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No dead North Atlantic right whales were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year

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Rules put in place by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to protect marine wildlife seem to have paid off, as no North Atlantic right whales were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year.

There were 12 whales found dead in the area in 2017.

But those regulations also resulted in financial hits for the fishing and cruise ship industries.

Last March, the DFO announced the closure of certain fishing areas due to the presence of the whales, which are an endangered species.

Those measures forced half of the Gaspé lobster fishermen to shorten their three-week season. Some fishermen found the new rules excessive. 

The prefect of the regional municipal county of Rocher-Percé, Nadia Minassian, called the measures “draconian and uncompromising.”

“They did not listen to fishermen in our industry,” she said earlier this year.

The Quebec government then committed to paying for training for factory workers and fishermen so they can qualify for employment insurance.

Up to $500K in fines

The new rules also require boaters to maintain a 100-metre buffer zone from a whale, although that distance can vary. Orcas, for example, require a 200-metre buffer zone.

Under the Fisheries Act, those who break the rules could face penalties of $100,000 to $500,000. Repeat offenders may be subject to higher fines or even imprisonment, according to DFO.

In July, Gaspé fishermen recorded a 25 per cent decline in catches, and continued to criticize Ottawa’s decisions.

Alain Rebaud, a lobster fisherman from Percé, Que., said the area targeted by the DFO’s measures was too large.

“The quadrilaterals were too big, then they closed the fishing, and the day they closed it, there were no more right whales in the quadrilateral,” Renaud said.

Fishing boats docked at the Grande-Rivière wharf. (William Bastille Denis/Radio-Canada)

The cruise ship industry also suffered cuts as a result of the speed reduction rules imposed by Ottawa.

Nine stopovers were cancelled in the Gaspé region, and the industry wasn’t able to get the financial assistance it requested from Quebec or Ottawa.

Stéphane Ste-Croix, head of Escale Gaspésie, a cruise ship company, said it appears their concerns fell on deaf ears.

Whale camera?

Some fishermen are now hoping a thermal camera that spots whales, currently being developed by the Merinov marine research centre, will solve their problems.

“We could detect right whales on the coasts to try to prevent entanglements,” said Chloé Martineau, a researcher for Merinov, which is funded by the Quebec government.

“We could put this technology on boats to avoid collisions.”

Fishermen say the device could help strike a balance between protecting right whales and preserving their livelihood.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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