NBA Steps Up To Support Victims Of Super Typhoon Haiyan

first_imgThe National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA) today have teamed up to donate $250,000 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts in areas of the Philippines ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan.The latest estimates indicate that as many as four million children could now be affected by the disaster, and the donation will aid UNICEF in providing children and families with immediate necessities including food, water, and medicine.“We are incredibly grateful to the NBA and NBPA for their generosity and commitment to helping UNICEF save children’s lives,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “When a natural disaster strikes, the need to rush supplies to those affected is critical, and both the NBA and NBPA have consistently sprung to action to support UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts for more than 10 years.”The NBA Family is also assisting UNICEF in raising awareness of the urgent support needed for children and families in the Philippines. Miami HEAT Coach Erik Spoelstra will appear in a U.S. Fund for UNICEF Public Service Announcement to help raise funds for relief efforts.In July, 2009, Spoelstra embarked on what would be the first of four trips back to his native Philippines. In each of these trips, he has hosted basketball and coaches clinics, promoted the importance of education, healthy living and wellness, while being able to reach close to 10,000 underprivileged youth through these efforts. In 2011, the nine-day program in Manila was the largest NBA FIT event ever hosted in Southeast Asia under the NBA Cares umbrella. During the summer of 2012, Spoelstra expanded this program to include the country of Singapore.Children who escaped Haiyan still need urgent assistance to survive in the aftermath of the storm. Health is an urgent priority due to the impact of the typhoon on water supplies and sanitation systems. Children also need safe and protected spaces to be able to play and continue their education while adults work to recover their homes and livelihoods.UNICEF is mobilizing therapeutic food for children, as well as kits containing health, water and hygiene supplies, from stocks already available in the country, to support up to 3,000 families in the affected areas. As soon as access is possible, these supplies will be distributed to the hard-hit area of Tacloban.UNICEF is airlifting $1.3 million worth of additional supplies from its warehouse in Copenhagen for another 10,000 families, including those affected by the recent earthquake in Bohol. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarps, and micronutrient supplements.How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to UNICEF’s relief efforts, please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:Website: www.unicefusa.org/philippinesToll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDSText: RELIEF to 864233 (UNICEF) to donate $10Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038last_img read more

Kellie Pickler Plays For The Troops Over Holidays

first_imgKellie Pickler has prided herself on her commitment to the US military and more specifically, to the USO.Pickler and her band performed for the troops on Dec. 21.Credit/Copyright: USOSince 2007, the country music star has participated in seven USO tours and 75 USO Entertainment events, quickly becoming a performer who is synonymous with the USO’s mission of lifting the spirits of troops and their families.Pickler got pumped up while putting on a show for the servicemen and women at Kandahar Airfield.Credit/Copyright: USOFor the holiday season, Pickler brought the USO’s Every Moment Counts campaign to deployed troops by spending nine days with servicemen and women stationed in two countries, delivering holiday cheer, glad tidings and special presents. Pickler visited Forward Operating Bases Walton, Pasab, Lindsey and Simmons in the Middle East while also accompanying the USO Christmas Convoy, which delivers hundreds of gifts annually to some of the most remote parts of those countries. Along with the customary meet-and-greets, Pickler treated the troops to five USO shows and a visit to a military hospitalSource:USO.orglast_img read more

Richard Branson Backwards Step For Gay Rights In Uganda

first_imgSir Richard Branson has continued to speak out against Uganda’s new anti-gay laws.“Very disappointed that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a bill making penalties for gay people even harsher,” blogged the business leader. “On the contrary, a new study from Northwestern University, Chicago found that homosexuality is a matter of biology, rather than choice. It found two pieces of DNA that are linked to homosexuality, that prove that genes do play a significant role in sexuality and people are born gay. Treating everyone equally and fairly, regardless of sexual orientation or anything else is a basic human right.“We believe in true diversity and treating everyone the way we want to be treated. It is worth repeating Archbishop Tutu’s wonderful words: ‘If I go up to heaven and find a homophobic god, I will tell him I prefer the other place.’“Since I first blogged on this issue I’ve had a lot of people thanking me for speaking out on this and I’m pleased to see more and more people challenging discrimination, from Uganda to Russia. I feel this is something business leaders should speak out on in particular. At Davos recently, The B Team tried to put LGBT rights at the forefront of business leaders’ minds. We called for companies to make human rights a priority, as where society thrives, so does business.“By treating everyone equally and embracing diversity, Uganda will attract more people who want to live and work in the country, from across Africa and all around the world.”Source:virgin.comlast_img read more

