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Euphoria turns to fear after shots fired at massive Raptors victory rally

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TORONTO — Hours of anticipation gave way to unbridled euphoria as a sea of Raptors fans greeted the newly crowned NBA champions with cheers, whistles and chants on Monday, but elation quickly turned to fear when gunshots interrupted the celebration in downtown Toronto.

Moments after the team emerged on stage during a rally at the end of a victory parade, the sound of gunfire sent dozens of panicked supporters running from the one end of Nathan Phillips Square, grabbing friends and children as they fled.

The festivities were briefly suspended as one of the hosts alerted the masses, most of whom had been there since the morning, that there was an emergency. Organizers urged the public to stay calm and the event resumed shortly afterwards.

Police later said four people had suffered injuries related to the shooting. Three people were arrested and two firearms were recovered, they said.

Some fans said they feared for their lives and remained shaken even after the situation returned to normal. Others said the shooting, though frightening, should not mar the festivities.

“It’s so horrible that that happened but we are united as a city and that shouldn’t define who we are or what today was about,” said Ahilan Sivakumar, 19.

Several had huddled near pillars in Nathan Phillips Square even as the team and several dignitaries — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford — remained on stage during the rally. Others dashed into a nearby hotel or leapt into bushes to get out of the way. The ceremony wrapped up a short time later.

Andrew Singh said he heard what appeared to be gunshots before people started scrambling.

“We just saw the girl drop to the floor and the guy running off,” the 29-year-old said. ” All I heard was bop bop bop.”

The rally — and the shooting that interrupted it —  capped off a day that saw fans dressed in red and black — the Raptors’ colours — take over swaths of the city’s downtown. City officials said more than a million people were gathered in and around the area.

Supporters had spent several hours at Nathan Phillips Square waiting for the team. The site was quickly overflowing with fans of all ages and police worked to stop more people from entering the area.

The victory parade, which included five open top double-decker buses carrying the players, slowed to a crawl and at times halted completely due to the crush of people along the route.

Members of the Raptors smiled from the buses, some splashing the crowds with champagne. At one point, Kyle Lowry, the longest-serving member of team, was seen hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy while some of his teammates smoked cigars.

“This is unbelievable,” said Lowry, who later carried the trophy on stage for the rally.

Kawhi Leonard, one of the team’s star players, also marvelled at the fan response. “It’s been amazing,” he said. “Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada for the support, we did it,” he said.

Canadian rapper Drake, one the team’s most famous supporters, was alongside players during the parade, smiling broadly. He later took to the stage at the rally, urging fans to take in the moment.

Construction workers watched the festivities from scaffolding along the route, and as traffic ground to a standstill on a nearby thoroughfare, some motorists left their vehicles to peer at the activity.

Many fans said they decided not to go to school or work so they could attend the celebration.

Cypher Sabanal, 15, said his mom let him skip school to attend the parade.

“I actually have exams this week but being here is worth it,” he said, adding that he’s been a Raptors fan his whole life. 

For several people, the parade marked a historic moment.

“I haven’t seen anything like this happen in the city before so it’s great to be a part of it,” said 28-year-old RJ Salvador.

Fans held up signs and enlarged heads of their basketball idols like Leonard and Fred VanVleet. Several hoisted signs urging Leonard, who will become a free agent in the off-season, to stick with the team he helped rise to the top.

Mayor John Tory declared Monday “We The North Day” in Toronto, after the NBA champions’ slogan. The mayor, dressed in his now-famous black-and-gold Raptors blazer, urged all fans to celebrate the team’s historic win.

Many who couldn’t make it downtown watched the festivities from afar. Several schools in the city showed the parade in classrooms and some held their own victory marches for students.

“Today’s history lesson in room 137! Watching the @Raptors first victory parade! I told them that one day their children will ask about where they were during the parade and to tell them that the awesome Miss Latchford put the parade on for them in class!,” one educational assistant tweeted. 

The Raptors’ championship win last week came in Game 6 of a rollercoaster series that captured national attention. On Monday, the Golden State Warriors took out a full-page advertisement in the Toronto Star newspaper, congratulating their rivals for taking the title.

The last time the city held a sports celebration of this magnitude was after the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. That parade saw fans climbing trees and statues on city streets to catch a glimpse of a team that included Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar.

— with files from Lori Ewing, Gregory Strong and Colin Perkel.

Paola Loriggio and Alanna Rizza , The Canadian Press



Agriculture

What the USMCA Might Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?

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Canada, USA, Mexico flags

We welcome guest writers to all of our Todayville platforms. Here’s a submission from Emily Folk.  Emily is passionate about agricultural sustainability and more of her work can be found on her site, Conservation Folks. In this story, Emily Folk explains the USMCA Impact on Agriculture. 

What Could USMCA Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been in the news a lot lately. The leaders of the respective nations signed the trade agreement on November 30, 2019, and ratification is pending. You can think of the USMCA as an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate NAFTA after publicly speaking unfavourably about it. The USMCA is the result of that vow. The agreement spans several areas, such as the origin of automobile parts and new labor laws in Mexico that make it easier for workers to unionize. The USMCA also has a “sunset clause” that makes its terms expire after 16 years. Plus, every six years, the leaders of the countries involved must agree on whether to extend the deal.

Some agriculture-specific stipulations also exist within the USMCA. Additionally, the agreement notably mentions biotechnology. Here’s a closer look at how the USMCA might change these two industries.

More Exporting Opportunities for Farmers

One of the key points often mentioned about the USMCA is that parties expect the agreement to cause a $2 billion increase in U.S. agriculture exports, triggering a $65 billion rise in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Canada and Mexico are currently the top two exporting markets for American farmers, supporting more than 325,000 American jobs. In 2018, the food and agricultural exports destined for Canada and Mexico totaled more than $39.7 billion.

The USMCA also opens exporting opportunities that did not exist before. Now, U.S. dairy farmers will have expanded access to send products such as fluid and powdered milk, cheese and cream to Canadian parties. There will also no longer be U.S. tariffs on whey and margarine. This change is notable, considering the Canadian dairy market produced roughly 17% of the United States’ annual output over the past three years.

In exchange, Canada will give the United States new access to chicken and eggs, plus increased access to turkey. Plus, all other agriculture products traded between the U.S. and Mexico will be under a zero-tariff model.

Moving Forward With Agricultural Biotechnology

Another improvement associated with the USMCA is that it looks at agricultural technology more broadly than other trade agreements have.

For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a proposed trade agreement between 12 nations — only addressed biotechnology regarding recombinant DNA (rDNA). That process involves joining the molecules from two different species, then inserting the product into a host to create new genetic combinations. Instead, the USMCA opens possibilities for all kinds of agricultural technology, including gene editing. Moving ahead with biotechnology could be crucial for addressing pressing matters that affect agriculture, such as water scarcity.

Approximately 700 million people suffer from water scarcity, and that number could double by 2025. Also, the agriculture industry is the greatest user of water. Things must change — both to address the growing water scarcity problem and to give farmers more options for growing things without using so much water.

Biotechnology has already helped, and it seems highly likely to continue spurring progress. In one example, scientists altered the expression of one gene common to all plants. This change led to a 25% increase in the plants’ water-use efficiency without adversely impacting yield or photosynthesis.

As part of the USMCA, Mexico, Canada and the United States agreed to improve information sharing and cooperation about biotechnology matters related to trade. That change could speed new developments, resulting in positive outcomes for all involved groups and the world at large.

Fairer Agricultural Grading Standards

A grading system for agricultural products defines trading procedures. For example, commercial buyers of a product grown in another country refer to the grading standards to set expectations about a product’s quality. The USMCA specifies that Canada will evaluate U.S. imported wheat and assign it a grade no less favourable than it would give Canadian-grown wheat.

Canada will also no longer require country of origin statements associated with inspection certificates or quality grades. The United States and Canada will discuss issues related to seed regulations under the USMCA, too.

Concerning Mexico and the United States, the two countries agreed to non-discriminatory grading standards and services. Moreover, a dialogue will begin between the two countries to flesh out the details for quality standards and grading regarding trade.

A Promising Future

It’s too early to say what the real-life effects will be of the changes outlined here. But, the commitments laid out within the USMCA seem like they’ll represent clear improvements for agriculture professionals, as well as everyone who benefits from their goods.

 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.  You can read more of my work by clicking this link:   Conservation Folks.

 

 

 

Extreme Weather Patterns Causing State of Agricultural Emergency in Canada

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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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february, 2020

sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG(january 12) 2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

sun02feb(feb 2)7:00 pmsun15mar(mar 15)8:00 pm7:00 pm - (march 15) 8:00 pm Festival Hall, 4214 58 St, Red Deer, AB Event Organized By: Country Pride Dance Club

fri28febsun01mar54th Annual Sport & Outdoor Show4:00 pm - (march 1) 9:00 pm

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