Beating the odds: Amazing stories of survival – National

TORONTO – A seamstress has been pulled from the rubble of the Bangladesh building collapse.

After being buried 17 days in the collapsed garment factory, soldiers at the site say the woman, identified as Reshma Begum,  is in remarkably good condition.

VIDEO: Survivor found in Bangladesh rubble (May 10)

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Rescuers stopped all debris removal and used hand saws to cut the woman Begum out from the debris.

A crowd gathered and erupted into cheers after Begum was freed.

Here’s a look at other recent and remarkable stories of survivors found under rubble.

Naqsha Bibi: Rescued after 63 days (2005)

An astonishing 63 days after an earthquake struck Pakistan-controlled Kashmir on October 8, 2005, killing more than 70,000 people, Naqsha Bibi was found alive in the ruins of what was her believed to be her kitchen.

The 40-year-old woman survived on rotting food and rainwater.

Friends and family said they were shocked Bibi managed to survive for so long.

“We were not even looking for her,” said her cousin Faiz Din in an interview with the BBC. “We thought that Naqsha had either fallen down the hill or had gone to live in some relief camp in the city.”

A Pakistani Kashmiri earthquake survivor, Naqsha lies in the intensive care unit (ICU) ward of a hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, December 12, 2005, following her rescue from the rubble.

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Evans Monsignac: Rescued after 27 days (2010)

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitute earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in Haiti.

Nearly a month after the disaster, the hope of finding survivors was all but diminished until rescuers pulled out Evans Monsignac, a 27-year-old father of two who said he survived under the rubble by sipping sewage that oozed underneath the marketplace where he was buried.

“I was resigned to death. But God gave me life. The fact that I’m alive today isn’t because of me, it’s because of the grace of God. It’s a miracle, I can’t explain it,” said Monsignac in an intensive care bed at Tampa General Hospital, Florida, shortly after his rescue.

4-month-old baby girl: 3 days (2011)

For three days, family members believed they lost their four-month-old girl after a powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s northeast coast.

In the town of Ishinomaki, residents heard what they said sounded like a baby’s cry stemming from a pile of debris. Swaddled in a pink woolen bear suit, the girl was reunited with her parents—both of whom survived the disaster.

A soldier smiles as he holds a four-month-old baby who survived the recent tsunami with her family at Ishinomaki city in Miyagi prefecture on March 14, 2011.

Getty Images

Kunio Shiga : 4 weeks later (2011)

More than four weeks after the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan in 2011, farmer Kunio Shiga  was found alive—and well—sitting among the rubble of his home.

The 75-year-old was running short on food and had no running water or electricity. His only source of company?  A battery-powered radio that Shiga listened to in hopes that rescuers would find him.

No one ever came.

“The tsunami came right to my doorstep. I don’t know what happened to my wife. She was here, but now she’s gone,” he told the Daily Mail in an interview.

Shiga said his neighbours fled his home city after evacuation orders from authorities but that he was unable to leave due to trouble walking.

– With files from The Associated Press

©2013Shaw Media

Astronauts successfully spacewalk, replace pump outside International Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Astronauts making a rare, hastily planned spacewalk replaced a pump outside the International Space Station on Saturday in hopes of plugging a serious ammonia leak.

The prospects of success grew as the minutes passed and no frozen flecks of ammonia appeared. Mission Control said it appeared as though the leak may have been plugged, although more monitoring was needed before declaring a victory.

“No evidence of any ammonia leakage whatsoever. We have an airtight system – at the moment,” Mission Control reported.

WATCH: NASA officials hold a news conference following a spacewalk outside the International Space Station to replace a broken coolant pump.

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Christopher Cassidy and Thomas Marshburn installed the new pump after removing the old one suspected of spewing flakes of frozen ammonia coolant two days earlier.

The leak was reported by ISS Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency on Thursday.

“[I saw] a very steady stream of flakes or bits coming out…” Hadfield reported.

Listen: Hadfield tells Mission Control that the ISS crew is ready for a space walk.

Commander Hadfield did not make the EVA. Instead, astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn conducted an investigation.

©2013Shaw Media

Tests confirm Ariel Castro is father of 6-year-old girl found in home: Attorney General – National

Ohio’s attorney general says tests confirm that Ariel Castro is the father of the six-year-old girl who was held captive at his Cleveland home along with Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

The women and the child emerged from the home Monday, about a decade after the women had disappeared.

