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NEB to release new Trans Mountain report on possible marine impacts

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The latest chapter in the Trans Mountain pipeline saga will be written Friday as the National Energy Board releases the conditions for proceeding with the contentious project should the federal government choose to do so.

It comes nearly six months after a Federal Court of Appeal effectively halted construction of the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion, sending the NEB back to drawing board to assess the impact increased tanker traffic would have on marine life, including the endangered southern resident killer whales.

The taxpayer-owned pipeline project aims to ship more diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to tanker terminals in Burnaby, B.C., but it has been met with both political and environmental resistance.

The list of conditions and recommendations from the NEB would shape how the project is developed, but the decision on whether to proceed with it still rests with the federal government, which purchased the project last year for $4.5 billion.

Most experts anticipate the NEB will again recommend the federal government continue to pursue the project.

“The review will actually address the concerns that were addressed by the Federal Court of Appeal,” said Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary. “Albertans will take some encouragement from it.”

Examining project impacts

Among a list of draft conditions the regulator released in January is a plan for marine spill prevention, while also recommending potential limits on the number of whale watching boats in the area. 

Warren Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University, said the NEB’s final conclusions will be important for many people concerned about West Coast marine life.

“It’s a major point of concern for lots of people on the West Coast; we’re talking about people of all different stripes — Indigenous people, people in Vancouver,” Mabee said.

“So looking at what those impacts might look like … is really important. That’s critical to moving that project forward.”

A pipeline marker for the Trans Mountain pipeline as it passes by a playground near the Coldwater River and Coldwater Reserve in B.C. (CBC)

The ruling at the Federal Court of Appeal last August determined the NEB’s project assessment was flawed and couldn’t be relied upon by the federal cabinet when it gave final approval to proceed in November 2016.

The NEB’s recommendations Friday stem from the court’s concerns with how the regulator initially dealt with potential environmental impacts from marine shipping, leading to a re-do of that work.

The board researched the topic extensively prior to its initial assessment and openly acknowledged increased marine traffic would have a “significant” impact on B.C.’s killer whale population.

But this was not considered when the NEB first approved the project. The NEB said this issue was outside of its scope and other government agencies already regulate marine traffic.

An aerial view of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain marine terminal filling a oil tanker in Burnaby, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The court found the NEB should have included those environmental impacts in its decision. That way, the federal government would have had a clearer picture of all the pipeline’s implications.

The government instructed the board in September to complete another assessment, which also included three weeks set aside to receive oral traditional evidence from members of Indigenous communities in Alberta and B.C. 

More consultations

Among the draft recommendations issued in January are potential noise reduction targets for regularly operating ferries.  Draft conditions included a requirement for Trans Mountain to file a marine mammal protection program with the NEB at least three months prior to commencing operations. 

In addition to the NEB review, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi ordered a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities to address the court’s concerns that wasn’t done adequately the first time.  

There is no deadline for those consultations to wrap up.

However, the federal government says its consultation teams have met already with more than three-quarters of all Indigenous communities affected by the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound near Washington State. (The Associated Press)

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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