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Profile: Who is Sheikh Hasina? | Awami League News

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has won a third consecutive term in office in the just concluded general elections, which was dubbed “farcical” by the leader of the Jatiya Oikya Front – the main opposition alliance.

“We reject the farcical election and want the election commission to hold a fresh election under a non-partisan administration,” said Kamal Hossain, an 82-year-old jurist who wrote the country’s secular constitution.

Hasina’s Awami League (AL) party is on course to get an absolute majority in the 350-seat parliament, called as Jatiya Sangsad. Fifty seats are reserved for women.

Her party has been in power since 2008.

The AL pushed a narrative of development on the back of the rapid economic growth in the last 10 years.

The country of 160 million people has achieved near self-sufficiency in food production and raised average life expectancy to levels higher than its big neighbour India.

Since Hasina, 71, took power in 2008, Bangladesh’s per capita income has seen a threefold increase. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $250bn in 2017, according to the IMF, and it clocked a growth rate of 7.28 percent last year.

Middle-income nation

The AL’s manifesto had promised to make Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, a middle-income nation by 2021 and triple its current per capita income of $1,750 in the next decade.

Her commitment is to improve the quality of lives of people of Bangladesh

Asaduzzaman Noor, Minister of Culture

The garment industry has emerged as one of the main pillars of the economy, providing jobs to 4.5 million people. It makes up 14 percent of the GDP and nearly 80 percent of the country’s exports worth $35bn.

The Bangladeshi leader has led the AL party, founded by her father, since 1981.

Hasina served as prime minister from 1996 to 2001, after defeating her archrival Khaleda Zia, who eventually regained power in 2001.

In 1990, the two female politicians, nicknamed the “battling begums”, forged an unlikely alliance in order to overthrow military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad.

However, their mutual dislike and distrust, played out by supporters in violent street protests, was blamed for the January 2007 crisis that prompted the military to step in, impose military rule and install a caretaker government.

Both women were arrested and jailed by the then army-backed interim government as part of its crackdown on corruption. Hasina and Zia were both eventually released in order to take part in the poll.

Family assassinated

In 1975, most of her family members were killed in a coup, including her mother, three brothers and her father, the then president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the country in its liberation struggle against Pakistan in 1971.

Hasina and her sister were abroad at the time of the 1975 assassinations.

In August 2004, she survived yet another assassination attempt at a political rally. The grenade attack left more than 20 people dead and her car was peppered with bullets as she fled the scene.

Earlier this year, 19 people, including the son of the main opposition leader and her bitter political rival, Zia, were jailed for life over the attack.

Known for her fiery speeches and fierce ambition, Hasina has been reduced to campaigning from behind bullet-proof glass or delivering rally speeches via video link as she faces threats to her life.

Her critics have called her authoritarian and accused her government to be behind a number of extrajudicial killings.

But her supporters say she is fighting for the people.

“She belongs to the people, she belongs to the soil, and she is the daughter of the father of the nation,” said Asaduzzaman Noor, Minister of Culture.

“Her commitment is to improve the quality of lives of people of Bangladesh. To achieve that, she has to fight against many odds, but some people think she is authoritarian, but it’s not. She is fighting for the people, not for the vested interests.”

‘Workaholic’

She has also won praise for the handling of the world’s biggest refugee crisis. Nearly one million Rohingya have taken refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing for their lives in Myanmar.

The Awami League is Bangladesh’s oldest party and was formed in 1948 after the foundation of East Pakistan – as the country was known before gaining independence from Pakistan. The party is widely regarded as being broadly pro-India.

Her supporters say she is committed to improving the lives of Bangladeshis.

“She is workaholic, I do not know how she manages her time. She comes across as well-informed,” said Noor, the culture minister.

“She starts her day very early with morning prayers and then she goes for the official work. She works until midnight and meets party leaders almost daily.”

Hasina recites the Quran daily, said a close aide.

If the victory is officially sanctioned, she will serve as the prime minister for the fourth term – a record for any Bangladeshi leader since it was born in 1971.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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Canada: Significant Changes To Canada’s Federal Environmental Protection Regime Proposed

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On April 13, 2021, the government of Canada proposed significant changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”)1 through the introduction of Bill C-28, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act (the “Amendments“).2

With these Amendments, the government hopes to modernize Canada’s environmental regime which has not undergone significant change in over 20 years. CEPA is the primary statute through which the federal government regulates and protects the environment. CEPA and its accompanying regulations regulate among other things the treatment and disposal of chemicals and hazardous waste, vehicle and engine emissions, equipment and other sources of pollution, and the prevention and impact of environmental emergencies such as oil and chemical spills.

