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Freeland calls ex-envoy’s advice to China about election ‘highly inappropriate’

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is seeking to distance the Trudeau government from its former ambassador to China, a day after he said he has warned Chinese officials that further punishments against Canada could help the opposition Conservatives win the fall election.

Asked by reporters Thursday about John McCallum’s remarks, Freeland said it’s “highly inappropriate” for any Canadian to advise a foreign government on how it can influence an election result in Canada. Nor should any Canadian advise a foreign government on which electoral outcomes would be best for that government, she added.

In her response about McCallum, she also made a point of highlighting the government’s ongoing efforts to protect Canada from foreign election interference.

“Let me say first of all — very clearly — that Mr. McCallum does not speak for the government of Canada,” said Freeland, who reminded reporters on the conference call that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked for McCallum’s resignation earlier this year. Freeland was in London, where she participated in a global conference on media freedom.

“I think that it is highly inappropriate for any Canadian to be offering advice or opinions to any foreign government on how that government ought or ought not to behave to secure any particular election outcome in Canada.”

McCallum’s recent comments to the South China Morning Post came with the two countries locked in a diplomatic dispute that has seen Chinese authorities block key imports from Canada and detain two Canadians on espionage charges.

He told the newspaper that he warned his contacts in China’s foreign ministry that further negative actions against Canada would help the Conservatives, a party he described as much less friendly to China.

McCallum, an economist and Liberal cabinet minister before he was named an ambassador, was fired by Trudeau in January after going off-script in the government’s efforts to win the release of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

He’s now an adviser specializing in China-Canada business at law firm McMillan.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer attacked Trudeau this week for giving McCallum one of Canada’s most important diplomatic posts.

“I forcefully and unequivocally condemn recent comments by high-profile Liberals encouraging the Chinese government to help re-elect the government this October,” Scheer said in a statement Wednesday.

“This invitation of foreign interference in the Canadian election — to a regime that has proven itself hostile to Canadian interests — is absolutely reprehensible.”

Freeland noted how liberal democracy is under threat as countries like Canada try to address foreign election interference.

“Canada’s election is about Canadians, full stop,” she said Thursday.

“Canada’s election, coming in the fall in October, is the moment when Canadians — and Canadians only — decide who should next lead their country.”

The diplomatic conflict erupted in December when Canadian authorities arrested Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.

The arrest of Huawei’s Meng has enraged the Chinese government, which has demanded her release.

In the days following her arrest, Chinese authorities detained Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations of undermining China’s national security.

Chinese officials have also increased inspections on Canadian goods that have led to the suspension or obstruction of key agricultural imports, including meat and canola.

Andy Blatchford, 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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october, 2019

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