still emotional, grateful and excited…He’s the person you would want to win,” Gonchar says.

The 8,000-square-foot home on a quiet King City street was designed and decorated by Sarah Baeumler of HGTV Canada and came fully furnished, with every single beautiful item hand chosen for the house and space, Gonchar says.

Because it was the show home, there were “lots of eyes on it” and thanks to his marketing efforts, he says there was a lot of interest in the grand residence. There were four offers to purchase and it sold in one day.

It appealed to those looking for a slower pace and privacy offered by the secluded street in the quiet town of King City. And it doesn’t hurt that it is fully furnished, move-in ready and has all the goodies a family could want during the pandemic and beyond.

 The 8,000-square-foot home on a quiet King City street was designed and decorated by Sarah Baeumler of HGTV Canada and came fully furnished.

The bright five-bedroom home has eight bathrooms, an eat-in kitchen that’s grand yet cosy, a family room with a gas fireplace and a dining room that overlooks the front yard, with its 229-foot frontage and circular driveway. Another gas fireplace graces the living room.

The second floor includes four bedrooms and an office. Each bedroom has plenty of space for its own sitting area. The home also has an elevator and a second-floor laundry.

Fun amenities include a movie theatre, a recreation room, a music room and an arts and crafts room. A picture of musician Elton John that hangs in the music room is the only token item the homeowner/lottery winner is keeping. He is planning to hang it in his cottage, Gonchar says.

The Elmers Lane residence is in good company, with large homes, including a previous Princess Market show home next door.

Listing Broker: Royal LePage Meadowtowne Realty (Brock Gonchar)

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Lobsters get stoned for science and, shhh, a more humane way to boil them alive

In a preliminary study, scientists set out to find out whether or not exposing lobsters to cannabis smoke would ease their deaths.

A crisis of conscience led restaurateur Charlotte Gill to start hotboxing her lobsters. Footlong lobster rolls may have put her Maine restaurant,

Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound

, on the map, but she began to question the cost to animal welfare. In hopes of easing crustacean suffering, she arrived at “a lobster bong”: a sealed, plastic container, partially filled with seawater, with a straw poked in the lid to blow hits of pot through.

The idea was, if she could get lobsters stoned, they would be under less stress when she plunged them into boiling water to cook them. In assessing Roscoe, the first lobster she dosed, Gill thought he looked calm and sedated after several minutes in the hotbox. She released him a few weeks later, “

for his contributions to science

,” and proceeded to carry out the experiment “40 or 50 times.”

“We looked at tail flips and we also looked at, when we cook the lobster, is there a reaction when you put it into the boiling water? And we were seeing no reaction, or very minimal reaction,” Gill told

Modern Farmer

. “Versus what you see if you don’t have any sedation, which is they’re shooting their claws off. They’re climbing over each other to try to get out of the boiling water. It was a dramatic difference.”

Gill didn’t serve any of her hotboxed lobsters to customers, but she and her father taste tested them, finding the meat to be “sweeter and lighter” than usual.

Her “high-end” lobster project went viral in September 2018 and provided the impetus for scientific research. In an effort to get to the bottom of her crustacean sedation experiment, scientists at the University of California San Diego; Colorado College; the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Washington recreated it in a lab.

For their new preliminary study on preprint server

bioRxiv

, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, the scientists examined the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — on lobsters. They found that the dosed lobsters slowed down noticeably, and tissue samples taken after the animals were euthanized revealed that they did indeed absorb THC.

“The 2018 minor media storm about a restaurant owner proposing to expose lobsters to cannabis smoke really was the starting point,” Dr. Michael A. Taffe, study author and professor adjunct at the Scripps Research Department of Neuroscience, told

IFLScience

. “There were several testable claims made and I realized we could test those claims. So we did.”

