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Acadia Axemen player takes responsibility for hockey brawl with St. FX X-Men

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WOLFVILLE, N.S. — A member of a Nova Scotia university hockey team has taken responsibility for making comments that led to a bench-clearing brawl last weekend.

Acadia University’s Rodney Southam admitted to making a comment about sexual assault to an opposing player during a physical confrontation when playing against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday night.

Southam claims in a statement issued late Thursday night to have been unaware that Sam Studnicka, the target of his comment, has a sexual assault survivor in his family.

“Immediately after my comments to Sam, I realized something more was happening because of the reaction from the team and surrounding coaches,” said Southam. “I know when this was said that the linesman heard it and so did the X-Men players on their bench. I take full responsibility for saying something I should never have said.”

Southam said he told Studnicka “You look like a little (expletive) rapist.” Minutes later, Southam and Studnicka were to take a faceoff against each other, but after two false starts, the melee began.

The brawl led to five Axemen players, eight X-Men and both head coaches being ejected. Video of the fight went viral.

Atlantic University Sport, which oversees university sport in the region, launched an investigation and suspended the two head coaches and 15 players on Wednesday. During the investigation Southam told AUS executive director Phil Currie of his role in the incident.

The AUS and St. Francis Xavier University did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday night.

Studnicka, through his university, issued a statement on Monday explaining he had regularly been targeted with comments about sexual assault in his three years playing for St. FX.

He said there’s no place for comments about sexual assault in society as it’s a very serious issue.

Southam, who was captain for two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets, said he was completely unaware of Studnicka’s relationship to a sexual assault survivor.

“In my year and a half at Acadia, we’ve had battles with St. FX but nothing to do with comments around sexual violence,” he said. “I’ve read in the St. FX statement that those types of comments have been a continuous and ongoing part of the games between our teams, but this issue has never come up in our locker room or any other time during my year and a half at Acadia.”

Southam also explained in his statement that when he was playing junior hockey he was accused of sexual assault but allegations against him didn’t proceed.

He said he carries those allegations with him and is frequently the target of taunts calling him a rapist.

“Because the taunts I endured are never far below the surface and are always in the back of my mind, that’s why I think I said what I said in the heat of the moment on Saturday,” Southam said. “I do know I wish I could take that word back and I should have known better.”

Official complaints have been filed by the AUS on five athletes and three coaches involved in Saturday’s incident and will be subject to a secondary review process.

Additional evidence will be gathered to determine if further sanctions are needed.

The Canadian Press

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National

Senate Arctic committee calls recommendations in report a ‘wake-up call’

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OTTAWA — We the North? Canada’s Senate is skeptical.

The marketing slogan for Toronto’s NBA team may be everywhere these days. But for Sen. Dennis Patterson, who helped write a new report on the Arctic, it’s mostly just that.

“The country identifies itself by its North. The True North strong and free, the Raptors. But it’s symbolic. It’s not real.”

Patterson is a chairman of a special Senate committee on the Arctic, which just tabled a report with 30 recommendations on everything from funding better education for northerners to building housing fit for a changing climate.

Almost all of them have been made before in some form. The paper’s appendix lists 56 reports in the last 12 years written by Senate or House committees on Arctic issues.

The new report is entitled “A Wake-Up Call” and Patterson says Ottawa’s sleep has been long and deep.

“There’s still a huge infrastructure deficit,” said Patterson, who is from Iqaluit, Nunavut. “We’re feeling neglected and the evidence seems to be that is the case, that the North is not on the radar.”

Sen. Patricia Bovey, a co-chair on the committee, pointed out that when the group was struck in 2017, there was anticipation the Liberal government would soon release its anticipated Arctic policy framework. No such policy has been tabled and Bovey suggests her committee’s work can fill that gap.  

“This report, I hope, will become the basis for actions.”

It does make some specific recommendations.

It calls for a action on high-speed internet connectivity by next March. A dedicated minister for northern affairs is a “must, not a maybe,” said Bovey.

It asks for an Arctic infrastructure bank to help fund housing and public buildings to mitigate the impacts of climate change. New construction codes need to be developed appropriate to the North, the report adds.