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Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Castro, as police charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and then starved her and punched her in the belly until she miscarried.

The horrific allegations were contained in a police report that also said one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.

Castro was arraigned Thursday on charges of rape and kidnapping after the three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his home earlier in the week.

Police say the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times and were kept in different rooms. They suffered prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had miscarriages, according to a city official briefed on the case.

Castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping – covering the captives and the daughter born to Berry – and three counts of rape, against all three women.

©2013The Associated Press

News anchor Scott Pelley rips journalists, including himself, for lack of care, rash of mistakes – National

NEW YORK – Top CBS News anchor Scott Pelley delivered a tongue-lashing to fellow journalists on Friday, urging them to worry less about the “vanity” of being first on a story and more about being right.

“This has been a bad few months for journalism,” Pelley said. “We’re getting the big stories wrong over and over again.”

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The “CBS Evening News” anchor made the criticism while accepting a journalism award named for broadcast executive Fred Friendly from Quinnipiac University. He didn’t exempt himself, noting that during early reporting of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre last December he mistakenly reported that shooter Adam Lanza’s mother was a teacher in the school.

Media organizations were roundly criticized for falsely reporting an arrest of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect two days after the April 15 attack. Stories and pictures spread quickly on social media websites erroneously suggesting some people on the scene were suspects, and the images were used by some news organizations.

“In a world where everybody is a publisher, no one is an editor,” Pelley said, “and we’ve arrived at the point today.”

Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are “not journalism,” he said. “That’s gossip. Journalism was invented as an antidote to gossip.”

He repeated a maxim heard often in newsrooms recently: “If you’re first, no one will ever remember. If you’re wrong, no one will ever forget.”

The race to be first on stories is “vanity,” he said. “It’s self-conceit. We do it to make ourselves feel better.”

Media critic Howard Kurtz apologized this week on his CNN show, “Reliable Sources,” for messing up a story about NBA player Jason Collins and was sharply criticized by other media critics on the air.

Kurtz had written that Collins, who made headlines by being the first active player in one of the four major U.S. pro sports leagues to come out as gay, had hidden a previous engagement to a woman in his announcement. In fact, Collins revealed the engagement in his first-person Sports Illustrated story and in a subsequent ABC interview.

Kurtz’s story was published on The Daily Beast website, which subsequently parted ways with Kurtz in a decision he said was long in the works. Kurtz said the story was riddled with errors and shouldn’t have been written in the first place.

CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker said on Friday that he was comfortable with Kurtz’s apology and had no plans to replace him on the weekly media criticism show.

©2013The Associated Press

Councillor issues shop local challenge – Regina

Family-owned Nature’s Best Market was the first organic grocery store in the city when it opened 19 years ago.  Now, of course, Reginans have more options, but there’s still good reason to shop locally.

“We’re not the only ones anymore; there are three or four stores and I know a lot of customers support all of them,” said Jim Wright, owner of Nature’s Best.

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One of those customers is Ward 3 city councillor Shawn Fraser. He’s issued a challenge to engage people in the political process and support other locally-owned businesses.

“For about three weeks I’m going to shop exclusively, or as exclusively as I can at small businesses within ward three and beyond as they come up and I’m also inviting other people to try and do the same,” he said.

He said this month is a good time to start because people can take in the outdoor Farmer’s Market, Sask Fashion Week and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival. He said you shouldn’t be worried about the cost of taking on the challenge either.

“What we found is we actually don’t spend a lot more money. When we make a trip to the big box store, we end up buying things we weren’t expecting to buy, so we spend the money anyway, just on different things,” said Fraser.

The first annual Discover Saskatchewan trade show going on Friday and Saturday in the Agribition Building at Evraz Place takes shopping locally one step further, promoting products made here and companies that are 100 percent Saskatchewan.

“People don’t know that we have zip lining in Saskatchewan; we have scuba diving in Saskatchewan,” said Lynn McCann, president of We Shop Local and the coordinator of the trade show.

She added, “It’s very surprising that they aren’t aware of even some of the companies around Regina that they don’t know about.”