Researchers studied the effect of cannabis on

Homarus americanus

, a North American species of lobster found on the Atlantic coast, mainly between Labrador and New Jersey (a.k.a. American, Atlantic, Canadian, Maine, northern or true lobster). They looked at how much and how fast the lobsters moved, both before and after they were dosed with THC; whether being exposed to THC had any effect on how they reacted to different temperatures; and if they were able to absorb THC at all.

Using wild Maine lobsters from the supermarket and a similar setup to Gill’s (which the state of Maine asked her to cease using in 2018; she now administers valerian root instead), the team kept lobsters in a sealed chamber for 30 to 60 minutes. They pumped in four 10-second puffs of THC vapour with an e-cigarette every five minutes for a period of 30 to 60 minutes.

“For these studies, animals were obtained, dosed and euthanized for tissue collection within four to six hours,” the researchers wrote.

When Gill conducted her experiments, it was unknown if lobsters could absorb THC. Along with any discernible behavioural effects, this is one of the questions the researchers aimed to answer. Through tissue samples, they confirmed that THC was taken up by gill respiration; it was present in the lobsters’ claw and tail muscle, brain, heart, hemolymph (the invertebrate equivalent of blood) and liver.

They found that while THC slowed the lobsters down, contrary to Gill’s experience, it didn’t appear to soothe them when exposed to hot water. The findings suggest that lobsters can indeed get stoned, as Gill believed, but more research is needed, the scientists say, in order to determine if THC lessens lobsters’ anxiety.

The question of whether or not lobsters experience pain is also still up for debate.

Switzerland

erred on the side of caution and banned the practice of boiling lobsters alive in 2018, ordering that they must be stunned before being cooked.

Researchers didn’t submit live lobsters to a boiling hot pot in the study, but they did gauge their reactions to 48 degrees Celsius water (close to the hottest water from a tap). When their tails were immersed in warm water, they exhibited an escape response: thrashing their abdomens, legs and claws. Submerging their claws or antenna “resulted in a distinct movement to remove the appendage from the water,” the researchers wrote.

While they didn’t boil live crustaceans, they did cook a post-euthanization lobster claw to determine if THC was still present in the tissue. It was, Dr. Arnold Gutierrez of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego told Jackie Bryant in her cannabis culture newsletter,

Cannabitch

, but in levels too low to be intoxicating to eaters.

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Lost in transit: Ecstasy from Italy destined for Toronto caught by U.S. border agents

An investigation began when a package destined for Toronto was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and inside they found 2,978 MDMA pills.

Two Toronto men have been charged with importing drugs from Italy to Canada after U.S. authorities caught a package of pills at the Canada-U.S. border.

Officers with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police executed a search warrant and arrested two men last week, charging them with various charges of importation, trafficking and possession in connection with MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly; one of them was also charged with resisting police.

The investigation began when a package destined for Toronto was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Inside they found 2,978 MDMA pills and the information was turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigation, authorities allege.

“Effective and timely sharing of information” between the U.S. investigators and Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP, the Mounties said in a statement, “allowed police in Canada to quickly identify suspects and obtain a search warrant.”

Officers searched a rooming house in Toronto’s Scarborough neighbourhood, where ammunition and documents were seized. Both men were arrested at the rooming house, where other people unrelated to the alleged plot also live, the RCMP said.

“Transnational organized crime groups and their networks exploit every opportunity to support their illegal operations while causing immeasurable harm to our communities and country,” Insp. Barry Dolan, in charge of the RCMP’s Toronto Airport Detachment, said in a written release.

“This case demonstrates the value of effective and expedient communication and information sharing between law enforcement agencies…. We had the resources and expertise in place to act on this information and apprehend and charge these individuals.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s spokeswoman in Toronto, April Miller, praised the cooperation between law enforcement on both sides of the border in “dismantling cross-border criminal organizations.

“We will continue to work closely to keep drugs off our streets and our communities safe,” Miller said in a written release.

MDMA is a psychoactive drug commonly associated as a party or night club drug. There are no approved therapeutic products containing MDMA in Canada.

