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Meng loses publication ban request on HSBC materials obtained via Hong Kong court

Meng loses ban request

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has dismissed an application for a publication ban from Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on new evidence that her legal team wants to introduce in her fight against extradition to the United States.

Legal counsel for a media consortium including The Canadian Press that opposed the ban advises that the application has been dismissed, but the reasons for the decision have not been provided to CP or reviewed by it and they have not been publicly released.

Meng's lawyers obtained the new material from HSBC through an agreement in a Hong Kong court that they have said includes a stipulation that they protect confidential information.

Lawyers for Canada's attorney general opposed the application, arguing it goes too far by seeking a ban on all of the documents when redacting private information would do.

Meng is wanted by the United States on bank fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny.

She is accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei's control over another company, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Meng has been living in one of her Vancouver homes on bail since her arrest at the city's airport in December 2018.



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Yukon election followed the rules, lawyer for chief electoral officer tells court

Yukon election upheld

A lawyer for Yukon's top election official says the process to authorize a special ballot for a jailed voter in a riding where the Liberal incumbent lost her seat in a tie vote did not breach the territory's election rules.

Mark Wallace, the lawyer for chief electoral officer Maxwell Harvey, told the Supreme Court of Yukon that the Election Act allows for interpretation that safeguards elections and ensures people are not deprived of the right to vote.

Former health minister Pauline Frost tied in the riding of Vuntut Gwitchin with New Democrat Annie Blake, who was declared the winner after the drawing of lots, spurring Frost's court challenge alleging two people were ineligible to vote there.

Wallace told the court that adopting the petitioner's interpretation of the rules for identification and residency would disenfranchise homeless, incarcerated and transient voters,while threatening public confidence in the system.

James Tucker, a lawyer for Frost, has told the court the man imprisoned in Whitehorse indicated he wanted to vote in his home riding of Vuntut Gwitchin, and he was allowed to cast a special ballot without the required residency verification.

The results of April's election left Premier Sandy Silver's Liberals tied with the Yukon Party at eight seats each, but Silver struck an agreement with the NDP allowing him to form a minority government with support from the party's three members.



Céline Dion says she had nothing to do with photo of her in Las Vegas hockey gear

Dion's heart with Habs

Céline Dion says she had nothing to do with a photo that appeared to depict her dressed in Vegas Golden Knights gear and saw critics accuse her of abandoning her Quebec roots.

The image, which some media outlets have reported was photoshopped and which was shown in the Las Vegas arena before Tuesday's game between the Knights and the Montreal Canadiens, caused a stir in Quebec.

Dion, who is originally from the Montreal suburb of Charlemagne, Que., issued a tweet today saying she had "nothing to do" with the image but making no other comment on the issue.

The Habs and Knights are set to face off in Game 6 of their best-of-seven semifinal in Montreal tonight.

Montreal currently leads the series 3-2 and, for the first time since 1993, is one win away from the Stanley Cup final.

At some Montreal bars, patrons have been told to arrive between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. if they want to get a table to watch the 8 p.m. game.

Quebec's COVID-19 restrictions require bar patrons to be seated, and dancing is not allowed.

Bar operators in downtown Montreal say the Habs' playoff run has led to a dramatic increase in business, following months of pandemic-related closures and other restrictions.

Still, some say they're worried victory celebrations may get out of control.



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751 unmarked graves at Saskatchewan residential school: First Nation

751 graves in Saskatchewan

A Saskatchewan First Nation says it has found 751 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school.

The Cowessess First Nation says ground-penetrating radar recently discovered the graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School.

It says the number is the highest to date found in Canada.

"We always knew that there were graves here," Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told a virtual news conference Thursday.

He showed a photo of a grassy field with coloured markers sticking out of the ground.

"The grave site is there and it is real," he said.

"There are 751 flags."

Last month, a First Nation in British Columbia announced ground-penetrating radar had found what are believed to be the remains of 215 children buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops. The school was once the largest in Canada's residential school network.

An estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children attended the schools between the 1860s and 1996. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented stories from survivors and families and issued a report in 2015.

The report details mistreatment at the schools, including the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and at least 4,100 deaths.

The Cowessess school, about 160 kilometres east of Regina, was built in 1899 by Roman Catholic missionaries. Delorme says it closed in 1996.

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.



Defence minister has lost all credibility on military sex misconduct: experts

'Sajjan has lost credibility'

Several experts say Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has lost all credibility when it comes to tackling sexual misconduct in the ranks.

