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National

Premier refuses to back down on plan to scrap 18,000 immigration applications

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Quebec Premier Francois Legault is holding firm on his plan to scrap thousands of pending immigration applications, meaning 18,000 applicants would have to restart the process from scratch.

Legault’s comments Saturday came before the Coalition Avenir Quebec government’s immigration reform bill was expected to pass in the wee hours of Sunday morning, despite pleas from the opposition.

“The old (selection) criteria do not meet the needs of the labour market,” Legault said, speaking with reporters at the National Assembly before starting to fast-track Bill 9 in a rare weekend session likely to carry on past midnight.

“Everything that had to be said has been said,” he added, stressing employers’ concerns over a labour shortage.

The legislation would give the immigration minister more authority over who receives permanent residency in Quebec. It would also allow the government to cancel roughly 18,000 immigration applications, some from people who waited in limbo for years as their files languished in the old system.

Those affected would have to submit another application under a new system, known as Arrima, put in place by the former Liberal government last September. Including the applicants’ families, the total number of people affected by the legislation amounts to roughly 50,000.

The three opposition parties sought to derail the legislative session Saturday, but the Speaker rejected arguments that a motion introduced by Coalition party house leader Simon Jolin-Barrette does not respect the spirit of 2009 reforms stipulating a parliamentary gag order can target only one bill.

Before breaking for the summer, the legislature is slated to sit through the weekend to debate Bill 9 and, on Sunday, Bill 21, a controversial secularism bill that would ban public servants including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards from wearing religious symbols on the job.

The legislative mechanism of closure allows the government to end debate and use its majority to force a vote.

Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade said that, since filing Bill 9 in February, the government has provided “no credible explanation” to eliminate the 18,000 applications. She denounced the gag order as an outgrowth of the “stubbornness” of Legault and Jolin-Barrette, who serves as immigration minister as well as house leader.

The Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire said the applications of the 3,700 immigration candidates who have already settled in Quebec should be given priority under the new rules.

During question period in the House, Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Masse implored the premier to show “humanity” and “compassion” for the immigration candidates. Quebec Solidaire MNA Andres Fontecilla begged the government to perform a “last gesture of humanity.”

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the party’s other co-spokesperson, said the government had moved more swiftly than its predecessors to enact a gag order.

“Contrary to the claims of the government, there was no obstruction, there was no blockage, there was no sneering, but an authoritarian coup de force,” he said in a scrum before the start of the weekend session.

Jocelyne Richer, 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

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thu21novAll Daysun24Festival of Trees(All Day)

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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

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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

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