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Lawsuit launched against Catherine McKenna over woodland caribou protection

OTTAWA – Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is being sued for failing to tell Canadians how the country’s woodland caribou are being protected.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society filed an application for judicial review in Federal Court in Montreal today.

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Lawyer Frederic Paquin told a news conference in Montreal that the Species at Risk Act requires the environment minister to “form an opinion about whether or not the critical habitat of the woodland caribou is protected.”

“She was supposed to form that opinion more than four and a half years ago and she failed to do so,” said Paquin. “She is quite late.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s caribou recovery plan draws criticism from environmentalists

The original failure to report occurred under the previous government, but there have also been no reports since the Liberals and McKenna took office in 2015.

The woodland caribou habitat was publicly identified by Environment Canada in 2012. The Species at Risk Act says once the habitat of a species at risk is identified, the minister of environment has six months to determine if any part of that habitat is unprotected. Every six months after that, the minister is to produce a report on the progress towards protecting it until full protection is achieved.

The wilderness society argues there have been no reports at all since 2012.

Eric Hebert-Daly, national executive director for the Society, said this isn’t just about producing reports for the sake of reports. The purpose of the reports is to drive a work plan to actually protect the animals.

He said the caribou are an “umbrella species.” Protecting their boreal forest habitat would also protect the habitat of many other species, as well as fresh water sources and carbon sinks which help combat climate change.

“When we do what is right for the caribou, we do what is right for ourselves,” he said.

READ MORE: Wildlife group calls on federal government to stop turning pastures over to prairie provinces

McKenna’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The woodland caribou habitat spans nine provinces and territories. Historically, their range covered more than half of present-day Canada, but they now occupy about 2.4 million square kilometres, about half their 19th century territory. They used to be found as far south as the northern United States in places like Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Michigan and parts of New England.

The largest threat to the caribou is habitat loss, which has driven down the population. Industrial development remains the largest threat to the habitat, which is mostly on non-federal land.

The species was designated in 2002 as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In 2011 Environment Canada estimated there were about 34,000 woodland caribou in 51 ranges in nine provinces and territories from Newfoundland to the Yukon.

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Motorcycle driver dies after crashing into back of Edmonton transit bus

A 24-year-old motorcycle driver died Thursday morning after being involved in a collision with a bus on a busy north Edmonton road.

Police said the fatal crash happened on 97 Street, near 157 Avenue, shortly after 9 a.m., shutting down a stretch of the road.

Police interviewed several witnesses and said the motorcycle hit the back of an Edmonton Transit System bus as it was slowing down to turn right.

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“From what the witnesses are telling us, excessive speed was a factor,” said Const. Joe Slemko with the Edmonton Police Service major collision investigation unit. “There was no braking and that essentially will possibly fall in line with some of the other circumstances that we have to look into prior to this collision occurring.”

Slemko said there was also no evidence of stunting, road rage or impairment.

“We’re just looking at the circumstances as far as the drivers that are involved here, their state of mind prior to this collision occurring,” he said.

Several police officers were on scene Thursday morning and the intersection was cordoned off with police tape. The ETS bus involved was pulled over to the side of the road.

“Obviously the driver of the bus is very shaken up, a lot of witnesses are very shaken up from what they observed. Like I say, extreme rate of speed into the back of a bus and all of them obviously traumatized by what they saw,” Slemko said, adding there was “absolutely no liability on the part of the ETS driver.”

Police said the man driving the motorcycle died on scene.

Drivers were asked to avoid the area while police investigated. The road was closed between 153 Avenue and 160 Avenue, but was reopened by 2:30 p.m.

A motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a bus in north Edmonton Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Morris Gamblin, Global News

A motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a bus in north Edmonton Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Morris Gamblin, Global News

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How university, college students can make the most out of the 4-month break

After they write their exams and empty out their dorm rooms, university and college students have a months-long stretch of time until another school year.

How can they make the most of their extended break?

With that much time off, those in the workforce often dream of travelling abroad, learning a new language or mastering a skill such as baking, painting or working out daily. Students, on the other hand, may have other priorities on their minds.

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“I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It’s all about establishing priorities, figuring out what’s realistic and attainable right now, and then setting some goals for yourself,” Ann Douglas, a parenting expert and author of Parenting Through the Storm, said.