The comments follow a report from The Canadian Press that one of Sajjan's military assistants was ordered suspended three years ago from the Vancouver Police Department for having had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

Sajjan's office says the two men served together as senior officers in the same army reserve unit, but that neither the minister nor his staff knew about Maj. Greg McCullough's past and the military was responsible for hiring him to the position.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously defended Sajjan, who was already facing opposition calls to resign for his handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving senior commanders.

But Megan MacKenzie, an expert on military sexual misconduct at Simon Fraser University, says the latest revelation suggests the minister himself is part an "Old Boys network" where senior military officers protect each despite allegations of misconduct.

Charlotte Duval-Lantoine of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says Sajjan has lost all moral authority when it comes to leading the type of change that is needed to eliminate inappropriate and criminal sexual behaviour in the ranks.



Bennett apologizes after Wilson-Raybould calls out her 'Pension?' message as racist

Apology over pension text

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has apologized after she was called out for a one-word text message to Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Bennett messaged the word "Pension?" in response to Wilson-Raybould's tweet seeking concrete federal action as a Saskatchewan First Nation announced 751 unmarked graves have been found on the site of a former Indigenous residential school in that province.

The pension response was in reaction to Wilson-Raybould's further call that the prime minister quit his "selfish jockeying" for a federal election Wilson-Raybould says "no one" wants.

Members of Parliament must serve for six years before becoming eligible for a pension and Wilson-Raybould, elected in October 2015, would miss that mark if she were not re-elected in a fall vote.

She fired back at Bennett, saying the minister's tweet was both racist and misogynistic, prompting a quick apology from the minister.

Bennett's online post said she had apologized directly to Wilson-Raybould, but neither politician has responded to requests for further details.

"I let interpersonal dynamics get the better of me and sent an insensitive and inappropriate comment, which I deeply regret and shouldn’t have done," Bennett says in a statement on her Twitter account.

Wilson-Raybould's response to Bennett's initial pension query said the post reflects the notion that Indigenous Peoples are "lazy & only want $."

"Shows disregard, disdain, & disrespect for Indigenous peoples, as in our history," she wrote. "Conveys a strong Indigenous woman, is a bad Indig woman."

Wilson-Raybould was appointed as Canada's first Indigenous justice minister under the Liberal government but was booted from caucus in 2019 after she accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of pressuring her to secure a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin.

She had earlier resigned as a cabinet minister over the affair.

In August 2019, the federal ethics commissioner concluded that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring Wilson-Raybould to halt a criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering giant on corruption charges related to contracts in Libya.

Wilson-Raybould was re-elected as an Independent MP in October 2019.



New Brunswick proposes solution to open Atlantic bubble and end border blockade

Border blockade removed

UPDATE: 6:45 a.m.

A blockade along the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick protesting Nova Scotia's COVID-19 travel restrictions has come down.

A Nova Scotia detachment of the RCMP says arrests were made as traffic began to flow again on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Police warned that because traffic is heavy in the Amherst, N.S., area, drivers should remain vigilant and proceed with caution.

The blockade near the provincial border disrupted commerce and led to the cancellation of more than 100 medical appointments.

Protesters stopped traffic between the two provinces after the Nova Scotia government announced Tuesday that travellers from New Brunswick would need to self-isolate upon arrival.

Nova Scotia's decision came one day before the province's boundaries were to reopen to free travel from the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Unlike travellers from New Brunswick, people from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador wouldn't have to self-isolate.


ORIGINAL: 6:25 a.m.

A meeting of the four Atlantic premiers Wednesday afternoon ended with officials from Nova Scotia set to consider a proposal from New Brunswick to end a blockade of the Trans-Canada Highway by protesters angry at Nova Scotia's COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The blockade near the New Brunswick border on Wednesday caused traffic chaos, disrupting commerce and leading to the cancellation of more than 100 medical appointments.

The protest began after the Nova Scotia government announced Tuesday — one day before the province's boundaries were to reopen to free travel from the rest of Atlantic Canada — that travellers from New Brunswick would need to self-isolate upon arrival even though people from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador wouldn't have to. New Brunswick travellers would be subject to isolation requirements based on their vaccination status and COVID-19 test results.

Premier Iain Rankin has said the health measures are necessary because of New Brunswick's move last week to reopen its boundaries to Canadian travellers without requiring them to self-isolate as long as they have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

But Wednesday evening, following the meeting of the premiers, New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs said he's offered to share with Nova Scotia the information his province gathers from motorists as they enter New Brunswick from the rest of the country.

"We ask them for registration and proof of vaccination and we give them the rules and regulations based on what we're doing. But we do that same thing for every other Atlantic province. We tell them the rules for each respective province," Higgs said.

"We can give (Nova Scotia) the names of who is coming to Nova Scotia and they can call them and contact them, have them tested or isolated, whatever they want to do. It doesn't impact what should happen within the Atlantic bubble. The rest of us should be able to move freely through the four provinces," Higgs said.

He said Rankin said he would consider the idea, but gave no commitment on timing, although Higgs said it needs to happen quickly because people are being unnecessarily impacted by the blockade.

Nova Scotia RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Marshall said talks were ongoing between protesters and officers at the scene in an attempt to get traffic moving again.

"A few trucks with essential goods have gotten through and a few essential workers as well, but we continue to be engaged in a dialogue with protesters to hopefully peacefully resolve this," Marshall said in an interview.

Marshall said traffic was shut down in both directions overnight after a protest that began Tuesday at Exit 7 near the Cobequid Pass moved to the border area outside Amherst, N.S. He said police were advising motorists to avoid the area, which is one of the only entry points between the two provinces.

"The impact here is fairly significant, so we are working to get things reopened here as quickly as we can," Marshall said.

Rankin was on the province's South Shore Wednesday to make two funding announcements and wasn't immediately available to speak to The Canadian Press. But the CBC reported the premier told reporters in Lunenburg, N.S., that he wasn't pressed to seek a court injunction to stop the protest, adding that he hoped people recognized "the irony in blocking a highway that they want open."

Meanwhile, Bethany McCormick, vice-president of operations for Nova Scotia Health's northern zone, said services at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre in Amherst had been affected because a number of staff and physicians who live in New Brunswick weren't able to report to work.

"A number of our employees and physicians have experienced long delays at the border or an inability to cross the blockade altogether," McCormick said in an interview. She said the staffing shortage has led to the cancellation of 120 clinic appointments for such things as outpatient services, blood collection and diagnostic imaging.

Amherst Mayor David Kogon said the emotional reaction of some people in the area to the border measures has ranged from "severe disappointment to total outrage."

"Their expectations were dashed," Kogon said in an interview Wednesday. "They had an expectation to be able to see family and friends and do business in New Brunswick on June 23 and that didn't happen."



Canadians must be savvy in navigating COVID-19 expertise

Careful with COVID advice

As scientific and medical discourse plays out in real time online and in the media during the COVID-19 pandemic, observers specializing in science and risk communication say Canadians must be even more discerning in choosing which expert voices they listen to and amplify.

The recent government guidance on mixing and matching mRNA vaccines amid delivery delays is one of the latest issues to stir up public debate, including within the scientific community.

While access to a wide variety of sources and less institutional gatekeeping are positive overall, the sheer volume of information can contribute to confusion, particularly when it is changing so quickly, said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and risk communication expert at Ryerson University.

"Science itself is doing the best it can, is running as fast as it can, just to keep up to date with the knowledge," he said.

Over time, "the weight of the evidence changes," and a clearer message emerges, he said. But in the meantime, "every day, every radio station's got two or three experts on their phone-in show," he said.

As well, an emergency room physician's perspective on the available knowledge will likely be different from that of a virology expert or someone working with vulnerable communities -- a distinction that may not be immediately evident to the public, he said.

Doctors themselves are among those highlighting the highly specialized nature of expertise related to the pandemic.

"We’re clearly at a crossroads in the COVID social media world. Lots of different opinions. Lots of experts," Dr. Shady Ashamalla, head of general surgery at Toronto's Sunnybrook hospital, said in a tweet earlier this week.

"But just remember being an expert in one thing doesn't make you an expert in another...ie being a cancer surgeon doesn’t make me an expert in infectious disease and so on."

Media outlets, too, must be mindful of which voices they are elevating as experts on any given topic, said Sarah Everts, a former scientist and science journalist now teaching at Carleton University.

In covering the pandemic, media can't assume that "literally anybody who's a scientist can pontificate on all aspects of science with the same level of expertise," she said.

It's also important to communicate to the public "the background of the person whose voice you're amplifying with a quote or an opinion, and why you're letting them spout that opinion, as opposed to somebody else," she said.

The global health crisis is bringing to light the "inherent messiness" of science, and media must be careful when seeking sources and information on an issue where there has yet to be a consensus, Everts said.

"This is the first time that the public is really watching science happen in real time," she said.

"Effectively how science has always worked is debate and discussion, and then consensus is achieved, and then generally, hopefully, the media reports on that consensus. ... Well, what's happening now is always something new and the scientists are all debating it."

It's important to look beyond academic credentials in assessing people's expertise, said Samantha Yammine, a neuroscientist and science communicator who goes by Science Sam on social media.

"We've seen many people with an MD and a PhD and an MPH and all the right degrees still give really bad hot takes," she said.

One red flag, she said, is when someone is voicing personal opinions on a broad array of topics, since it's unlikely they have expertise in all of them.

"The best sources of information are those who often reference other people and consensus of experts on a specific field," she said.

Consolidating sources by sharing and referencing existing information can also help scientists avoid contributing to the "avalanche of information," Yammine said.

"I think in everyone's genuine efforts to help, we've incidentally contributed to a higher volume of noise -- even though some of that noise is good, the core problem is that there's just too much," she said.



The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, June 24, 2021

COVID-19: latest numbers

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of Thursday, June 24, 2021. 

Canada: 1,410,927 confirmed cases (9,645 active, 1,375,107 resolved, 26,175 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 727 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 25.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,788 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 827.

There were 21 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 176 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 25. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 68.87 per 100,000 people.

There have been 36,344,745 tests completed.

Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,384 confirmed cases (17 active, 1,360 resolved, seven deaths).

There were zero new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 296,511 tests completed.

Prince Edward Island: 206 confirmed cases (zero active, 206 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases reported Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 172,743 tests completed.

Nova Scotia: 5,793 confirmed cases (60 active, 5,641 resolved, 92 deaths).

There were zero new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 6.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 34 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is five.

There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.39 per 100,000 people.

There have been 914,063 tests completed.

New Brunswick: 2,320 confirmed cases (44 active, 2,231 resolved, 45 deaths).

There was one new case reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 5.63 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 15 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 5.76 per 100,000 people.

There have been 370,126 tests completed.

Quebec: 374,222 confirmed cases (1,184 active, 361,840 resolved, 11,198 deaths).

There were 127 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 852 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 122.

There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 21 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 130.6 per 100,000 people.

There have been 9,688,894 tests completed.

Ontario: 543,019 confirmed cases (3,032 active, 530,894 resolved, 9,093 deaths).

There were 255 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,209 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 316.

There were 11 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 107 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 61.71 per 100,000 people.

There have been 15,606,604 tests completed.

Manitoba: 55,589 confirmed cases (1,789 active, 52,668 resolved, 1,132 deaths).

There were 123 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 129.71 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 857 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 122.

There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 22 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 82.07 per 100,000 people.

There have been 855,971 tests completed.

Saskatchewan: 48,537 confirmed cases (607 active, 47,365 resolved, 565 deaths).

There were 34 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 51.5 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 412 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 59.

There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of four new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.93 per 100,000 people.

There have been 900,949 tests completed.

Alberta: 231,568 confirmed cases (1,676 active, 227,600 resolved, 2,292 deaths).

There were 92 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 37.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 710 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 101.

There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 51.83 per 100,000 people.

There have been 4,636,175 tests completed.

British Columbia: 147,271 confirmed cases (1,144 active, 144,383 resolved, 1,744 deaths).

There were 87 new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 22.22 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 597 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 85.

There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of six new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.88 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,851,459 tests completed.

Yukon: 220 confirmed cases (92 active, 125 resolved, three deaths).

There were eight new cases reported Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 218.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 100 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 14.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 7.13 per 100,000 people.

There have been 9,129 tests completed.

Northwest Territories: 128 confirmed cases (zero active, 128 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases reported Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 24,548 tests completed.

Nunavut: 657 confirmed cases (zero active, 653 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases reported Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 10.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 17,497 tests completed.



Alberta paleontologists find dramatic change in bite force as tyrannosaurs matured

T-Rex teeth got bigger

Tyrannosaurs are well known as having been ferocious predators at the top of the food chain millions of years ago, but a study led by an Alberta-based researcher shows the reptiles didn't start out life that way.

François Therrien, curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta., said the study focused on tyrannosaur teeth and their dramatic change as they matured.

He collaborated with Darla Zelenitsky and Jared Voris of the University of Calgary, as well as Kohei Tanaka of the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

For the study, published this week in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, the researchers examined the lower jaws from the Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus, types of tyrannosaurs commonly found in Canada that predated the T. rex by millions of years.

"Our fossil records for those two species of tyrannosaurs is excellent," Therrien said about the collection at the museum.

"We have so many specimens of those ... that represent a full growth series from very young individuals that were probably three or four years of age all the way to fully grown adults that were over 20 years of age."

By examining a wide range of fossils, the researchers were able to see a significant change in tooth size and jaw force once the tyrannosaurs reached about 11 years of age.

Feeding behaviour did not appear to change during the lifespan of the tyrannosaurs, because their jaws were adapted to capturing and seizing prey with their mouths, probably because the forelimbs were too short to grasp food, Therrien said.

"Tyrannosaurs were truly unique when you look at all the theropods," he said. "They were atypical ... because their bite and their skulls were their main weapon for killing prey."

But what did change, he said, is the size of their teeth and their bite force.

A tyrannosaur at about three years of age was still a deadly predator, but it had smaller blade-like teeth that could only slice through flesh. The bite force, Therrien added, was about 10 per cent that of a fully grown alligator.

That means younger tyrannosaurs ate smaller prey and had to compete with other like-sized predators such as the Velociraptor.

Once tyrannosaurs turned 11, Therrien explained, they went through a growth spurt in which their teeth became larger and wider. By the time the reptiles were fully grown, their bite force was eight times more than that of an alligator.

And that meant their diets also changed.

"These teeth were better adapted for resisting twisting stresses either associated with biting of big prey or even crushing bone."

Therrien said his study shows that young tyrannosaurs were distinct predators that occupied different ecological niches.

"Young tyrannosaurs were not just scaled-down versions of the mature parents," he said. "They were creatures that actually had their own lifestyles."



First Nation to hold news conference about discovery of 'hundreds of unmarked graves'

Unmarked graves at school

A First Nation in southern Saskatchewan is to hold a virtual news conference Thursday morning about what it calls "the horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves" at the site of a former residential school.

The Cowessess First Nation says the number of unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School will be the most substantial to date found in Canada.

The First Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations say the community and school site about 160 kilometres east of Regina are closed.

They are asking the media to be respectful of survivors, descendants and the communities affected by the discovery.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation says on its website that the Cowessess school was built in 1899 by Roman Catholic missionaries.

Perry Bellegarde, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a tweet late Wednesday that the finding at Cowessess is “absolutely tragic, but not surprising.”

“I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely difficult and emotional time.”

The federal government began funding the school in 1901 and took over its administration in 1969. The school was turned over to the Cowessess First Nation in 1987, and it was closed 10 years later.

Last month, the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Nation in British Columbia announced the discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.



Liberals introduce bill to combat online hate speech as Commons adjourns for summer

Hate speech bill tabled

The Liberal government has introduced a bill it says will protect Canadians from online hate speech, insisting it is committed to the legislation despite announcing it hours after the House of Commons rose for a summer break.

The bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to reinstate an amended version of a controversial section that was repealed in 2013 amid widespread criticism that it violated freedom of speech rights. It also amends the Criminal Code and Youth Criminal Justice Act.

It would more narrowly define hatred to mean "the emotion that involves detestation or vilification" that is "stronger than dislike or disdain." And it would specify that a statement would not be considered hate speech "solely because it discredits, humiliates or offends."

"Hate and vilification are realities for Indigenous people, Asian, Jewish and Black Canadians, LGBTQ2 people and people with disabilities," said Justice Minister David Lametti at a news conference Wednesday. "And some of the worst examples of hate are visible online, in that virtual public space."

The bill would allow individuals or groups to file hate speech complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which would be empowered to order perpetrators to cease communications or, in some cases, to pay monetary compensation and penalties.

It comes weeks after police said a 20-year-old man intentionally drove his truck into a Muslim family out for a walk in London, Ont. Nathaniel Veltman faces four first-degree murder charges and an attempted murder charge that prosecutors allege constitutes an act of terrorism.

The bill has little chance of becoming law any time soon. It was introduced just as the House of Commons adjourned for the summer and, if an election is called as many expect before September, it will die.

Lametti and several other ministers at the news conference insisted that the legislation was important to the government and that it was committed to ensuring its passage. He and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also highlighted other actions the Liberals have taken on online hatred.

"The recent events in London, tragically, although they didn't raise new issues, did put this in the spotlight," Lametti added. "We heard the cries to say, 'We know you're moving on this but we want you to act as quickly as possible.'"

Pressed on whether the amendments to the Human Rights Act would realistically make an impact on online hate speech — given that victims would have to initiate a potentially years-long tribunal proceeding to remove an offending comment — the ministers said the changes were an important step advocates have long been asking for.

"Clarifying the definition of hatred, both in the criminal law and in the CHRA, will be helpful in defining the parameters of the public space," said Lametti. "We won't catch everything that's awful out there. But we will identify a lot of things that are unlawful and that’s what we're targeting."

The government also said the bill will be complemented by a regulatory framework to tackle harmful content online and, in the coming weeks, it will engage Canadians on a discussion paper that will outline the proposal for holding social media platforms accountable for hateful content online.

The framework, as set out in the discussion paper, would create rules for how social media platforms and other online services address hate speech, terrorist content, material that incites violence, child sexual exploitation and non-consensual distribution of intimate images.



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