The arrests were made by officers with the RCMP’s Border Integrity Unit at Toronto’s Pearson airport. Requests to the RCMP for further information were not answered prior to deadline.

Both of the accused men were released on undertakings and are scheduled to appear in court next month.

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Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Why so many sexual predators at Indian Residential Schools escaped punishment

Tony Charlie, a Kuper Island residential school survivor, becomes emotional as he recounts his abuse, at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Duncan, B.C. in 2012. His abuser, Glenn Doughty, spent only three years in jail for a a string of Kuper Island sex assaults lasting nearly 20 years.

For more than 100 years, if you were a sexual predator seeking child victims, there were few better places to work than a Canadian Indian Residential School.

Schools didn’t bother performing even the most rudimentary background checks on potential new employees and they paid such piddling wages they would take almost any willing recruit. Students were kept constantly hungry and were relentlessly cowed into meek obedience through corporal punishment, both of which would be ruthless exploited by abusers.

And as church-run institutions for much of their existence, abusers within Indian Residential Schools were protected by the same culture of secrecy that is now known to have protected sexual predators at church-run facilities around the world.

“The matters of sexual acts involving students were almost never brought to the police and even less often prosecuted,”

reads a 2017 study of Indian Residential School abuses

. “Typically, teachers or staff were invited to seek employment elsewhere — rarely did their record of malfeasance follow them.”

Virtually from the outset, a shockingly large proportion of the 150,000 Indigenous children sent to residential schools were subjected to rape and molestation from principals, teachers, dormitory supervisors and even maintenance workers and janitors. At some schools, upwards of 70 per cent of students

faced some form of sexual abuse

.

Nevertheless, as Canada once again grapples with the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, it’s remarkable how few of the system’s abusers have faced even the most tokenistic punishments for scarring a generation of Indigenous youth.

When former Indian Residential School dorm supervisor Arthur Plint was sentenced in 1995 for more than two decades of sexual abuses against children, Justice Douglas Hogarth described him as a “sexual terrorist” who had exploited a system that was “nothing more than institutionalized pedophilia.”

 Arthur Plint threatens a photographer with his cane after arriving at the Port Alberni Courthouse.

Between 1947 and 1968, Plint exercised total dominion over students at Alberni Indian Residential School: Bribing children for oral sex with candy, brutally beating anyone who tried to escape his predations and enlisting teams of young boys who would bring him new victims. “At twelve years old I began drinking alcohol to forget,” one of his victims

later told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

.

By the time Plint was brought up on charges in the mid-1990s, most of his victims had taken their own lives or died of alcohol abuse,

according to coverage of the trial by Windspeaker

.

It was this case, more than any other,

that would push Canada

towards a public reckoning with the traumatic legacy of Indian Residential Schools. As for Plint himself, he got 11 years in jail but still died a free man after he was released after eight years of incarceration at age 85. A parole board approved Plint’s release on the grounds that his advancing age had given him a “lack of motivation” to participate in prison programs.

 In this 1995 photo from Port Alberni, B.C., artist Arthur Thompson, right, gives the thumbs-up while getting a hug from his wife Charlene after testifying about the child abuse he received from Arthur Plint at Alberni Indian Residential School.

In 2016, private investigators contracted by the federal government identified 5,315 people — both students and staff —

who are believed to have committed sexual abuse at a Canadian Indian Residential School

. They weren’t up on criminal charges; they had been tracked down to see if they would be willing to testify at hearings determining compensation for residential school survivors.

Despite this, fewer than 50 people have ever been convicted for a sex crime committed at an Indian Residential School,

according to analysis by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

. Among those handful, almost all are sex offenders who spent mere months in prison for actions that damaged the civic life of whole Indigenous communities.

Another former employee of Alberni Indian Residential School, Douglas Haddock, got 23 months for abusing children over a six-year period starting in the late 1940s. Richard Donald Olan, a teacher at Alberni Indian Residential School, was convicted of five counts of “gross indecency” against children – including a practice of “signing out” children from the school to abuse them at his home over weekends. By serving his sentences concurrently, however, Olan was out of prison within two years.