The trade show runs until 9 pm on Friday and until 6 pm on Saturday.

As campaign winds to an end, party leaders tread well-worn ground – BC

VANCOUVER – With just days left to convince British Columbia voters of their political prowess, party leaders tried to bring their campaign messages home on Friday.

New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix was on a blitz of Vancouver Island, the NDP stronghold where the B.C. Greens are hoping to gain ground — and where the Liberals took the unusual step Friday of taking out a full-page ad in the Island’s largest circulation newspaper touting the strong environmental stance of Green Leader Jane Sterk.

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“Who is strong enough to stand up for B.C.?” asks the banner across the top of the ad.

Immediately below is a photo of Sterk, who “says no to Kinder Morgan, says no to Enbridge Northern Gateway and says no to tanker traffic off our coast,” it said.

In comparison, the ad said Dix and the NDP are “flip-flopping.”

Dix said the Liberals will say anything and do anything to stay in power.

“What the Liberals are saying is: `Our path to get to power is for you to vote Green,’” he said at a campaign event in Esquimalt.

“I say: The way to change the government, to get a new and better government, is to vote NDP.”

The New Democrats held 10 of 14 seats on the Island, where the B.C. Green party has its best hope of a breakthrough next week.

Dix started his day in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding currently held by Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong, and where climate scientist Andrew Weaver is running for the Greens in what is now considered a three-way race.

Indeed, Sterk spent Friday as she has spent most of the campaign — meeting voters face to face in the few ridings where she believes the Greens have a real chance of victory.

The New Democrats spent the day making whistlestops the length of the island, while Premier Christy Clark held court at the Port of Metro Vancouver.

Clark brought four weeks of campaigning together at the shipping hub, saying getting B.C.’s and Canada’s natural resources to Asian markets is vital to the province’s economic future.

“This is the place that connects Canada to the world. It is right here in our city, in our province,” Clark said as the port bustled below, cranes loading and unloading ships traversing the Pacific.

“We have a responsibility to make sure this port is working for the people in Saskatchewan, the people in Ontario, the people in Quebec, across the country that need to get their goods to Asia.”

A New Democrat government would say no to the natural resource developments that keep the port running, Clark said.

The people of Alberta were notably absent from the list.

Clark has negotiated more than four weeks of campaigning without resolving the outstanding issue of whether or not a Liberal government in Victoria would support two controversial pipeline projects that would allow land-locked Alberta to expand the customer base for its oil beyond the United States.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford has said the neighbouring province faces a $6-billion revenue shortfall this year because oilsands crude fetches a discounted price in its sole market.

Clark has not declared support for or against the Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan pipelines throughout the campaign, but she issued a dire warning Friday about B.C.’s role in keeping the Canadian economy going.

“Canada cannot afford to have this province become a `have-not’ province, that fails to contribute to Confederation, again,” Clark said as port workers and Andy Smith, president of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, looked on.

“British Columbians need us to succeed, absolutely… but every Canadian is depending on us too this time because there aren’t a lot of `have’ provinces left in this country.”

Smith, who hosted the premier’s event at the federal port, said his association supports the B.C. Liberals.

“My view on politics is driven by economics. As the BCMEA, we understand that there has to be a perception that this province is friendly to investment,” he said.

“An NDP government puts a chill on that kind of investment.”

©2013Shaw Media

Southwest Alberta ranchers losing cattle to grizzly bears – Lethbridge

It appears some southern Alberta cattle producers are facing an extra challenge this spring.

Dozens of ranchers claim their calves have been killed by grizzly bears.

“It’s getting to where the bears are getting bolder,” said Calvin Walper, strolling on his Twin Butte property where he’s encountered nearly a dozen bears, recently losing five-to-six head of cattle per year.

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“In the fall they’re a little smaller,” Walper said. “Being a 600 lb. animal, a bear can take them to the bush over there and feast on it.”

The problem isn’t exclusive to this ranch.

Fish & Wildlife officers say at least nine cattle in southwest Alberta have been killed since mid-April, with several others missing.

“It’s the combination of such a late green-up, not much fruit for the bears, and such a high density of grizzly bears between Twin Butte and Waterton,” said Perry Abramenko, who helps oversee the Pincher Creek district.

