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Toronto Star

Go Transit Lakeshore West line closed for Tuesday morning rush hour between Aldershot and Hamilton

Feb 24, 2020 11:20:00 PM

rail protest go transit lakeshore west line closed for tuesday morning rush hour between aldershot and hamilton 24 02 2020 gta news thestar dam content  https:

There will be no service during the morning rush hour along the Go Transit’s Lakeshore West line between Aldershot and Hamilton stations after protestors blocked train tracks in support of the Wet’suwet’en nation Monday night.

A group on Facebook called Wet’suwet’en Strong: Hamilton in Solidarity says they are blocking trains in response to the OPP’s dismantling the rail blockade in Tyendinaga, close to Belleville in eastern Ontario.

“Our intention is to stay here indefinitely and we are calling on others to join us,” a post on the Facebook group read.

About 20 to 30 protesters stationed themselves in a CN rail yard near the Lakeshore West line that goes toward Niagara Falls around 5:45 p.m. Monday, said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins. The tracks don’t belong to Go Transit but nonetheless prevented trains from running through Hamilton and West Harbour stations.

“We don’t have access to those tracks so we’re going to be stopping trains at Aldershot to stay safe,” she told the Star Monday night.

Trains won’t running through the Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Hamilton, and West Harbour stations during the Tuesday morning rush hour as a result, Marie Aikins said. Shuttle buses from Aldershot station will provide service in the meantime.

“Because our trains got stopped, they didn’t get to go where they’re supposed to go, and so they are in the wrong position for the morning service,” Marie Aikins said. “They have settled in it looks like, there are chairs, and fires, and so forth.”

Hamilton police, CN Rail police and Metrolinx security have been monitoring the situation, she said.

The group was served an injunction around 10:30 p.m. Monday, which was “happily burned,” according to a statement on their Facebook page.

Protestors across Canada have been blocking trains ever since the RCMP enforced an injunction to begin construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through the nation in early February.

With files from Katrina Clarke from The Hamilton Spectator.

Miriam Lafontaine is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star's radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @mirilafontaine

‘This is really just the beginning.’ Canadian #silencebreaker Erika Rosenbaum says after Weinstein verdict

Feb 24, 2020 8:45:11 PM

erika rosenbaum this is really just the beginning canadian weinstein silencebreaker erika rosenbaum speaks out after verdict 24 02 2020 gta news thestar dam content  https:

Actor and photographer Erika Rosenbaum was out enjoying the sunshine when she got the first text from a friend.

Then five texts. And a flood of emails and calls.

Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul whose case has become emblematic of the #metoo movement, was finally behind bars.

“You could never have sold me this script if I was a movie producer,” said the Montreal-based Rosenbaum, who is among the more than 90 women who’ve publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault, and never quite believed he’d face justice.

“I cannot fathom what’s going through his mind today, but I really hope that people everywhere recognize that even the very rich and the very powerful and the seemingly untouchable will be held to account for this kind of behaviour.”

The 67-year-old was found guilty of rape and sexual assault against two women in a New York courtroom Monday, and faces up to 29 years in prison.

The jury did not find him guilty of the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault, each carrying up to a life sentence. It was the first criminal trial to arise out of allegations from many more women. Most of those cases were too old to prosecute.

Rosenbaum is one of a group of around 30, which includes Ashley Judd and Rosanna Arquette, who spoke out about the now convicted serial predator in the original New York Times and New Yorker reporting.

They call themselves the Silence Breakers.

“It’s a sort of a unique group that no one asked to be a part of, but we’re all so grateful to be together and to have each other’s support,” the 39-year-old said by phone Monday afternoon.

Rosenbaum has alleged that Weinstein made aggressive sexual advances during three separate meetings about 15 years ago, including one in a hotel room during the Toronto International Film Festival where she said he held her by the back of her neck and masturbated while standing behind her. Weinstein has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying any sexual activity was consensual.

“I know that this is really just the beginning, this isn’t the end,” she said. “But that untouchable man that we were all so afraid of for so long, he was sitting in Rikers (island jail) when we were doing our press interviews today.”

Twenty-three members of Silence Breakers, including Rosenbaum, released a joint statement on Twitter after the verdict was announced.

“While it is disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full, justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted serial predator,” it read in part.

“This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out ... their bravery will forever be remembered in history.”

Rosenbaum does feel the entertainment industry is changing, especially in Canada, where she says the union ACTRA “stepped up to the plate immediately.”

It has hosted open forums for members, and introduced a code of conduct for sets. And there are lots of “survivor-led initiatives” to combat abuse. Like #Aftermetoo, a movement working towards ending workplace sexual violence, co-founded by Canadian actress Mia Kirshner.

Known for her roles on The L Word, and 24, Kirshner told the New York Times that Weinstein offered her a career opportunity in exchange for sex, which she rejected, in a hotel room when she was 19.

“The jury came back. Harvey Weinstein is found guilty. He is. He did this,” she tweeted Monday.

“Personally, I am happy to see his conviction and that some justice has been served. There is still so much more to do to address, repair, and change a system that allows and protects a sexual predator, and overlooks the safety of women and vulnerable people,” added producer, writer, director and co-creator of #AfterMeToo Aisling Chin-Yee in an email.

“This conviction only scratches the surface to account for Weinstein’s predatory behaviour.”

For Rosenbaum, there’s a sense that this moment represents one battle.

“But really the war wages on for equality, in every industry and every part of life.”

With files from the New York Times and The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

Alberta pushes to kill Liberal plan to enshrine UN declaration on Indigenous rights

Feb 24, 2020 9:10:04 PM

justin trudeau alberta pushes to kill liberal plan to enshrine un declaration on indigenous rights 24 02 2020 federal politics thestar dam content  https:

OTTAWA—Justin Trudeau, blamed by the Conservative Opposition for economic damage caused by rail blockades and Teck Resources’ decision to kill a massive oilsands project, faces new calls from Alberta to ditch plans to enshrine the UN declaration on rights of Indigenous peoples in Canadian law.

Ottawa and Alberta traded accusations Monday over their respective economic and climate action — or inaction — plans.

Now a new battlefront may be looming — one that will again test Trudeau’s ability to triangulate the Liberal government’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people, his promise to accommodate environmentalists’ concerns about energy projects, and to “transition” Canada’s economy to a cleaner, greener posture without killing the oil and gas sector.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was furious Monday about what he said is a failure by Trudeau’s government to chart a clear path for companies like Teck Resources to develop energy projects.

And he is privately warning that a promised law to enact UN principles and protections for Indigenous peoples’ rights would only serve to introduce more uncertainty for investors.

At a news conference in which he lamented Teck Resources’ decision to abandon the proposed Frontier oilsands mine on Saturday, Kenney hailed his own court victory in Alberta’s fight against Trudeau’s carbon pricing scheme.

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled Monday in favour of Alberta’s challenge of the federal carbon pricing plan. The 4-1 ruling called it an unconstitutional overreach into provincial areas of responsibility.

The federal Liberal government, on the other hand, insisted it will defend its carbon levy at the country’s top court next month, and is confident it will be upheld. Two other appeal courts, in Saskatchewan and Ontario have validated the federal carbon pricing plan, agreeing with the Trudeau government’s argument that climate change requires federal leadership.

Kenney slammed Trudeau’s government for allowing “urban green left zealots” to slam the door on economic opportunities for Indigenous people, and to mount protests to the oil and gas sector that he said vetoed a number of energy projects.

He listed the 2017 cancellation of Petronas’ Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project in B.C., the withdrawal of Trans-Canada’s Energy East pipeline proposal, the federal decision to disallow the Northern Gateway project and now Teck as examples of projects doomed by federal policy failures.

“I’ve been on the phone with major investors with whom we have been working over the past several months … who have cancelled, frozen and suspended major projected investments in our economy because of the massive uncertainty created by appearance of anarchy in parts of this country,” Kenney said.

“We need national leadership to ensure that Canada is a country characterized by the rule of law,” Kenney said.

