Head coach Bev Priestman has a chance to determine her strongest 18-player roster as Canada come up against Wales and 6th-ranked England in back to back friendlies this month. 9:02
So, are the Canadians ready? For national team standout Ashley Lawrence, the first few days of camp have looked promising.
“It’s a very healthy, competitive environment,” Lawrence told reporters Thursday from Cardiff. “From day one, I’ve been pushed and hopefully I’m pushing others around me. We’ve been looking really good on the field and our goal is to show that in the game [against Wales] and against England.”
It’s the first time in over a year the 25-year-old from Brampton, Ont., has been with her national teammates. She wasn’t released by her professional club, France’s Paris Saint-Germain, for the SheBelieves Cup due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic.
Good to be back 🇨🇦❤️😊<a href=”https://twitter.com/nichelleprince7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@nichelleprince7</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/sophieschmidt13?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@sophieschmidt13</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CanadaSoccerEN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CanadaSoccerEN</a> <a href=”https://t.co/zOGh0zP7CG”>pic.twitter.com/zOGh0zP7CG</a>
Though she and PSG teammate Jordyn Huitema, Lyon’s Kadeisha Buchanan and injured players like Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson weren’t at that February camp, Lawrence said she was completely invested, watching all the games and training sessions and even virtually attending team meetings.
But nothing beats being together in person.
“It’s been nice to catch up and see players I haven’t seen in a long time, even some new faces, and also get acquainted with the new staff,” said Canada’s 2019 player of the year.
Priestman eager to gauge progress
Priestman’s first matches in charge at the SheBelieves Cup saw Canada win one game — 1-0 in stoppage time over Argentina — and lose two, a hard-fought 1-0 contest to No. 1 United States and 2-0 to fellow No. 8 Brazil.
While the February tournament wasn’t a true evaluation of her squad, as it was hurt by player injuries and availability issues, Priestman still had concerns over two things — the team’s match fitness and lack of goal scoring.
“I felt that while we were fresh, we could compete,” she said on a recent media call. “I think that U.S. game, granted we lost, but I felt we competed even with a weakened roster. But with the reality of COVID and a lot of players not touching a ball for a long time, I felt that by the third game, physically we struggled.
“The tight turnaround between these [April] games is going to let me see the progress made from a lot of players who’ve gone back to the NWSL, NCAA, particularly North America, they were out of season.”
Those players have since been prepping for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup, which begins this weekend, while the NCAA players have been gearing up for their spring seasons.
Hungry to score goals
Canada’s goal-scoring issue is a more complicated one to solve, but Priestman and her staff are confident it will come if players put the work in.
The staff did an analysis after the tournament and surmised they definitely created chances and were in much better positions against those teams historically, but “ultimately it is about putting the ball in the back of the net,” Priestman said.
“I’ve challenged the group away from camp. You don’t develop in those areas on camp, you have to turn up ready,” she said, adding that many players went back to their clubs and were doing extras after training to gain that confidence.
Manchester City’s Janine Beckie is an example, scoring recently in Champions League against Barcelona and in league versus Tottenham.
“We have to be ruthless in both boxes,” Priestman added. “Stopping goals but also scoring them, and I think you stick with that process [by] getting in those positions. It’ll only help because we had the chances.”
“I think we have shown a lot of growth in a short period of time and we are on the right track,” she said. “We have a lot of players on the field that are hungry to score some goals. We know the quality and the talent that we have. It’s about putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I’m really confident that we’re going to be doing that in these two games.”
This story is part of a five-part series looking at how the policies of the two U.S. presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, differ when it comes to the major issues of interest to Canada, including energy, defence, trade and immigration.
One brutal lesson in modern geopolitics has been repeatedly driven home: when the globe’s superpowers clash, Canada risks getting sideswiped.
This all came after the U.S. requested that Canada arrest a high-level Huawei executive, just one of Washington’s various moves against Chinese tech firms.
One China-watcher said the escalating Sino-American power struggle will play out in different places around the world — including here.
“[It’s] a form of a proxy war to me,” said Lynette Ong, a China expert at the University of Toronto, describing the Meng Wanzhou affair as part of a broader U.S.-China conflict.
“And Canada is the battlefield.”
It goes beyond technology. China-U.S. tension involves 5G and smartphone apps but also pandemic planning, cross-border academic co-operation, journalism, international trade, agriculture and global institutions.
While that tension won’t be resolved with the upcoming U.S. election, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are proposing different approaches to one of the central policy issues of our time.
If Trump wins
Even some of Trump’s critics give him credit for articulating a sentiment that was steadily building in Washington before his presidency — that is, disillusionment with the Chinese government.
“History may be relatively kind to the president. Not necessarily in how he [has handled China issues] … but in forcing this reckoning that was sort of happening,” said Bill Bishop, a writer and businessman who’s lived in Beijing and Washington and writes a daily China newsletter called Sinocism.
