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Canada Supreme Court Rules Federal Carbon Tax Is Constitutional

OTTAWA — In a decision that marked an important victory for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate change agenda, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that the federal government’s imposition of carbon taxes in provinces that oppose them was constitutional.

Citing Parliament’s power to legislate on matters related to “peace, order and good government,” the court said that fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a matter of “national concern” protected under the Constitution.

“This matter is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world,” the court wrote in its 6-to-3 decision. “Climate change is real. It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future.”

The concept of carbon pricing has been widely endorsed by economists and, according to the World Bank, some form of it has been carried out or is in development in 64 countries, either through direct taxes on fossil fuels or through cap-and-trade programs.

notably California. Money and tax credits to address climate change are expected to underpin much of President Biden’s coming spending proposals, which aides and documents suggest could cost as much as $4 trillion over the next decade.

But several people familiar with the forthcoming infrastructure package in the United States said that there are no plans currently to price carbon emissions. Instead, the president plans to greatly raise fuel efficiency standards for cars, forcing automakers toward electric vehicles through regulation, not legislation. Similarly, Mr. Biden plans to reimpose strict emissions regulations on electric power plants to move the sector away from coal.

Republicans in Congress remain firmly opposed to a carbon tax and have voted repeatedly and nearly unanimously over the years to bar the government from imposing one.

Parliament’s budget watchdog found that most households are paid more in rebates than they spend on carbon taxes. Households can boost that bonus by further cutting emissions by using more efficient or electric vehicles or improving their heating systems.

Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, who canceled his province’s program, told reporters that he was disappointed with the decision but declined to say if his province will come up with a carbon pricing system to replace the federally imposed one. “We’re going to consult with Albertans and talk to our allied provinces to determine the best way forward,” he said.

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in part because the federal plan only kicks in if provinces do not set up their programs, thus maintaining the shared jurisdiction the two levels of government hold on environmental issues.

It also concluded that setting a single national minimum price for carbon is necessary for effectively reducing greenhouse gases, or GHGs, which makes federal involvement essential

“Addressing climate change requires collective national and international action,” the court wrote. “This is because the harmful effects of GHGs are, by their very nature, not confined by borders.”

Lisa Friedman contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

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Mother of Killed Indigenous Man Told to ‘Get It Together’ by Canadian Police

OTTAWA — When seven police officers arrived at the home of Debbie Baptiste in August 2016, encircling the house and carrying rifles, they informed her that her son was dead. Then, instead of comforting the grieving mother, they asked if she had been drinking and told her to “get it together.”

The callous treatment of Ms. Baptiste, a Cree woman, as well as other incidents of racial discrimination by the police against her family, were detailed in an independent review released to the public Monday that inquired into police conduct and their investigation of the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man in Saskatchewan.

The scathing report by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found that the officers treated Ms. Baptiste “with such insensitivity that her treatment amounted to a prima facie case of discrimination.” The watchdog group, which has no power to penalize, also found that the police failed to protect evidence at the crime scene where Mr. Boushie was killed and destroyed records related to its handling of the case.

“It felt like I was forever fighting a battle that could never be won,” Ms. Baptiste told a news conference on Monday. “The injustices of racism in the courtroom, the discrimination needs to stop. Things need to change. We need a change for the future generation.”

posted a message of support and met with Mr. Boushie’s family following the 2018 trial.

On Monday Mr. Trudeau told reporters that the treatment of Mr. Boushie’s family and friends “was unacceptable,” adding, “We have seen, unfortunately, examples of systemic racism within the R.C.M.P., within many of our institutions, and we need to do better.”

R.C.M.P. union is still asking people in this country not to believe this woman,” Chris Murphy, a lawyer for the Boushie family told reporters. “Shame on them.”

The killing and the acquittal remain sources of anger for many Indigenous Canadians who have argued the case exposed significant flaws in Canada’s legal system. Mr. Boushie’s family and others said that police were racially discriminatory toward them while being deferential to a farmer who was ultimately charged with murder.