JUST FOR LAUGHS ANNOUNCES THE RECIPIENTS OF THE 2019 JUST FOR LAUGHS

first_imgAdvertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Chris Redd to present the award of Rising Comedy Star of the Year to Amanda SealesJason Mantzoukas to present the award of Comedy Writers of the Year to Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin & Jennifer Flackett for “Big Mouth”Montréal – Just For Laughs, in association with Loto-Québec, is thrilled to announce the 2019 recipients of the Just For Laughs Awards, putting the spotlight on some of today’s most influential comedic voices. The 12th edition of the highly-anticipated show is set to take place on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 3:00pm in the Grand Salon Opera at the DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal.This year’s recipients are Kevin Hart (Generation Award), Jim Jefferies (Stand-up Comedian of the Year), Hasan Minhaj (Breakout Comedy Star of the Year), Amanda Seales (Rising Comedy Star of the Year), Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett for Netflix’ Big Mouth (Comedy Writers of the Year).The 2019 Just For Laughs Awards Show will be hosted by none other than JFL-veteran and fan-favourite, Alonzo Bodden. Introduced to the world on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Alonzo Bodden was runner up on season 2 and came back to win it all on Last Comic Standing Season 3’s The Best of the Best. Bodden released his second stand-up comedy special in 2016, Historically Incorrect and can be seen in a number of TV’s top comedy shows including ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and Showtime’s Californication.Generation Award: Kevin HartStand-up comedian, actor, and producer, Kevin Hart shot to fame after his first appearance at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, making a name for himself as one of the foremost comedians, entertainers, authors, and businessmen in the industry today. With an extensive list of film credits to his name, he has not only lent his voice to The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, but has also appeared in The Upside, Central Intelligence, Ride Along 2, Get Hard, to name but a few. In 2019 Hart wrapped up his highly successful, global live standup comedy tour, The Irresponsible Tour, which is now available to stream on Netflix. Kevin is currently in production working on his new film Fatherhood, based on the best-selling book “Two Kisses for Maddy,” which he both produced and stars in. You can also catch Kevin in the upcoming film Jumanji: The Next Level alongside Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Danny DeVito, Karen Gillian, and Awkwafina, set to hit theatres at the end of this year. The Generation Award is reserved for recognizing unparalleled contributions to the world of comedy by artists whose work paves the way for a new generation of comedians. Kevin’s impact on the comedy industry, as a stand-up comedian, actor, producer continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most relevant and influential artists of our generation.Presenter to be announced shortly.Stand-Up Comedian of the Year: Jim JefferiesAustralian stand-up comedian, political commentator, actor and writer, Jim Jefferies is most widely recognized as the creator and star of FX’s Legit, and host of Comedy Central’s hit late-night comedy series, The Jim Jefferies Show. Named one of the top 5 touring comedians in the world, Jefferies has three critically-acclaimed Netflix specials under his belt, including his most recent hour This is Me Now.This award will be presented to Jim Jefferies by the unbelievably witty, Jimmy Carr, whose established comedy career spans a decade and a half. As the first UK-based comedian to record a special for Netflix, Carr’s additional television credits include 20 seasons as host of the panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats, 16 seasons of spin-off 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown and 10 years presenting Channel 4’s Big Fat Quiz Of The Year. He has also hosted three seasons of Roast Battle on Comedy Central.Breakout Comedy Star of the Year: Hasan MinhajComedian, writer, producer, actor, political commentator and television host, Hasan Minhaj rose to fame after starring on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He was selected as a  New Face in 2014 by JFL, then went on to make his mark on the comedy industry after he delivered a smash speech at the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner. This past year, Minhaj has absolutely exploded on the comedy scene, hosting his own talk show, Netflix’s Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.This award will be presented to Hasan Minhaj by comedic powerhouse and lauded political commentator, Trevor Noah. The South-African born comedian is celebrated around the world for his insightful and authentic take on politics and current events, often sharing incisive social and political commentary as host on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.Rising Comedy Star of the Year: Amanda SealesComedian, actress, writer and producer, Amanda Seales is a former MTV VJ with a master’s in African American studies from Columbia University. She is a series regular on HBO’s Insecure, has guest starred on ABC’s black-ish, and has performed stand up on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. She has written, produced and starred in two seasons of her scripted comedy, Get Your Life, that went viral after articulately and passionately confronting Caitlyn Jenner on issues of race and equality in America, during a live-streamed dinner, hosted by Katy Perry, on YouTube. Catch her this summer as the host of NBC’s new recording-breaking competition show, Bring The Funny.This award will be presented to Amanda Seales by NBC’s Saturday Night Live star Chris Redd. The Emmy-award winning comic was selected as a New Face in 2015 by JFL. He now can be seen in several comedy films including The House opposite Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, and A Futile and Stupid Gesture starring Will Forte.  Redd starred in the cult-classic TV show, Wet Hot American Summer and in 2017, was featured on Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents and Netflix’s Love.Comedy Writers of the Year:Netflix’ Big Mouth is the edgy adult animated comedy series that is based off creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s real-life friendship, and the glorious nightmare that is teenage puberty. Heading into its third season, Big Mouth features the voices of comedy superstars including Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, and Fred Armisen, written by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett.This award will be presented to the writers of Netflix’s Big Mouth by actor Jason Mantzoukas. With countless acting credits to his name, including The House, The Dictator, How To Be Single, Sleeping With Other People, Neighbours, and the latest John Wick 3, Mantzoukas is best known for his roles on FXX’s The League, Netflix’s Big Mouth, NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place. Mantzoukas co-wrote Adult Swim’s Mr. Neighbor’s House and Universal’s Ride Along starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.Just For Laughs ComedyPRO takes place July 24 – 27, 2019at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Industry passes are now on sale at https://comedypro.hahaha.com/pass-info/Limited tickets are now on sale. Use this link to get your tickets now Advertisement The Generation Award to be presented to Kevin HartJimmy Carr to present the award of Stand-up Comedian of the Year to Jim JefferiesTrevor Noah to present the award of Breakout Comedy Star of the Year to Hasan Minhaj Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

Health minister Aglukkaq unveils another tool in battle against diabetes

first_imgAPTN National NewsIt’s hard to believe, but a survey of First Nations in Saskatchewan in 1937 did not find a single case of diabetes.Today, however, the numbers are staggering.Aboriginal people are up to five times more likely to get diabetes than the rest of the population.To mark world diabetes day, Canada’s minister of health has announced a new strategy to attack the epidemic.APTN National News reporter Donna Smith has this story.last_img

ExNWAC president says weather lost mailin ballots cost her federal Liberal nomination

first_imgJorge Barrera APTN National NewsFormer Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) president Michele Audette said lost and late mail-in ballots along with a lack of political experience cost her the federal Liberal nomination for the Quebec riding of Manicougan.Audette said she lost the nomination by a razor-thin margin to Mario Tremblay, the former mayor of Longue-Rive. Audette said she received 478 votes to Tremblay’s 502.Audette left her position as president of NWAC to run for the Liberals.Voting for the Liberal nomination was held in two locations over the weekend and the final tally was announced Sunday, according to a party spokesperson. The Liberal party also allowed for mail-in ballots because of the riding’s large geographical expanse.Audette said she still plans to work in another capacity for the Liberal party and leader Justin Trudeau despite the loss.“I am still going to work for Trudeau’s team because we have to get rid of Harper,” she said. “There is always a place in this party where I can bring my passion, my love and expertise.”Audette said she has already received phone calls offering her new roles, but she plans to take the week off before deciding her next steps.Audette said she managed to sign up 700 people to the Liberal party and visited more towns and villages than any of the other candidates. She said Tremblay kept his focus on his home community which gave him the boost he needed to clinch the nomination.“This guy, what he did, he sold his memberships…in his municipality and it is a small community, a small place, so he was able to raise that membership,” she said.Audette said weather and lost or delayed mail-in ballots proved her undoing.“We had storms over here, some voting mail came too late,” she said. “Some got lost.”Audette said she was initially saddened by her loss.“I was very, very sad…I was emotional. I let myself cry, but I was also very proud at the same time of all the work we did,” she said.Audette said she believes her campaign over-extended itself.“The people with experience told me, ‘Michele, keep your borders close,’” she said.The loss, however, has not quenched her appetite for electoral politics and she plans to run again when the opportunity arises.“I will be back,” said Audette. “I told the candidates, ‘Don’t worry I’ll be back when it will be time for another nomination. I will be the first one there and maybe the only one. Now I know how it works and I will be prepared. I had my lesson.”A Liberal party spokesperson said 1,051 votes were cast in the nomination contest that included four candidates.NDP MP Jonathan Genest-Jourdain currently holds the riding.jbarrear@aptn.ca@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

First Nations win Federal Court battle over transparency law

first_imgBrandi Morin APTN National NewsThe Chief of the Onion Lake Cree Nation, Sask., who was at the forefront of a legal battle against Ottawa over the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA) says he was expecting a win before the courts.“I was quite confident that we would win right from the get go,” said Chief Wallace Fox.The decision released Friday by Federal Court of Canada Justice Robert Barnes ordered the federal government to stop pursuing legal action against several First Nations who have yet to submit their public financial disclosure to the federal Aboriginal Affairs department.“It means a very positive change, a turnaround for First Nations that this is a precedent setting, high profile case. And that all First Nations don’t have to do what Indian Affairs tell us to do in terms of their legislation,” said Fox.Five First Nations in Saskatchewan and Alberta protested the legislation and took the case to court. The ruling is also a win for Sawridge First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Thunderchild First Nation and Ochapowace Indian Band who were part of a wider court challenge.Hearings wrapped up last August amidst wide-spread media coverage over the matter.Fox said First Nations were not consulted on the passing of the FNFTA and he argues that requiring First Nations to post their financial information is a violation of Aboriginal and treaty rights.Also, Fox believes that racism played a key role in creating the legislation.“It’s always about this discrimination and sorry to say, for me it’s racism,” said Fox. “It’s a Constitutional right under Canadian law that under the Privacy Act everyone is protected in the Charter—except for Indian people. It’s discriminatory legislation because no other race is subject to this legislation in Canada except Indian people.”The band’s money is not tax-payer or public money and shouldn’t be subject to public disclosure, Fox said.“This is Indian money, there’s another part of this, it’s a whole bigger picture,” he said.He said the deputy minister representing the Crown in court stated in his affidavit that the funds are in fact Indian monies.“The affidavit was examined by our lawyers and it stated that Canada specifically denies that these funds are public tax monies, but are Indian monies. They even acknowledged that and that was one of the biggest pluses for us,” he said.The broadcasting of individual bands’ financial information would have a negative impact on business ventures by allowing competitors to outbid work opportunities, said Fox.Onion Lake is already fiscally accountable to its members, said Fox. Every year the band holds a budget planning meeting that outlines all programs, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) funding as well as band source revenue that’s shared with members, he said.Fox said he explained this to former Aboriginal affairs minister Bernard Valcourt two years ago.“I said to him (Valcourt) ‘Is Onion Lake transparent, or are you?’” said Fox. “He got upset and said, (in regards to FNFTA) ‘Well, if you don’t like what we’re doing there’s always a legal process, take us to court.”This court case was something Fox said Onion Lake had been preparing for ahead of time by creating its own revenue stream to cover costs. Onion Lake is the largest oil and gas producing First Nation in Canada.He said Onion Lake didn’t back down when threats were made by Aboriginal Affairs to cut off funding should they not comply with the FNFTA.“They threatened us last December. And we said, ‘go ahead, cut off the funding, see where it leads you.’ We stood our ground,” he said.The government did withhold more than $1 million for programs and services from Onion Lake. Judge Barnes ruled that Onion Lake could seek remedies either in good faith with AANDC or go back to court.Now that a stay has been granted against the FNFTA legislation Fox is hoping the newly elected Liberal government will not seek to appeal the court decision.“We’re very optimistic that things will be changing for the better for all First Nations people,” he said.bmorin@aptn.ca@songstress28last_img read more