Walper claims the grizzlies are getting so accustomed to human contact, they’re coming within three metres of his family’s home. In one instance last year, two bears were found lounging where the family parks their vehicles.

“The dog started barking so we went outside, and here we have two bears just hanging out as if it was their yard as well,” said Walper.

Trapping is one form of controlling the grizzly population. When ranchers see a bear on their property, they’re warned to call wildlife officers right away.

“We come on-site to work the rancher to mitigate these conflicts,” said Abramenko. “Whether it’s helping with securing the attractant or removing the offending bear and helping them protect their livestock.”

If the bear isn’t caught in the act, says Walper, evidence of a conflict is tougher to come by, which means a producer may not be compensated for losing livestock.

“Our hands are tied,” he said. “There are bears being trapped, but where do they take them?”

“We can’t just keep taking problem bears and giving them to someone else because it’s a problem.”

He suggests a form of cull may be the safest option, balancing business with the environment, before it’s a human being instead of a calf being attacked.

SIU investigating, man fined after he climbs a tree in Kensington Market – Toronto

TORONTO – The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating an altercation between Toronto police and a man in his 20s.

The cause of the incident: The man was climbing a tree.

Twenty-two-year-old Dylan Deziel was climbing a tree in Kensington Market last Thursday when he was ordered to come down by a Toronto Police Officer.

“I came down from the tree and he started to handcuff me,” Deziel said. “I pulled away, right. I didn’t want to be arrested.”

But it’s what happened next that infuriated Deziel and his mother.

“He tripped me and I fell face first into that puddle right there,” Deziel said while standing beside the tree he was at. “Scratching my nose, beating up my lips and breaking my collar bone.”

When he was on the ground, he said, he was handcuffed.

He was also handed a $356 permit for climbing a tree without a permit.

Climbing a tree is, in fact, illegal according to city by-laws.

“No person shall in a park: Unless authorized by permit, climb, move or remove the whole or any part of a tree, rock, boulder, rock face or remove soil, sand or wood,” according to Toronto Municipal Code 608-6-C.

Prior to Deziel’s fine, the city confirmed to Global News, that bylaw had never been enforced.

And there has never been a complaint filed about a person climbing a tree.

However, the oddity of the bylaw doesn’t stop – if you want to obtain a permit to climb a tree in Toronto – you can’t, according to city staff.

“The intent is to protect the trees and individuals and there are circumstances where we might have an arborist competition or a contractor may be doing work in our parks and a permit is required under those circumstances,” Ray Stukas a Manager with the parks division of the city of Toronto said.

The Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate.

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©2013Shaw Media

Ottawa Catholic schools paid $3,000 to send students to pro-life rally – National

OTTAWA – The publicly-funded Ottawa Catholic School Board spent $3,000 to send high school students to a pro-life rally on Parliament Hill Thursday.

Spokeswoman Mardi De Kemp said according to eight of nine Catholic high schools in Ottawa, approximately 195 students attended the four-hour March For Life event Thursday afternoon.

De Kemp said in an email Friday each school arranged its own transport, but $3,000 “would be a fair estimate.”

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The 16th annual event, which drew thousands to the lawn of Parliament Hill and a march through the downtown streets of Ottawa, featured prayers, songs, and a number of anti-abortion speakers including Conservative MPs and Senators.

One speaker, Calgary Conservative MP Rob Anders, said anti-abortion activists need to back political candidates who share their views if they want abortion laws changed. Fellow Tory backbencher Mark Warawa gave a speech about female gendercide – the systemic killing of women and girls.

Not all Catholic schools used school money to pay for the trip.

A spokeswoman for the Brantford, Ont.-area Catholic school board said 39 students from two high schools travelled to Ottawa by bus early Thursday morning, along with 15 parishioners, and returned that night.

Tracey Austin said the $3,000 cost was split between the Diocese of Hamilton, the parishioners, and the students, but no Ontario Ministry of Education or board money was used.

Another 15 students from the Guelph, Ont.-area travelled by bus to attend the rally with members of a Catholic parish. The students paid $25 each on their own dime to attend, said Don Drone, the director of education at Wellington Catholic School Board.

Drone said boards might pay for or subsidize such a trip, because they have program money to spend on Catholic curriculum or chaplaincy services.

“More often than not it’s a cost-sharing with either a parish, or with either a student and the parish, or they in fact do a lot of fundraising on their own,” he said.

“It’s social justice, and the issue of having your voice heard is a part of the democratic process and therefore that’s why we would engage students in these things.”

Many students who attended the rally Thursday said the anti-abortion movement was growing among young people.

Global News called 29 Catholic school boards in Ontario. Several did not have students attend the event and most were unable to respond in full Friday.

©2013Shaw Media

Warawa warns abortion issue will follow next Parliament – National

OTTAWA – Conservative MP Mark Warawa, who delivered a long-awaited statement in the House of Commons about female “gendercide” as thousands of pro-lifers rallied on Parliament Hill Thursday, says the abortion issue is not going away and will have to be dealt with by legislators.

“Any issue that’s important to Canadians needs to be discussed in Parliament,” Warawa said in an interview Friday.

“This Parliament does not want to deal with that issue but I’m expecting that a future Parliament will.”

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Warawa made the comments the day after he delivered his member’s statement about gendercide, the systemic killing of females, including through abortion.

While he contends his statement has always been about the discrimination of women and girls, Warawa said many people who participated in the March for Life rally Thursday were against abortion.

“They were highlighting the fact that Canada and North Korea are the only countries in the world that have no (abortion) policies,” he said.

“For us to have a North Korean policy doesn’t seem at all reasonable.”

Warawa delivered his statement Thursday after originally being denied the right to speak about it by his own party.

Speaker Andrew Scheer recently ruled MPs can make statements in the House without being on their party’s speaking list – if he recognizes them – and Warawa exercised that right Thursday.

Warawa said fellow MP Russ Hiebert allowed him to take his speaking spot, and Warawa also approached Scheer before question period to warn him he’d be attempting to speak. Scheer recognized him and Warawa gave his statement.

“I did approach the Speaker and let him know I was hoping to get recognized by him. And of course there is no guarantee, you just give him a head’s up,” said Warawa.

“I thank Russ Hiebert for (being) willing to give me that slot.”

Warawa said he won’t be attempting to speak off the list for some time.

“I can’t do this too often, otherwise I will get more than my fair share.”

He said he will continue to raise awareness about the issue of gendercide, as well as sex-selective abortion – a problem he said has contributed to the deaths of 200 million women and girls worldwide.

“Most people don’t realize that this was happening in Canada, and don’t realize how serious the problem is,” he said.

“I’m happy that public awareness is being achieved. And the job that I have in relation to gendercide, sex-selection, is probably what I’ll be working on for the rest of my life.”

©2013Shaw Media

More insults hurled as oilsands promotion tour through Europe ends – National

OTTAWA – Just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to the United States to win over hearts and minds on Canada’s pipeline plans, his natural resources minister is wrapping up a similar tour in Europe by lobbing insults at oilsands critics.

In a conference call Friday from London, Joe Oliver dismissed suggestions that the government’s transcontinental public-relations press on energy and the environment is a sign of desperation in Ottawa.

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“I wouldn’t characterize it as desperate,” Oliver said of the recent barrage of federal emissaries travelling the globe to talk up Canada’s oilsands in the face of projects like the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Rather, he said, it’s oilsands opponents who are starting to sound panicky.

“It’s pretty clear that opponents are getting desperate, hence the shrillness of their arguments, the hyperbole and the exaggeration that we’re hearing from some sources.”

European decision-makers are still in the midst of determining how they should word their fuel quality directive, which would favour low-carbon fuels and penalize crude from the oilsands for being high in carbon.

And their counterparts in the U.S. are expected to decide in the next few months whether to green-light Keystone XL, which would carry oilsands bitumen from Alberta all the way to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

The Conservatives see both decisions as crucial for market access for Canada’s energy sector, and have ramped up their lobbying campaign accordingly. Environment Minister Peter Kent will be following in Oliver’s footsteps to Europe next week, even as Harper addresses U.S. business leaders in New York City about the benefits of the oilsands and Canada’s environment regime.

But environmentalists see the decisions on Keystone XL and the European fuel quality directive as pivotal in the fight against global warming.

A group of 150 major Democrat donors in the United States issued a letter Friday urging President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline in the name of fighting off climate change.