The federal Liberals, on the other hand, pointed the finger at Kenney’s government for failing to enact a credible climate action regulatory plan, and quoting Teck Resources’ letter that announced the company was abandoning the project. Teck said it supported carbon pricing and other action, but added “until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development … it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

Kenney said “Alberta will do its part” to avoid crises like rail blockades, announcing the immediate tabling of a bill to protect critical infrastructure that would provide new stiff penalties for anyone who “riots on or seeks to impair” infrastructure including rails in Alberta.

Kenney said First Nations groups should be “partners in prosperity,” and underscored that his government was able to reach revenue-sharing agreements with Indigenous communities including on Saturday, with the two First Nations closest to Teck’s now defunct Frontier Mine proposal.

Kenney has urged Trudeau to drop the plan for legislation to enshrine the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (or UNDRIP), and the Alberta premier also raised it last Thursday during the all-premiers conference call with Trudeau. He has since reached out to Quebec Premier François Legault for support, a source with knowledge of the discussion told the Star.

Legault is said to agree the legislation should be delayed, however Legault’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Kenney said the Liberal government had to be “very careful” to avoid entrenching in Canadian law “the UNDRIP veto” — or what some Indigenous activists believe is a veto over land development.

Other legal experts such as University of Victoria law professor John Burrows, who is Anishinabe and holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, say the UN document does not contain a veto.

The UN declaration underlines Indigenous rights to protect their culture, identity, religion, language, health, education and community.

It says: “Indigenous peoples have the right to redress” either by restitution or “just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.”

Kenney believes any attempt to implement the United Nations declaration will only add new and greater uncertainty at a time when Canadian courts are finally starting to provide clarity about what the “duty to consult” means in Canadian constitutional law, said an insider privy to the discussions.

On Feb. 4, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled against a challenge by several Indigenous nations to the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion plan, saying the federal Liberal government had met its duty to consult. Ottawa had expanded consultations in response to an earlier ruling in August 2018. The federal appeal court this month said that the duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous concerns “does not guarantee outcomes.”

It ruled that consultations must be meaningful, but do not amount to a veto: “The law is clear that no such veto exists.”

For its part, the Liberal government says it campaigned on the promise to implement UNDRIP, and still intends to table a bill soon.

Justice Minister David Lametti repeated that promise Monday in the Commons.

However Trudeau and Lametti are deliberately vague on exactly what the federal Liberal bill would set out.

A senior government official with knowledge of the government’s plans told the Star the Trudeau government had been looking at B.C.’s legislation — the first in Canada — to see how it is working.

The B.C. government says its legislation sets out a process to align B.C.’s laws with the UN Declaration and mandates government to bring provincial laws into harmony with the UN Declaration.

The federal official said the federal government’s bill has a similarly wide-ranging goal.

“It touches methodology and substance. It has no less a goal than to try and re-establish the proper place of Indigenous peoples in a society. So it’s about the method in which Indigenous peoples are incorporated into the larger body politic. So that’s a lofty goal.

“It also has substantive goals, about how the rights that Indigenous peoples have with respect to land and territory, with respect to their practices, with respect to the environment and resource management, with respect to the way in which the — for lack of a better term — the profits of resources are distributed. So it’s about justice. It’s about equity. It’s about the symbolic role. It’s about all of that.”

The government had decided to back a private member’s bill in the last parliament introduced by Romeo Saganash, but it died in the senate before the last election dissolved parliament.

However Kenney and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer believe Trudeau’s “weak leadership” is effectively granting a veto.

Scheer spoke to Trudeau on the phone Monday, and said he told the prime minister his “weakness and fear in dealing with his left-wing caucus and radical activists forced him to kill this project through delay and by constantly moving the goalposts.”

On Monday, Trudeau defended his government’s record, and said it was the Conservative Opposition and its provincial allies who are driving investment away by refusing to develop a credible climate action plan.

“Global investors have indicated that they need to see strong action on climate change. Canadians from coast to coast to coast want to see good jobs, but want to see stronger action on climate change. It is only the Conservative Party of Canada and its provincial counterparts that are standing against climate action and hurting our economy and jobs because of it.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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