Bishop said American businesses and the previous administration were increasingly frustrated with perceived bullying by Chinese authorities and the theft of their intellectual property.
He said that left China with few defenders in Washington. The business lobby, he said, had always been the key pro-China constituency, while top figures in the U.S. Congress were already Beijing skeptics.
The shift in posture was officially signalled in two major documents produced early in the Trump presidency.
A 2017 National Security Strategy report accused China and other competitors of stealing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property from the U.S. each year. It essentially concluded that China’s rise had not worked out as planned.
“For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China,” said the document. “Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others. China gathers and exploits data on an unrivalled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance.”
President Trump’s new National Security Strategy for a new era: <a href=”https://t.co/jJwqnR7xoi”>https://t.co/jJwqnR7xoi</a> <a href=”https://t.co/MH8kPSZnCN”>pic.twitter.com/MH8kPSZnCN</a>
A subsequent U.S. federal trade study catalogued repeated broken promises from China that the theft would stop. Then came tariffs, more tariffs and yet again more tariffs, some of which also hit allies like Canada.
WATCH | U.S. accuses WHO of relying too heavily on China for coronavirus information:
In the U.S. Congress, hundreds of bills introduced this year refer to China. A sanctions bill punishing people involved in rights abuses against Uighurs passed the Senate 100-0. A bill restricting goods produced by forced labour in Xinjiang has passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 406-3. Other, unpassed bills would ban immigration for Chinese Communist Party members, or separate the countries’ supply chains.
Canadian trade with China could be affected in different ways.
Two witnesses at a recent U.S. congressional hearing said that for a ban to be effective on trade in forced-labour goods, major trading partners of the U.S., specifically Canada and Mexico, have to be involved.
Canada could face similar pressure with popular smartphone apps. For example, Trump has signed an executive order restricting use of the wildly popular Chinese social-media platform WeChat. (The order has temporarily stalled in court.)
Some people in social media proposed using a Canadian virtual network to get around the U.S. ban — a loophole that would not go unnoticed in Washington for very long.
Trump clamped down on the sale of smartphone chips to Huawei. He also slapped several new export controls on high-tech goods with military applications — and placed allies on notice that they could face similar controls if they keep selling sensitive technology to China.
Ong said American frustrations really escalated with the pandemic. (That and the subsequent Chinese crackdown on political freedoms in Hong Kong.) But she faults Trump for picking way too many fights with allies (for example, with tariffs on Canadian and European metals). She said greater unity among democracies would give them more leverage in pressing Beijing for behavioural change.
“Four more years of a Trump presidency would be disastrous for the world. It would be great for China,” she said.
“The Western world will continue to be disunited. Without U.S. leadership, there’s only so much middle powers can do. In that sense, it would be fantastic for [President] Xi Jinping.”
Trump has also been difficult for allies to follow. He’s bounced between condemning Xi’s behaviour to repeatedly praising him, and has been inconsistent on whether he cares about human-rights issues — at one point reportedly even offering approval of Uighur detainment camps.
If Biden wins
One point emphasized by several people who’ve followed this issue is that no matter who wins on Nov. 3, there is no going back to the China-U.S. relations that existed before Trump.
“The whole U.S. establishment seems to have shifted, very sharply, against China,” said Christopher Sands, head of Washington’s Canada Institute. “There has been almost a Cold War reflex — a sense [we in the U.S. are] fighting on behalf of everyone, because a peaceful [Chinese] rise didn’t pan out and confrontation is necessary to force China to change the way it behaves.”
WATCH | U.S. warns Canada about using Huawei’s 5G network:
The U.S. State Department warns it will limit its intelligence sharing with Canada if Huawei is allowed to build Canada’s 5G cellphone network. 1:47
One difference, Sands said, is that Biden would be more careful in avoiding unnecessary escalation, and less likely to engage in the sort of brinkmanship that leads the superpowers down the path toward the nightmare scenario: open conflict.
Bishop said Biden would also offer a more coherent idea of what, exactly, the U.S. wants as its end goal in the relationship with China. “The problem with [Trump’s] China policy is just the fundamental incoherence of the president.”
One other difference, Bishop said, is Biden would work more closely with U.S. allies. It’s in fact a pillar of Biden’s foreign policy platform. He’s proposing a series of democratic reforms at home, so that the U.S. might set a better example in the world.
Biden would also convene the world’s democracies for a summit. That summit would involve governments and private-sector participants, like social media companies, to talk about containing authoritarianism and corruption, while promoting election security and human rights.
“The United States must lead not just with the example of power, but the power of our example,” says Biden’s platform. “To win the competition for the future against China or anyone else, we must sharpen our innovative edge and unite the economic might of democracies around the world.”
A Biden presidency would also cause challenges for Canada. As on the trade issues surrounding Huawei, forced labour, microchips, WeChat and tariffs, an alliance against Beijing would have expectations of its members.
“The important question for a country like Canada is, ‘What does that [co-operation] mean in practice?'” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at Washington’s Peterson Institute who served as a trade official in the Obama White House.
“What skin is Canada going to be willing to put in the game? That’s going to be an important and interesting question.”
Canadians need no reminder, following the Meng Wanzhou affair, that heeding an American request can trigger painful blowback from Beijing.
Bown said Trump’s go-it-alone attitude has made it easier on Canada in some ways. For example, Trump’s trade wars against China wound up benefitting Canadian lobster fishers, as their U.S. competitors faced tariffs.
Biden’s platform also calls for a form of carbon tariffs on high-polluting imports. In his book Trumpocalypse, Canadian-American author David Frum writes that carbon taxes are the kind of policy countries could co-ordinate to press China to speed up its own shift to cleaner technologies.
“You can’t manage [climate change] without China,” Frum said in an interview.
What should be the end goal of a coherent China policy? Bishop said it can’t be to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party — he called that unrealistic and predicted the party will be in power for decades.
He said the goal should be establishing clear rules for this new age that everyone can live with in peace and security.
Bishop said Western countries need to make clear to Beijing, “Here are some of our red lines.” And then, he said, both sides can negotiate an understanding of how they might work together, and coexist, in this new geopolitical order.
Dental hygienists say new provincial health guidelines around protective wear for safety during dental procedures are confusing at best and may not go far enough, despite the provincial health officer’s reassurances that patient screening provides an added layer of protection.
Many provinces, like Alberta, require dentists and assistants to wear N95 masks for any service that produces aerosols, but that’s not necessary under new BCCDC guidelines published late Friday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said careful pre-screening should be used to weed out infected patients, and mask and face protections should keep people safe during procedures.
But the possibility of a leaky mask or an asymptomatic patient concerns members of the B.C. Dental Hygienists Association.
A shortage of N95 masks and other protective wear has dogged this sector’s plans to reopen and the B.C. Dental Association says it’s reviewing the newest provincial guidelines on behalf of its members.
The College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. guidelines, based on guidance from The B.C. Centre for Disease Control, published last Friday, May 15, stipulate that an N95 mask and eye protection is needed, plus gloves and a gown for any “aerosol generating” procedures, but only with patients who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
But it does not say that level of protection is needed for other patients, despite the fact some may be asymptomatic.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the college said the plan is intended to guide a “careful restart,” but the college “does not expect any dental professional to provide treatment unless, in their professional opinion, it is safe to do so” for patients and the dental team.
Last week, the B.C. Dental Association advised patients that dental offices would not be opening regular practices May 19 — the initial provincial target date — and full dental services would resume as it becomes safe, depending on access to personal protective equipment. Despite that, some offices are opting to open this week.
Andrea Burton, the executive director of the Dental Hygienists Association, said each individual dentistry office is a business and the owners in each case decide what works for them.
BC hygienists feel ‘a little bit like guinea pigs.’
Burton described the new guidelines released Friday as confusing and too vague.
“Why are we the ones that are being asked to go back to work with less [suggested protective gear] than what they have in Alberta? Dental hygienists in British Columbia feel a little bit like guinea pigs. Maybe it’s fine. But maybe is a tough word when you are talking about your health.”
Burton said that while some dental offices are reopening, others are waiting a few weeks to see how things go.
Health officials have said the key will be pre-screening patients to make sure they do not have symptoms.
In an interview, Henry said for most procedures, even on a person infected with COVID-19, “you can safely provide care” wearing a mask and face protection, such as goggles or a face shield.
But it is the level of mask that hygienists want clarified.
Vancouver dental assistant Megan Cymbaluk said N95 masks were such a “hot commodity” that her employer was proactive and found alternate respirator-type masks that painters would use that can be wiped down and sanitized between appointments.
“That is what we felt comfortable with. Then, to find out that we are not needing [that level] of mask for all-day wear or every patient is a little bit shocking,” she said.
Cymbaluk said she is not convinced she is safe with a regular surgical mask, even with an additional face shield, given how close she works all day to droplets from dental patients’ mouths.
“There are gaps between your eyebrows, on the side by your temples — and on the sides of your cheeks — it’s not an airtight seal,” she said.
While her office pre-screens, she worries about asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers.
“We don’t have access to proper testing. Our main defence is word of mouth and a handheld thermometer,” she said.
Cymbaluk said she is not sure if she will remain in the dentistry profession now.
“I’m not sure if this is a job that I could realistically continue doing — walking into that level or risk every day and to not be sure if I’m bringing anything home with me.”
It’s been one week since the city of Newark, N.J., started handing out free bottled water to residents whose homes have lead-contaminated water, but it’s been months since Kim Cordova trusted what’s come out of her taps.
She uses bottled water for almost everything, from brushing her teeth to washing vegetables to cooking.
“I hate that I have to take a shower and I close my mouth,” Cordova said outside the Vince Lombardi Community Center, where she picked up two free cases of bottled water from one of four city distribution centres.
“I feel like I’m in another country, not in the United States.”
Newark has been grappling with water problems for two years and handed out tens of thousands of water filters to residents in 2018. But tests by the federal Environmental Protection Agency found some of the filters did not reduce lead levels below the national standard, prompting officials to start handing out bottled water this month.
The saga has left residents like Cordova frustrated that they’re not being told the whole story.
“It makes me feel angry that this is a situation that wasn’t controlled before it got this bad,” Cordova said.
The situation affects low-income, mainly African-American and Latino neighbourhoods. It’s drawing quick comparisons to the situation in Flint, Mich. — but it’s a comparison that local and state officials reject.
A public health crisis unfolds
Newark’s water woes began in March 2016, when drinking water fountains had to be shut off in 30 of 67 public schools because their lead levels exceeded the federal standard of 15 parts per billion. Aging pipes were the problem.
No amount of lead is considered safe. Its harmful effects can include developmental issues in young children under the age of six. Pregnant and nursing mothers are also particularly vulnerable.
Problems continued in July 2017, when testing found lead concentrations higher than the national allowable threshold in more than 10 per cent of the city’s residential homes.
In between another violation in December 2017, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Washington, D.C., and a number of local groups started sounding the alarm, concerned the city wasn’t being forthcoming about the scope of the problem and whether the water was safe to drink.
“The city has taken a long time to get their arms around this problem. They’ve known about it for years,” said Erik Olson, senior director for health and food for the NRDC. “The problem is for a long time they denied there was a serious issue.”
In June 2018, the NRDC and the Newark Education Workers Caucus took the city to court. Their lawsuit alleged that city and state officials violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act by not acting to prevent dangerous levels of lead from contaminating residents’ drinking water.
“Everybody knows about Flint, Mich. We know about the failures. We know how it’s still struggling. How could we have fallen into the same trap?” said Anthony Diaz of the Newark Water Coalition, an advocacy group.
It wasn’t until October of 2018 that the city began distributing 38,000 water filters to residents. Newark officials said the filters would reduce the risk of exposure while they tried new measures to deal with corrosion issues in the water system.
This week, New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, and Ras Baraka, Newark’s mayor, toured a bottled water distribution facility and defended their actions. Officials point out that the EPA only tested water filters from three homes; two of them failed.
The mayor contends more testing is needed.
“We absolutely do not have enough information one way or another to determine whether the filters are working or not,” Baraka told a room full of reporters.
Echoes of Flint
In Flint, thousands of people were exposed to lead-tainted water in 2014 after the financially struggling city, under state-run supervision, switched its water supply to a more corrosive source.
Flint’s current mayor put out a statement of support for residents of Newark this week. And earlier this summer, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who first sounded the alarm in Flint, visited community organizers in Newark.
But Newark’s mayor bristles at the comparison. Baraka says his officials have been open about the city’s water issues. He says the key difference is that the water in the city’s reservoir is lead-free — that the contamination in Newark results from older lead service lines connecting some homes to the city’s supply.
Yvette Jordan, the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city, disputes the mayor’s claims of openness.
“We are in a public health crisis,” she said. “I think anytime the EPA is telling you to hand out bottled water, we’re in a health crisis, so I think it’s a little more serious than he alludes to.”
In May, Newark’s water system began adding orthophosphate to the water supply, hoping the chemical will coat the inside of aging lead pipes to prevent leaching. But it could be months before the treatment takes effect.
A national problem
The NDRC’s Olson says while testing regimes differ slightly, lead levels in Newark in some cases exceeded what was seen in Flint. And he says that in both cases, officials were slow to respond.
What’s happening in Newark is happening in urban and rural communities across the United States. A 2018 NRDC study found close to 14,000 violations of EPA standards for lead contamination in more than 8,000 community water systems.
“Seems like after Flint, a lot of people hit the snooze button and weren’t paying attention to this drinking water crisis that we have across the country,” Olson said, noting a lack of investment in fixing aging infrastructure has made communities vulnerable to lead contamination. “Newark is the alarm ringing again.”
New Jersey’s governor called on the federal government this week to step in. In the short term, Murphy wants funding to keep distributing bottled water to residents, and in the long term, to fix the aging pipes at the source of the problem.
“We’ve got infrastructure in a lot of places that’s over 100 years old,” he said. “It will not get better in the absence of action.”
No quick fix
One official estimated that there are 300,000 lead lines in New Jersey alone, which, at an estimated cost of $ 10,000 US each to replace, adds up $ 3 billion US.
Baraka, who pleaded for help from President Donald Trump earlier this year, says so far in 2019, Newark has replaced 700 lead pipes. The city is hoping to reach 1,500 by the end of the year. But there are 18,000 in total that need to be addressed, which could take up to a decade and millions of dollars.
But even as the city says it’s taking action, residents say officials are still bungling communication and acknowledging the true scope of the problem.
In court this week, the NRDC argued that the city should expand bottled water distribution to an additional 30,000 residents.
The city contends that those residents are served by a different water treatment plant where corrosion control efforts have been effective.
Amidst the lawsuits and battles over funding, residents are left to wonder what they’re drinking and how much harm it might be doing.
Cordova says she’s been getting regular tests to see if she has lead in her system. So far, the tests have come back negative.
“I get nervous. I don’t know much lead I’ve taken in throughout the months or years,” she said.
Jordan says beyond fixing the pipes, the city needs to better educate residents so they can protect themselves.
“My message is water is a human right,” she said. “Fix it.”
One of the differences that has long separated the realm of science fiction and reality, at least where prosthetics and artificial human augmentation are concerned, is our ability to smoothly knit synthetic or cybernetic components into the human body. In Star Wars, Star Trek, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or games like Deus Ex, these are treated as solved problems to one extent or another. In real life, building artificial limbs with sophisticated gripping or balancing capabilities is still very much a work in progress. But a prosthetic arm we’ve covered before, now officially known as the Deka LUKE arm (and named after Luke Skywalker), has now gone a step further and partially restored an amputee’s ability to feel sensation again.
Electromyographic recordings from residual arm muscles were decoded to provide independent and proportional control of a six-DOF prosthetic hand and wrist—the DEKA LUKE arm. Activation of contact sensors on the prosthesis resulted in intraneural microstimulation of residual sensory nerve fibers through chronically implanted Utah Slanted Electrode Arrays, thereby evoking tactile percepts on the phantom hand. With sensory feedback enabled, the participant exhibited greater precision in grip force and was better able to handle fragile objects. With active exploration, the participant was also able to distinguish between small and large objects and between soft and hard ones. When the sensory feedback was biomimetic—designed to mimic natural sensory signals—the participant was able to identify the objects significantly faster than with the use of traditional encoding algorithms that depended on only the present stimulus intensity. Thus, artificial touch can be sculpted by patterning the sensory feedback, and biologically inspired patterns elicit more interpretable and useful percepts.
The Utah Slanted Electrode Array was developed for implantation in the peripheral nervous system. As the name implies, an array of 100 1.5mm long silicon microneedles projects outwards from a tiny substrate, with electrode lengths that range from 0.5mm to 1mm. The electrode array has been used along with a non-slanted version (the Utah Electrode Array) to study parallel information processing and how muscles are controlled.
The LUKE arm has been modified to relay information to the human brain, allowing an amputee to sense information about objects they are holding. Previous research has indicated that the ability to feel things is key to knowing how hard to grip them — remove it, and it’s much harder to avoid crushing objects.
“We changed the way we are sending that information to the brain so that it matches the human body. And by matching the human body, we were able to see improved benefits,” said Jacob George, study author and biomedical engineering doctoral student at the University of Utah. “We’re making more biologically realistic signals.”
Keven Walgamott. Image credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.
One of the amputees who received the arm, Keven Walgamott, was able to successfully remove grapes from their stems without crushing them, pick up an egg without crushing or cracking it, and even hold his wife’s hand. He reported similar sensation in his “fingers” to that of a human hand. “It almost put me to tears,” Walgamott said after using the LUKE Arm for the first time in 2017. “It was really amazing. I never thought I would be able to feel in that hand again.”
Making the arm work was a complex process. Research on helping amputees feel by connecting prosthetics to remaining nerves in the forearm has been underway for years. But actually transmitting sensation requires more than just hooking the hand up to a nerve that can be made to transmit a “move” command. In order to interface with nerves, the hand had to have sensors in it that could carry the data in a manner that nerves could understand as sensation to begin with. Transmitting nerve impulse data in what seems to be a spiking neuron model based on the description was key to making the arm actually work. (The site notes: “Upon first contact of an object, a burst of impulses runs up the nerves to the brain and then tapers off. Recreating this was a big step.”)
Researchers apparently modeled nerve transmission in primates to understand how to build an equivalent model in humans. The team is now working on a version of the Deka LUKE arm that can be fully mobile, rather than partially wired to a computer outside the body. The Utah Slanted Electrode Array is capable of sending signals that transmit more than just touch — pain and temperature can also be signaled as well, though this research focused on touch, not the other senses. In the future, the team wants to expand to address the needs of amputees above the elbow as well as its existing work with patients who lost limbs below the elbow. It’s hoped that patients could be fitted for a LUKE arm they could take home and use by 2020 or 2021. The arm has been in development for some 15 years.
Feature Image Credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.
Zoella Zayce displays no photos of her family in her basement apartment in Vancouver, thousands of miles from where she left them in Brunei. The 19-year-old refugee claimant is a transgender woman, something she never told her conservative family.
Back home, family and friends sometimes asked if she was gay. It was an alarming question in the Southeast Asian country, which this month introduced new Islamic laws to punish homosexuality, adultery and rape with the death penalty, including stoning.
The laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014, have been rolled out in the country of 400,000, stirring international outrage.
“I just didn’t feel safe with my family,” said Zayce, who says she knew from childhood that she was transgender. At 11 or 12, she remembers being forced to visit a cleric who performed a ritual she described as an exorcism or cleansing. “I was traumatized.”
In 2014, she heard about two people fined and jailed for cross-dressing: “I knew I had to leave very soon.”
Zayce arrived in Canada late last year, and now awaits the results of her asylum application, which could come as soon as November.
Zoella Zayce, who is seeking asylum in Canada because she is transgender, would like to see Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah abdicate and make way for democracy and more freedom. (David Gray/Reuters)
She chose Canada because it was far from Brunei. She thought it would be too expensive for her family or the authorities to come after her. Canada also had the reputation as an open society with strong protections for human rights.
“[Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau was very accepting of people fleeing their countries so that was one of the major things as well,” she said.
She works full time at an office doing data entry, and on the side as a math tutor.
“It’s been very busy for me and I’m glad I can support myself and don’t have to rely on the government,” she said.
She hopes to find a boyfriend and to eventually study computer science.
Zayce hopes for a secular Brunei in which the Sultan would abdicate and make way for democracy and more freedom.
Brunei has defended its right to implement the laws. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, who has ruled the oil-rich country for 51 years, is one the wealthiest people in the world.
Brunei’s embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment.
‘I wouldn’t mind dying back there’
The international community could help by applying trade sanctions against Brunei or scuttling the royal family’s investments around the world, Zayce said.
But mostly she is concerned with making her own voice heard, even though that means she may never be able to return to her homeland.
“I just want to let the world know that if I do get sent back to Brunei, I wouldn’t mind dying back there,” she said, starting to cry. “If I do go back, I would have at least lived a good life … on my own terms.”
Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what’s happening around some of the day’s most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.
Donald Trump’s threatened closure of the U.S.-Mexico border, even for a short time, would have a massive economic impact.
Former CIA agent and NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has a message for Canada.
Doctors for Protection from Guns want to make sure their voices are heard in the Canadian debate over revamping firearms legislation.
“I really wanted to close it. But now Mexico is saying, ‘No, no, no,'” he said. “And they’ve apprehended over 1,000 people at the southern border, their southern border. And they’re bringing them back to their countries.”
Cars queue up to be inspected by U.S. border patrol officers before crossing from Mexico into the U.S. at the San Ysidro point of entry in Tijuana on March 29. About half a million people legally cross the U.S.-Mexico border each day in Texas alone. (Jorge Duenes/Reuters)
It seems unlikely that Trump will actually follow through and seal the frontier with Mexico, if only because no one else thinks it’s a good idea.
Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, has warned of the “potentially catastrophic economic impact” of such a move.
5 of 6 — how many of those states Trump carried in his narrow 2016 win.
88-0 — the U.S. Senate vote approvingThe Refugee Act of 1980, which permits anyone to claim asylum in the United States once they are “physically present” in the country or at a “land border or port of entry.”
37 — percentage of American-made auto parts that are shipped to Mexico for further work and assembly.
$ 53 billion — value of U.S. auto sector imports that same year.
The National co-host Adrienne Arsenault interviews whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and he has a message for Canada.
This was an interesting morning. It started with an early and slightly complicated-to-arrange conversation with former CIA agent and NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
He has asylum in Russia and he pops up with some frequency to talk with universities, but he doesn’t do a lot of interviews. This one he wanted to do because he has something to say to Canadians, particularly the Canadian government.
Adrienne Arsenault interviews U.S. intelligence whistle-blower Edward Snowden on Wednesday morning. (Jean-Francois Bisson/CBC)
Effectively, he told me via videolink that he thinks Canada is somehow fearful of irritating the Americans, and that it could have a serious cost.
They’ve been here a week, and are still sleepy and bewildered and marvelling at the novelties of snow and wide streets and old stone buildings. They would not have sheltered Snowden had they not been asked to help this young man out by their Canadian lawyer, Robert Tibbo.
The domino effect has meant that all seven of the “Snowden angels” became hunted. Even Tibbo has been forced to flee Hong Kong, living in an undisclosed location in Europe.
Vanessa Rodel and her seven-year-old daughter Keana exit Lester B. Pearson Airport in Toronto on March 25 after they were granted asylum in Canada. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)
Those who help Snowden, it seems, end up paying. And that’s why he suspects Canada has not immediately opened the doors to the five left behind.
“If this process is independent, if it’s truly independent, they already would have been admitted. I believe, and everyone else believes, the only reason this process for admission has taken so long is simply because the Canadian government is bending over backwards not to create an appearance that might irritate the United States government.”
This is not to say Snowden is unappreciative of what Canada has done so far. He suggests there really is no other place on earth that could or would do this.
“In the current moment the United States is very much failing to live up to its obligations …. admitting these families is something Canada can be proud of. And seeing these families have a happy ending, I think in the fullness of history it’s something that the United States will be very much glad happened.”
But all those who helped him are not safe yet, and really, neither is he.
Snowden does venture out in public, and says he goes largely unrecognized in grocery stores and the metro in Russia, but he never fails to be recognized in places like computer stores. Within moments of walking in, he says, they always spot him.
If someone is going to God forbid, you know, assassinate me on the street, that’s only going to prove my point.– Edward Snowden
“It’s been so many years now — if the United States government is going to take some action against me, if someone is going to God forbid, you know, assassinate me on the street, that’s only going to prove my point. I’ve done as much as I can and I’m going to continue to do more and more as I have the days … but I’m satisfied with the choices I’ve made, and however much time that I haveI can only be grateful for.”
It’s not always easy to get a measure of someone when you are looking at them through a webcam, but he seems determined, at times funny, vigilant always, and clearly well read.
In fact, he brought up the recent spasms in Ottawa, and Jody Wilson Raybould’s recording of a phone conversation between herself and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick.
“I actually think it is a bit surprising that members of government would consider their phone calls to be private,” he says.
WATCH: The interview with Edward Snowden tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online
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Prescription against gun violence
Doctors for Protection from Guns want to make sure their voices are heard in the Canadian debate over revamping firearms legislation, producer PerlitaStroh writes.
Hundreds of doctors across Canada are rallying today for stronger gun laws.
They are urging the government to pass Bill-C71, which among other things would enhance background checks on people who want to buy guns and force retailers keep a record of firearms sales and inventories. The doctors are also pushing the government to amend gun laws and institute a ban on handguns and assault rifles for private citizens.
Although gun violence is usually associated most strongly with the U.S., Canadian doctors say it has become a growing issue here.
“Canada is now near the top of countries impacted by gun violence,” says Dr. Peter Dodek, a critical care specialist at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital. “It’s not a small issue here.”
Doctors and other health-care workers pushing for stronger gun laws marched in Montreal on Wednesday, one of several marches across the country. Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns is calling for a national ban on private ownership of handguns and assault rifles. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
In fact, firearm-related violent crime has risen 42 per cent in Canada since 2013. In Toronto alone, there were 428 shooting incidents in 2018, nearly two and a half times the number that occurred in 2014.
Doctors are hoping that by sharing their stories of treating gun injuries, it will influence the government to make changes to firearms legislation that they say will save lives.
Not everyone agrees with them.
This fall, the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights echoed the opinion expressed by the U.S. National Rifle Association that doctors here should butt out of the gun safety issue, telling physicians to “stay in your lane.“
People in the medical community responded by founding Doctors for Protection from Guns, the group organizing the rally today.
“If preventing gun injuries isn’t my lane, I don’t know what is,” says Dr. Julie Maggie, a psychiatrist at St. Mike’s Hospital in Toronto. “We see the health impacts of gun violence, and I believe we are morally and ethically obliged to talk about ways we can prevent these preventable injuries.”
Doctors are rallying in 13 major Canadian cities on this issue today, including in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Watch coverage of the rallies tonight on The National, and hear from Canadian doctors about their experiences with gun trauma.
A few words on …
For whom the bellman no longer toils.
“I’ll get my own door!” Award-winning Saskatoon bellman retires after 50 years of greeting guests at the Sheraton Cavalier. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheMoment?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TheMoment</a> <a href=”https://t.co/o8Sq6T0JUG”>https://t.co/o8Sq6T0JUG</a> <a href=”https://t.co/slaYgby8H0″>pic.twitter.com/slaYgby8H0</a>
“The message is basically if you have a strong voice, we’re really, really willing to hear from you … At the same time, the message is, you know, when there is a breach of trust and you’re in a team, obviously, well, it’s difficult to continue to be part of a team.”
Students at the University of Toronto say they know one of their fellow classmates took his own life on campus over the weekend.
Only the school itself won't say the word "suicide" out loud.
"It's been U of T's recent trend to kind of not acknowledge and address the suicides that take place," said Shobhit Singh, a second-year electrical and computer engineering student.
Singh was among dozens of students who stood outside Simcoe Hall, which houses the office of the president, to grieve the death of one of their own and call for action after a string of suicides they say have gone unacknowledged over the past year.
"I think this is possibly the third or the fourth time since last year since this sort of incident has happened. And I think we've had enough," said Singh.
'Mental health doesn't work within a limit'
Inside, dozens more sat on the floor, lining the hallway with signs in hand, hoping their protest would prompt some acknowledgment by the school of the tragedy and the need for urgent change.
"We want to send a very clear message that we are hoping for open dialogue between the president and the U of T student body in order to enact sweeping mental health reforms," said first-year student Oliver Daniel.
Students say wait times to access counselling can often be about a month long, with the number of appointments capped to about a handful. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)
Sheila Rasouli, a third-year neuroscience student, said she has written to senior administration officials, calling for 21 changes to the system, including:
More health and wellness staff.
Increased hours around exam time.
Shorter wait times.
Check-in emails from wellness staff for students who stop attending sessions abruptly.
Online profiles for staff that list what languages they can offer services in.
"Mental health doesn't work within a limit; it doesn't work within a set number and automatically you're fixed," she said.
Toronto police confirm they were called to the university Saturday at 8:40 p.m. ET. Officers on the scene did not deem the death to be suspicious in nature and don't believe any criminality was involved, Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook told CBC News.
Students decry lack of resources
In a tweet Monday, the University of Toronto acknowledged something had happened, citing "the recent incident at the Bahen Centre," directing students to its campus services and various on- and off-campus crisis lines.
Members of our community may have been affected by the recent incident at the Bahen Centre. At this time, we wish to respect the privacy of the individual involved and acknowledge the profound effect on family, friends and colleagues. (1/5)
But first-year political science student Brian Hao, for one, said the resources available simply aren't enough.
Hao knew the student who died — and knows all too well the toll taken by mental-health issues if left unchecked. He felt compelled to share his story with CBC Toronto in the hope of bringing light to a problem he says too many are silent about.
First-year political science student Brian Hao knows the student who died — and knows all too well the toll wrought by mental health issues if left unchecked. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)
"I've been dealing with depression and anxiety since Grade 10. It was fine, then it was really bad, then it was fine again. But ultimately during Grade 12 exams, I had to go see a doctor to keep myself medically safe, just to make sure I didn't do anything rash … Because suicidal thoughts were there."
We hear from a U of T student who participated in a protest yesterday calling for better mental health support for students. He lost a friend over the weekend to a suicide on campus. 7:50
Still, he said, when he arrived at the university, he didn’t know where to turn for help. It wasn’t until he found himself consumed by stress in a moment of crisis, sitting on St. George Street at 2 a.m. in shorts and a hoodie, that he came to know about the resources available.
But even then, said Hao, “You feel so discouraged to try to contact anyone, because it just seems like an office with a phone number, an email, a fax line — it doesn’t feel human.”
They ask, how could this could happen at U of T? Throughout my undergrad, I: <br><br>- had a medical note get rejected by my prof for not “looking sick” <br>- was almost put on involuntary leave <br>- was told I reached my max number of visits at health and wellness <br><br>That’s how.
Beyond that, said students, the wait time for counselling can often be about a month, with the number of appointments capped to about a handful.
Also irksome to students: a mandated leave policy approved just under a year ago, for students at risk of harm to themselves or others where mental health may be involved — something the university has said is "not meant to be punitive."
'It's never going to be enough'
Janine Robb, the school's executive director of health and wellness, said she couldn't confirm either a suicide or a death, but the family involved requested the details be kept private.
“Something happened on campus,” she said, adding only it was “tragic incident,” and the university is working to try to fast track access to wellness services for who may have witnessed it or who are affected.
Janine Robb, University of Toronto executive director of health and wellness, says she can't confirm a suicide or a death happened on campus, but the family involved requested the details be kept private. (Yanjun Li/CBC)
Asked to comment on students' concerns about a lack of available resources, Robb said she hadn't heard exactly what the concerns are, but believes the university's approach needs to be proactive rather than reactive.
“We can continue to throw counsellors, psychiatrists, medical doctors at this issue, and it’s never going to be enough,” she said.
"We've got to skills build, we've got to give them opportunities to develop better coping strategies. They need to be more connected with others on campus."
But Hao believes until the problem of student suicides is brought out into the open, it will only grow.
Despite talking to the student who took his life only a few days earlier, Hao said he simply couldn't tell he was struggling.
"This subject is so not talked about, so taboo, that it really could be somebody living down the hall.
"It could be your friend, your classmate — it could be you."
Where to get help
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
In French: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)
Kids Help Phone:
Text: TALK to 686868 (English) or TEXTO to 686868 (French)
Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
Post-Secondary Student Helpline:
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre
If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs: