Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala Raises Over 25 Million

first_imgLeonardo DiCaprio hosted his first gala for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation last month.Bono and Leonardo DiCaprioThe Gala – co-chaired by Philippe Cousteau and Jared Leto along with the presenting sponsor Julius Baer and co-sponsor Chopard – raised over $25 million for The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, dedicated to protecting Earth’s last wild places and implementing solutions to build a more harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world.Leonardo DiCaprio opened the evening with an impassioned speech about the Foundation’s work and stated, “Today we stand at the 11th Hour – facing a tipping point of environmental crises unprecedented in human history. Not since the age of the dinosaurs have so many species of plants and animals become extinct in such a short period of time. We must now make an effort to protect the rich biodiversity that could allow nature to eventually recover. The good news is there are solutions to these massive problems. Efforts like tonight will start addressing them.”DiCaprio proceeded to open the live auction with his own Harley-Davidson Motorcycle signed by Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and himself.Bono took the stage with Julian Lennon, and took down the house with their own rendition of “Stand By Me.” Bono stayed on stage to auction off his personal guitar for $1 million.The highest bid of the night was for a Damien Hirst sculpture, “Golden Myth” which was sold to Len Blavatnik for over $6 million.Source:LeonardoDiCaprio.comlast_img read more

Bill Clinton Announces Future Of The Americas Event

first_imgPresident Bill Clinton has announced a roster of international leaders from the private and public sectors across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States who will participate in a one-time Future of the Americas convening on December 11 at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida.This convening is part of President Clinton’s long-standing commitment to economic prosperity, investment, and innovation across the western hemisphere, through his work in office and post-presidency through the Clinton Foundation.Twenty years after President Clinton convened the first Summit of the Americas, this convening will bring leaders together from across the hemisphere to create space for them to have a conversation about the next twenty years, with a focus on how to strengthen investment, jobs, health, and education. The Future of the Americas will complement the official Summit of the Americas in April 2015.The agenda of President Clinton’s Future of the Americas convening will encourage cross-sector collaboration across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States. Discussion topics will include energy, infrastructure, the environment, agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises, women and girls, technology, chronic diseases, nutrition, primary education, and vocational training. This convening is a working meeting, with an emphasis on interactive, roundtable discussions.“I’m looking forward to our Future of the Americas discussions in Miami. There’s been tremendous progress across our hemisphere since we first came together twenty years ago, and now more than ever, it’s clear the next twenty years in our hemisphere will depend largely on the actions that leaders from all sectors and countries take today,” said President Clinton. “This meeting will give people an opportunity to focus on key challenges and opportunities – around jobs, education, health and the need for inclusive political, economic, and social policies. I’m thankful for the leadership of the people who are participating, and hopeful that our discussions will re-energize their efforts to shape our shared future in ever more positive ways.”Participants in the Future of the Americas discussions include Dr. Valentin Abe, Founder, Caribbean Harvest; Gastón Acurio, Chef, La Mar by Gastón Acurio; Fidel Andueza, Head of the Americas, Libra Group; Carlos Julio Ardila, Vice President of the Board, Organización Ardila Lülle; Steffano Bertozzi, Dean, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley; Carlos Bulgheroni, CEO, Bridas Energy; Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, President, Grupo Aval; Adriana Cisneros, CEO and Vice Chairman, The Cisneros Group of Companies; Gustavo Cisneros, Chairman, The Cisneros Group of Companies; Henry G. Cisneros, Executive Chairman, CityView Companies; Vicky Colbert, Executive Director, Fundación Escuela Nueva; David Crane, President and CEO, NRG Energy; Hernando de Soto, President, Institute for Liberty and Democracy; Jorge Errázuriz, Partner, BTG Pactual; Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Estefan Enterprises; Alfonso Fanjul, CEO, Fanjul Corp; Angélica Fuentes, CEO, Grupo Omnilife; Alejandro García Padilla, Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Frank Giustra, President and CEO, Fiore Financial Corporation; Rolando González-Bunster, Chairman and CEO, InterEnergy Holdings Ltd.; Nizan Guanaes, Chairman and Founder, Grupo ABC; Gabriela León, CEO, GRESMEX SA de CV; Phillip Levine, Mayor, Miami Beach; Alfredo Mesa, Executive Director, Marlins Foundation; Thomas F. McLarty, Chairman, McLarty Associates; Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank; Stanley Motta, President, Motta Internacional, S.A.; Dyer Narinesingh, President, University of Trinidad and Tobago; Eduardo Padrón, President, Miami Dade College; Nicholas Prouty, President, Putnam Bridge Funding Jennifer Pryce, Founder and CEO, Calvert Foundation; Frank Rainieri, President and CEO, Grupo Puntacana; Julissa Reynoso, U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay; Carlos Rodríguez-Pastor, Chairman and CEO, Intercorp; David Rothkopf, President and CEO, Garten Rothkopf, Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Treasurer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alejandro Santo Domingo, Managing Director, Quadrant Capital Advisors, Inc.; Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia; Donna Shalala, President, University of Miami; Carlos Slim, Chairman, Grup Carso; Javier Soto, President and CEO, The Miami Foundation and Gerardo Werthein, Chairman, Caja de Seguros S.A., and many others.For more information, a complete list of featured participants, and the most up-to-date schedule visit www.clintonfoundation.org/futureoftheamericas.last_img read more