Mr. Boushie had gone swimming with friends when a tire went flat on their Ford Escape near Mr. Stanley’s farm in central Saskatchewan. Mr. Stanley testified that he and his son thought the group, many of whom were intoxicated, was trying to steal vehicles. The two men came out with guns and also attacked the Escape with a hammer. After Mr. Boushie was killed, the others fled.

As a result, the commission found, police descended on Ms. Baptiste’s house on the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, her Indigenous community, with two goals: to inform her of Mr. Boushie’s death and to search for a member of Mr. Boushie’s group of friends as part of a related investigation into theft and attempted theft. No one from the group was ultimately charged with theft.

Officers armed with rifles encircled Ms. Baptiste’s house and told her about her son’s death when she came to the front porch. After hearing the news, Ms. Baptiste collapsed and was brought inside by police.

“Ms. Baptiste displayed distress at the news they had just given her, one member told her to ‘get it together,’” the report found. “One or more RCMP members smelled her breath” apparently for signs of alcohol.

Saskatchewan division of the mounted police said in a statement, adding that it plans to carry out the recommendations in the commission’s report.

In addition to recommendations that involve reviewing procedures with the officers involved in the case, as well as reviewing the general practices of the Mounties in that part of Saskatchewan, the commission said that cultural awareness training should be provided for all employees of the police force “bearing in mind the factors identified in recent inquiries.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner, Brenda Lucki, who was given the opportunity to comment on the commission’s findings in advance of its release, said that she accepted its main findings although she rejected some small points in the report

“This whole justice system from the top down needs to be restored,” Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents First Nations in Saskatchewan, told a news conference. “Brenda Lucki, what are you going to do rather than just say we agree with what’s been found? Big deal. Brenda Lucki, do something.”

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Covid? What Covid? Taiwan Thrives as a Bubble of Normality

TAIPEI, Taiwan — As the coronavirus has upended lives and economies around the world, Taiwan has been an oasis.

Every day, droplets fly with abandon in packed restaurants, bars and cafes. Office buildings hum, and schools resound with the shrieks and laughter of maskless children. In October, a Pride parade drew an estimated 130,000 people to the streets of Taipei, the capital. Rainbow masks were abundant; social distancing, not so much.

This island of 24 million, which has seen just 10 Covid-19 deaths and fewer than 1,000 cases, has used its success to sell something in short supply: living without fear of the coronavirus. The relatively few people who are allowed to enter Taiwan have been coming in droves, and they’ve helped to fuel an economic boom.

“For a while, Taiwan felt a little empty. A lot of people moved abroad and only came back once in a while,” said Justine Li, the head chef at Fleur de Sel, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the city of Taichung, which she said had been booked up for a month in advance since the fall. “Now, some of those once-in-a-while guests have moved back.”

Eddie Huang, the Taiwanese-American restaurateur and author. About 270,000 more Taiwanese entered the island than left it in 2020, according to the immigration authorities — about four times the net inflow of the previous year.

expects 4.6percent growth in 2021, which would be the fastest pace in seven years.

Steve Chen, 42, a Taiwanese-American entrepreneur who co-founded YouTube, was the first to sign up for the gold card program. He moved to the island from San Francisco with his wife and two children in 2019. Then, after the pandemic hit, many of his friends in Silicon Valley, particularly those with Taiwanese heritage, began to join him — a reverse brain drain, of sorts.

started a campaign encouraging them to take two pounds of trash with them when they left.

Some aspects of pandemic life have permeated Taiwan’s borders. Temperature checks and hand sanitizing are common, and masks are required in many public places (though not schools).

But for the most part, the virus has been out of sight and out of mind, thanks to rigorous contact tracing and strict quarantines for incoming travelers.

Some returnees, like Robin Wei, 35, are dreading their eventual departure.

“We just feel very lucky and definitely a little guilty,” said Mr. Wei, a product manager for a Bay Area tech company who returned to Taipei with his wife and young son last May. “We feel like we are the ones who benefited from the pandemic.”

received its first batch, to be given to medical workers.