“As business leaders, philanthropists and supporters of your 2008 and 2012 campaigns, we write to urge you to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to do everything in your power to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and to clean energy sources,” the letter reads.

At the same time, Mark Jaccard, one of Canada’s leading energy economists, is about to take a European tour of his own – to denounce the federal government’s penchant for pipelines at a time when they have no solid plan to reduce emissions from the oilsands.

Jaccard’s arguments only serve to undermine Canadian and global prosperity, Oliver said, because they would result in a shortage of affordable energy.

“I think there are some people who really have a vision of the world which isn’t realistic,” he said.

“They would like to see the world powered by alternative energy. I think that would be great if it could be achieved, but it can’t be entirely, or even to a majority extent.”

The comments are only the latest in an aggressive stand by Oliver and others in the Harper government in favour of pipelines and improving market access for the oilsands. In the past month alone, Oliver has taken on a U.S. rocket scientist and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, calling their criticisms of the oilsands “inaccurate and exaggerated.”

In an interview Friday, Jaccard said the government’s campaign of aggression and name-calling is not winning it any respect.

“I feel betrayed as a Canadian,” he said.

Jaccard said he has done research for and provided advice to governments of all political stripes, and has never viewed himself as an environmentalist. Rather, he is alarmed by scientific research that indicates fossil fuels are destroying the earth, as well as his own modelling, which tells him Canada won’t be able to meet its 2020 target to reduce emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

“I have always worked as an academic, designing policies and helping governments. But I also believe I have a moral obligation to tell the truth.”

If Harper really wanted to win the respect of decision-makers in Europe and the United States, he would lay out a plan that would halt growth in the oilsands, put a freeze on new pipelines, and show the rest of the world how to be a low-carbon economy, Jaccard said.

On Friday, Oliver reiterated that his government is committed to meeting the 2020 target, and that it believes that by regulating emissions in a sector-by-sector approach, the target will be reached.

But numerous number-crunchers have shown that Canadian governments would have to take major, additional measures even if their pending rules for the oil and gas sector are fairly stringent.

Oliver’s aggressive stand may have backfired on the government in the past. Last year, after taking on environmentalists opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia, public opposition to the pipeline surged, and now the project is widely considered to be moribund.

And Oliver quickly backtracked on comments he made in Europe this week. On Wednesday, he said Ottawa would consider a World Trade Organization challenge of the European fuel requirements, unless they are changed – comments that prompted raised eyebrows in Conservative circles since they come at a delicate stage of negotiations between Canada and Europe on a free trade agreement.

By Friday, Oliver was saying he did not mean to threaten anyone.

“I would not certainly characterize this as a threat,” he said.

“We’re going to work very hard to make these changes, which I think would be in everyone’s interest to do. But if these arbitrary rules were to stay, I wanted to signal that as a very last resort, we would defend Canada’s interests and we would consider the WTO alternative.”

©2013The Canadian Press

Donations pour in for those displaced by Stony Plain fire – Edmonton

EDMONTON – Fifty people have been forced out of their homes after a fast-moving blaze burned a three-story Stony Plain apartment complex to the ground Thursday evening.

“He was working, I was working – we both came home to a blaze,” recalls Amie Outten, describing how she and her husband Joel found out about the fire.

They are staying with family while they sort out their living situation.

The Outtens have insurance, but they know many in their building do not.

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“We did, but the people beside us didn’t and the people across from us didn’t.”

The fire broke out at Sonora apartments, located at 47th Street and 49th Avenue, around 6:45 p.m.

Two apartment buildings were evacuated as crews worked to contain the blaze. 36 units were destroyed.

More than 60 firefighters tried to bring the fire under control. Officials say strong wind gusts did not help crews in their battle, as the wind caused the fire to rapidly spread.

“Wind was our major culprit as far as the flames spread,” explained Dan Badry, Stony Plain fire chief.

“By the time our crews arrived on site, it had spread almost three-quarters of the way up to the fire wall, which is about halfway up the building.”

Fire crews had the fire under control around 9:30 p.m. but remained on scene all night to monitor for hot spots.

Badry says the building is not likely salvageable.

He confirms all the residents made it out safely. However, six animals died in the fire.

“I was worried about them all night, I wasn’t sure if they were going to get out or not,” shares Outten.

Her two cats were found safe by firefighters Friday morning.

“We asked if we could go in and they said no, and then they said ‘well, we can check’ … They brought Kiwi out first, and then they said, ‘is there one more?’ and I said ‘yeah,’ and then they got him out.”

Appropriately, Outten’s second cat is named Lucky.

“They were hiding in behind pieces of the roof that collapsed,” she explains.

The Town of Stony Plain says four cats and two dogs died in the fire.

Outten knows the woman who lost a pet dog.

“I don’t think the dog made it. They couldn’t find it. It was in a kennel so…”

“I feel pretty fortunate,” admitted Outten, holding one of her cats, “but I also feel pretty bad for her,” she said, holding back tears.

While the Outtens admit they “have no idea” what’s next, they want to help their neighbours as much as possible.

“We know a lot of people, and if we can try to help out people, we will.”

That seems to be the general sentiment within the community.

The Town of Stony Plain issued a request for donations to help those affected by the fire at 9:30 Thursday night.

By noon Friday, it had received more than enough material donations.

“We filled that hall right full,” said Buck Coutts, the second vice president of the Stony Plain Royal Canadian Legion. “There’s a 53-foot trailer here, we’ve hauled seven truckloads away already and one more big trailer.”

Now, the community has set up a trust fund to offer financial support to the Sonora apartment residents.

“We are amazed at the generosity of people in our community and thank everybody for the support,” said Stony Plain Mayor, William Choy, on Twitter.

The Canadian Red Cross is now conducting a needs-assessment at the Stony Plain Royal Canadian Legion for 48 people affected by the fire.

The Red Cross will be providing emergency food, clothing and accommodation for the next 72 hours as required. Individuals affected by this fire who require Red Cross assistance are asked to visit the Legion or call 1-888-800-6493.

Stony Plain and District Victim Services Unit has also been assisting with displaced residents.

Donations pour in for victims of the apartment fire in Stony Plain, May 9, 2013.

Vassy Kapelos, Global News

Volunteers, including high school students who had the day off, are helping sort through the donations at the Legion.

Sonora apartments consist of two three-storey multi-unit buildings, one of which was destroyed by fire. Early estimates peg the damage at more than $4 million.

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Gay women more anxious, fearful when giving birth: research

HALIFAX – Giving birth should be a joyous experience but new research from Dalhousie University has found that may not always be the case for a gay woman.

Dr. Lisa Goldberg, an associate professor of nursing, studies support for gay women when they give birth. Her research spanned birth units across Nova Scotia, B.C. and Alberta.

Her findings show that while healthcare workers don’t approach gay women with disrespect, the women are more scared and face more difficulties than heterosexual woman in the maternity ward.

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“[They have] a level of anxiety and negative expectations about approaching healthcare,” Goldberg said.

“Part of it is what has come before them, part of it is around some of the language [on forms] that has been used and part of it is some previous experience.”

Members of Halifax’s gay community say the findings aren’t surprising.

“We know generally that the LGBT community has negative experiences with healthcare and there could be a couple of reasons,” said Kevin Kindred of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project.

“It could be about homophobic responses from the system but as often as not, it’s about fear of not fitting, fear of being labeled as one way and fear that your healthcare practitioner will not understand your personal circumstances.”

Health officials agree with the findings, saying more conversations with the gay community could help fix the problem.

“It’s certainly exciting for that dialogue to open up and come forth to allow us the opportunity to really address people’s needs and meet them where they are when they come into the health centre and birth unit,” said Lisa Courtney, clinical leader of the birth unit at IWK.

“[There needs to be] an increase and a constant space for dialogue, increasing capacity and knowledge and understanding, ensuring that is built into the systems within nursing and within healthcare in general,” said Cybelle Rieber, coordinator of Pride Health. Pride Health is a program within Capital Health that works to increase healthcare access for the LGBTQ population in Halifax.

Goldberg says dialogue is critical and notes that there could be long term, negative consequences for gay women who don’t feel positive about their birthing experience.

“If that continues to happen, it’s concerning around how often LGBTQ persons will access healthcare, which is vital in terms of health outcomes,” she said.

The researcher says it is important to address how homophobia and transphobia contribute to health inequities across the country. Her next study will examine the quality of care gay women receive in birth units across rural Nova Scotia.