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National

Canada needs to regulate social media giants: international report

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OTTAWA — An international report says Canada has taken “commendable” steps to safeguard this fall’s federal election from foreign interference.

But the report says this country needs to do more to regulate social media giants and should impose “major sanctions” on those that fail to control fake news and other forms of disinformation on their platforms.

The report is part of a series of assessments conducted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Transatlantic Commission on Elections Integrity for the Alliance of Democracies Federation.

The bipartisan groups have been conducting similar studies in the run-up to elections in other countries, including the 2020 presidential campaign in the United States, amid mounting evidence of foreign interference in recent elections in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

The report notes that Canada has imposed sanctions on Russia, infuriated Saudi Arabia by criticizing its human rights record and is in the midst of a diplomatic war with China over the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request from the U.S.

Given those disputes and the fact that Canada is a member of NATO and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, the report suggests it’s likely that foreign adversaries may seek to interfere in the coming election to further their own interests, damage Canada’s reputation or undermine democracy.

“The most pervasive concern in the 2019 Canadian federal election will likely be disinformation campaigns that undermine social cohesion by amplifying extremist narratives and discrediting leaders,” the report says.

It notes that there is already evidence linking Russia, Iran and Venezuela to Twitter accounts used to amplify extremist views on contentious issues, such as pipelines and immigration.

The report lauds the Trudeau government for taking steps to guard against foreign interference, including prohibiting advocacy groups from using foreign money to fund election-related campaigns and requiring social media companies to keep a public registry of all online political ads posted on their platforms. The government has also beefed up election laws related to unauthorized use of computers and given the commissioner of elections stronger powers to investigate suspected violations and to enforce the law.

Moreover, the government has created a new task force involving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, the Communications Security Establishment and Global Affairs, to identify and counter attempts to interfere in the election. And it has set up a “critical election incident public protocol,” under which a panel of five senior public servants will decide whether to warn the public in the midst of the campaign if there is a particularly egregious instance of interference that threatens the integrity of the election.

The report suggests Canada’s threshold for going public may be too high.

“The time has come for democracies under attack to call out their aggressors by name. There seems little need and no advantage to remain discreetly silent if an intelligence service has reliable information about which foreign country is the source of the interference.”

The report says the steps taken by the government are “positive and commendable” but more needs to be done. In particular, it says it’s time to impose regulations on social media giants rather than expect them to voluntarily take steps to control disinformation on their platforms.

“Where it is determined that the platforms have allowed themselves to be used by a malign foreign actor or have permitted abuses they could have caught or controlled, they should face very stiff penalties,” the report says.

Fines should be high enough “to capture the attention of even those cash-rich corporations” and non-monetary penalties should entail “business consequences of sufficient gravity that they will constitute a real deterrence and effective denunciation of the misconduct.” Penalties could even include fines and possible jail time for executives of companies that don’t comply, the report adds.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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november, 2019

tue19nov1:00 pm3:00 pmDiabetes Discussion Drop In1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

thu21novAll Daysun24Festival of Trees(All Day)

thu21nov6:00 pm11:00 pmFestival of Trees - Preview Dinner6:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

fri22nov8:00 pm11:00 pmFestival of Wines8:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov9:00 am12:00 pmFestival Family Bingo - 1st time ever!9:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov6:00 pm11:00 pmMistletoe Magic !6:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov8:00 pmRed Deer Nov 23 - Calgary's THIRD CHAMBER - EP release show "Harvesting Our Decay"8:00 pm

sun24nov9:00 am12:00 pmBreakfast with Santa9:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

mon25nov1:30 am2:30 pmPlanning A Calmer Christmas1:30 am - 2:30 pm

mon25nov6:30 pm8:30 pmRustic Succulent Box WorkshopUnique Workshop to create Succulent Box6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

tue26nov1:00 pm3:00 pmDiabetes Discussion Drop InDiabetes Discussion Drop In1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

thu28nov7:30 pm11:00 pmA special Christmas Musical Event at The KrossingBig Hank's Tribute to the Blues Songs of Christmas7:30 pm - 11:00 pm MST The Krossing, 5114 48 Avenue

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