William Peniston Starr was convicted of abusing 10 boys over 20 years at Saskatchewan’s Gordon Indian Residential School – but he would later admit to abusing hundreds of others. “We’re talking getting buggered and oral sex. The whole f—ing deal,” one of the boys targeted by Starr, Ben Pratt,

said in 2000

.

 Gordon Indian Residential School during the time of Starr’s employment there.

Sentenced to 4.5 years in jail in 1993, Starr was out by 1996. When more than 100 of his victims then filed a civil suit, Starr said he was “surprised and disappointed.”

The now-free Starr

told Windspeaker in 1997: 

“I pleaded guilty, I was incarcerated and I’m still in treatment — what more can I say?”

Gerald Mathieu Moran abused children throughout the early 1960s at two residential schools, including Kamloops Indian Residential School. Twelve of those instances netted him convictions in 2004, each carrying a three year sentence. However, because they were served concurrently Moran was up for parole within a year.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Catholic priest Harold McIntee would

sneak into the dormitories

at St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School outside Williams Lake, slip into bed with pre-pubescent boys and fondle them under their pyjamas. Or, he would lure boys for oral sex with the promise of candy. Later in life, he would repeatedly orally rape a 13-year-old Indigenous boy who had come to his parish office for help after facing a prior incident of sexual abuse. McIntee got two years in jail and when he died, his obituary made no mention of his decades of sexual abuse.

In just these individual cases, the abusers left a trail of cultural destruction still felt in First Nations communities. “You tore communities apart with your acts,” one victim of Arthur Plint would tell him in court. Multiple Plint victims would speak of their confusion and shame turning them into domestic abusers and — in two instances — of victimizing children themselves.

One of the boys “checked out” by Olan for a weekend of rape would later sob so hard during his Truth and Reconciliation testimony that he would vomit.

 Indian Residential school survivor Sheri Lynne Neapetung tells her story of abuse during testimonies at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools, in Montreal, Thursday April 25, 2013.

For girls, the abuses of residential school would result in a wildly disproportionate number of Indigenous women entering the sex trade. At a Truth and Reconciliation hearing, Elaine Durocher said that she didn’t get any formal education at Saskatchewan’s Fort Pelly Indian Residential School, but learned many of the dark lessons that would directly lead to years in the sex trade. “Once I knew that I could touch a man’s penis for candy, that set the pace for when I was a teenager, and I could pull tricks as a prostitute,” she said.

To this day, research out of UBC has found that women who had a parent who attended a residential school

are 2.35 times more likely to be sexually assaulted

.

As for why so few abusers have faced punishment for their actions, the sexual predators who ran through the Indian Residential School system benefited from the fact that so many of their victims ended up dead, homeless, incarcerated or addicted to drugs. For those willing to step forward with charges and relive the traumas of the abuse, the almost universal result was years of court action resulting in a sentence amounting to only a few weeks of jail time per victim.

“The Canadian legal system failed to provide justice to Survivors who were abused,” read the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “When, in the late 1980s, that system eventually did begin to respond to the abuse, it did so inadequately and in a way that often re-victimized the Survivors.”

The Commission heard about hundreds of instances of sexual abuse — many spoken publicly for the first time — but did so at the expense of systematically tracking down the individuals responsible. In order to maximize the number of people willing to testify, the Commission’s mandate specifically barred it from identifying abusers unless they had “already been established through legal proceedings.”

“In keeping with this instruction, this report does not identify or name alleged perpetrators of sexual or physical abuse,” wrote the commission’s final report.

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Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Condo noise is driving work-from-homers to the brink

The Condominium Authority of Ontario recommends that residents experiencing noise issues review the noise-related rules in their condo corporation’s governing documents before taking any action.

Torontonians are stuck at home. Still.