Some people, like Tai Ling Sun, 72, are already making plans to leave the bubble.

In January, Ms. Sun and her husband came from California to the city of Kaohsiung, where she grew up, at the urging of friends and family in Taiwan. They were concerned about her safety in Orange County, where coronavirus cases had been on the rise.

After two weeks in quarantine, Ms. Sun stepped out into a Taiwan that — aside from the masks — looked and felt almost exactly as it had on previous visits. She has since been making the most of her stay with a series of routine medical checkups, something that many in the United States have been delaying since the pandemic started.

But a virus-free paradise doesn’t provide immunity to all ailments. Ms. Sun said she had begun to feel homesick. She longed to see her five children and breathe pristine suburban air. And, she added, she wanted a vaccine.

“It’s been great to be here,” Ms. Sun said. “But it’s time to go home.”

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Too Much on the Bottom and Not Enough in the Middle: Nanaimo Bar Outrage

This week was the first anniversary of the official declaration that the coronavirus was a global pandemic. But a number of Canada Letter readers have recently emailed about a very different issue: the correct layer proportions of Nanaimo bars.

Instagram post from The Times’s Cooking account of an example of Canada’s favorite no-bake squares. “Canadians, this one’s for you,” it read.

But many Canadians were quick to point out that it had way too thick of a base layer — a mixture of butter, cocoa powder, nuts, shredded coconut, graham cracker crumbs and lots of butter. The yellow middle layer — lots more butter, more sugar, Bird’s custard powder and heavy cream — was mingy, the critics said. And instead of being as smooth as an ice rink, the melted top layer sported a ripple pattern.

told the CBC “If you’re going to do something different, you can call it a Nanaimo-esque bar, or in the style of a Nanaimo bar.”

The Instagram post linked to the account of Sara Bonisteel, an editor in Cooking, and a photo of a more generally accepted style of Nanaimo bar. (For the record: She did not make the squares of contention.)

Almost two years ago, Sara wrote a terrific article about the pride of British Columbia’s kitchens, and she also posted a recipe, a process that involved having a caterer in British Columbia ship sample bars to New York for analysis and inspection.

A Bite-Size Square of Canada’s History, Culture and Craving]

She told me that she was a bit surprised about the online heat the Instagram post generated in Canada and that she agreed with the critics.

“This particular photo brought drama but didn’t do the Nanaimo bar justice,” she said. “They’re a delicious treat. And I am glad that such a topic can be the centerpiece of such a lively debate, especially after the last few years where debate seemed to be very heavy. To be able to have a national debate about a treat, it’s kind of refreshing.”

While Sara did not create the bar of scorn, she said that its out-of-whack portions might have been a result of its coming from the edge of a pan. “When you press down that bottom layer, it does sort of pop up the sides if you’re not a Nanaimo-bar-making expert,” she said.

She too rejects the swirling pattern on the top layer of the bar shown in the post, although her experience has been that it’s tricky to get the melted chocolate to set “completely smooth, like freshly Zambonied ice.” She finds that banging the pan on a counter several times after layering the top on helps, however.

Credit…Canada Post

Cooking’s Instagram bar isn’t the only one to come under criticism. In 2019, Canada Post released an unusually shaped stamp featuring a Nanaimo bar with the opposite condition: Critics found its yellow middle layer way too thick.

“We understand there are some strong views on the layer proportions, but we also understand there are many views of these beloved treats across the country,” Sylvie Lapointe, a spokeswoman for Canada Post, told me. “That factored into our image decisions.”

how the city successfully shielded its Indigenous elders from the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Catherine Porter reports that vaccination has not loosened the restrictions that have made life severely constrained for residents of long-term care homes over the past year. “You always hear people say, ‘Oh, they lived a long life,’” the daughter of one resident told her. “Right now, they aren’t living. They are existing.”

  • Shawna Richer, who recently joined The Times as an editor in Sports from The Globe and Mail, wrote about Justin Bieber’s new video, a “love letter” to the Toronto Maple Leafs: “This is not the rapper Lil Wayne, who is from New Orleans but front-running for the Green Bay Packers in song. Bieber has been obsessed with the Leafs since he was a kid, with the twin-size bedsheets and wallpaper to prove it.”

  • Also from the Northwest Territories comes the story of how the Łutsël K’é’ Dene worked with the federal government to block diamond mining by establishing Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, an area that still allows them to exercise their traditional hunting and fishing rights. It’s part of an article by Somini Sengupta, Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni on how Indigenous people in many countries are now leading the way on conserving nature.

  • Since leaving Microsoft, Nathan P. Myhrvold, the company’s former chief technology officer, has started coming to Canada to photograph snowflakes. But he’s not using the phone on his camera, Kenneth Chang found. It took Dr. Myhrvold 18 months to design and build a special snowflake camera roughly the size of a bar fridge that can make super-high-resolution images while minimizing melting. A Canadian photographer who uses a store-bought camera and photographs snowflakes on a black mitten said of Mr. Myhrvold’s system, “I think it’s a little over-engineered.”

  • In Opinion, Charlie Warzel writes about Aron Rosenberg, a former teacher in Montreal who went cold turkey and completely cut himself off from the internet as part of his research for an education Ph.D. at McGill University.

  • Five former elite swimmers have accused Canada Artistic Swimming of failing to provide a safe environment and of neglecting abusive behavior by coaches. Their allegations of being bullied, harassed and psychologically abused are being made by other athletes in the sport around the world, Jeré Longman and Gillian R. Brassil found.


  • A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


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    There’s a Global Plan to Conserve Nature. Indigenous People Could Lead the Way.

    With a million species at risk of extinction, dozens of countries are pushing to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030. Their goal is to hammer out a global agreement at negotiations to be held in China later this year, designed to keep intact natural areas like old growth forests and wetlands that nurture biodiversity, store carbon and filter water.

    But many people who have been protecting nature successfully for generations won’t be deciding on the deal: Indigenous communities and others who have kept room for animals, plants and their habitats, not by fencing off nature, but by making a small living from it. The key to their success, research shows, is not extracting too much.

    In the Brazilian Amazon, Indigenous people put their bodies on the line to protect native lands threatened by loggers and ranchers. In Canada, a First Nations group created a huge park to block mining. In Papua New Guinea, fishing communities have set up no-fishing zones. And in Guatemala, people living in a sprawling nature reserve are harvesting high-value timber in small amounts. In fact, some of those logs could end up as new bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    several scientific studies. Indigenous-managed lands in Brazil, Canada and Australia have as much or more biodiversity than lands set aside for conservation by federal and other governments, researchers have found.

    That is in stark contrast from the history of conservation, which has a troubled record of forcing people off their land. So, it is with a mixture of hope and worry that many Indigenous leaders view this latest global goal, known as 30×30, led by Britain, Costa Rica and France. Some want a higher target — more than 50 percent, according to Mr. Díaz Mirabal’s organization — while others fear that they may once again be pushed out in the name of conservation.

    In the Brazilian Amazon, Awapu Uru Eu Wau Wau puts his life on the line to protect the riches of his ancestral lands: jaguars, endangered brown woolly monkeys, and natural springs from which 17 important rivers flow. His people, the Indigenous Uru Eu Wau Wau, have legal right to the land, but must constantly defend it from armed intruders.

    murdered last April, part of a chilling pattern among land defenders across the Amazon. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, at least 46 were murdered across Latin America. Many were Indigenous.

    The community’s efforts have outsized benefits for the world’s 7.75 billion people: The Amazon, which accounts for half the remaining tropical rainforest in the world, helps to regulate Earth’s climate and nurtures invaluable genetic diversity. Research shows Indigenous property rights are crucial to reducing illegal deforestation in the Amazon.

    Nature is under assault because humans gobble up land to grow food, harvest timber and dig for minerals, while also overfishing the oceans. Making matters worse, the combustion of fossil fuels is warming up the planet and making it harder for animals and plants to survive.

    conservationists, has been taken up by a coalition of countries. It will be part of diplomatic negotiations to be held in Kunming, China, this fall, under the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. The United States is the only country, apart from the Vatican, that has not joined the convention, though President Biden has ordered up a plan to protect 30 percent of American waters and lands.

    Indigenous communities are not recognized as parties to the international agreement. They can come as observers to the talks, but can’t vote on the outcome. Practically though, success is impossible without their support.

    They already protect much of the world’s land and water, as David Cooper, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations agency for biodiversity, pointed out. “People live in these places,” he said. “They need to be engaged and their rights respected.”

    agreement to protect at least half of the planet. Scientific research backs them up, finding that saving a third of the planet is simply not enough to preserve biodiversity and to store enough planet-warming carbon dioxide to slow down global warming.

    A half century ago, where boreal forest meets tundra in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’é’ Dene, one of the area’s Indigenous groups, opposed Canada’s efforts to set up a national park in and around its homeland.

    “At that time, Canada’s national parks policies were very negative to Indigenous people’s ways of life,” said Steven Nitah, a former tribal chief. “They used to create national parks — fortress parks, I call it — and they kicked people out.”

    But in the 1990s, the Łutsël K’é’ Dene faced a new threat: Diamonds were found nearby. They feared their lands would be gutted by mining companies. So they went back to the Canadian government to revisit the idea of a national park — one that enshrined their rights to manage the land, hunt and fish.

    The park opened in 2019. Its name, Thaidene Nëné, means “Land of the Ancestors.”

    Collaboration among conservationists, Indigenous nations and governments holds a key to protecting biodiversity, according to research.

    Without local support, creating protected areas can be useless. They often fail to conserve animals and plants, becoming so-called “paper parks.”

    Researchers have found that biodiversity protection often works best when local communities have a stake.

    On islands in Papua New Guinea, for example, where fish is a staple, stocks had dwindled in recent decades. Fishers ventured farther from shore and spent more time at sea, but came back with smaller catches. So they partnered with local and international nonprofit groups to try something new. They changed their nets to let smaller fish escape. They reduced their use of a poison that brings fish to the surface. Most critically, they closed some waters to fishing altogether.

    Meksen Darius, the head of one of the clans using these measures, said people were open to the idea because they hoped it would improve their livelihoods.

    It did.

    “The volume, the kinds of species of fish and other marine life, they’ve multiplied,” Mr. Darius, a retired lawyer, said.

    Recent research from around the world shows that marine protected areas increase fish stocks, ultimately allowing fishing communities to catch more fish on the edges of the reserves.

    To Iliana Monterroso, an environmental scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research in Lima, Peru, what matters is that people who live in areas of high biodiversity have a right to manage those areas. She pointed to the example of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, a territory of two million hectares in Guatemala, where local communities have managed the forest for 30 years.

    Under temporary contracts with the national government, they began harvesting limited quantities of timber and allspice, selling ornamental palms and running tourism agencies. They had an investment to protect. “The forest became the source of livelihood,” Dr. Monterroso said. “They were able to gain tangible benefits.”

    Jaguars, spider monkeys and 535 species of butterflies thrive there. So does the white-lipped peccary, a shy pig that tends to disappear quickly when there’s hunting pressure. Community-managed forests have fewer forest fires, and there is almost zero rate of deforestation, according to researchers.

    Erwin Maas is among the hundreds of Guatemalans who live there, too. He and his neighbors run a community-owned business in the village of Uaxactún. Mahogany is plentiful, but they can take only so much. Often, it’s one or two trees per hectare per year, Mr. Maas said. Seed-producing trees are left alone.

    “Our goal is to sustain ourselves with a small amount and always take care of the forest,” he said.

    Nic Wirtz contributed reporting.

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