No regrets in SNC Lavalin affair Wilson Raybould and Philpott say

first_imgSome of the women, delegates chosen to represent each of the country’s 338 ridings through a program called Daughters of the Vote, were unconvinced.They called him a “fake feminist” and doubted the authenticity of his commitment to reconciling with Indigenous Peoples – sentiments echoed by opposition parties.“It was like a microcosm of the history of Canada, with a white man telling Indigenous women where they can and cannot be and exercising their power and their privilege over them,” said Riley Yesno, one of the young women brought to Parliament by Equal Voice, a group dedicated to increasing the presence of women in politics.Yesno, an Anishnaabe University of Toronto student who grew up in Thunder Bay, Ont., called Trudeau’s treatment of Wilson-Raybould “colonial violence” and further dubbed him a “fake feminist.”While she doesn’t necessarily believe he has “malicious intent” towards women, she said the expulsions of the former ministers “extremely negatively affect women” and “impact matters more than intention.”Many of the same women walked out of the Commons altogether when Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addressed them.Yesno said that was done deliberately, so their protest against Trudeau couldn’t be used as ammunition by the official Opposition.However, Trudeau got some unexpected support from Philpott, who spoke a short time later, alongside Wilson-Raybould, outside the Commons.Asked about the prime minister’s feminist credentials, Philpott said, “I wish him the best. I wish him the opportunity to continue his good work.”Trudeau informed the two former ministers Tuesday that he won’t allow them to seek re-election as Liberal candidates this fall.Both said Wednesday it’s too soon to say whether their careers in politics are finished or whether they might run as independents or for another party.“I would like to think that there may be steps, that I could continue in a political role somehow but I don’t know what that will be,” said Philpott, speaking alongside Wilson-Raybould. “It’s too early to say.”“I need to take some time to reflect,” said Wilson-Raybould.Watch Laurie Hamelin’s story from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s riding about her expulsion from the Liberal caucus. APTN NewsThe House of Commons did not get any easier for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday as a delegation with Daughters of the Vote took their seats in the House of Commons for a mock Parliamentary session.There Trudeau got a first-hand glimpse of the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair when he addressed 338 young women and about four dozen of them turned their backs on him.Trudeau was trying to explain why why he had booted Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott out of the Liberal caucus the day before.It was a rough start for Trudeau’s efforts to re-establish himself as a feminist and supporter of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.“There’s always going to be a range of opinions we need to listen to,” Trudeau told the women. “But ultimately, diversity…  only works if there is trust and within a team when that trust gets broken, we have to figure out how to move forward.”“It’s actually easy to stand in a place and cross your arms and stand in a place and say, ‘I’m not budging from my position because I’m right,”’ he added later.“What is actually more difficult is to look for thoughtful compromise.”Watch Amber Bernard’s story on Mi’kmaw delegate Hannah Martin who challenged the prime minister to respect unceded territory and told Trudeau “you cannot be a feminist if you are raping the land.” Wilson-Raybould believes she was moved out of the prestigious justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to intervene to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.She has testified that she faced relentless pressure last fall from Trudeau, his office, the top public servant and others to override the director of public prosecutions, who had decided not to invite the Montreal engineering giant to negotiate a remediation agreement, a kind of plea bargain.Wilson-Raybould quit the cabinet in mid-February and Philpott followed a few weeks later, saying she had lost confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.The revelation last week that Wilson-Raybould had surreptitiously recorded a phone conversation with Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, to bolster her contention of undue pressure was the last straw for Liberal MPs, who openly called on Trudeau to expel the former ministers.On Tuesday, Trudeau called the secret recording “unconscionable,” proof that the ex-minister could no longer be trusted.“Trust is a two-way street,” Wilson-Raybould shot back Wednesday. “It is unconscionable not to uphold the rule of law.”Neither Philpott nor Wilson-Raybould expressed regret for standing up for what they believed was right.“You have to be able to hold your head high and look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and say that the choices you made were the best ones under the circumstances,” said Philpott.In the Commons during question period, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the whole episode demonstrates that “speaking truth to power” disqualifies strong women from inclusion in the Liberal party.Trudeau said he’ll take no lessons from the Conservatives on feminism, noting that he still has “18 strong women members of cabinet who lead every day on the big issues that matter to Canadians.”Trudeau ended the day at a meeting with Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and several other Inuit leaders and federal cabinet ministers, for a meeting of the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, formed two years ago to improve the relationship.He promised to continue a path towards reconciliation on issues such as education, suicide prevention, and climate change.news@aptn.ca– with files from the Canadian Presslast_img read more

NAFTA in August Canadas US envoy says aspirational but will work for

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada’s ambassador to the United States says predictions that NAFTA talks can be settled by the end of month are “aspirational” — even if American and Mexican officials are close to resolving their differences on complex auto sector issues.But David MacNaughton supports the push towards the ambitious goal and says Canadian negotiators are prepared to put in the long hours to help make it happen before the end of August.MacNaughton was closely following NAFTA talks in Washington on Friday between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, whose governments have both expressed optimism a deal could be hammered out this month.“I would describe it as aspirational and I think there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to get everything done by the end of August and certainly we’re going to be available 24-7,” MacNaughton said in an interview when asked whether he thought it would be possible to get the deal done within that timeline.“I’ve given up predicting. All I can tell you is we will do everything we can to put all of the resources we have to get a fair and reasonable deal as quickly as we can … We’ve had a lot of dates over the past 18 months and we haven’t met any of them yet.”Media outlets reported Friday that Guajardo predicted there was a very good chance the U.S. and Mexico could sort out their bilateral NAFTA differences next week. In his interview earlier in the day, MacNaughton said next Canadian negotiators could be back at the table as early as next week for three-way talks.The NAFTA file is picking up again after taking a pause in late May ahead of Mexico’s July presidential election. Since that break, the already shaky Canada-U.S. relationship has sunk to an even lower level.U.S. President Donald Trump slapped Canada and other allies with duties on steel and aluminum imports, which led to a retaliatory levies from Ottawa. Trump has also threatened to impose far more damaging tariffs on the auto sector and, as he left the June G7 meeting in Quebec, he called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak.”Following these very public, unprecedented disputes, there have been concerns raised about Canada’s absence from high-level talks this week and last week on the three-country trade deal.Some observers have warned that Canada was sidelined from the negotiations and could be put in a position where it might have to accept a deal reached between the U.S. and Mexico.But Canadian officials, including MacNaughton, have maintained they’re unfazed by being left out of the bilateral discussions, stressing there have been a lot of one-on-one talks during the year-long NAFTA renegotiation process.The Trudeau government, premiers, cabinet ministers and the business community have mounted a lobbying campaign south of the border to sell U.S. lawmakers in Congress, state governors, local officials and business leaders on the economic merits of NAFTA.But the rocky relationship has some questioning the effectiveness of Canada’s so-called charm offensive.Asked whether Canada had a Plan B, MacNaughton said there isn’t one. The strategy, he said, will continue to be telling Americans how critical trade with Canada is for their economy.He argued the effort has succeeded in raising awareness at all levels of U.S. governments, within the business community and even the White House.“Even if we have a renegotiated NAFTA, a modernized NAFTA, we will continue to need to have Americans who realize how important Canada is to American jobs,” he said.“Frankly, I think we took it for granted and you can’t.”Veteran trade strategist Peter Clark said Friday that those who think NAFTA can be concluded by the end of the month are “dreaming.”“If the United States wants to get it finished by the end of August, they’re going to have to put a lot of water in their wine,” said Clark, who called the U.S. decision to leave Canada out of the recent talks a tactical move.After missing this week’s discussions, Clark added there’s a risk Canada could find itself being forced into a take-it-or-leave-it situation on provisions agreed upon by the U.S. and Mexico.If the Mexicans and Americans do agree on autos, MacNaughton said the three partners would still have to tackle a number of other tough issues, including the following sticking points:— dispute resolution.— agriculture issues.— the proposed inclusion of a five-year sunset clause, which has been flatly rejected by the Trudeau Liberals.— intellectual property.— government procurement.— the de minimis threshold, which is the maximum value of an item that Canadians can order from a foreign country without paying duties or taxes.Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitterlast_img read more

App connects Instagram influencers with restaurants offering freebies for posts

first_imgAs Jiten Grover prepared to open his first Dipped Donuts storefront in Toronto, he knew the power social media stars possess to boost the profile of a business in the food industry.When Grover opened the doors to the doughnut shop earlier this summer, a self-proclaimed local foodie posted a photo and rave review after trying the new spot. A prominent local blog reposted her snap and nearly 3,000 people proceeded to like it.It’s impossible to say how much sales the publicity generated, but Grover’s convinced there’s a positive correlation. Several people came into the eatery and said they’d seen the Instagram post, he said.“Our Instagram just blew up,” Grover said. “Influencers do have a big role, at least a significant impact, on a person’s business.”Instagram stars can deem an eatery trendy and send their hefty following through its doors simply by posting a photo of a menu item, and the makers of a new app want to monetize the influencer-restaurant relationship.Food creates amazing content and people are driven to it, said Armin Faraji, co-founder of the Node app, which launched about a month ago.The app aims to connect micro-influencers with restaurants in the province.Instagram users with a public account and more than 1,500 followers can sign up to redeem so-called nodes, essentially free food or drinks from restaurants in exchange for a post.Businesses pay a $100 monthly subscription fee and can create as many nodes as they wish. Companies can specify how many followers influencers should have, as well as suggest several hashtags to use in the caption.About 200 influencers and some 20 businesses are on the platform now, and about 50 are in the pipeline, Faraji said. The team is adding a maximum of five new establishments to the platform each week. So far, all the eateries are in Ontario, though the app may expand across Canada in the future.Grover decided to try Node to capitalize on the power of influencer posts to boost foot traffic and sales. He offered a half-dozen doughnuts and, at the time of writing, eight influencers had claimed and redeemed the offer.Pastry shop Bobette & Belle also recently used the service and at least two influencers came into the shop to receive their feature dozen macarons.It signed up for a year-long subscription, said Anne Cerutti, an administrative assistant at the bakery, and the system is already providing some relief in terms of time spent creating social media content for its nearly 40,000 Instagram followers.The influencers who redeemed the offer photographed the colourful French delicacy with professional equipment rather than just a smartphone, she said. Bobette & Belle then had access to high-quality images it could repost on its account rather than using staff time to stage shoots.“We found that’s just paying off already in terms of time,” said Cerutti.The app also makes sponsorship easier for those who may lack the high follower counts to receive payment for promotional posts.Natalia Corredor and her fiance co-manage the Wooedbyfoodblog Instagram account.The couple claimed two Node offers so far, she said, and finds the app gives them motivation to keep exploring the city’s food scene and sharing with their nearly 1,800 followers.Joshua Lowe used to reach out to restaurants individually on social media to seek out partnerships for his Instagram account, To.masticator, before joining the Node platform.The app allows him to visit these places when it works for him, he said, and saves him time he once spent trying to arrange such freebies himself.Despite the advantages of streamlining the relationship, the businesses still expressed some doubts about the platform.Dipped Donuts owner Grover anticipates he’ll launch another Node offer in the future, but isn’t certain whether he’ll use the app regularly or intermittently after the trial period.Cerutti said Bobette & Belle is planning its second offer, but said if the app gets a lot of traction, it may be helpful to limit the number of people who can redeem an offer so the business isn’t on the hook for too many free products.Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.last_img read more

Alberta energy firms split on call for government imposed production cuts

first_imgCALGARY — Oilsands and refining giants Suncor Energy Inc. and Husky Energy Inc. are rejecting a call by rival Cenovus Energy Inc. for government-imposed production cuts to reduce an oversupply of oil in Alberta linked to steep price discounts.Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal says the company has no exposure to the “differential” between Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend crude and New York-traded West Texas Intermediate and therefore shouldn’t have to reduce its production.She says the company’s position is that the market should operate freely and that Suncor should be allowed to benefit from the refineries and upgraders it has built and the pipeline space it has contracted that insulate it from local price discounts.Husky spokeswoman Kim Guttormson says her company also believes in a “market-based solution,” noting that intervention entails economic and trade risk for Canada.In a report, analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital says the temporary cuts suggested by Cenovus and supported by some other producers of bitumen would work to clear clogged storage and quickly reduce price discounts on Alberta oil to the benefit of the province.But he adds that he expects discounts to moderate as companies voluntarily reduce output, crude-by-rail exports rise, U.S. refineries come back on line after fall maintenance shutdowns and the 80,000-barrel-per-day Sturgeon Refinery begins processing bitumen early next year.Skolnick estimates recent WCS-WTI heavy oil discounts, if held for a year, would equate to an Alberta royalty loss of about $4 billion, an oil industry-related Canadian federal income tax loss of about $13 billion and an annual U.S. federal income tax gain of about $12 billion from higher U.S. refining earnings. The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:SU, TSX:HSE, TSX:CVE)last_img read more

NEB hearings on Trans Mountain pipeline start with Indigenous smudging ceremony

first_imgCALGARY — A rooftop smudging ceremony where herbs were burned and prayers said served as a proxy for swearing in as the oral traditional evidence gathering part of a National Energy Board reconsideration of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project began Tuesday.Lyne Mercier, vice-chair of the NEB and chairwoman of the three-member panel hearing evidence, welcomed Indigenous presenters from the Louis Bull Tribe about 80 kilometres south of Edmonton as the first to speak as three weeks of hearings started in Calgary.She said the NEB appreciates that the Louis Bull Tribe has a tradition of sharing knowledge from one generation to another through spoken word, noting that two hours had been set aside for presentations but video evidence could also be submitted if time runs short.Presenters including elder Ivy Raine and band administrator and member Allison Adams-Bull described their family ties to other Indigenous communities along the pipeline route to the West Coast and their concern that their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering of medicinal plants could be affected by a pipeline spill.The federal government bought Trans Mountain and its expansion project for $4.5 billion last summer only to have the Federal Court of Appeal strike down its NEB approval, citing inadequate Indigenous consultation and failure to consider impacts on marine environment.The NEB’s rehearing is designed to address the latter issue. The oral traditional evidence gathering continues this week in Calgary before heading to Victoria from Nov. 26-29 and concluding in Nanaimo, B.C. from Dec. 3-6. The Canadian Presslast_img read more

The Latest OPEC agrees to cut in oil production

first_imgVIENNA — The Latest on the OPEC oil meeting (all times local):4 p.m.Iraq’s representative in OPEC says the oil cartel has agreed to a proposal that will see global in oil production reduced by 1.2 million barrels a day.According to Thamir Ghadhban, the proposed cut would be made up of 800,000 barrels per day from OPEC countries and 400,000 barrels from non-OPEC nations.The proposed cut was in line with the 1 million to 1.3 million barrels per day expected by analysts.___11:10 a.m.OPEC countries are mulling a possible cut to oil production in an attempt to stabilize prices as they meet for a second straight day.Heavyweight Saudi Arabia has been pushing a cut of about 1 million barrels a day, but the oil cartel was not able to make a decision on Thursday.Analysts say they’re likely waiting to hear from non-OPEC Russia to better co-ordinate the cut.Heading in to Friday’s meeting in Vienna, Nigerian Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu told reporters he was “hopeful” the nations would be able to reach an agreement.Ahead of the meeting Brent, the international standard, was down 59 cents at $59.47 a barrel while benchmark New York crude was 61 cents lower at $50.88.Oil prices have fallen about 25 per cent in recent months.The Associated Presslast_img read more

Most actively traded companies on the TSX

first_imgSome of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (15,303.83, up 92.61 points).Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Down 17 cents, or 1.95 per cent, to $8.53 on 24.4 million shares.MEG Energy Corp. (TSX:MEG). Energy. Down 15 cents, or 2.73 per cent, to $5.35 on 12.4 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up one cent, or 0.48 per cent, to $2.10 on 11.4 million shares.Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA). Energy. Up 14 cents, or 1.52 per cent, to $9.34 on 8.8 million shares.Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE). Energy. Down six cents, or 2.3 per cent, to $2.55 on 6.9 million shares.Hexo Corp. (TSX:HEXO). Health care. Up 51 cents, or 7.96 per cent, to $6.92 on 6.3 million shares.Companies reporting:MEG Energy Corp. Shares in oilsands producer MEG Energy continued to slide Friday after a credit rating agency said rival Husky Energy Inc.’s failure to consummate a hostile takeover bid was actually “credit positive” for Husky. After falling 35.6 per cent on Thursday, MEG stock lost another 2.7 per cent on Friday. Husky lost 4.3 per cent after gaining 12.4 per cent Thursday, Husky’s decision to abandon its bid for MEG after more than 50 per cent of the shares were tendered by Wednesday afternoon’s deadline surprised most financial analysts who had expected it to extend more time to try to achieve the two-thirds support it needed.WestJet Airlines Inc. (TSX:WJA). Up 43 cents or 2.3 per cent to $18.98. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says an onboard fire that forced a WestJet plane to return to the Calgary International Airport soon after takeoff last June was caused by spare e-cigarette lithium-ion batteries that a passenger failed to declare in his checked baggage. The agency says in a report that a backpack caught fire and caused minor thermal damage to the cargo compartment’s fire-resistant liner near the bag. An investigation could not determine if the damage occurred before the batteries arrived at the airport or during baggage handling.Canadian National Railway Co. (TSX:CNR). Up 25 cents to $109.25. The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that found the courts have jurisdiction to determine damages CN Rail must pay after breaching its service obligations to a Prairie grain shipping company during a bumper crop five years ago. The case goes back to a complaint filed by Calgary-based Louis Dreyfus Commodities Canada Ltd. to the Canadian Transportation Agency. Dreyfus said CN failed to provide enough rail cars to some of its grain elevators in Alberta and Saskatchewan to ship the record 2013-2014 grain crop.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Earthquakes link to fracking in Fort St John