According to Statistics Canada, at the beginning of the year, some 32 per cent of Canadians worked mostly from home compared to four per cent in 2016. And it’s not just work. These days, the buildings many call home are filling in as the gym, the school, the restaurant, the movie theatre and sometimes even the night club. It’s a situation that can lead to a whole range of noises – some previously non-existent, others simply not noticed when most residents were off at work – and friction.

“Noise-related disputes are just exploding,” says Natalia Polis, a lawyer with Lash Condo Law, a Toronto firm that specializes in condominium law. Polis says that noise disputes in multi-unit residential buildings now make up a good chunk of her practice.

In most cases, it’s one neighbour complaining about another. “People didn’t used to be home 24-7 and it’s exacerbating the number of complaints,” Polis says.

There are also complaints about buildings’ mechanical sounds. Elevator shafts, garbage chutes, boiler rooms, parkades, rooftop mechanics and construction projects can also be aggravating if you’re suddenly always within earshot of them.

Mary Mirandola lives in a building on Richview Road in Etobicoke. In February, the tower’s owners decided it was time to refresh its exterior by replacing concrete and railings on the balconies. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, Mirandola and her dog are forced to listen to the sounds of drilling and jackhammering on concrete.

“It’s been a very traumatic experience,” says Mirandola, who has been following provincial lockdown guidelines and only leaving her apartment for essential trips. “It’s incredibly loud and stressful, both for myself and my dog.” To calm her pet, Mirandola has put cardboard over her windows to dampen the sound. She was told the construction wouldn’t like be finished until at least this month, meaning she will have been exposed to at least five months of intense daily noise.

Exactly how much noise should one be expected to tolerate through the walls or windows? For condos, it depends on the building. In Ontario, the Condominium Act doesn’t specifically mention noise but allows individual condo corporations to adopt their own rules that “prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment” of a unit. Most condo corporations have their own bylaws prohibiting loud sounds and vibrations, particularly during certain nighttime hours. The Condominium Authority of Ontario recommends that residents experiencing noise issues review the noise-related rules in their condo corporation’s governing documents before taking any action.

In Mirandola’s case, there hasn’t been much she could do besides grumble with the neighbours and muddle through. The owners of the rental building are free to continue their renovations as long as the building isn’t violating municipal noise bylaws. In fact, a provincial COVID-19 emergency order has actually expanded the hours when construction is permissible, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday pre-pandemic, to today’s extended construction hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

As for noise coming from neighbours, things can get tricky. While most bylaws mention noise, they usually don’t define exactly how loud is too loud.

“Noise is subjective,” says lawyer and former Canadian Condominium Institute president Jamie Herle. “If the rules say you can’t smoke in the unit or have a pet, that’s easy. Sound is more difficult.”

If noise being made by a neighbour is indeed unreasonable, a common first step is speaking with the person directly. Herle says residents also have the option of notifying the board, who will usually notify the neighbour by letter; but she recommends talking to the neighbour first if you feel it is safe to do so.

“Most people don’t want to be problematic neighbours,” Herle says. “Often a respectful conversation can solve the problem, more than a scolding letter from the board.”

The solution may be as simple as putting down a rug or shifting a workout time.

If that conversation doesn’t go as amicably as hoped, it’s time to reach out to the board. Under the Condo Act, if a condo has a noise bylaw, the condo corporation must enforce it. The Condominium Authority of Ontario recommends keeping a written record of the problem including the date, time, type and source of the noise.

The condo corporation should investigate the complaint and, if they deem it a problem, send a series of letters to the offending resident. If that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to lawyer up. The first step is usually an attempt at mediation and arbitration to come to a settlement agreement with the neighbour. If that is unsuccessful, the last resort is taking the neighbour to court.

In one case, Polis represented a condo owner against a neighbour for excessive noise, harassment and verbal abuse. The neighbour entered a settlement in mediation agreeing to stop the offending behaviour, but then quickly violated that agreement. Polis and her client took the neighbour to court, presenting the judge with a slew of audio and video recordings. The result was a court order demanding the neighbour comply with the condo corporation’s governing noise bylaws.

