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Brexit: A timeline | UK News





British legislators have voted against the Brexit deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May with the European Union.

MPs in parliament’s lower House of Commons voted by 432 to 202 to reject the EU divorce deal.

Politicians are divided on a final roadmap for Britain’s departure from the EU, nearly six years after then-Prime Minister David Cameron floated the idea of a Brexit referendum and almost three years after a referendum in which British voters decided the country should leave the EU.

Below are the key dates in the Brexit process:

January 23, 2013: Cameron mentions Brexit in speech

Conservative PM David Cameron talks about the future of the EU, adding that he would be in favour of a referendum discussing the UK’s role in the EU.

May 7, 2015: Cameron wins re-election on Brexit referendum promise 

The Conservative party, led by Cameron, wins the UK general elections. One of the key points in the election is the promise of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

February 22, 2016: Referendum date announced

Cameron announces the official EU referendum date: June 23, 2016.

June 23, 2016: Referendum held

The UK votes in favour of leaving the EU with a very narrow majority. The pro-Brexit camp gets 51.9 percent of the votes versus 48.1 percent voting to stay in the EU.

June 24, 2016: Cameron announces resignation

A day after the referendum, Cameron announces his plans to resign as prime minister.

July 13, 2016: Theresa May new PM

Following Cameron’s resignation, Theresa May is appointed the new leader of the UK. She is tasked with guiding the UK through the lengthy negotiation process to leave the EU.

January 17, 2017: May sets out plan for Brexit

After several months as prime minister, May gives a speech detailing the government’s Brexit plans.

In the speech, May mentions several issues high on the list for the UK during the negotiations, including free trade, security, immigration and worker’s rights.

February 2, 2017: White paper on Brexit 

The UK government publishes its white paper on Brexit, officially declaring what direction it will take during negotiations.

March 29, 2017: Article 50 triggered

May triggers Article 50, officially starting the process for the UK to leave the EU.

The UK had two years to negotiate a deal to leave the bloc.

April 18, 2017: Snap elections announced

May calls snap election to be held on June 8.

June 8, 2017: May loses majority

The Conservative party loses its majority in the general elections, but it still emerged as the largest party.

May forms a government with help of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

June 19, 2017: First round of UK-EU exit negotiations begin 

The EU and UK discuss the process and terms of Brexit, eventually leading to a deadlock between the two sides.

September 22, 2017: May details Brexit stance on key points

In an attempt to break the deadlock, May talks about several key points during a speech in Florence, Italy. Important issues for Brexit to succeed are, among others, a transition period, fishing grounds, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and leaving the single European market.

March 19, 2018: UK and EU agree on several key issues

Both sides release statements saying they have agreed on several key issues after the UK leaves the EU, including the status of EU citizens in the UK.

November 14, 2018: Withdrawal agreement published

Following months of negotiations, the official withdrawal agreement is released. The deal faced fierce criticism from the opposition as well as from within May’s own party.

November 15, 2018: Key secretaries resign following agreement 

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resign after the withdrawal agreement is released.

Both secretaries played a key role in the process.

Raab is replaced by Stephen Barclay.

November 25, 2018: EU endorses withdrawal agreement

The leaders of EU countries officially endorse the withdrawal agreement.

December 11, 2018: May faces criticism from within own party

Following criticism from within her own party, May narrowly survives a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party.

December 17, 2019: May announces date for vote on Brexit deal

May fixes January 14 as the date for a vote on the Brexit deal in parliament.

January 15, 2019: Vote on the deal 

Parliament rejects the deal, complicating UK’s departure from the EU slated for March 29.

March 29, 2019: Brexit day

The day the UK will officially leave the EU, entering a transitional period during which the last stages of Brexit will be put into effect.

December 31, 2020: End of transition

After more than 18 months, the transition period will end, officially concluding the Brexit process.


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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic





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





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





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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