PRODUCTION BEGINS ON SEASON 2 OF CBC ORIGINAL COMEDY WORKIN MOMS FROM

first_imgAdvertisement Advertisement Returning cast include Dani Kind as Anne, Juno Rinaldi as Frankie, Jessalyn Wanlim as Jenny, Philip Sternberg as Nathan, Ryan Belleville as Lionel, Olunike Adeliyi as Giselle, Dennis Andres as Ian, Sarah McVie as Val, Katherine Barrell as Alicia, Mimi Kuzyk as Eleanor and Peter Keleghan as Richard. Joining the ensemble cast this season are Amanda Brugel (Kim’s Convenience, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Sonia, a barista and improv teacher, Angela Asher (Hard Rock Medical) as Dorothy, a wealthy eccentric, Christopher Redman (CSI: Miami, Reverie) as Brad Heshinton, hypnotherapist, and as a special guest, singer, songwriter and author Jann Arden as Anne’s mother Jane.WORKIN’ MOMS is executive produced by Catherine Reitman and Philip Sternberg (Divorce Corp., Six Little McGhees). Directors for the season are Catherine Reitman, Paul Fox (Anne, Schitt’s Creek), Molly McGlynn (How to Buy a Baby), Philip Sternberg and Aleysa Young (Baroness von Sketch Show). The series is written by Reitman, Rebecca Kohler (Kim’s Convenience, This Hour Has 22 Minutes), Karen Moore (What Would Sal Do, Rookie Blue), Jillian Locke (X Company, Adam and Wiley’s Lost Weekend), Kathleen Phillips (Sunnyside), Robby Hoffman (Odd Squad) and Hannah Cheesman (Whatever, Linda). Series cinematography by Maya Bankovic (Below Her Mouth), production design by Elisa Sauve (Octavio Is Dead, Milton’s Secret) and costume design by Sheila Fitzpatrick (Degrassi: Next Class).A CBC original series, WORKIN’ MOMS is produced by Wolf + Rabbit Entertainment with the participation of the Canadian Media Fund. The series is distributed internationally by Coldsprings Media LLC and represented by Vanguarde Artist Management and CAA.SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:Twitter: twitter.com/WorkinMomsInstagram: instagram.com/workinmomsFacebook: facebook.com/workinmomsTVAbout Wolf + Rabbit EntertainmentWolf + Rabbit Entertainment is a Canadian film and television production company dedicated to telling daring, original stories. Wolf + Rabbit Entertainment is also currently in development on the comedy series Starting Over for CBC.About CBC/Radio-CanadaCBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. We are Canada’s trusted source of news, information and Canadian entertainment. Deeply rooted in communities all across the country, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also provide international news and information from a uniquely Canadian perspective. In 2017, CBC/Radio-Canada will be at the heart of the celebrations and conversations with special 2017-themed multiplatform programming and events across Canada. Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter Login/Register With: Principal photography has begun on season 2 of CBC’s bold and irreverent original comedy WORKIN’ MOMS (13×30), produced by Wolf + Rabbit Entertainment. The series is created by Catherine Reitman (Black-ish, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), who serves as showrunner and stars as Kate Foster. WORKIN’ MOMS looks at the polarizing and unexpected realities of the lives of a group of friends—all working moms—and their partners, as they adjust to life as parents. They might not be able to have it all, but they’re sure as hell going to try. Balance is everything. Production will continue in and around Toronto until October for a winter premiere on CBC.“We are thrilled to be back in production with CBC on the new season of Workin’ Moms,” said Catherine Reitman, creator and executive producer. “The response to season 1 was incredible and we’re excited to build on that momentum with our second season.”In season 2, WORKIN’ MOMS will continue to navigate the highs and lows of love, careers and motherhood with refreshing humour and naked honesty. Season 2 picks up as Kate faces the professional consequences of choosing her baby over her career. For Anne, a past relationship resurfaces; revealing a secret she and Lionel had kept from Alice. Frankie finds her way again without Giselle, and Ian and Jenny deal with their separation as Ian continues work on his screenplay.last_img read more

Nominees announced for 2018 Leo Awards

first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Will vampires rules the 2018 Leo Awards?Nominees for the Leo Awards – which recognize on-screen and behind-the-camera excellence in the British Columbia film and television sphere and are handed out over several splashy ceremonies each May and June – were posted overnight to the Leo Awards web site.Van Helsing – Syfy’s post-apocalyptic series about the badass descendant of the famed vampire hunter, and the humans and former humans around her who do whatever they need to do to survive – leads with 13 nominations, including three for Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Dramatic Series (for Christopher Heyerdahl, Jonathan Scarfe, and Aleks Paunovic). Advertisement Twitter Facebook Login/Register With: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Ghost Wars follow up with seven nominations each (including Guest Performance nominations for Lee Majdoub and Agam Darshi for the former, and a Best Lead Performance nomination for Luvia Petersen for the latter). Advertisementlast_img read more

DHX MEDIA TO SELL HALIFAX ANIMATION STUDIO TO FOCUS AND STREAMLINE ITS

first_img Twitter Advertisement Facebook HALIFAX – DHX Media (or the “Company”) (TSX: DHX, NASDAQ: DHXM), a global children’s content and brands company, has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Halifax animation studio. The sale is part of the Company’s ongoing strategic shift to focus and streamline its production operations.“The sale will generate operating efficiencies by consolidating animation production, and aligns with our objectives of rationalizing costs, simplifying our organization and focusing resources,” said Michael Donovan, CEO and Executive Chairman, DHX Media.DHX Media is headquartered in Halifax. The sale does not include This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which continues to be owned by DHX Media and produced in Halifax. Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement The sale is expected to close on or about December 31, 2018, and is subject to customary closing conditions, applicable third party consents and the execution of certain ancillary agreements.About DHX MediaDHX Media Ltd. (TSX: DHX, NASDAQ: DHXM) is a global children’s content and brands company, recognized for such high-profile properties as Peanuts, Teletubbies, Strawberry Shortcake, Caillou, Inspector Gadget, and the acclaimed Degrassi franchise. One of the world’s foremost producers of children’s shows, DHX Media owns the world’s largest independent library of children’s content, at 13,000 half-hours. It licenses its content to broadcasters and streaming services worldwide and generates royalties through its global consumer products program. Through its subsidiary, WildBrain, DHX Media operates one of the largest networks of children’s channels on YouTube. Headquartered in Canada, DHX Media has offices worldwide. Visit us at www.dhxmedia.com. Advertisementlast_img read more

WHAT HAS CARLY RAE JEPSEN BEEN UP TO SINCE EMOTION A GUIDE

first_imgCarly Rae Jepsen’s fourth studio album, Dedicated, will be out on May 17, 2019. (Getty Images) After four long years, Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen is set to return this Friday, May 17 with her brand new album, Dedicated.The highly anticipated followup to 2015’s critical hit — and Polaris Music Prize shortlisted contender — Emotion, Dedicated promises to be another collection of love songs that will make listeners swoon, cry and definitely dance. (She recently told Rolling Stone that the original concept for Dedicated was “chill disco” songs, a theme that a single like “Julien” still adheres to.)Four years is a relatively long time between albums, but Jepsen has spent much of that interim keeping busy with various projects. Fear not, though, if you haven’t been paying close attention: below, we’ve detailed every important thing Jepsen has done since releasing Emotion and leading up to Dedicated. Advertisement Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter Advertisement Login/Register With:last_img read more

James Cameron shaken by tar sands visit

first_imgAPTN National NewsHe went from Tinseltown to the tar sands.Hollywood director James Cameron wrapped up his tour of Alberta’s massive oil mining projects Wednesday.After meeting with First Nations communities, the Avatar director had a message for Canadian and the world.APTN National News reporter Noemi LoPinto reports.last_img

APTN host McKenzie a trailblazer

first_imgAPTN National NewsYou normally see APTN’s Cheryl McKenzie in front of a camera talking about the big issues of the day.On Thursday she took part in Ryerson University’s Indigenous women’s trailblazers lecture series.This year’s lecture series will feature a line-up of Indigenous women leaders in their field, from politicians to CEOs.McKenzie is the host and producer of APTN’s InFocus.McKenzie spoke to a group of about 100 people on the topic of broadcasting and the importance of getting Aboriginal stories out there.last_img