“If they’re not willing to negotiate or make concessions, you can skip mediation and arbitration,” says Polis. “With noise disputes, more often than not they go right to the final stage.”

If the problem isn’t a neighbour but rather an aggravating mechanical noise, the best move is to take it directly to the board. Condo corporations are generally responsible for the common elements of the condo: if the parking garage door or the elevator mechanics are unreasonably loud, it falls upon the condo corporation to solve the problem. If they refuse to do so, a resident has the same recourse as they would against a neighbour: mediation, arbitration, court.

In some cases, the problem may be an inadequately soundproofed building. All buildings in Canada are required to achieve a certain sound transmission class. This is a measurement of how well a building partition like a wall, ceiling or floor blocks the transmission of airborne sound. In Toronto, the building code requires a minimum score of 50.

“Honestly, 50 isn’t great. Fifty-five or 60 is good, but few condos meet that level,” says Ivan Koval, an acoustical engineer and owner of Toronto company The Soundproofing Expert.

Koval says there are a variety of factors that affect noise attenuation, including construction materials (concrete is better than wood) and exterior walls (brick or concrete with small windows is better than glass or aluminum). The National Building Code was revised in 2010 to include requirements for soundproofing — buildings constructed earlier than 2010 are often less soundproof — but Koval says that even those requirements are not particularly stringent.

Even if a building clearly falls short of requirements, it can be difficult to hold a developer liable for a building’s poor soundproofing.

If there are sound attenuation deficiencies identified in the first couple of years of a new build, Polis says the condo corporation can bring a claim against the developer to rectify the problem. The majority of the time, though, she says it falls upon the condo corporation to solve any building-wide problems.

Condo owners also have the option of taking matters into their own hands — or rather place them in the hands of a soundproofing professional. Koval says that common solutions include constructing a secondary wall or installing a floating floor. There are no real cheap-and-easy fixes; even installing a single wall takes days and will cost a few thousand dollars.

And it’s an issue that isn’t going anywhere. The Canadian Condominium Institute is planning a seminar on noise complaints to address what has become the hot button condo issue of the pandemic. Part of the solution, says Herle, is approaching the problem with the right attitude.

“Look at the issue with compassion instead of annoyance,” Herle says, particularly when the noise is being generated by neighbours. “Sometimes we don’t realize the effect we are having on others.”

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Discovery of 215 Indigenous graves had 'profound emotional impact' on Canadians, survey finds

Orange fabric cut in the shape of shirts are pinned to string at the Human Right's Monument in Ottawa, during a vigil held by Ottawa faith communities, to honour the 215 children whose remains were found at the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C., on Saturday, June 5, 2021.

The discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has had a “profound emotional impact” on Canadians, a new survey suggests.

Of the 1,513 people surveyed by Maru Public Opinion in early June, the majority said the discovery had changed how they view Indigenous people. Seventy-three per cent also found that it had affected them emotionally.

“Whatever has happened here has triggered a response, particularly among young people and women in this country,” said John Wright, executive vice president of Maru Public Opinion. “This is something people can relate to, but are horrified to understand. And I think, if there’s anything that comes out of this, the idea of intergenerational trauma and damage is now going to populate how people see these situations for Indigenous people.”

That said, 34 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that “all of this happened so long ago, we should just acknowledge it, apologize, do nothing else and move on.”

For another 42 per cent, the finding of the unmarked graves by the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation did not shift how they viewed Indigenous people and “what has happened to them.”

The Kamloops residential school operated between 1890 and 1969, at which time the federal government took it over from the Catholic Church and operated it as a day school until it closed in 1978. The

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

had confirmed six years ago that 51 Indigenous children died at the school, but the discovery made using ground-penetrating radar shows there were more deaths that went unrecorded.