This bulletin provides an overview of the major changes to CEPA that have been proposed.

The Right to a Healthy Environment and Certain Soft Rights

Significantly, the Preamble under the Amendments will officially recognize Canadians’ right to a healthy environment. Section 2 of CEPA will require the government to protect that right when making decisions relating to the environment.3

The Amendments set out specific obligations the government must undertake to safeguard this right, including developing an implementation framework to set out how this right will be considered in the administration of CEPA as well as conducting research, studies and monitoring activities to support this goal.

In addition, the Preamble will recognize some additional considerations, including confirming the government’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as recognizing the importance of considering vulnerable persons, reducing or replacing the use of animal testing, and the right of Canadians to have access to information on product labels.

Project Impact Assessment

With respect to risk assessments under CEPA, under the new provisions the federal government must consider impacts on vulnerable populations and possible cumulative effects of the proposed conduct. Vulnerable populations will include groups of people with elevated biological susceptibility, such as children, and groups with elevated exposure risks, such an indigenous communities. Consideration of cumulative effects of proposed conduct takes a holistic approach to substance management by considering the compounding risks of exposure to various chemicals during daily life rather than looking at substances on their own.

Chemicals Management

The federal government has identified the management of chemicals as a key target area under the new CEPA.

The Amendments thus propose to overhaul this regime in order to better protect Canadians from the evolving risks of harmful chemicals and pollution. To accomplish this, the government has proposed wide ranging changes relating to risk assessment, public accountability, management of toxic substances and new substances, which are discussed in turn below.

Risk Assessment

The government must consult, develop and publish a Plan of Chemicals Management Priorities which will set out an integrated plan for the risk assessment of various chemical substances currently being used in Canada. The Plan will establish priorities for the management of substances, taking into account a number of factors including among others the views of stakeholders and partners, public comments, the effects on vulnerable populations, the toxicity of the substance, the ability to disrupt biological reproduction or endocrine systems, and whether there are safer and more sustainable alternatives.4 The government will also be empowered to make geographically targeted regulations to address pollution “hot spots”.

Additionally, the Amendments will establish a mechanism through which any person can submit a request to the Minister to assess a substance to determine its toxicity and risk to the environment. The Minister must provide a response within 90 days, indicating whether they intend to assess the substances and their reasons for their decision.

Public Accountability Framework

The Amendments intend to increase transparency and public participation in risk assessments by the government for the categorization and management of potentially toxic chemicals. Currently, CEPA contains a public accountability framework under section 77 and provides time limits for the government to assess substances under sections 91 and 92. However, these provisions only apply to certain risk assessments being conducted by the government such as substances placed on the Domestic Substances List that in the opinion of the Minister present the greatest potential for exposure to Canadians or are persistent or bio-accumulative. The proposed Amendments plan to amend section 77 to expand these transparency and accountability measures to all substance risk assessments for toxic or capable of being toxic substances, with the exception of assessments for new substances.5

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Scientists, Homalco First Nation team up to probe massive B.C. landslide — and its impact on salmon

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When the side of a B.C. mountain gave way on Nov. 28, 2020, crashing into a glacier fed lake and creating a 100-metre high tsunami, no one was around to see the destruction or hear the sound of rocks and trees tearing through the valley below. 

But scientists say the force, which was picked up by seismographs across North America, was the equivalent of a 4.9-magnitude earthquake. 

Fortunately, no one was in the slide’s path, but experts believe that a melting glacier likely contributed by making the slope less stable — and climate change means it is a growing risk. 

As more of Canada’s glaciers recede, scientists say there is great interest in finding out what exactly triggered this slide, and how the rocks and sediment have impacted the salmon population of nearby Elliot Creek and Southgate River. 

The mountain, which is located about 220 km north west of Vancouver, is on the traditional territory of the Homalco First Nation. 

It’s an area of remote wilderness, only accessible by air or by boating 80 km up Bute Inlet.

When the slide hit last year, more than 18 million cubic meters of rock barrelled down the slope hitting the lake within 30 seconds. 

“That is the equivalent of all of the cars in Canada coming down the hill at once,” said Marten Geertsema, a geomorphologist who works with the B.C. government studying landslides. 

He is one of several scientists, along with members from the Homalco First Nation, who have been studying the landslide and its cascading environmental impact on the watershed and salmon habitat. 

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