Manitoba chiefs demand school be reopened

first_imgAPTN National NewsManitoba chiefs are calling for dozens of Lake St. Martin First Nation school children to be kept together after the school they were attending was closed last week because of fire code violations.The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs want the federal government to stop a decision to disperse the 85 children within Winnipeg’s school system as a result of the closure saying it will have devastating impacts on them.“I find it appalling that your solution to a ‘building code issue’ is forced separation of these school-age children,” Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs leader Derek Nepinak wrote in a Nov. 6 letter to Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.The entire community of Lake St. Martin, about 2,000 people, was evacuated last year after a flood. The children had been attending a school in suburban Winnipeg. Where they will go now is up in the air.“The one thing that kept these children tied together throughout the emergency situation is being taken away from them,” said Nepinak.He said the children’s sense of community and identity will be further compromised by the decision. Nepinak said history has shown what can happen when the federal government tries to deliver education to First Nations and referred to residential schools.“By dispersing the children to Winnipeg area schools, the rights of these children to a culturally relevant education experience are being ignored,” he said.Nepinak asked that the feds meet with himself and the property owner of the school to have it reopened immediately.last_img read more

CN facing allegations it engaged in criminal conduct and fired employee over

first_imgBy Jorge Barrera and Kenneth Jackson APTN National NewsCanadian National Railway was allegedly “engaged in criminal conduct by defrauding shareholders” and U.S. “federal regulators” by “manipulating” data to boost its efficiency and, by extension, its share price, according to a whistleblower complaint filed in U.S. federal court.The complaint also alleges that CN has an unwritten policy of “retaliating against whistleblowers” and that the alleged criminal conduct was endorsed by a senior official in CN’s head office to keep the company’s share prices high.The case was filed in early August with the U.S. federal court’s Western District of Tennessee by a former trainmaster employed by wholly-owned subsidiaries of CN, Wisconsin Central and Illinois Central Railroad. CN consolidates the financial statements of both rail firms within its own financial statements.Timothy Wallender alleges that he was fired in September 2012 by CN for blowing the whistle on “widespread fraud” committed by the century-old Canadian railway company.Wallender alleges that the fraud was committed under the direction of CN’s former executive vice-president and chief operating officer Keith Creel, who is now with Canadian Pacific, according to the complaint filed with the U.S. court.None of the allegations have yet been proven in court.CN said it would not comment on the individual allegations.“As this is a pending litigation matter and particularly as CN has not been served with the federal court complaint, CN has no comment at this time. Please note that Keith Creel is no longer a CN employee. He is president and chief operating officer at Canadian Pacific Railway,” said CN spokesperson Mark Hallman.A spokesperson for CP said the company would not be commenting on the court action.“As this is a matter currently before the courts, CP has no comment at this time,” said Ed Greenberg in an emailed statement.Creel, who joined CP in February 2013 and is its president and chief operating officer, has been issued a summons, along with Andrew Martin, the general superintendent of the Harrison Yard in Memphis, Tenn., Wisconsin Central and Illinois Central Railroad.“The litigation is just starting, and I don’t expect to hear anything until they get served,” said one of Wallender’s lawyers Eugene Laurenzi, who is with Memphis-based law firm Godwin Morris Laurenzi and Bloomfield.Wallender’s allegations centre around the alleged manipulation of the “terminal dwell time” of rail cars in the Harrison Yard. Terminal dwell time is based on the amount of time a rail car spends in the yard before it’s hooked into another train for transport. The times are key indicators to a rail company’s performance and impact its share price, according to Laurenzi.CN claimed in Oct 2012 that it has “a 20 to 25 per cent advantage relative to its peers, in terms of train speed and dwell time,” according to Wallender’s complaint which quotes from the Brokerage Research Digest.CN’s CEO Claude Mongeau said in the company’s 2011 report to shareholders that “we work hard to run more efficient trains, reduce dwell time at our terminals and improve overall work velocity,” the complaint states.CN outperforms six other major railroads in North American on dwell times, according to online data tracked by Railroad Performance Measures. CN’s times are based on nine of its yards, including the Memphis yard, five yards in Canada and three other yards in the U.S.“Canadian National’s supposedly favorable statistics on terminal dwell at Harrison Yard are based on persistent and pervasive fraud,” according to Wallender’s complaint.Wallender claims Martin, his supervisor, ordered employees to change the program on CN’s computers to automatically show trains departing 30 minutes earlier than they actually left, create records showing lower than actual dwell times in the yard, falsely list trains as having left the yard while they sat on the tracks, and report non-defective cars as defective, among other orders.“By using this scheme, Canadian national was able to create records that falsely showed lower than actual dwell time for Hunter yard,” the complaint said.Wallender also claims Martin ordered CN employees to not report derailments and collisions to the Federal Railroad Administration.Despite complaints against Martin and two investigations by CN’s human resources department, the supervisor was never fired, the complaint alleged.Wallender claims that Martin “told employees at the Harrison Yard that he had a green light and carte blanche from Creel to implement his schemes for using false records to show lower than actual dwell time” at the yard.“Creel protected Martin from being fired so his share-based compensation would not be impaired,” according to the complaint. “A significant part of Creel’s compensation depended on his ability to inflate the price of Canadian National’s shares.”In 2011, Creel had a salary of $558,842, a restricted stock award of $872,583, stock option awards of $676,706, a non-equity incentive plan compensation of $713,947 and, as of the same year, unexercised options for 43,250 CN shares.Despite his complaints Wallender was fired on Sept. 30, 2012, for listing “a train as having arrived before it was physically present.”Wallender, however, believes he was fired as a result of CN’s “unwritten anti-whistleblower policy” because he tried to complain about “mail, wire and securities fraud” along with “violations of SEC rules on regulations and violations of federal laws relating to fraud against shareholders.”Wallender is seeking reinstatement at the same level, back pay with interest, general and special damages and reimbursement for litigation costs.jbarrera@aptn.ca@JorgeBarrerakjackson@aptn.ca@afixedaddressThe court documentDownload (PDF, Unknown)last_img read more

Low turnout in Kahnawake election not necessarily about voter apathy

first_imgAPTN National NewsFor many First Nation, electing a band council is an important decision.But it seems in Kahnawake, not everyone feels that way.At last weekend’s band election, only one in four eligible voters went to the polls.That’s because there’s a long history of Mohawks refusing to acknowledge the council’s right to govern.APTN’s Tom Fennario explains why.@tfennariolast_img

Elizabeth May staying on as Green leader

first_imgOTTAWA – Elizabeth May will remain Green party leader despite a controversy over the Middle East that divided members and prompted her to consider stepping down.The party will revisit a convention resolution to support a movement to boycott Israel, along with any other recent policy decisions that lacked genuine consensus, May told a news conference Monday.Meantime, May will focus on her work as a member of a parliamentary committee studying options for remodelling Canada’s electoral system before the next national ballot in three years.“This is a decision that I think the party needs as we build our strength, and as I work on electoral reform and we prepare for 2019,” May said.At the party’s recent convention, members voted to express support for the so-called boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel _ a move May opposed and which Jewish groups swiftly denounced.May has blamed the resolution’s passage on the process _ brief statements followed by a majority vote rather than the party’s time-honoured approach of a concerted effort to arrive at consensus.During Monday’s news conference, May called the party’s recent troubles a “teachable moment” and said her belief in consensus decision-making applies to both how the party forms policy and national electoral reform.“Consensus decision-making works better than winner-take-all decision making. It will work better for the electoral system of Canada and it worked better for the Green party of Canada,” she said.“So what I’ve decided is that the reasons for staying are far more compelling.”May spent the last several days pondering her future during a vacation in Cape Breton.She firmly squelched suggestions she was considering joining the NDP or the Liberals. “That was never even a consideration.”May said she was “overwhelmed to read so many letters of support” from Green members, non-members and fellow MPs.Media commentary made her feel like Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, attending her own funeral. “It appears I am much loved _ it’s surprising to find sometimes in politics.”last_img read more

Echoes of Oka Trudeau minister says military involvement possible against oil pipeline

first_img(Fight between Canadian soldiers and Mohawks from Kahnawake during the Oka Crisis. APTN/File)Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsNatural Resources Minister Jim Carr suggested Thursday Canada is prepared to deploy the military against anti-pipeline actions deemed “not to be peaceful,” raising the possibility the country could face a scenario last seen during the Oka Crisis in 1990.Carr made the statement in response to questions from business leaders in Edmonton worried the events unfolding in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation could be replicated through the mounting opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project which was recently approved by the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau.“If people choose for their own reasons not to be peaceful, then the government of Canada—through its defence forces, through its police forces—will ensure that people are kept safe,” said Carr, according to a video of his statements posted by BNN. “We have a history of peaceful dialogue and dissent in Canada. I’m certainly hopeful that tradition will continue. If people determine for their own reasons that that is not the path they want to follow, then we live under the rule of law.”Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr. Photo/ Jim Carr’s websiteUnder existing law, the federal government has no ability to deploy the military into a domestic situation without first being asked by the provinces through an invocation of Aid to the Civil Power under the National Defence Act. Even if a province asks for military assistance, the federal government has no control over how the deployment unfolds because authority would rest solely with the Canadian Forces’ Chief of Defence Staff.Indigenous leaders expressed outrage Friday and speculated, given Ottawa’s limited role in such an event, Carr used the statement to intimidate opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project.Carr did not retract his statement on the possible use of the military in a subsequent interview with CBC News Friday morning saying only he did not intend it to be interpreted as a “threat.”The Trudeau government also did not back away from the suggestion during question period Friday when NDP MP Randall Garrison raised the issue.“What reckless, irresponsible and incendiary language from the minister and only two days since they approved this pipeline,” said Garrison in a question directed at Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. “Will he remind his colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, that if he is truly concerned about the rule of law he should know that in this country the federal government has no such authority to use our military against pipeline protesters?”The question was fielded by Transport Minister Marc Garneau who did not deny Ottawa is prepared to use the military.“We will always respect the right of Canadians to protest when they do not agree with something. They have the right to do it, they feel strongly about it, and we are confident that they will do so peacefully,” said Garneau.Singh’s office referred media questions to Carr’s office.Carr’s office issued a statement to APTN indicating the minister may be beginning to back away from his comment.“Minister Carr did not mean to suggest action would be taken against the protesters,” said Alexander Deslongchamps, spokesperson for Carr. “We know that not everyone agrees, and the right to peaceful protest is a foundation of our rights and freedoms.”Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett’s office did not provide comment as of this article’s posting.Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon, whose Mohawk community was at the centre of the Oka Crisis which saw the military move into its territory to end the standoff, called for Carr’s resignation over the statement.“I would like to see his resignation,” said Simon, who is also a leading spokesperson for an Indigenous treaty alliance against oil pipeline developments. “I find it offensive and Minister Carr should be ashamed of himself and Prime Minister Trudeau should be ashamed of himself for letting him get away with that.”Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge SimonSimon said his community still feels the effects of the Oka Crisis despite the amount of time passed since the summer of 1990 during the Battle of the Pines triggered by the Village of Oka’s desire to expand a golf course over Mohawk burial grounds.