“This is a moment in time that has affected people’s views profoundly — they are now connecting to at a different level. They’re not looking at Indigenous people or First Nations as a group. They’re looking at innocent children, for whom their parents were not even notified that they died,” said Wright.

A regional divide

While a majority of those surveyed said the news had a “profound impact” on them emotionally, 27 per cent indicated it did not affect them.

Those Canadians were most likely to live in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at 36 per cent, followed by Alberta at 34 per cent and British Columbia at 32 per cent. 

According to the

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

, for the purposes of compensation, the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement identified 139 residential schools in Canada.

Of the

139 schools

identified, 25 were in Alberta, 20 in Saskatchewan and 14 in Manitoba.

“There are 139 sites across this country where residential schools existed. If you just for a moment think that if 215 bodies were found in each one of those sites, just speculatively, we’d be dealing with 30,000 dead children, who had no tombstone or notice to their parents,” said Wright. “So we can’t underestimate the profound shock and feeling that has now infiltrated the country, (although) there are certain provinces in the prairies and in Alberta where it’s not as much.”

 Children’s shoes line the growing memorial on the grounds of the former Indian Residential School after the graves of 215 children, some believed to be as young as three years old, were found at the site in Kamloops, B.C.

The June survey also asked respondents whether, given the context of the residential school system, an act of genocide had been committed. Fifty-five per cent agreed that it had.

Article II

of the UN’s Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as the intentional action meant to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. This includes forcibly transferring children of a group to another group, causing serious mental or bodily harm to members of a group and killing members of a group.

“The (Indigenous) children were forcibly taken from their families and placed in these schools, largely to assimilate them into the rest of society without the traditions and heritage of their culture,” reads the survey.

Canadians who believed that the residential school system “was an act of good intentions that had bad outcomes,” are most likely to be found in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — at 53 per cent — and least likely to be found in British Columbia and Ontario.

Men and those 55 and over are also most likely to hold this view.

“(Some Canadians) truly believed that Indigenous children were without parents and without good upbringing, and without food and clothing — that they were doing a good thing,” said Wright. “But the majority in this country believe that the overarching element is that it was to destroy a culture, and a group of people and a way of life, and that that constitutes genocide.”

Assigning ‘fault’

As Maru Public Opinion notes, the number of residential school-related deaths across Canada remains unknown. However, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Justice Murray Sinclair, said it’s

estimated

that at least 6,000 children died while in these institutions.

Of the Canadians who surveyed, 60 per cent believe that if “fault could be assessed for what happened,” the Christian churches that “ran the schools” were the most liable, compared to 40 per cent who blame the federal government, which “designed, funded and oversaw” the school system.

“The visceral reaction, at the outset is, the people who ran the schools at ground level are responsible for what happened, because they had the most control over it,” said Wright.

On Friday, the chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, Rosanne Casimir, called on the Catholic Church to issue an apology for residential schools, saying: “What we do want, is an apology, a public apology, not just for us but for the world … holding the Catholic Church to account. There has never been an apology from the Roman Catholics.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also urged the Catholic Church to “step up” and

to take responsibility

for its role in the residential school system, saying that as a Catholic himself, he was “deeply disappointed” with the position the church had taken.

“When I went to the Vatican a number of years ago, I directly asked His Holiness Pope Francis to move forward on apologizing, on asking for forgiveness, on restitution, on making these records available,” he said Friday.

While Pope Francis

said he was pained

by the news regarding the former residential school on Sunday, and called for the respect of the rights and cultures of Indigenous peoples, he stopped short of a direct apology.

The majority of those surveyed said they believe that should financial restitution or funding be needed, both the church and the Canadian government should pay equally.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents also agreed that independent third parties should investigate all the sites of former residential schools to determine if and where bodies of Indigenous children have been buried, and over 80 per cent of respondents support calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate the Canadian government and the Vatican for crimes against humanity.

The survey, taken June 4-7 by over 1,500 randomly selected Canadian adults, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Additional reporting by Reuters, Tyler Dawson and Brian Platt 

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques