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World & Canada News - Feb. 23, 2017
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 00:00
LONDON - A British couple who want their relationship recognized in law without the “patriarchal baggage” of marriage on Tuesday lost the latest stage in their fight to be allowed a civil partnership.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan say they and other couples face discrimination because only same-sex couples are eligible for civil partnerships.
The High Court ruled against them last year, and on Tuesday the Court of Appeal upheld the decision by a 2-1 margin.
Since 2005, gay couples in Britain have been able to form civil partnerships, which give them the same legal protection, adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual married partners. Same-sex marriage became legal in 2014.
The couple's lawyer, Karon Monaghan, said Steinfeld and Keidan wanted “to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry with it patriarchal baggage, which many consider comes with the institution of marriage.”
The government says it wants to see the impact of gay marriage on civil partnerships before deciding whether to extend them to everyone, abolish them or phase them out.
The three appeals judges agreed the situation was discriminatory, but two of the three said the government should be given more time to decide on the future of civil partnerships.
Steinfeld said that although the couple lost, “all three judges agree that we are being treated differently because of our sexual orientation.”
Keidan said they would appeal to the Supreme Court unless the government agrees to change the law.
AND IN CANADA
Sanctuary city movement grows in Canada, but could bring tension with police, immigration officials
By Jonathan Montpetit/CBC News/Feb. 21, 2017
The uncertainty surrounding U.S. immigration policies has prompted a number of Canadian cities to declare themselves sanctuaries for undocumented migrants.
But as cities move to protect migrants from deportation orders, it is creating the prospect for tensions between municipal governments, law enforcement and federal immigration officials.
Montreal's city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a motion that seeks to ensure non-status migrants are able to obtain municipal services without fear of being deported.
London, Ont. passed a similar motion last month - also unanimously - just days after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump announced its travel ban on refugees and citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries.
City councillors in Regina and Saskatoon have raised the possibility of passing their own versions of a sanctuary motion. Winnipeg, too, is considering following suit.
A municipal committee in Ottawa will hear from the public next month about whether to give itself the sanctuary city designation.
In 2013, Toronto was the first sanctuary city in Canada. Its city council passed a motion in January reaffirming its commitment to services and protection to undocumented migrants.
"No one should be made afraid because of who they are or where they come from," Mayor John Tory said at the time, criticizing the Trump travel ban.
Until Trump announced his plans for the sweeping ban, Hamilton (in 2014) and Vancouver (2016) were the only other cities to enact sanctuary provisions.
Co-operation of the police?
The immediate goal of these sanctuary motions is to allow migrants to obtain such municipal services as housing, libraries and food banks without being questioned about their immigration status.
More controversial, though, are stipulations that municipal law enforcement agencies limit their co-operation with federal immigration officials.
It is standard practice for many police forces in the country to share personal information, including immigration status, with the Canada Border Services Agency.
That means minor infractions, such as a traffic violation, can lead to deportation.
Advocates for non-status migrants say this discourages their clients from coming forward when they are witnesses or victims of a crime.
As a result, some police forces have adopted "don't ask" policies. Police in Toronto, for instance, are trained to provide services without asking witnesses or victims about their immigration status.
Montreal's sanctuary motion calls for city and police officials to work out a policy that would achieve the same result.
More than symbolism
But these "don't ask" policies have been met with resistance from law enforcement and the federal government in the past.
When Vancouver's transit police announced in 2015 they would adopt a don't ask policy, then immigration and citizenship minister Chris Alexander criticized the decision.
"Canadians have told us that they have no tolerance for those who use fraudulent means to enter Canada, and abuse Canadian generosity," Alexander said in a statement at the time.
A recent study of Toronto's sanctuary provisions found police applied the "don't ask" policy unevenly.
And when the city reaffirmed its commitment to being a sanctuary city last month, Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong was conspicuously absent for the vote. He later tweeted: I support legal immigration. I do not support illegal immigration. We have laws. They should be followed.
But for those who advocate for non-status migrants, co-operation by the police is essential if sanctuary motions are to be more than mere political symbolism.
"A lot of things are not clear about how it would work," said Jenny Jeanes, a co-ordinator with the refugee advocate group Action Réfugiés Montréal, about the motion passed by Montreal's city council.
"For it to be actually meaningful the police somehow have to be involved."
CBC News was not able to reach a representative of the Liberal government for comment on Monday.
The Canada Border Services Agency did not respond to a request for information about its relationship with Montreal police. Montreal police also did not respond to a request for comment. u
Norovirus outbreak linked to BC oysters: What you need to know
By Tania Kohut/National Online Journalist/Global News
British Columbia oysters have been linked to more than 200 cases of norovirus since late December, with illnesses reported in multiple provinces.
Investigation of the contamination is now being led by the Public Health Agency of Canada but the main question remains: how did the oysters become contaminated.
The exact source of contamination has not yet been pinpointed but experts said there’s a good chance sewage was the culprit.
“The vehicle is usually contaminated water… discharge of household waste, municipal waste, untreated into a water source,” said food safety expert Rick Holley, distinguished professor emeritus in food science at the University of Manitoba.
Oysters, along with clams and mussels, are filter feeders, meaning they filter their food out of the water around them.
“They pick up a lot of particulate nutrient material out of the water - including algae, as well as these noroviruses that impact humans - and concentrate them in their bodies. And then when we eat the mussels and the oysters without cooking them, we get sick.”
B.C. is Canada’s leading oyster producer, producing an average of 5,600 tonnes annually.
Considering the number of illnesses, the current norovirus outbreak would be considered large scale, said Mark Samadhin, director of the outbreak management division, Public Health Agency of Canada.
“There’s no clarity yet on what’s been introducing norovirus to the oysters,” said Samadhin.
“Norovirus is an intestinal pathogen in humans, so when we see it in something like oysters, for instance, the general consideration there is somehow, some sort of sewage contamination may have happened.”
While Samadhin was careful to stress the link is not confirmed, past cases show that “when we see norovirus in oysters it’s usually some kind of a sign that the oysters have been contaminated with sewage.”
The suspect oysters came from multiple harvest sites; illnesses in B.C., Alberta and Ontario have been linked to the outbreak.
Holley, who is not involved with the investigation, suspects cross-contamination in holding tanks contributed to the widespread outbreak.
“You’ve got oysters in several different areas in the east and west coast of Vancouver Island causing the problems,” said Holley. “Now we know that the oysters are held in bulk in large communal tanks and it’s perhaps during distribution, after harvest, that provides an opportunity for the oysters to cross-contaminate each other.”
A problem first detected in December, Holley said it’s “frustrating” the outbreak has been going on for so long.
“It’s time for some pretty serious action.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans temporarily shut down four B.C. harvest sites, Samadhin said.
Moving forward, changes to filtration systems or water temperature of holding tanks could be looked at, Holley said. More importantly, he wants to see the contamination be prevented in the first place, by way of proper maintenance and upgrades to municipal water treatment facilities.
“The priorities need to be slightly changed in order to make sure these problems are stopped and they don’t recur in the future,” said Holley. “Because it will recur if we don’t make the proper investment in the systems to prevent discharge of sewage into water systems.”
Samadhin agreed these situations can provide learning opportunities.
“Any sort of foodborne outbreak, any sort of safety challenge or issue that we deal with I think is a good vehicle for prompting change,” said Samadhin.
Consumers should always take caution when it comes to consuming any raw shellfish, Holley said, as risks certainly exist. But you don’t necessarily need to ban it from your diet.
“I certainly don’t want to make people paranoid.”
“When you take a look at the number of folks that consume raw oysters in North America and the number of cases [of illness] that occur in proportion is not all that large,” said Holley.
Both experts said cooking oysters will greatly reduce the risk of illness, along with proper food handling.
Holley said those with underlying medical conditions should think twice before consuming raw shellfish.
“For other healthy individuals, you are increasing your risk of getting ill somewhat, but I think that for someone who really likes raw oysters it shouldn’t really stop you from eating them.”
Holley said people are taking just as much of a risk when eating pre-cut bagged salads.
Food contaminated with noroviruses often look, smell and taste normal. Norovirus rarely results in death, Holley said, but it is very “uncomfortable” and spreads rapidly.
Typical symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps; symptoms can also include low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. Illness usually lasts for one to three days.
You are contagious while sick, and for as long as a few days to two weeks after recovery.
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