Communities should have energy options other than diesel generators. Basic adult education should be better-funded and an Arctic university should be developed.

Chronic health issues should also be addressed by dealing with the social conditions that cause them. And local scientific capacity should be developed and research programs designed to meet the needs of northerners.  

“What I hope we’ve done is express the urgency, develop some immediate steps that can be taken to address the bigger whole, while providing a pathway to a sustained ongoing engagement and improvement,” Bovey said.

In an email, a spokesperson for Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said a policy framework is still coming.

“We are taking the necessary time and steps to co-develop a framework that reflects and integrates the shared interests, goals and priorities of our partners and is responsive to the needs of Northerners and Arctic residents,” it said. “We will have more say on it in the coming weeks.”

The email said the framework will focus on communities, economies, infrastructure, environment, research, safety and defence. It noted the 2019 budget sets out $700 million over 10 years for northern projects. 

Patterson said the North is ready for development. Effective ways of reviewing, assessing and permitting projects in the North are already in place.

“We have experience and we have done innovations in the Arctic that the rest of Canada could benefit from if they’d only pay attention to what we’ve managed to accomplish.”

But first, Patterson said, the North has to get somebody’s attention.

“Maybe, after decades of neglect, this comprehensive report will actually materialize in the form of a new comprehensive federal policy on the Arctic.”

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter

The Canadian Press

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Environment

‘Pretty consistent:’ Study says animal abundance in seas drops as climate warms

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Animal life in the world’s oceans will drop steadily and consistently as the climate warms, a Canadian-led study suggests.

“What we see is pretty consistent,” said Derek Tittensor, a biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax. 

“For every degree of warming, we project a five per cent decline in the abundance of animals. The warmer it gets, the more the decline.”

That means that the world’s oceans are on track to lose about 17 per cent of their productivity by 2100 if there are no significant reductions in greenhouse gases.

The study found the impact of climate change is so strong it almost doesn’t matter if commercial fisheries are included in the calculation. The results are nearly the same.

The research, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined six marine ecosystem models with global ecosystem models and emissions projections. Tittensor said that produced a comprehensive projection for the oceans similar to what already exists for the continents.  

“There are winners and losers,” he said.

Arctic seas are expected to become more productive in a warmer world. Waters northeast of Greenland could have 50 per cent more animals by 2100, the study suggests.

But the great majority of the world’s oceans will be less abundant. If greater efforts aren’t made to rein in emissions, almost all mid-latitude and tropical seas will produce between 25 and 50 per cent less.

The report’s conclusions have been tested against actual data on fish stocks. The predicted results and the measured trends agreed.

Warmer waters reduce animal growth in several ways, Tittensor said.

For example, they increase metabolism, which forces fish to burn more energy just staying alive and leaves them less for growth. As well, warmer ocean water mixes less, which slows the cycling of sea floor nutrients needed by the tiny plants at the root of the ocean’s food web.  

The decline in sea life will be concentrated in larger fish, which tend to be the ones humans rely on for food.

“The species that we have a real interest in are likely to be those that are more susceptible,” said Tittensor.

United Nations figures suggest 10 per cent of the world’s people depend on fisheries for their livelihoods. They say 4.3 billion people rely on fish for at least 15 per cent of their animal protein.

“Five per cent might not seem like much of a decline,” Tittensor said.

“But we’re in a world that’s heading towards 10 billion people and the oceans are hugely important in terms like food security and making sure we can feed people.

“Any kind of climate impact is another stress upon the oceans over and above the other stresses they’re experiencing.”

Some of the changes are inevitable. Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere already guarantee a certain level of warming.

Tittensor said studies such as his will help managers plan for the changes.

“We can try and adapt to this effect.”

And, he added, we can always try to reduce it as much as possible by cutting carbon emissions.

“The future’s not fixed,” Tittensor said.

“We know the climate’s changing and we know that is going to have consequences. We can move toward reducing our greenhouse emissions.

“We have things we can do. We can tackle this.”

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

   

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press


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