“There is still that trigger people feel even 26 years after the Oka Crisis and this guy wants to do that again, he wants to invoke calling the military in on Canadian soil?” said Simon. “Minister Carr’s statements are highly irresponsible.”Simon said he plans to raise the issue during next week’s Assembly of First Nations chiefs meeting in Gatineau, Que.The Indigenous anti-pipeline treaty alliance now has over 100 participating First Nation and Tribal signatories. The alliance has held signing ceremonies in Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia. The alliance was formed to create coordinated opposition against the Trans Mountain project, Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, which also received Liberal approval, and TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline along with Keystone XL, which was rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama but could face resurrection under the Donald Trump presidency.Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of Union of BC Indian Chiefs. APTN/PhotoGand Chief Stewart Phillip arrested on Burnaby Mountain on Nov. 27, 2014, during protest against Trans Mountain pipeline. Farrah Merali/TwitterGrand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, is also part of the alliance. He said Carr’s statements are meant to intimidate.“I think it’s a very clumsy effort to intimidate or threaten Indigenous peoples,” said Phillip. “I think it’s incredibly stupid, provocative, highly irresponsible statement to make on such a volatile issue.”Phillip said Indigenous people in Canada have faced the military in the past and are not intimidated by the prospect of it happening again.“We are certainly not the least bit frightened or intimidated by such bellicose statements,” said Phillip. “We faced off with the Canadian armed forces in the past and we know the outcome of that. It is an incredibly stupid thing to say.”Quebec has been the only province to invoke Aid to the Civil Power to deal with a civil disturbance since the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney replaced the War Measure’s Act with the Emergencies Act in 1988 to limit Ottawa’s powers in deploying the military domestically.While Ottawa has no official role under the law in such an event, it is responsible for the total cost of this type of deployment.A signal from Ottawa suggesting the Trudeau government is fine with the political implications of a move to invoke Aid to the Civil Power may give some provincial finance ministers pause when faced with the extensive police costs associated with prolonged disturbances caused by opposition to natural resource projects whenever Indigenous rights are at play.The months-long, Mi’kmaq-led, anti-shale gas demonstrations throughout 2013 in New Brunswick cost the cash-strapped province an extra $9.5 million in policing costs. While the military was never directly involved in the events which unfolded near Elsipogtog First Nation, it did provide the RCMP with field box lunches and space for a staging area at CFB Gagetown and the CF Moncton detachment through a Request for Canadian Forces Assistance.Amanda Polchies holds an eagle feather and kneels before a wall of RCMP officers on Oct. 17. APTN/Ossie MichelinThe military’s counter-intelligence unit was involved in monitoring the events in New Brunswick, but it’s unclear whether it shared any data with the RCMP.The Mounties seized three, single shot bolt-action hunting rifles, including one fitted with a bayonet, during a raid on Oct. 17, 2013, that saw 40 arrests and the torching of several police vehicles. The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society said at the time the rifles were purely for hunting and protection from black bears.The Canadian military’s last serious involvement in a conflict triggered by an assertion of Indigenous rights came in 1995 during the Gustafson Lake standoff where warriors dug in to protect Sundance grounds. The military provided the RCMP with armoured personnel carriers and drivers during the conflict which saw police and warriors exchange tens of thousands of rounds in firefights.British Columbia did not invoke Aid to the Civil Power, but did request military assistance.During the Six Nations reclamation of the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia, Ont., in 2006, there were calls for military intervention, but Ontario stuck with its provincial police force to deal with the situation which simmered to a peaceful détente.The military at the time was on site gathering intelligence and preparing contingency plans for a “possible, yet improbably, domestic operation,” according to military historian Timothy Winegard who wrote about the event in a book called, Blockades or Breakthroughs? Aboriginal Peoples Confront the Canadian State, 1968-2010.The nature of Indigenous resistance in Canada has change since the 1990s when the image of the warrior with a rifle dominated. Now, especially since the Idle No More movement, the weapons are the drum, song, sage and the eagle feather.The one image that came to define the events at Elsipogtog—despite the flaming police cars and seized rifles—was the photograph taken by APTN National News journalist Ossie Michelin of Amanda Polchies kneeling and holding a feather in the air before a line of RCMP officers.That image was replicated across the border in North Dakota during the Oct. 27 police raid against a camp set up by demonstrators, known as water protectors, to launch rolling blockades aimed at slowing down construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. During the police operation, APTN cameras captured the arrest of two women who kneeled like Polchies did three years earlier as the police line moved toward them.Women kneel before police line in North Dakota during law enforcement operation on Oct. 27. APTN/PhotoDuring an assault with a water cannon and tear gas launched by North Dakota police behind concrete barricades and concertina wire just north of Backwater Bridge by the Oceti Sakowin Camp on Oct. 20, APTN cameras captured drumming, singing, and a ceremonial dance with shakers performed by water protectors during pauses between volleys.No weapons have been brandished by water protectors in North Dakota throughout the months-long demonstrations.The last major action launched last Thursday by water protectors ended with prayer, song and the scent of sage at the foot of Turtle Island hill, which sits about a kilometer from the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the nerve-centre of the anti-pipeline movement.The ongoing events at Standing Rock—where hundreds of Tribes and First Nations across the country have backed the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River, from where the Tribe draws its water—has electrified opposition to new oil developments, said Phillip.“It is the backdrop to all of this. I mean, this is an epic battle, water versus oil, and at the end of the day, it is about survival or extinction,” said Phillip. “I think people are becoming more and more aware that climate change and global warming is something that should be of grave concern to everyone….Indigenous people have been climate change refugees for a decade, at least, given the evacuations of our communities in the north by fire and flooding. We pretty much lost the winter roads and the ability to resupply our communities, so food security is threatened and the price of food in the north is outrageous because everything must be flown in.”jbarrera@aptn.ca@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

Hydro had bigger impact than residential school in Misipawistik councillor

first_imgThis is Part 1 of a series on hydro-impacted communities in Treaty 5 territory. Click here to access other stories featured in Power Failure: The impacts of hydro in Northern Manitoba.Justin BrakeAshley BrandsonAPTN NewsRays of sunlight peek through the trees and illuminate two dozen wooden crosses hidden in a small patch of bush surrounded by the desolate rocky landscape of an abandoned quarry.Gerald McKay of Misipawistik Cree Nation examines a necklace someone has appended to a tree. He holds the cross pendant at the end of the chain and says he’d never noticed it before.McKay, 63, is leading a small group on a tour of the land below a large hydroelectric dam just outside the town of Grand Rapids, the community widely regarded as the gateway to northern Manitoba.It’s the first stop on a week-long visit to Cree communities in Treaty 5 territory by members of the Wa Ni Ska Tan hydro alliance.Along the way they’re picking up elders and other members of hydro-impacted communities and bringing them to other communities to bear witness and share stories of how their livelihoods and way of life have been altered by the network of hydro dams on their waterways.Today, the graves they’re visiting belong to the ancestors of McKay’s community.The wooden crosses were erected in 2001, more than three decades after Manitoba Hydro excavated the area to build a dyke for the Grand Rapids generating station, one of the first major dams built in northern Manitoba.McKay says the graves would have been bulldozed had one of the workers not been a local man.“They started to dig up bones and they weren’t going to stop… so the local guy stopped them and they shut the whole job down,” he says, explaining work eventually resumed with the small parcel of land being protected as crews continued to excavate all around it.Now the gravesite exists as a small island of trees surrounded by a desert of blasted rock and a dried up riverbed.The Grand Rapids dam came online in 1968 and was the first hydro facility built in Northern Manitoba to power the provincial electricity system.At the end of the dirt road where McKay lives is a dilapidated playground, and beyond that a small grassy knoll and a steep embankment down to the water.(Gerald McKay along the shores of the once mighty Grand Rapids. Photo: Justin Brake/APTN)From the shoreline you can see the spillway of the 479-megawatt structure embedded in the dyke — gigantic even in the distance and accentuated by countless seagulls and pelicans in the air and on the water below.The group later stands atop that dyke, which runs more than 25 kilometres along the shore of Cedar Lake. They peer out at the lake’s vast waters, the levels of which are now controlled by Manitoba Hydro.Communities along the shores of Cedar Lake were impacted by the flooding. The people of Chemawawin First Nation were forced to relocate to Easterville.And the people of Moose Lake, Cormorant and The Pas all share stories of devastation to their hunting, fishing and trapping economies, and to their way of life.The power now contained in the force of the water against the Grand Rapids dyke is unnatural, human-made — a power once represented by the roaring sound of the rapids, which McKay says you could hear from the community.Below the dyke are the rocks that once belonged to those rapids on the lower Saskatchewan River. About a kilometre downstream the river empties into Lake Winnipeg, the eleventh largest freshwater lake in the world.Now, there’s barely a trickle of the once “grand” rapids, and a scattered pool of still water.“The old rapids is gone,” McKay says, pointing down at the riverbed. He explains that’s how the town of Grand Rapids “lost its name.”“It’s just Grand. There is no more rapids — so even the name was reshaped. Most of the animals are gone, most of the fish are gone, and that’s the new reality I guess.”Residential schools and hydro development a “double whammy” for CreeOne of the researchers along for the trip is Ramona Neckoway, from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House and an assistant professor in Aboriginal and Northern Studies at University College of the North in Thompson, Man.Neckoway has been involved with Wa Ni Ska Tan since its inception in 2015.Hydro development in Treaty 5 is personal for her.(Ramona Neckoway, right, with Gerald McKay. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTN News)On the drive from Winnipeg to Misipawistik, the Cree mother and grandmother tells APTN News that hydro development in northern Manitoba is more than the consequences of any one specific impact.She says it’s bigger.“For me this is a cultural genocide that’s going on. And I don’t use those words lightly. I say that because I see that there are entire generations of children in our communities that don’t go on the water, that don’t understand the importance of that water to who we are, that have never left the reserve, this cage that they’ve created through colonial policies that have been imposed on us,” she says.“To me, Nisichawayasihk, our territory actually is much bigger than the reserve that they allotted to us. And we were using that territory—my mother’s generation was using that territory, going to camps, going to these different spaces and actively using that land and that water.”Neckoway tells APTN News that over the next week we’re going to see, and grow to understand, the cumulative impacts on her people, their way of life, and on their identity.The violence perpetrated against Indigenous women during the construction of hydro dams is nothing new to the Cree.Sexual abuse of women in Fox Lake Cree Nation in the 1960s recently grabbed national attention, following the release of a report from Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission.Since that report was released, two separate investigations are underway to look into allegations of assault and sexual abuse by employees of Manitoba Hydro and members of the RCMP in communities in northern Manitoba.Details of the allegations were made public in August when the CEC released a report on the effects of a series of hydro dams on the Nelson, Burntwood, and Churchill river systems.The case was referred to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), Manitoba’s police watchdog, and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) by the RCMP.A Sept. 14 release from the RCMP said the IIU will investigate the actions of RCMP officers in the region, while the OPP will investigate allegations against Manitoba Hydro employees and contractors.The investigation is limited to the Gillam region, but Neckoway, who has been interviewing members of hydro-impacted communities since 2004, says she has “heard stories of that nature” from women in other places, though she doesn’t know how prevalent violence against women is as it’s not the focus of her research.“We’re the caregivers, we’re the life givers, and the givers of treaty,” she says, explaining she would like to see Wa Ni Ska Tan host a women’s gathering “to start talking about a lot of the issues that are unique and specific to women.”Neckoway says the disruption to her people’s lives can be seen in the faces of the elders when she speaks to them.“They come alive in those moments when they talk about that connection with the land and the way that it was,” she explains. “And I see that in my grandmother when I hear her talking about it. She acknowledges that it was a hard life, but it was fulfilling and it was good at that time.“She saw these changes in the community and became so far away I think from some of the values that we have as Cree people in this last 40 years.”Neckoway says by comparison “you can just see the sadness when they talk about hydro, and they talk about residential school.”She says the Cree in Northern Manitoba got a “double-whammy” in the mid-20th century.“We got residential schools, and then, boom — the hydro projects.”“You only cried once”At his house in Grand Rapids, McKay fries fresh whitefish from Lake Winnipeg for the group of about eight researchers, artists, activists.Standing at his kitchen stove he seems eager to share his stories as he sprinkles lemon pepper seasoning on the fillets.(Gerald McKay serving fish at his home in Grand Rapids. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTN News)Every minute or two he flips them with a plastic spatula.At the same time, McKay’s frequent pauses hint at a pain that comes with reliving traumatic experiences.In the 1960s, when McKay was just a child, thousands of workers flooded the community to build the dam.He says it’s the experiences from that time that drive him to continue fighting for justice for his people and community today, a half century later.McKay says the quiet community was turned upside down overnight.There was racism.School buses would pick up white kids but leave Cree and Metis kids standing on the side of the road, he says.“In the wintertime that was the hardest,” he recalls. “And you only cried once, when you were walking from here to the school. You didn’t cry twice, because your eyes would freeze shut.”He recalls a story of a Cree family whose baby boy was sick and needed medical care.“They took him to the hospital up there, then they looked at him and sent him home, and they went back and they sent him home again,” he says. “So they took him the third time and he died. He died in the hospital.”McKay says when the family arrived back at the hospital, their son’s body was given back to them in cardboard box.He describes “perverts” and “peeping toms” roaming the community at night.McKay says at one point his mother, a young woman at the time, caught someone trying to steal McKay’s baby sister right out of a bedroom in their home.“She was less than a month old and they cut the screen, and they were reaching in to take her, and my mother caught them,” he recalls. “So nothing was ever done about that. There was no investigation, nothing, because there wasn’t enough cops here.”McKay says that after the incident his mother “nailed the windows shut for three years” and often wouldn’t let him and his siblings leave the yard.(The Grand Rapids Hydroelectric dam. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTN News)Meanwhile, the dam’s impact on the local land-based economy — primarily fishing and trapping — put McKay’s father out of work.“His jobs disappeared — one was flooded, the other one there was no more spawning, so once you caught all the fish it started to drop off,” he explains.“In 1969, I think there was mercury in the fish and hydro denied that it was them and then they shut fishing down and there was no compensation for anybody. We all depended on my dad’s income to eat, and we couldn’t eat the fish anymore. That’s just the way it was and so my generation would remember all that stuff, but there’s kids growing up now that have no idea what was here before.“A lot of people say get over it — like, it’s already happened. Well, just because it already happened doesn’t mean it’s not an injustice.”Money in exchange for a way of lifeIn 1991 Misipawistik Cree Nation — Grand Rapids Cree Nation at the time — signed an agreement with Manitoba Hydro worth just over $5 million.It was one of five settlements reached in the early ‘90s associated with the impacts on Cree and Metis communities. Together they totalled just under $32 million.In 2005, after serving as national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, Ovide Mercredi was elected chief of his home community of Misipawistik.That fall, amid concerns from community members that once the Grand Rapids spillway was opened new brush that had grown downstream would end up in the water, Mercredi and Grand Rapids Mayor Robert Buck camped out on the dried riverbed below the spillway in protest.In 2015, Manitoba Hydro was required to apply for a renewal of its 50-year operating licence for the Grand Rapids dam, a fact that gave Mercredi and Buck’s protest power.As they gained support from their own community and others, people in Winnipeg began paying attention.Manitoba Hydro CEO Bob Brennan paid them a visit — as did then premier Garry Doer.Doer committed to new negotiations with Misipawistik, and in 2012 a settlement agreement was reached — though its details remain secret.APTN requested interviews with Misipawistik Chief Harold Turner—who was also chief at the time of the community’s 1991 agreement with Hydro—and Mercredi. Neither responded by the time of publication.However, APTN obtained a draft of the agreement in which the First Nation’s compensation is contingent on Misipawistik’s “active support” of Manitoba Hydro’s application for the 50-year operating license renewal, and on Hydro’s success in obtaining the renewal.According to the draft agreement, Misipawistik would receive a retroactive payment of $3 million, a $5 million payment on the signing of the deal, $800,000 a year for 50 years indexed to inflation, and a lump sum payment of $10 million in year 50, which would be 2061.But according to Misipawistik councillor Heidi Cook, the agreement will see the band receive a flat payment of $1-million a year for the duration of the contract that Hydro calls a “friendship agreement.”The agreement has not been made public by the band or Manitoba Hydro.McKay says the deal is “not as good as it sounds” and that the people of the community “don’t feel it.”Little has changedWith somewhere between 800 and 1,000 members living on reserve and another 800 off-reserve, Misipawistik Cree Nation is no better off in the long run following the 2012 agreement than it was before, says McKay.He claims community members received a one-time $500 payment after the band signed the agreement, and get about $120 every three years.But the money hasn’t eradicated the racism, or the poverty.McKay drives us through the neighbourhoods, once thriving with a healthy subsistence economy where Cree and Metis coexisted as one community.Since Hydro moved in, however, racism and inequality have taken root, their manifestations visible.On the south side of the water is the Misipawistic reserve, occupied primarily by the descendants of the region’s original Cree inhabitants. Many houses are overcrowded, McKay says, and badly in need of repair.On the north side is what’s now the residential area of the municipality of Grand Rapids, a mix of Metis, non-status Cree and settlers.And then, just a few hundred metres north of Grand Rapids, toward the hydro dam, a small suburban-like neighbourhood of Manitoba Hydro workers — many of them living in homes built by Manitoba Hydro.McKay points out the “hydro houses,” as he calls them, have two metres measuring energy consumption.One, he says, measures the energy used to heat the homes—comprising the bulk of household energy usage, especially in the colder months—and another to measure other electricity usage.“Hydro pays for the heating bill,” McKay says.Meanwhile, many in the community struggle to pay their own hydro bills, he says.The sense of injustice in his community is palpable, McKay explains — but to a shrinking number of people since youth today don’t recognize what their parents and grandparents experienced and lost, he says.(Gerald McKay at the dam in his community. McKay worked for Manitoba Hydro for four years. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTN News)He says the 1991 and 2012 compensation agreements don’t take into account the loss of his people’s way of life.“An agreement should be fair for both sides, not just one side,” he says.“They should take into account, how many graves were lost? How many people were put out of work with the fishery? We’ve lost our language — how much is that worth?”But the money hasn’t restored his people’s way of life, and McKay fears that way of life may soon be forgotten.Cook agrees.The 38-year-old councillor is also a mother, and someone who grew up not knowing her community’s full history until her 20s.She says hydro development “had a bigger impact” on her people and community than residential schools, because most children would eventually come home from the schools.“But here with the hydro dam our home was destroyed.”Cook says her generation and the one before her have suffered as a consequence.“Our way of life was destroyed,” she says, explaining the influx of thousands of non-Cree workers to the community contributed to the loss of their language and their ability to go out on the land.She says her aunt and other elders in the community talk about what life was like when they could hear the rapids.“The sound of the rapids lots of people describe as being able to be heard from miles around. And to [listen for them to] know your way back to home. As a constant, subconscious thing, a constant in your life, to know where you are.”She says the rapids were “first replaced with explosions and the sound of heavy machinery,” while the dam was being built.“And then with silence.”She says elders have described “having recurring nightmares from the changes that were occurring on the landscapes.”The impacts are inter-generational, she explains.“I felt it myself, personally, that as somebody from Grand Rapids I was robbed of my birthright to know these rapids and to have this beautiful part of my home sing me to sleep at night, and greet me in the morning when I wake up.”Once a Hydro employee himself, McKay returned to fishing about 20 years ago, both to honour his father and ancestors and just to be out on the water.“Basically you’re just fishing to get EI — it’s not a good future,” he says. “My dad told me that a long time ago: there’s no future in fishing. But I wanted to be a fisherman because to me it was exciting — you never know what you’re going to catch.”McKay worked in a Hydro control room in Grand Rapids for four years, “and it was boring,” he says.He’s a certified project manager and has a business diploma, “but I still managed to come back to fishing,” he explains, serving up a new batch of fried fish to his visitors.But the fishing is not what it once was.“Last winter was the first time they ever shut down the commercial fishing season, because there’s no fish,” he says, adding the people of his community.”Cook says a new generation in her community is fighting to get back what she and McKay’s generations lost.“We’re not sitting here crying over what was lost without actively trying to stand up against and move forward from there,” she says adding there are land-based education and language programs in the community.“We didn’t get to where we are overnight, and we won’t get to where we want to be overnight. But we haven’t completely lost sight of where we need to be.”Most of the money from Misipawistik’s “friendship agreement” with Hydro is being used to address social and economic needs, primarily housing, Cook explains.In a statement to APTN, Manitoba Hydro says it will “continue to address the adverse effects of our existing operations on the customs, practices and traditions of Indigenous people integral to their cultural identity.”But it did not say how it is addressing these effects and did not grant APTN’s request for an interview.“As far as their lawyers are concerned, Hydro has met its obligations and is contributing to the community through the relationship agreement,” says Cook.Just a few years after the Grand Rapids dam came online the second wave of hydro development began, and the story of how the Misipawistik people began to lose their way of life would become a common reality throughout Treaty 5.For more, click here: Power Failure: The impacts of hydro in Northern Manitobajbrake@aptn.ca@justinbrakenewsabrandson@aptn.ca@ashleybrandsonlast_img read more

BCEs Cope says heavy spending on Bell networks showing results with subscribers

first_imgTORONTO – BCE Inc. reported strong subscriber growth on Thursday, which company executives said were fuelled by Bell Canada’s network improvements and new services.The company added a total of 198,005 internet, IPTV and postpaid wireless customers — up 8.8 per cent from last year — although it also saw declines in pre-paid wireless, legacy wireline and satellite TV services.Several analysts said in research notes and on a conference call with BCE executives that they were surprised by the strength of additions in IPTV, the fibre-optic television service that competes most directly with cable companies.Drew McReynolds of RBC Dominion Securities raised his price target by $1 for BCE stock to $62 per share — slightly above its current market price — and noted IPTV subscriber growth exceeded satellite TV losses by 2,000 activations.He wrote that “we believe BCE is laying the groundwork to strengthen its wireline competitive position in 2018 and beyond.”But he added that, over the long term, RBC expects there will be a “stalemate” in the competitive battle between Canada’s main telecom and cable rivals because most of them own both wireless and wireline services.Chief executive George Cope told analysts said that Bell’s introduction of the Alt-TV product, a user-installed service that charges $10 to $15 per month less than its main fibre optic products, had been popular with condo dwellers.“We think that positions us very well . . . from a price-competitive perspective,” Cope said.Among the newer players in Canada’s television industry have been over-the-top services such as Netflix, which compete against the telecom and cable companies on price and an alternative lineup of content.BCE’s (TSX:BCE) network enhancements also come as Canadian cable companies — including Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) and Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) — are nurturing a new generation of TV service.Shaw, which competes more with Telus (TSX:T) in western Canada’s TV market, has already begun to offer its new video offering based on X1 technology from Comcast — the U.S. cable giant.Rogers, which is a more direct competitor with BCE in television in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, said last month that it’s still in the testing and planning stages for bringing out its new X1 service in stages next year.Wade Oosterman, group president for Bell Canada and BCE, said the company has been able to grow its IPTV landline subscriber base quarter after quarter.“We are obviously working on things to keep our product ahead of theirs. And time will tell to see if that differentiation is valued by consumers. Our bet is that it will be,” Oosterman said in an interview after the conference call.BCE added 44,424 high-speed internet subscribers during the quarter, bringing the total to 3.8 million. It also added 36,399 internet-protocol TV subscribers during the quarter, bringing the total subscriber base of IPTV to 1.5 million.Bell added 117,000 additional post-paid subscribers to its wireless services in the three months ended Sept. 30 — the best third-quarter for BCE since 2012Cope declined to answer analyst questions about how customers are responding to the new Apple iPhone X — coming out Friday — or the iPhone 8 that has been on the market since late in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.“We’re just happy to have products for the fourth quarter. It should create a lot of excitement and a lot of traffic in a very important selling season with a lot of advertising support,” Cope told analysts.Earlier Thursday, BCE announced that it earned $770 million attributable to shareholders in its latest quarter, up from $752 million a year ago. Operating revenue totalled $5.68 billion, up 5.0 per cent from $5.41 billion.The profit amounted to 86 cents per share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from 87 cents per share in the same quarter last year when it had fewer shares outstanding.Some of the year-over-year growth was due to BCE’s acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services, which closed in March, for $3.9 billion in cash and shares.last_img read more

Googles AI personal assistant sparks concerns about future of communication

first_imgTORONTO – Aimee Morrison doesn’t look forward to the not-too-distant future when she might have to constantly doubt whether she’s speaking on the phone with robots powered by artificial intelligence, or reading emails composed by algorithms.Earlier this week, Google unveiled demos of new A.I. services that had the web abuzz, including Duplex, which would allow users to outsource the drudgery of booking appointments with businesses by phone to a virtual personal assistant.Google released recordings of calls it says were placed to businesses — including booking a restaurant reservation and a hair salon appointment — in which the employees answering the phone seemed to have no clue they were interacting with a robot.In calling about the restaurant reservation, Google’s A.I. was able to seamlessly handle a series of questions in a nearly minute-long conversation and was not flummoxed when told a booking wasn’t necessary since the eatery wouldn’t be busy. In both calls, the computerized voices occasionally dropped some “umms” and “mm-hmms” in the script to appear more life-like.“The Google Duplex technology is built to sound natural, to make the conversation experience comfortable. It’s important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that. We want to be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context. We’ll be experimenting with the right approach over the coming months,” Google wrote in a blog post about the technology, adding “it cannot carry out general conversations.”“I live in fear of a Google Duplex world where I have to make a hair appointment and the person on the other end treats me like a robot and is awful to me and how am I going to prove that I’m a human?” said Morrison, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo who studies technology’s impact on culture.“Is it going to make all of our conversations with each other deeply suspicious and mistrustful? Is it going to encourage rampant disrespect and awfulness as we learn that some human voices are not really human?”University of Toronto Prof. Gerald Penn called the execution of the Google demos “brilliant” but said that’s partly because the A.I. targeted an unsuspecting target. Someone who knew they could be talking to Google’s software would likely be able to outsmart it, added Penn, who studies natural language processing.“There are going to be some rigid boundaries as to what Duplex can do, and if you’re interested in tricking the system and determining if it’s a human on the line or not, you could certainly do that,” he said.The technology could eventually have a significant impact on the customer service industry, which would have to begin catering to robot callers, he added.“What’s going to happen to small retailers when a significant part of the phone calls they’re receiving are not from people? Because that could turn into a kind of negative spiral where they’re disincentivized to provide any kind of decent phone support, because they’re just talking to robots anyway.”Google also unveiled a feature for its Gmail service called Smart Compose, which provides users with suggested strings of text for emails. Beyond simply predicting the word the user is typing, the software tries to anticipate their whole thought and attempts to offer complete suggested sentences.“Because they’re running Gmail they get all the data, all the emails that people compose, and they can probably train a system to provide replies that would mimic how others have composed their emails before and provide that to users who can simply select some potential replies,” said Prof. Pascal Poupart of the University of Waterloo, who studies artificial intelligence and machine learning.“And the beauty of this system is whenever people are going to select something, that provides a feedback that Google can then use to further improve (the service) because it will know which types of replies are effective.”He found Smart Compose less controversial than Duplex, noting “it’s common already that very, very busy people will often have an assistant who replies to emails on their behalf.”“There’s already this kind of delegation happening and now the only difference is we’re delegating that to a machine,” he said.But Morrison is disturbed by the potential outcomes of the feature becoming popular.“Duplex is trying to make machines pass as humans and what the email assistant is trying to do is make humans sound more like machines. So they’re taking the human out of the conversation at both ends,” she said.“What those things have a tendency to do is really collapse the variety and joy of human conversation into a serious of stock phrases … and literally erase other ways of expressing yourself.”last_img read more

Toronto waterfront board moving forward with plan for new hightech neighbourhood

first_imgTORONTO – An additional US$40 million has been secured for a plan to build a new high-tech neighbourhood at Toronto’s waterfront.Waterfront Toronto said on Tuesday that its board voted to move forward in creating the plan with Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet.Sidewalk Labs said the funding comes as the two sides signed a legal agreement on the plan. The company was chosen by Waterfront Toronto last October to present its ideas for a brand new area of the city.The high-tech district will be in the Quayside development, along Toronto’s eastern waterfront.According to a press release, Sidewalk Labs initially committed US$50 million to the planning phase. Sidewalk Labs spokesman Dan Levitan said another US$40 million had been committed on Tuesday.Levitan said the next steps for the planning includes holding a series of public consultations and noted that a draft plan will be released in early 2019 for another round of approvals.A proposal for the project says the high-tech community would centre on sustainability and affordability.Waterfront Toronto said the only commitment for the project at this time is creating a plan for Quayside.last_img read more

Tensions soar between Kosovo and Serbia over trade tax

first_imgBELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s president has criticized the European Union and the West for allegedly failing to prevent Kosovo from triggering a trade war as tensions soar between the wartime foes.Aleksandar Vucic’s claims on Thursday came a day after Kosovo’s government slapped a 100-per cent import tax on all goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia.Vucic says the West has always blamed “both sides” for tensions in Kosovo, “while in fact they support only one, and that is not Serbia.”After a bloody war in 1999, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, something that Serbia and its ally Russia do not recognize while the U.S. and most Western countries do.The EU has told the two sides they must normalize relations as a precondition to entering the bloc.The Associated Presslast_img read more