READ MORE: Is the summer sapping your productivity at work? Here’s how to turn it around

“This is the last time they’ll have any chunk of time off so it’s a last opportunity. They have to be thoughtful with that time,” Alyson Schafer, a parenting expert and author of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, told Global News.

After graduating, students end up as juniors in the workplace, often on contracts or without paid vacation time, she said.

“When September rolls around and you say you had the best summer of your life when you managed to accomplish X, Y and Z, what does that look like to you?” Schafer said.

Here are the experts’ tips on how parents and students can make the most of the four-month break.

Gain work experience

Some students focus solely on academics, leaving their resumés bare. In this case, summers are meant for internships, job placements and real-life work.

“Up until this time for some students, there could be zero job experience. You have to make yourself well-rounded,” Schafer said. She’s the mother of two kids – one is at an interim job placement in university while the other graduates in the summer.

READ MORE: How to make healthy New Year’s resolutions that stick

Volunteering is an option too, if it snags students invaluable experience in the workforce.

Others may pick up an extra class during summer school to ease up on the course load once September comes around again.

Replenish the bank account

For some students, managing finances during the school year is incredibly difficult. Summer months are crucial for stockpiling savings to cover expenses from September to April.

“Not every student has the luxury of choice about how to spend their time this summer. Some students will only be able to afford to return to school in the fall if they manage to earn as much money as possible during the summer months,” Douglas said.

READ MORE: Self-control is within our reach even when we’re tired, scientists say

The experts encourage students to take up part-time or full-time jobs, even if it’s in retail or at a food court, for example.

“It’s not as awful as it sounds because at that age, all their peers are working at the same jobs so it’s a good opportunity to make new friends,” Schafer said.

Schedule downtime

If students are in medical school and residencies or chasing after athlete scholarships and getting scouted, the stakes are incredibly high during the school year.

Across the board, students need to earmark time for hitting the reset button and taking a pause.

READ MORE: These 5 life skills are the key to happiness, wealth and healthy aging

This doesn’t mean spending the summer playing Call of Duty, but it would include making time for reading books or taking up a passion project.

“It’s tempting to try to squeeze every conceivable experience into a single summer, but that can be a recipe for exhaustion and burnout – and most university students are already running on empty by the time the school year winds down,” Douglas told Global News.

“Kids are incredibly stressed more now than ever and we have to take mental health issues seriously,” Schafer said.

Build memories

Depending on other priorities, students may use their four-month block of time to travel abroad, go to festivals or volunteer in a different part of the world.

READ MORE: Why forgiving others will improve your physical, emotional health

If your finances allow it, students can take a course in a foreign country for a month or volunteer for weeks at a time building houses or helping out at an orphanage.

Set personal goals

Students need to make time for their inner growth, too. They could set goals like training for a marathon, taking an improv class or joining a book club over the summer. These could be priorities they can’t fit into their schedule during the school year.

Summer is a great time to reflect on what you want for yourself, both personally and professionally. Maybe you could set a goal for yourself of being more physically active (something you might be motivated to do if you found yourself slipping into couch potato mode while you were busy hitting the books) or to volunteer at a charity fundraiser for an organization that’s near and dear to your heart,” Douglas said.

READ MORE: Hoping to stay friends with an ex? Here’s why you need to read this study first

“Just realize that the list of things you’d like to accomplish this summer will inevitably exceed the number of hours available. Don’t let that discourage you. Let that motivate you to make the best possible use of your time,” she said.

How can parents help?

Parents need to strike a balance between offering guidance while being hands off. It’s during these university years that students need to test their initiative and autonomy, the experts say.

But parents also need to be forward and set boundaries. If you can’t help your child financially in the upcoming year, let them know.

READ MORE: Back to school tips for every age, stage and milestone

Ideally, this is a conversation that you had with your kids when they first applied for university.

“You might have said something like, ‘We’re happy to contribute to the cost of your education, but we expect you to earn money, too, by working during the summer months,’” Douglas said.

Talk to your kids without ordering them around, Schafer said. Aim for listening and keeping lines of communication open instead of being controlling.

READ MORE: 12 things parents and kids should do before summer ends

“The greatest way to have influence is to have a strong relationship so your kids will see you as having wisdom and sage advice. They’ll take your opinion and thoughts into consideration because they trust you,” Schafer said.

Remind your kids that they have a purpose, too.

“Let them now there will be an intersection between all of their gifts and strengths and how they will contribute to society. Parents need to provide that kind of spiritual confidence,” Schafer said.

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B.C. election 2017: Parksville-Qualicum riding

In 2013: B.C. Liberal Michelle Stillwell won election handily, 50 per cent to 37 per cent

In 2009: BC Liberal incumbent Ron Cantelon defeated NDP candidate Leanne Salter by over 3,500 votes, 51 per cent to 38 per cent.

HangZhou Night Net

History & Geography: Created for the 1991 election to accommodate the growing communities between Nanaimo and Comox, Parksville-Qualicum encompasses the town of Qualicum Beach, the City of Parksville, and the District of Lantzville, just north of Nanaimo. The riding went to the NDP in 1991, but has gone to the BC Liberals in every election since. While the NDP have had support in the city centres of Parksville and Qualicum, the Liberals are stronger in the suburbs and less populated areas.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Michelle Stillwell (incumbent): Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. A Paralympian, Stillwell is the only Canadian female athlete to be a Paralympic gold medallist in two separate summer sports. At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (her fourth) she won two more gold medals. Before entering politics, she was a motivational speaker and advocate for persons with disabilities and children with special needs.

NDP – Sue Powell: A Parksville city councillor since 2004 and child protection worker, Powell has been popular with Parksville residents, being the top vote-getter the past two municipal elections.

Greens – Glenn Sollitt: The Green Party candidate for Courtenay-Alberni in the 2015 federal election and owner of Glacier View Seafood distribution, Sollitt has worked in commercial fishing and has a mechanical engineering degree from UBC.

BC Refed – Terry Hand: The BC Refederation Party advocates direct democracy and reform of Canada’s federalist system. They are running three candidates in 2017.

2017 Stats: Parksville-Qualicum

Population (2014): 54,089 (58th)
Population Deviation from Average: 1.8 per cent
Area: 978 sq km (35th)
Pop Density: 55.3 (53rd)
Average Age: 56.4 years (1st)
English as Second Language: 10.60 per cent (70th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
German – 2.16 per cent
Dutch – 1.03 per cent
Panjabi (Punjabi) – 0.49 per cent

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B.C. election 2017: North Vancouver-Seymour

In 2013: BC Liberal Incumbent Jane Thornthwaite won this riding 50 per cent to 32 per cent.

In 2009: Thornthwaite won this seat handily in her first attempt, defeating NDP candidate Maureen Norton by over 7,000 votes, 59 per cent to 27 per cent.

HangZhou Night Net

History & Geography: Created in 1966, North Vancouver-Seymour consists of most of the District of North Vancouver, save for the Capilano Highlands and the area around Michael and Brooksbank Parks. It has gone to the BC Liberals or the Social Credit party in every election but 1972, when NDP candidate Colin Gableman won with just 32.9 per cent of the vote. The Liberal Party generally does well everywhere, but especially in the Deep Cove area.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Jane Thornthwaite: Parliamentary Secretary for Child Mental Health and Anti-Bullying. Elected for the first time in 2009, Thornwaite was a member of the North Vancouver School Board for two terms. She was also owner of a nutrition consulting firm.

NDP – Michael Charrois: An actor, drama teacher and three-time federal NDP candidate, Charrois played the character who said, “They went that’a way!” in Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Oscar-winning film Unforgiven.

Greens – Joshua Johnson: A recent high-school graduate, Johnson works as a Tramway Operator at Grouse Mountain. In 2015-16 he serves as a House of Commons page.

Libertarian Party – Clayton Welwood: The Libertarian party is running 30 candidates, four times as many as in 2013. They have been running candidates in B.C. since 1986, but have never come close to winning a seat.

2017 Stats: North Vancouver-Seymour

Population (2014): 58,120 (37th)
Population Deviation from Average: 9.4 per cent
Area: 388 sq km (43rd)
Pop Density: 149.8 (44th)
Average Age: 42.5 years (33rd)
English as Second Language: 21.53 per cent (38th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
Persian (Farsi) – 2.71 per cent
German – 2.01 per cent
Korean – 1.78 per cent

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B.C. election 2017: Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding

In 2013: NDP incumbent Scott Fraser won a third term by over 4,200 votes over Liberal candidate Darren Frank DeLuca, 57-34 per cent.

In 2009: Fraser won a second term by over 4,500 votes over BC Liberal challenger Dianne St. Jacques, 59-32 per cent.

History & Geography: The riding formerly known as Alberni-Pacific Rim stretches the entire width of central Vancouver Island, from Tofino and now encompasses part of the Comox Valley including Cumberland, Denman and Hornby islands.

HangZhou Night Net

The riding had 200 immigrants decide to locate in the riding between 2000 and 2005, the third lowest number in B.C. 13.4 per cent people identify as aboriginal in Alberni-Pacific Rim, compared to 4.8 per cent for the entire province.

Candidates

This riding has traditionally been an NDP stronghold, having elected an NDP or CCF MLA in 12 of the last 15 elections, including former leader Bob Skelley from 1972 to 1988. Many of the rural parts of the riding are neutral in political affiliation, but Port Alberni itself is heavily NDP.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Darren DeLuca: A local realtor and hunting guide with a lengthy history of community service, DeLuca is currently a member-at-large of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District Highway 4 Transportation Committee and a director of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Junior A hockey team.

NDP – Scott Fraser: Opposition spokesperson for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, he also serves as Caucus Deputy Whip. Fraser was Mayor of Tofino from 1996 to 1999, and now makes Nanaimo his home.

Green – Alicia LaRue: An environmental artist, using post-consumer waste as her medium. A freelance designer, she has worked with environmental groups like the Wilderness Committee and Ancient Forest Alliance.

BC Refederation – Dan Cebuliak: The BC Refederation Party advocates direct democracy and reform of Canada’s federalist system. They are running three candidates in the 2017 election.

Libertarian – Rob Clarke: The Libertarian party is running 30 candidates, four times as many as in 2013. They have been running candidates in B.C. since 1986, but have never come close to winning a seat.

Conservative – Julian Fells: Fells is a retired project manager who sits on the Nanaimo Regional District board. The BC Conservatives are a mere shadow of the party from the 2013 campaign, when they fielded 56 candidates. It’s a small-government, right-of-centre party.

2017 Stats: Mid Island-Pacific Rim

Population: 43,430 (71st)
Size: 13,141 km (17th)
Density: 3.3 people/km (69th)

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B.C. election 2017: Fraser-Nicola riding

In the 2013 election, BC Liberal Jackie Tegart beat NDP veteran Harry Lali, who won the nomination battle for the 2017 election, despite being asked not to run by NDP leader John Horgan. Lali blamed his defeat on the Kinder Morgan issue (he supported the pipeline.) His vote slipped 1,300 from 2009, while the BC Liberals went up by 175. One potential key factor: the Conservatives took almost 900 votes here in 2013, and are unlikely to field a candidate this time. Traditionally, the riding is a close race. Boundary changes favour the NDP, but the party’s anti-resource economy position may be cause for trouble.

In 2009: Harry Lali was re-elected, defeating Liberal candidate Ella Brown by over 800 votes, 49-43 per cent.

History & Geography: Broadly spanning the area between the Lower Mainland and Kamloops, Fraser-Nicola is a descendant of the old Yale-Lilloett riding. The riding includes the towns of Hope, Clinton, Lillooet, Ashcroft, Lytton, Merritt, and Princeton. With the exception of 2001 to 2005, Harry Lali has held this area continuously since 1991. The farming area between Pemberton and Kamloops has been a strong centre of Liberal support, while Princeton and Lytton have tended to support the NDP.

Candidates

Liberals – Jackie Tegart: An Ashcroft councillor since 2006, Tegart is the former head of the BC Schools Trustees. She sat on the regional school board for 20 years as well. Other community activities include being BC Healthy Communities facilitator, and a member of the Thompson Nicola Film Commission. She has eight grandchildren.

NDP – Harry Lali: He’s back. Despite being asked not to run by Horgan, Lali secured the NDP nomination in March. He’s now on board with his party’s opposition of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline. Lali won this riding in the 1991, 1996, 2005 and 2009 elections, while sitting out in 2001. He served as Transportation Minister in the NDP government from 1998 to 2001. Before entering provincial politics, Lali was an employment counsellor and Merritt city councillor.

Greens – Arthur Green: He works in the film industry as an art department head. An avid cyclist, he pedalled around B.C., New Zealand and Europe. He formerly worked for BC Forest Services, in the Alberta oil and gas industry and in mining.

Social Credit Party – Michael Henshall: Henshall is the only candidate running as a Socred, sharing the name of the party which dominated B.C. politics from 1952-1991.

2017 Stats: Fraser-Nicola

Population (2014): 34,034 (79th)
Population Deviation from Average: -35.9 per cent
Area: 34,830 sq km (9th)
Pop Density: 1.0 (78th)
Average Age: 48 years (8th)
English as Second Language: 10.45 per cent (71st)

Top 3 Second Languages:
German – 1.74 per cent
Panjabi (Punjabi) – 1.03 per cent
Dutch – 0.65 per cent

HangZhou Night Net

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B.C. election 2017: Courtenay Comox riding

Changes to this riding’s boundaries significantly favour the B.C. Liberals, as it pushes NDP-friendly areas such as Denman and Hornby Islands into other ridings. Those changes essentially remove about 1,000 NDP voters from the riding. Incumbent Don McRae isn’t running, but the B.C. Liberals still have to be considered fairly heavy favourites to hang on here.

In 2013, McRae won by a margin of 46.7 per cent to 36.5 per cent.

HangZhou Night Net

In 2009: McRae won this riding over New Democrat Leslie McNabb by over 1,300 votes, 47-42 per cent, replacing former cabinet minister Stan Hagen.

History & Geography: Riding was created in 2015 redistribution, covering most of the former Comox Valley riding. A descendant of the Comox riding that was contested in the first provincial election of 1871. Redistribution has significantly strengthened the B.C. Liberal hold here, as it removed Cumberland, and the islands of Denman and Hornby (all NDP areas of strength) from the riding, effectively taking about 1,000 residents who voted NDP in 2013.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Jim Benniger: A “star candidate’, the recently-retired 19 Wing commander spent spent 31 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and is well-known locally.

NDP – Ronna-Rae Leonard: A three-term Courtenay City Councillor and former federal NDP candidate, Leonard has worked with at-risk families and seniors in their homes, at the Ombudsman’s Office, and as a researcher, public educator, and project manager for environmental protection organizations in the Comox Valley.

Greens – Ernie Sellentin: A green entrepreneur, he owns and operates a company that specializes in habitat restoration and invasive species consulting. He previously worked in the Texada island quarries and as a logger.

BC Conservatives – Leah Catherine McCulloch: The BC. Conservatives are a mere shadow of the party from the 2013 campaign, when they fielded 56 candidates. In 2017 there are five. It’s a small-government, right-of-centre party.

2017 Stats: Courtenay-Comox

Population (2014): 54,816 (56th)
Population Deviation from Average: 3.2 per cent
Area: 1,584 sq km (31st)
Pop Density: 34.6 (58th)
Average Age: 48 years (8th)
English as Second Language: 8.63 per cent (80th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
German – 1.83 per cent
Dutch – 0.61 per cent
Spanish – 0.34 per cent

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B.C. election 2017: Columbia River Revelstoke riding

This riding has been won by the NDP in four of the last six elections, the last three by Norm Macdonald, who is not seeking re-election.

In 2013: NDP Norm Macdonald won his third straight victory handily, defeating Liberal Doug Clovechok by more than 1,600 votes, 48 – 36 per cent.

In 2009: The NDP’s Macdonald won his second straight election in this riding, defeating Liberal Mark McKee by over 2,000 votes, 55 – 38 per cent. The BC Conservatives took 1,162 votes, and have yet to field a candidate.

HangZhou Night Net

History & Geography: Columbia River-Revelstoke comprises the northeast portion of the Kootenays, guided by Highway 1 from just before Revelstoke to the border, and Highway 95 from Golden to the northern outskirts of Cranbrook. It’s a descendent of the old Columbia River riding that the Socreds held for decades, much of it under James Chabot from 1963-1986. But it has gone NDP in four of the last six elections, with the party doing very well in Kimberly and Golden.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Doug Clovechok: An educator, Clovechok is the manager of the Invermere Campus of College of the Rockies. He lived in Calgary for over two decades, founding the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation, and now lives near Fairmont Hot Springs.

NDP – Gerry Taft: The Mayor of Invermere, his nomination was the subject of some controversy over the effectiveness of the NDP’s equity policy. Taft claims he’s bisexual, so he qualifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, even though he’s a white man with a female partner and a child.

Greens – Samson Boyer: At 18, he is one of the youngest candidates running in this election. Works in the hospitality and tourism industry and is a beekeeper.

Independent – Justin James Hooles: Longtime Kimberley resident, he says he wants to run as an independent as he has a “distaste for party politics.”

Libertarian – Rylan Kashuba: The Libertarian party is running 30 candidates, four times as many as in 2013. They have been running candidates in B.C. since 1986, but have never come close to winning a seat.

Independent – Duncan MacLeod: MacLeod is a teacher who runs the Rocky Mountain International Student Program in Kimberley.

2017 Stats: Columbia River-Revelstoke

Population (2014): 31,907 (81st)
Population Deviation from Average: -39.9 per cent
Area: 37,704 sq km (8th)
Pop Density: 0.8 (81st)
Average Age: 44.4 years (23rd)
English as Second Language: 9.92 per cent (74th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
German – 2.68 per cent
Italian – 0.72 per cent
Dutch – 0.51 per cent

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B.C. election 2017: Penticton riding

Held by BC Liberal incumbent Dan Ashton, who boosted his party’s vote by 1,200 in the last election, but the NDP went up 2,900 (probably because there was inexplicably no Green candidate; the Greens received almost 3,700 votes in 2009 and will be running a candidate in this election, which should hurt the NDP more than the Liberals).

HangZhou Night Net

This riding demonstrates how hard it may be for the NDP to get over the finish line. It’s only won this riding when the vote was split on the centre-right. The NDP’s hopes were given a boost from the party’s good showing in this area in the last federal election. Depending on how other ridings split, the NDP may need to win this riding to form a government.

In 2009: Liberal Bill Barisoff won his fourth straight election, defeating NDP candidate Cameron Phillips by over 3,000 votes, 44-31 per cent.

History & Geography: A descendant of the old Similkameen riding, Penticton was made the centre of its own riding in 1991. In that year the riding went to the NDP in a three-way race, but otherwise has gone to the Liberals. The riding’s current boundaries include Peachland, Summerland, and Chute Lake to the north. Historically, the city centre of Penticton has been a swing area, while Summerland, Peachland, and the Penticton suburbs have supported the Liberals.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Dan Ashton: Incumbent. Parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Finance. Before entering provincial politics, Ashton served two terms as mayor or Penticton and three terms on council.

NDP – Tarik Sayeed: A Penticton city councillor, Sayeed was born in Bangladesh and came to Canada to study engineering, earning an undergraduate degree and an MBA. He founded a tech company that translates sign language into text and audio.

Green – Connie Sahlmark: An Okanagan College student in her third year of the Sustainable Construction Management Technologies program.

2017 Stats: Penticton

Population (2014): 56,722 (46th)
Population Deviation from Average: 6.8 per cent
Area: 1,908 sq km (29th)
Pop Density: 29.7 (59th)
Average Age: 50.5 years (6th)
English as Second Language: 12.76 per cent (55th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
German – 3.14 per cent
Panjabi (Punjabi) – 1.44 per cent
Dutch – 0.80 per cent

Article

Nova Scotia public schools to have new attendance policy by September

Nova Scotia public schools are expected to usher in new attendance rules this fall to address high absentee and tardiness rates among students.

READ MORE: Province to implement 8 recommendations by N.S. classroom conditions council immediately

HangZhou Night Net

The draft rules aim to give teachers some “teeth” to tackle what has become a chronic issue in some classrooms.

“Teachers have asked to have some teeth in an attendance policy,” said Liz Brideau-Clark, part of the 14-member Council to Improve Classroom Conditions created in February following a lengthy labour dispute that saw the province impose a four-year contract on more than 9,000 unionized teachers.

“There are different issues in different schools but we’ve tried to come up with something that hopefully will allow schools to have a little bit of the decision-making to work with students and get them back in the school,” said Brideau-Clark, a teacher at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay.

Pamela Doyle, guidance counsellor and registrar at Lockview High School in Fall River, said attendance issues will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, and solutions will be tailored to individual student needs.

“A student who has a mental health issue is very different than a student who is in the cafeteria playing cards,” she said. “You can’t just have an all-in-one policy for every student.”

Individual attendance plans can include a carrot and stick approach, Doyle suggested.

“Some students might need an opportunity to go for a quick walk in the hallways or in elementary school have some extra play time,” she said, adding that consequences such as detention could be used as a last resort when incentives don’t work.

WATCH: After an initial round of meetings, the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions already has 18 recommendations to improve classroom conditions in Nova Scotia. Jennifer Grudic reports.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released a draft of the attendance policy Thursday.

“Teachers have told us that poor attendance and late arrivals are growing issues that are impacting the classroom environment for all students,” Education Minister Karen Casey said in a statement. “Students need and deserve to be in the best environment to learn and prepare for their future.”

The draft policy defines an excused absence, how absences need to be explained to schools, and how a school will go about addressing absences and chronic lateness. This may include loss of course credits at the high school level.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia classroom conditions council off to good start: teacher

In 2014-2015, almost 30 per cent of students missed 16 or more days of school.

In addition, about a quarter of students are regularly showing up late for class, Doyle said.

“Those 25 per cent coming late to class are disrupting the learning of those that are already there and engaged,” she said.

The 14-member classroom improvement committee – made up of teachers, parents and students – hopes to gather feedback on the policy in time for its next meeting in May in order to finish the policy by June and implement it in September.

The committee is asking principals to share the policy with staff and school advisory councils.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia classroom conditions council members chosen in wake of Bill 75

The council, which has a $20-million budget over two years, will also be examining issues such as class sizes, assessment and evaluation and student discipline.

Read the draft policy below: 

View this document on Scribd

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Rana Plaza disaster: Canadian Tire, other major brands urged to fully report supply chains

Nearly four years after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed more than 1,100 people in Bangladesh, Canadian Tire and its subsidiaries, Mark’s and Sport Chek, still haven’t introduced full supply chain transparency say human rights and labour rights advocates.

Ken Neumann, the Canadian director of the United Steelworkers, travelled to Bangladesh for the one-year anniversary of the April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed roughly 1,129 people and injured more than 2,500 garment workers.

A mourner grieves for her relative, missing and presumed dead, at the scene of the April 24 Rana Plaza garment building collapse during the one hundredth-day anniversary of the disaster in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Neumann recalled how even a year later human bones and scraps of clothing could be seen among the rubble of the garment factory.

“It’s hard to comprehend,” he told Global News Thursday. “A tremendous amount of stench even though the building was completely destroyed.”

He said in many cases bodies of workers were never recovered and were buried along with concrete from the building.

“It was heart-wrenching when you come across a mother that has a photo of her daughter and tears running down her eyes,” Neumann said. “In many cases families never had closure.”

Now with the four-year anniversary of one of the world’s deadliest industrial accident approaching, the United Steelworkers launched its No More Operating in the Dark campaign Thursday urging Canadian apparel companies, specifically Canadian Tire, to fully disclose where their products are made.

WATCH: Thousands protest on an anniversary of Bangladesh Rana Plaza disaster (2015)

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An international group of nine labour rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Toronto-based Maquila Solidarity Network, also released its Follow the Thread report which asked 72 major clothing brands to agree to a Transparency Pledge – a set of standards that includes publishing the full names and addresses of the factories making their products, and an estimate of the number of workers employed in each factory.

“When there are workers rights violations you can bring them to all of those companies, all of the brands and retailers and they together can try and ensure there is corrective action,” said Bob Jeffcott, a policy analyst with the Maquila Solidarity Network. “That is the value of that level of disclosure.”

READ MORE: What has been done to prevent another Rana Plaza disaster?

Four Canadian companies contacted for the report were: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Hudson’s Bay Company, Loblaw, owner of Joe Fresh, and Canadian Tire, owner of Mark’s and SportChek

The report found Mountain Equipment Co-op came close to meeting the full transparency pledge standards, while Hudson’s Bay disclosed the names and addresses of some of the facilities producing their branded products.

After Joe Fresh clothing labels were found among the ruins of Rana Plaza, Loblaw moved to disclose the names of factories and countries of the manufacturer, but not the factory addresses, according to the report.

Canadian Tire, which sells clothing brands like Denver Hayes through its Mark’s stores and sports attire at Sport Chek outlets, did not agree to publicly disclose any information on its supplier factories, the report said.

“If [these CEOs] had seen and witnessed what I had and to see the conditions that some of these people live and toil under I don’t comprehend how people could go to bed with a clear conscious,” Neumann said.

READ MORE: There are 6,500 slaves in Canada, nearly 46 million worldwide: charity

Ten apparel companies including Armani, Forever 21, and Ralph Lauren Corporation did not respond to a letter from coalition according to the report, while 15, including Canadian Tire, Foot Locker and American Eagle Outfitters made no commitment to publish supplier factory information.

Jeffcott says that since Rana Plaza collapse, many leading companies, Nike, Adidas, H&M and Patagonia have begun regularly publishing information about their supply chains.

“If you look at the power of those particular companies and the fact that they are setting this example, we feel there is momentum for this kind of disclosure.

A spokesperson for Canadian Tire said in an email the company uses third-party auditing firms to monitor factory compliance.

“Through our Supplier Code of Business Conduct we clearly outline our published standards with the vendors with whom we work around the globe,” the spokesperson said. “We were a founding member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety since its inception, demonstrating our commitment to sustainable change.”

However, Jeffcott points out the companies involved in the Rana tragedy used third party auditors and says “self-regulation and private-sector factory audits” just are not working.

“Canadian Tire has to catch up with other leaders in the industry,” he said. “The attitude of saying ‘just trust us’ isn’t good enough anymore.”

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B.C. election 2017: Surrey-Newton riding

In 2013: NDP Incumbent Harry Bains handily won re-election, besting his BC Liberal challenger Sukhminder Virk by more than 3,000 votes (56 per cent – 38 per cent).

In 2009: Harry Bains won this riding over BC Liberal Ajay Caleb by over 6500 votes, 69-26 per cent.

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History & Geography: The boundaries of Surrey-Newton have shrunk slightly, which, based on 2013 returns should give the NDP a slight bump, but Bains should easily win re-election once again. One of the three ridings created for the 1986 election when Surrey grew out of its one original two-member riding (White Rock-Cloverdale and Guliford-Whalley were the other two), Surrey-Newton is the smallest of the Surrey ridings, spanning from Scott Road to 152nd Street, going as far north as 80th Avenue and far south as 64th Avenue.

Candidates

BC Liberals’ Gurminder Singh Parihar is a CGA and CPA. He is a partner with Parihar & Associates accountants. Over the past few months, he’s been a key player in bringing together the government and trucking industry. Has served on several boards of governors, including the BC India Business Network and the BC College of Optometrists.

NDP’s Harry Bains is most recently the Opposition critic for Forestry. Bains was first elected in 2005. He was a union official with the Steelworkers for over fifteen years before entering politics. Bains was on Kwantlen’s board of governors in the 1990’s and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

Green Party’s Richard Krieger is a co-founder and the first CEO of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, and one of the founding Directors of the BC Green Party. Krieger moved to B.C. from San Francisco in 1975 and was involved in the efforts that led to the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

Balpreet Singh Bal is running as an independent candidate. He is the owner of Bal Realty Services.

2017 Stats: Surrey-Newton

Population (2014): 58,340 (33rd)
Population Deviation from Average: 9.8 per cent
Area: 12 sq km (82nd)
Pop Density: 4,861.7 (6th)
Average Age: 34.7 years (85th)
English as Second Language: 64.71 per cent (7th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
Panjabi (Punjabi) – 43.09 per cent
Hindi – 4.41 per cent
Urdu – 3.05 per cent