Monthly Archives: August 2019

Are weather extremes the new normal?

TORONTO – On Nov. 6, residents of Calgary enjoyed a balmy 16 C day. Though it was a bit cloudy and the winds had picked up by the evening, it was a nice reminder of the cooler days of summer. Fast forward seven days and Calgarians woke up to a frigid temperature of -20 C.

And let’s not forget the 28 cm of snow the city received in early September. Which was followed by the warmest October the city had seen in almost 50 years.

An icicle forms on a sunflower as snow continues to fall in Cremona, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.


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    UN weather agency says extreme weather of 2014 a result of global climate change

  • Warming trend brings flooding worries for Buffalo

It’s a roller coaster of weather, and it’s not just limited to Calgary.

We’ve seen flooding in Calgary and Toronto. Ice storms in Quebec and Ontario. Temperature records broken in Winnipeg.

This week, Buffalo is seeing what will likely be record amounts of snowfall following a week of unprecedented lake effect snow. Some parts of the city are buried under almost 10 feet of snow. Ten feet. They have received their yearly snowfall over a few days.

WATCH: Incredible drone footage of Buffalo during massive snowstorm

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Best memes out of Buffalo during epic snowstorm

And what’s coming? Highs of 7 C in the next two days with rain.

It seems like weather extremes — or more specifically weather variability — is becoming more frequent. But is this really the case or are we living in an age where social media makes it appear that way?

“I’ve often said: The more you educate people about the weather, the more weather you get,” said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.

A perfect example is that tornado numbers appear to be on the rise. It’s not the large, destructive tornadoes that impact peoples’ lives, but rather weaker ones in far-off fields. With more people chasing them or using cell phones to capture them, the numbers are skewed.

Raw video: Storm chasers enveloped by tornado near Mayflower, Arkansas

Many people look to extreme weather events as a signal of climate change.

“There is all kinds of thoughts with climate change. That the potential there is for greater extremes and for greater swings in temperature. That the jet stream seems out of whack, it tends to be more loopy than straight,” Phillips said. “And I think a lot of people are suggesting that this is the way we will see climate in the future.”

The jet stream highly influences our weather. Its winds typically travel from west to east. However, lately it seems like there are “kinks” in it, where it rises high up into the north and then drops down again into the south. And that means it brings cold air along with it. The snow event in Buffalo is due to that influence as the Arctic air has met the relatively warmer waters of the Great Lakes.

The jet stream on Nov. 20, 2014. Note how it meanders north before dipping far south again.

Climate Reanalyzer (苏州桑拿按摩论坛cci-reanalyzer苏州丝足), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA/NCEP/NOAA/NWS

Jennifer Francis is an atmospheric scientist and a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University in New York. She’s studied the jet stream and believes that its meandering is due to the melting sea ice in the Arctic.

“Our hypothesis is that, as the Arctic warms so fast, it’s reducing the temperature difference between the Arctic and areas farther south,” she said. “And that temperatures difference is one of the main factors that drives the jet stream.”

As that difference gets smaller, there’s less force driving the winds of the jet stream. When that weakens, the jet stream is more easily influenced by other weather patterns — like Typhoon Nuri which raced across the Pacific in early November, landing here in North America and bringing freezing temperatures to the Prairies.

Temperature anomalies on Nov. 20, 2014 illustrate the influence of the jet stream as it funnels cold air from the Arctic.

Climate Reanalyzer (苏州桑拿按摩论坛cci-reanalyzer苏州丝足), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA/NCEP/NOAA/NWS

“We think that these sorts of very wavy patterns will happen more often, and that’s because the Arctic continues to lose its ice and continues to warm faster than the rest of the world,” Francis said.

Looking for extremes

Weather reporting seems to have taken on a sports-like mentality, where there’s a statistic for everything: the coldest day, the coldest temperature on that particular day, the most humid day, the hottest June, the windiest Fall, the month with the worst wind chill, the coldest midday temperature.

Phillips feels that weather is always variable, however he does concede that even he’s seeing a difference from the weather of his youth.

Southern Ontario was one of the most consistent areas when it came to weather, he noted. But over the past 10 years, there’s been much more variability: Farmers struggle to keep up as they experience the wettest growing season followed by the driest.

READ MORE: Here’s the damage extreme weather has dealt insurance rates this year

But Phillips says that perhaps the period on which we have based our “normal” — the 1950s to 1970s — wasn’t normal at all.

“Everything that we’ve done has been based on those decades — the infrastructure, the planning decisions, the building codes,” he said. “But some have suggested is that what we’re seeing now is really the norm.”

“The new normal is expect the unexpected,” said Phillips. “But in many ways, which is the more normal?”

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Author Roch Carrier surprised ‘The Hockey Sweater’ still touches Canadian readers

WATCH: Author Roch Carrier and illustrator Sheldon Cohen talk about the 30th anniversary of their timeless classic The Hockey Sweater

MONTREAL — When Roch Carrier wrote The Hockey Sweater in a mad rush in 1979 he had no idea it would become one of Canada’s iconic stories about childhood and the country’s national sport.

The simple story of a small-town Quebec boy who is sent a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey instead of that of his beloved Montreal Canadiens by a faraway department store has sold more than 300,000 copies.

Author Roch Carrier poses with a new Canadian five dollar bill during an unveiling ceremony in Montreal, Wednesday, March 27, 2002.

Paul Chiasson/

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  • Gas prices more popular than hockey: CAA

  • WATCH: Rock the Sweater by Annakin Slayd

  • Bruins hockey sweater banned at Montreal school on jersey day

    Toronto Symphony scores ‘The Hockey Sweater’; book’s author humble about success

  • Quebec inquiry hears hockey sweater story

It has been taken into outer space by Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk and appeared on the back of the Canadian five dollar bill.

WATCH: ‘Rock the Sweater,’ a song by Montreal rapper Annakin Slayd, inspired by The Hockey Sweater

It has gone from a story read on CBC Radio to part of a short story collection to an illustrated children’s book to a 10-minute National Film Board production.

In short, it has become one of the country’s best-known and enduring hockey stories.

“I could not imagine anything that happened,” Carrier said in an interview this week.

“It was a gift from life that is just amazing.”

“Almost every day there’s happy news coming to me because of that little book. It brought me in touch with an incredible number of people and none of those people ever said anything I didn’t enjoy hearing.

“It’s not something a marketing company could do. It just happened from people who read the story, remember the story and tell the story to their kids.”

Although it was first penned in 1979, it is the English translated version from 1984 with illustrations by Sheldon Cohen that is being celebrated this year with a special release by publisher Tundra Books.

The 30th anniversary edition, released Nov. 15, includes the story with Cohen’s sketches, plus a section at the back with comments from Carrier and other prominent Canadians and photos of the central Quebec town of Sainte-Justine where it is set. A DVD of Cohen’s NFB film is also included.

The Sweater by Sheldon Cohen, National Film Board of Canada

The 77-year-old Carrier has told the story many times about how he failed to come up with anything interesting when asked to write an essay on “what Quebec wants” in 1979. With only a day left before he had to go on the air, he instead came up with a true story from his childhood in Sainte-Justine.

READ MORE: Bruins hockey sweater banned at Montreal school on jersey day

It was about an outdoor rink in 1946 jammed with boys all wearing Canadiens jerseys with Maurice (Rocket) Richard’s No. 9 on the back.

When he outgrows his jersey, the 10-year-old’s mother orders another from an Eaton’s catalogue, but instead of the red, white and blue, a Leafs jersey is delivered to the door.

And instead of sending it back, his mother makes him wear it. The boy is traumatized.

READ MORE: Leafs fans feel slighted after survey says Habs are Canada’s top sports brand

The story captures the essence of the Toronto-Montreal rivalry that carries on today, although lately fans have been throwing Leafs jerseys onto the Air Canada Centre’s ice in protest of the team’s recent struggles.

But even many Leafs fans like The Hockey Sweater.

“In Toronto, they like the book, which is amazing,” said Carrier.

“Many fans of the book are in Toronto.”

“As people in this country, we have a certain sense of humour, which is very good.”

It also illustrates English-French relations in Canada in the days before Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, which brought an assertion of French language rights and power in Quebec.

READ MORE: Montreal student asked to remove Sens’ shirt on Habs’ jersey day

The boy’s mother has to order from an English-only catalogue. She makes him wear the sweater because if he doesn’t “Monsieur Eaton” will be upset.

“He’s English and he’s going to be insulted because he likes the Maple Leafs,” she tells her son.

At the rink, a priest tells him that just because he’s wearing a Leafs jersey “doesn’t mean you’re going to make the laws around here.”

MORE: Language issues in Quebec

Carrier didn’t see The Hockey Sweater as any kind of political statement.

“Frankly, I tried to tell a good little story, writing very fast because I had a tight deadline, so I was not thinking of putting it in any kind of political context,” he said. “The story was used in many ways to support this or that, but no.

“It is a story of a little boy who belonged to a little group and suddenly, because of his uniform, he doesn’t belong any more and is rejected. So what do you do? I prayed. I don’t think I’d do that today, but I prayed.”

Roch Carrier, right, author of the book “The Hockey Sweater,” and illustrator Sheldon Cohen pose for photos Wednesday, November 19, 2014 in Montreal. The iconic Canadian children’s book is marking its 30th anniversary.

Ryan Remiorz/

From 2001 to 2013, a line from The Hockey Sweater appeared with a picture of kids playing hockey on the back of the five dollar bill.

Carrier said it was fitting that it has been replaced by an astronaut on the newer bills because, as a child, he devoured comic books about space travellers and even built his own pretend spaceship from leftover wood in his father’s garage.

“I did not feel bad because I’d had this great privilege.”

“Years passed and I got an email suddenly from NASA,” he said.

“It was from an astronaut (Thirsk) who brought the book into space — six months at the space station. So I was happy to see an astronaut on the five dollar bill. I didn’t feel rejected by that.”

Carrier is an accomplished, award-winning author who wrote many novels and short stories, but none captured the imagination or brought him more fame than The Hockey Sweater.

“I would like it if all my books were that popular, but it doesn’t happen that way,” he said.

“I’m positive and perhaps, one day, someone will discover a book I wrote and read it.”


African grandmothers filling in for a lost generation – National

All around them are graves. Thulisile Dladla of Swaziland buried her husband and three of her children. Immaculate Nakyanzi of Uganda lost her parents, most of her brothers and sisters, her husband and two of her children. Zodwa Hilda Ndlovu of South Africa first lost a daughter, then her HIV-positive son doused himself in gasoline and burned himself.

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AIDS has killed 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and left more than 15 million orphans with no one to care for them. No one except the grandmothers. They’ve become a continent’s caregivers by default: inheriting a generation of boys and girls who need to be fed, clothed, schooled and loved through the trauma of losing their parents in the pandemic.

It is an impossible job, made even crueler by the fact that many of the grandmothers are themselves HIV-positive, who are, themselves, grieving. Impossible, but also impossible to avoid.

“At my age,” said Thulisile, “you don’t have much energy to take care of people, but now I have to find the energy, because if I don’t cook for these children, no one will … The people in our families who used to support us are all gone.”

But feeding a generation is only one of the challenges they face. African women, especially older ones, are in many ways an underclass: poor, powerless, and the target of discrimination when it comes to property laws, inheritance and the justice system. In Swaziland—one of the worst-hit by AIDS—caregivers like Thulisile only get money from the state when they turn 60. She’s in her 50s, and that’s turned her into a lobbyist for fairness.

“It is an election year, and we grandmothers are talking to our MPs, letting them know that if they want our votes, they must change the law.”

The grandmothers, exhausted by the burdens they carry, have been forced to learn leadership. One of their teachers is Uganda’s Mariam Mulindwa. She has 17 people in her home–her own children, grandchildren and a group of orphans.

Mariam Mulindwa takes care of 17 people in her home–her own children, grandchildren and a group of orphans.

Alexis MacDonald

Yet somehow, she found the time to sit on the local Land Rights Committee, and help other grandmothers who were being afflicted by land-grabbers—family members who tried to steal the home and property from women parted from their husbands by death or divorce. “It makes a huge difference to have a grandmother on this committee,” she said.

Mariam reminds the grandmothers of their rights, and how they can better protect the children who live under their roof. “I even learned how to convince them to make out wills and I feel very good about this…It is important because it means their children will be safe to inherit.”

The women know it is a race against the calendar. Who will care for the children when they themselves die?

It’s that sense of urgency that has propelled both the Stephen Lewis Foundation and thousands of Canadian grandmothers to lend their voices to the fight for equality. For their part, the Canadian grandmothers have raised $21 million for the cause, while the Foundation has issued a call to action, and given the African grandmothers a platform from which to make their appeal to the world.

WATCH BELOW: Jo-Anne Page is one of thousands of Canadian grandmothers giving moral support, and money, to their beleaguered counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa – the women raising a generation of children whose parents died in the AIDS pandemic.

“We understand that this is not an exercise in charity or benevolence,” said Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, executive director and co-founder of the Foundation. “The threshold of tolerance for injustice must be shattered today, and the resources and support you require to effect change in the face of AIDS … must be acted upon.”

The work of the Foundation and the Canadian grandmothers can be seen in a documentary entitled African Grandmothers Tribunal: Seeking justice at the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, which premieres in Toronto at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Thursday, November 27.

16×9’s “In Grandma’s Care” airs this Saturday at 7pm.


PHOTOS: Best memes out of Buffalo during epic snowstorm

TORONTO – A relentless lake-effect snowstorm continued to pound western New York for a third day — but many residents have kept a sense of humour.

Many people took a break from shovelling out nearly eight feet of snow to share hilarious memes on social media, showing that Buffalo-area residents are taking things in stride.

From the Kool-Aid Man to Star Wars Walkers roaming the streets, here’s a look at some of the best memes being shared on 桑拿会所.

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  • IN PHOTOS: Incredible images as historic snowstorm blankets upstate New York


Supreme Court to hear landmark case for off-reserve aboriginals

OTTAWA – The question of whether the country’s Metis and non-status Indians have a right to the same programs and services as First Nations and Inuit has fallen to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The eventual outcome of the case could vastly extend the federal government’s responsibilities to hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal People.

Or it could overturn a historic victory.

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from both sides in a case started 15 years ago by Metis leader Harry Daniels. As usual, the court did not give reasons for its decision to hear the case.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, along with several Metis and non-status Indians, took the federal government to court in 1999, alleging discrimination because they were not considered “Indians” under a section of the Constitution Act and thus have been denied certain benefits.

Both the Metis and non-status Indians scored a major win last year when the Federal Court recognized them as “Indians” under the Constitution. The federal government appealed that ruling.

Earlier this year, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld part of the decision. It ruled that while Metis should remain Indians under the Constitution, extending that recognition to non-status Indians should be done on a case-by-case basis, since it is a separate issue.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples – which represents both non-status Indians and Metis – appealed that ruling.

So did the federal government. It claims both lower courts were wrong to extend Indian status to the Metis – while also arguing the appeals court got it right when it ruled non-status Indians as a whole should not constitutionally be considered Indians.

The head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the appeals.

“This is an important step in the long struggle begun by my predecessor as national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Harry Daniels,” National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee said in a statement.

“The decision of the Court of Appeal was flawed in our view, as it drew an unhelpful distinction between the federal government’s responsibility for non-status Indians and its responsibilities toward Metis peoples and status Indians.”

The Supreme Court also gave the Metis National Council, which is a intervener to the case, more time to file its own response to both appeals.

The council wanted the federal government to drop its appeal and start working out an agreement with the Metis people.