first_imgKao points out that the study also realized that not all hydraulic fracking operations actually cause earthquakes.“We should be cautious that not all fracking causes earthquakes. That’s actually an important point out not only this study but also in previous studies”, said Kao. “When you see large induced earthquakes, it definitely is related to injection but when you actually have a large injection quite often you don’t see induced earthquakes. It actually requires a specific combination of all of these different factors together to actually cause an earthquake”.Kao says one factor, which is the main conclusion of the study, is that the regional tectonic deformation rate is an important factor in determining the overall pattern of induced earthquakes within the region.To see the full article on the link between fracking and earthquakes, from the Canadian Press, you can read it here. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A paper published on Monday in the Geophysical Research Letters suggests the likelihood of an artificial earthquake is heavily influenced by how stable the ground was before the energy industry showed up.Honn Kao,  a seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada and lead author, says the link between fracking and earthquakes is quite strong in Fort St. John.“There are a large number of hydraulic fracking operations in the area and what we observed is that these hydraulic fracking operations tend to increase or disturb the stress field in the region and that is responsible for the occurrence of induced earthquakes”, said Kao.last_img read more

Report of cougar sighting near Charlie Lake

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The B.C. Conservation Officer Service received a report of a cougar sighting last week near Charlie Lake.North Peace BCCO Sergeant, Shawn Brinsky, says they did receive a report of a cougar sighting on the road within the area of Charlie Lake. Brinsky adds that it is not uncommon to see a cougar in that area.“Last week we received a reported sighting of a cougar crossing the road and in the past, it’s not uncommon to have cougar sightings in and around Charlie Lake and that side of Fort St. John.” Brinsky is reminding residents to keep their pets on a leash and to monitor children when outside to prevent injury or death from a cougar attack.Brinsky says it is also a good idea for parents to remind their children the safety tips of what to do if you encounter a cougar or other wild cat.Brinsky advises the public to stay alert and to report any further sightings to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.Safety tips can be found on the Government of B.C.’s website.last_img read more

Dig Safe Month encourages safety practices before you dig

first_imgTo learn more about safe digging; CLICK HERETo know more about BC One Call; CLICK HERE VICTORIA, B.C. – With April being Dig Safe Month, homeowners and contractors are reminded to “click or call” BC One Call before digging.Important infrastructure, such as telecommunication cables, electricity wires, natural gas lines, water mains and sewer lines, are often buried underground. A simple click or call to BC One Call before beginning an excavation project can ensure safety and prevent possible interruption of services.B.C. Common Ground Alliance (BCCGA), a non-profit organization, fully supports the “click before you dig” campaign. Along with its stakeholders, BCCGA communicates the importance of safe digging practices to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages.last_img read more

Besieged BC farmland needs protection from oil and gas sector report

first_imgOther recommendations include consideration of directing a portion of royalties from oil and gas development in the ALR to a regional agricultural development fund and creating an agreement between the ALC and Oil and Gas Commission for sharing impact assessments and other information.Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says in a statement the government has already acted on 13 recommendations released in an interim report, including passing laws aimed at keeping farmland affordable and cracking down on illegal dumping.“I want to thank the committee for its dedication and the thoughtful recommendations made in this report,” said the statement says.“Our government is committed to helping farmers farm. We asked the committee members to provide advice on how the ALR and ALC can provide the best support for farmers, ranchers and producers to ensure B.C.’s agricultural sector continues to thrive, and they delivered.” The committee commissioned to complete the report consists of eight British Columbians with diverse agricultural backgrounds and experience.More than 2,300 British Columbians responded to the committee’s online discussion paper and survey, and the committee also received over 270 written submissions.The committee held engagement sessions with local governments and agricultural stakeholders in nine communities throughout the province and met with the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the ALC. VICTORIA, B.C. – An independent report on agricultural revitalization in British Columbia is calling for a task force to address the “imbalance” between oil and gas development and agriculture in the province’s northeast.The Agriculture Ministry released the final report today that makes 32 recommendations related to the province’s Agricultural Land Commission and Reserve.It calls for the proposed task force to review how to balance the surface rights of farmers and ranchers with subsurface rights of the extractors, and to deliver a strategy to address “the significant resource extraction issues” affecting farmland in the Peace Region.center_img In a letter introducing the report, committee chair and former Independent MLA Vicki Huntington calls for a government-wide policy shift that identifies B.C.’s agricultural land and industry as equivalent to other natural resources.Huntington says the oil and gas industry has had a significant and growing impact in the northeast and the development of the energy sector has exceeded the capacity of the current regulatory environment to protect farmland.The report recommends the Energy and Agriculture ministries, the Agricultural Land Commission and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission work together to develop a healthier relationship that respects not only the energy industry, but also the “increasingly besieged agriculture industry.”“Surface and subsurface infrastructure expansion is progressing exponentially and activities that were once temporary have become permanent industrial sites built on farmland and next to farm communities,” the letter says.“The cumulative impact is making it increasingly difficult for many farmers and ranchers to effectively use their land.”The proposed task force should review how farmers and ranchers might be given authority to influence negotiations on the location of oil and gas facilities and infrastructure, and complete an impact assessment of all oil and gas activity within the ALR, the report says.last_img read more