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  • OTTAWA — Here is a timeline of key events in Canada’s dispute with the United States over NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and American tariffs on steel and aluminum:

    June 28, 2016: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declares his antipathy for the North American Free Trade Agreement in a campaign speech in Pittsburgh, in the heart of a Rust Belt state that he would eventually win to secure the presidency. “NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history,” says Trump, pledging to renegotiate the pact “to get a better deal for our workers.” He promises to leave the agreement if Canada and Mexico refuse to bargain with him.

    Aug. 16, 2017: Canada, Mexico and the United States begin the renegotiation of NAFTA in earnest. The Trump administration opens with a lecture, upping the ante from earlier remarks that it simply wants to “tweak” the deal. Trump’s trade czar Robert Lighthizer declares: “We feel that NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.”

    October: The U.S. introduces so-called “poison pills” that Canada says it simply can’t accept. The U.S. wants to increase American content in automobiles, get rid of Canada’s supply-management system in agriculture, introduce a five-year sunset clause to force regular renegotiations, do away with a dispute-settlement mechanism and reduce Mexican and Canadian access to bidding on U.S. procurement projects. The three countries do eventually reach a new deal on autos, while the U.S. backs away from the other demands.

    March 14, 2018: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada won’t be “bowled over” at the NAFTA talks by Trump. Trudeau makes the remarks while visiting steelworkers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. “We’re standing up for ourselves. But we know there’s a win-win-win we can get to,” Trudeau says. “We’re pushing back on some things that we think might not be the right suggestions, which is what people would expect from Canada.”

    May 31: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declares that the Trump administration is making good on its threat to slap hefty tariffs on Canadian metals exports — 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum — on the grounds that foreign steel dependency poses a threat to American national security. However, Ross signals clearly the tariffs are linked to the trade talks: “As to Canada, Mexico, you will recall that the reason for the deferral (of tariffs) had been pending the outcome of the NAFTA talks,” he said. “Those talks are taking longer than we had hoped.”

    June 7: Trump hurls a series of personal insults at Trudeau from Air Force One after a G7 summit in Quebec. The president calls Canada’s prime minister “dishonest” and “weak” after Trudeau repeats his objections to the steel and aluminum tariffs. The incident marks a new low in prime ministerial-presidential politics across the 49th parallel at a time when NAFTA negotiations remain deadlocked.

    July 1: Canada imposes dollar-for-dollar tariff “countermeasures” of its own on up to $16.6 billion worth of imports of steel, aluminum and other products from the U.S. — everything from flat-rolled steel to playing cards and felt-tipped pens. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland calls the U.S. tariffs illegal and counterproductive; Trudeau calls it inconceivable that Canada could be seen as a national-security threat to the U.S.

    Aug. 27: Mexico and the United States announce their own bilateral trade deal after weeks of negotiations that were supposed to be only about autos. Instead they negotiated a sweeping text covering the full scope of the trading relationship. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland blows up a trip to Europe and diverts to Washington, starting a month of intense negotiations to bring Canada into the NAFTA fold.

    Sept. 20: Liberal government insiders indicate that as the NAFTA talks come down to the wire, the so-called Section 232 tariffs — so named for the obscure U.S. trade-law provision under which they were imposed — remain a major sticking point. Some observers suggest negotiating the tariff dispute separately would mean a shorter path to a deal.

    Sept. 26: Trump strikes again, this time at the UN General Assembly: “Frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” he says when asked about the stalled talks. “We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada,” he continues, adding, “We don’t like their representative very much” — a reference to Freeland.  

    Sept. 30: Staring down a midnight deadline to provide a text of an agreement to Congress, Trump’s and Trudeau’s team work out last-minute details that bring Canada into a renewed continental trade pact. Trudeau leaves the Prime Minister’s Office after a late-night cabinet meeting and says six words: “It’s a good day for Canada.”

    Oct. 19: Liberal government officials make it clear Canada will not accept any sort of a quota restriction on steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. in exchange for lifting the tariffs. Meanwhile, Mexican officials fuel speculation that the U.S. plans to lift the tariffs once the new agreement is signed during a G20 summit in Argentina.

    Nov. 30: Trump, Trudeau and outgoing Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto sign the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, at the summit but there is no sign of movement on tariffs.

    Jan. 30, 2019: Kevin Brady, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee (its senior member from the minority Republicans), sends the first clear signal that the tariffs could be a problem for both Democrats and Republicans when it comes to ratifying the new trade deal. “They’re not really willing to consider this agreement until the steel and aluminum tariffs are ensured to be lifted off, including quotas,” Brady tells a trade conference in Washington.

    Feb. 21: David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., declares publicly that he’s confident the tariffs will be lifted “in the next few weeks” — comments he later acknowledges were aimed at lighting a fire under recalcitrant U.S. negotiators. Later that same week, Transport Minister Marc Garneau tells a gathering of governors in the U.S. capital that Canada would struggle to ratify the agreement with the tariffs still in place. “I got the message loud and clear,” responds Larry Kudlow, Trump’s senior economic adviser.

    May 17: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suddenly adds a trip to a Stelco plant in Hamilton, Ont., to his schedule. He confirms reports that an agreement on tariffs has been reached and that the levies will be gone within 48 hours. “This decision reflects what is known to be true by friends on both sides of the border,” Trudeau says. “Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally for more than 100 years, and our long-standing partnership and closely linked economies make us more competitive around the world and improve our combined security.”

    The Canadian Press


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    National

    Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

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    HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — A northern Alberta town and a nearby First Nation are being evacuated due to the threat of an encroaching wildfire.
    Thousands of people are being told to leave High Level, as well as the Bushe River Reserve, via Highway 58…


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  • HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — A northern Alberta town and a nearby First Nation are being evacuated due to the threat of an encroaching wildfire.

    Thousands of people are being told to leave High Level, as well as the Bushe River Reserve, via Highway 58 east of the communities since highways south and west have already been closed due to the blaze.

    The Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially from Sunday, when it covered about 25,000 hectares, to an estimated 69,000 hectares on Monday.

    At the time the evacuations were ordered, the flames were only about three kilometres from High Level.

    “The winds are pushing the smoke away from the Town of High Level. It looks very scary on the horizon, but in the Town of High Level the skies are blue and sunny and windy,” Mayor Crystal McAteer told a telephone news conference on Monday afternoon.

    Reception centres for evacuees have been set up in High Prairie and Slave Lake, and officials are arranging transportation for residents who can’t get out on their own.

    McAteer said the evacuation is being co-ordinated in zones. People should expect to be away for 72 hours.

    She said about 4,000 people from High Level were affected by the order, and another 750 from Bushe River.

    Earlier in the day, the town warned on its website that people should fill up their vehicles and collect important documents in case they were ordered to leave at short notice. Power has also been knocked out because of the fire, but was expected to be restored Monday evening.

    Mandatory evacuation orders for residents south and southeast of the town, and south of Bushe River, were issued early Monday.

    Provincial officials said the evacuation of High Level would take a maximum of eight hours, but since some people had already left, they said it could be completed sooner.

    Alberta Health Services said it had evacuated 20 patients from the Northwest Health Centre in High Level and relocated them to other communities.

    Scott Elliot, an incident commander with Alberta Wildfire, told the news conference that the wildfire was mostly headed away from High Level, but that city officials decided it was best for everyone to leave since the flames were so close.

    “If there was a subtle shift in the wind direction, that would increase the likelihood of rapid fire spread towards the community,” Elliot said.

    Crews are using sprinklers on structures on the edge of the town closest to the fire.

    McAteer said people were complying with the evacuation order.

    “People are of course afraid because they remember the wildfires of Fort McMurray, but we talked to a lot of the residents and reaffirmed that we were being proactive,” she said.

    A 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., destroyed one-tenth of the city and some 88,000 people were forced from their homes.

    Slave Lake, where a reception centre has been set up for residents of High Level, was also evacuated because of a wildfire in 2011 that destroyed parts of the community.

    The Alberta government issued a fire ban and restricted off-highway vehicle use for numerous parts of the province late last week due to forecasts that called for little precipitation and strong winds.

    Highway 16, a major thoroughfare between Edmonton and Prince George B.C., was forced to close in both direction Sunday when a wildfire crossed the roadway west of Edson, Alta., but was reopened early Monday.

    —By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

    The Canadian Press


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    Health

    Focus on traumatized boys critical to gender equality, new research shows

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    TORONTO — Boys in poor urban areas around the world are suffering even more than girls from violence, abuse and neglect, groundbreaking international research published on Monday suggests.
    The study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, along with …


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  • TORONTO — Boys in poor urban areas around the world are suffering even more than girls from violence, abuse and neglect, groundbreaking international research published on Monday suggests.

    The study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, along with similar new research, suggests an adequate focus on helping boys is critical to achieving gender equality in the longer term.

    “This is the first global study to investigate how a cluster of traumatic childhood experiences known as ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, work together to cause specific health issues in early adolescence, with terrible life-long consequences,” Dr. Robert Blum, the lead researcher for the global early adolescent study, said in a statement. “While we found young girls often suffer significantly, contrary to common belief, boys reported even greater exposure to violence and neglect, which makes them more likely to be violent in return.”

    The study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked at childhood traumas suffered by 1,284 adolescents aged 10 to 14 in more than a dozen low-income urban settings around the world such as the United States, China, the U.K., Egypt and Bolivia.

    Overall, 46 per cent of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38 per cent said they suffered emotional neglect and 29 per cent experienced physical neglect. Boys, however, were more likely to report being victims of physical neglect, sexual abuse and violence.

    While higher levels of trauma lead both boys and girls to engage in more violent behaviours, boys are more likely to become violent. Girls tend to show higher levels of depression.

    Separately, a new report to be released next month at an international conference in Vancouver concludes that focusing on boys is critical to achieving gender parity. The report from the Bellagio Working Group on Gender Equality — a global coalition of adolescent health experts — finds boys and men are frequently overlooked in the equality equation.

    “We cannot achieve a gender-equitable world by ignoring half of its occupants,” the report states. “It is crucial that boys and men be included in efforts to promote gender equality and empowerment.”

    For the past six years, a consortium of 15 countries led by the Bloomberg School of Public Health and World Health Organization has been working on the global early adolescent study. The aim is to understand how gender norms are formed in early adolescence and how they predispose young people to sexual and other health risks.

    Evidence gathered by the study indicates boys experience as much disadvantage as girls but are more likely to smoke, drink and suffer injury and death in the second decade of life than their female counterparts.

    The key to achieving gender equality over the next decade or so — as the United Nations aims to do — involves addressing conditions and stereotypes that are harmful to both girls and boys, the researchers say. They also say it’s crucial to intervene as early as age 10. The norm is now age 15.

    “Gender norms, attitudes and beliefs appear to solidify by age 15 or 16,” the working group says. “We must actively engage girls and boys at the onset of adolescence to increase total social inclusion and produce generational change.”

    Leena Augimeri, a child mental-health expert with the Child Development Institute in Toronto, agreed with the need to focus on boys as well as girls. At the same time, she said, the genders do require different approaches.

    “Boys are equally at risk,” said Augimeri, who was not involved in the studies. “When we look at the various issues that impact our children, we have to look at it from different perspectives and lenses and you can’t think there’s a one fit for all.”

     

    Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


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