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The extreme flooding in B.C. is unusual. In the future, it won’t be, experts warn
Marilyn Penner, Allan Toop and Nora Weber have spent a combined 170 years living in British Columbia’s eastern Fraser Valley. Toop’s and Penner’s families have been farming the land for more than three generations, while Weber has lived on the same village corner for well over a decade.
All three agreed Monday they’ve never seen flooding happen the way it did this week.
“We get maybe a snowfall, then a freezing, then a thaw and that’s when we have a lot of flood problems,” Toop, 90, said in an interview from his family farm in the Yale area of Chilliwack.
“I can’t remember a flood resulting from just a matter of rainfall.”
Entire communities in the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver, were overwhelmed by surging water on Sunday in one of the province’s most severe flooding disasters in decades.
Roads collapsed and fell apart. Hundreds of stranded people had to be rescued by helicopter as cars disappeared into the muck. Houses were pummelled so badly, one meteorologist said it looked more like they’d been hit by a car rather than water.
Some level of flooding is a recurring part of life in parts of the valley, a relatively flat area named for the temperamental Fraser River and surrounded by steep mountain ranges. Experts agree what’s happened this week is exceedingly rare, but warn they expect these rarities could become more common and more intense as the planet warms.
“This is the kind of thing that we certainly expect with climate change — the intensity of the landslides and floods could become worse,” said Brent Ward, an earth sciences professor and co-director for the Centre for Natural Hazards Studies.
“We would expect to get more frequent atmospheric rivers” — currents that bring large amounts of water vapour north from the equator —”and when we get these atmospheric rivers, they’ll probably be bigger.”
Experts with Environment Canada are still tallying how many rainfall records were broken in the storm, but suspect several all-time records were broken in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope. Read more on this story here.
Cyle Larin nets two as Canada beats Mexico in World Cup qualifying
Cyle Larin celebrates one of the two goals he scored in the Canadian national men’s soccer team’s 2-1 win over Mexico last night in Edmonton, where the game-time temperature was -9 C. The win puts Canada — which hasn’t been to a World Cup since 1986 — on top of its qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with six more matches to go. Read more from the match here.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has kicked Saskatchewan Sen. Denise Batters out of the national caucus a day after she launched a petition calling for an expedited review of his leadership. “As the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I will not tolerate an individual discrediting and showing a clear lack of respect towards the efforts of the entire Conservative caucus, who are holding the corrupt and disastrous Trudeau government to account,” O’Toole said in a media statement late Tuesday. The statement was released shortly after Batters emerged from a virtual meeting of the Senate Conservative caucus. The Conservative leader in the Senate, Manitoba Sen. Don Plett, took no action against Batters on that call. Instead, Batters said she learned she was out of the Conservative fold through a telephone message from O’Toole. Read the full story here.
Shanna Halleran spent the last two days of her life awake in a St. John’s hospital bed, critically injured but capable of answering questions from police about how she got there, says her family — if only the police had shown up. Halleran died on Aug. 17, 2019, without ever being questioned by police, her family says. That’s left a huge void for the people who loved her and few clues to catch the person responsible for her death. “I’m extremely angry about it,” said Stacey Halleran, Shanna’s younger sister. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says her death is “suspicious” and that it involved a vehicle. The force is declining to answer questions about its handling of the case or about the status of the investigation into her death. The medical examiner’s office has determined the 36-year-old’s manner of death is inconclusive. But Halleran’s family is convinced that what happened was no accident. Read more on this story here.
Rogers Communications CEO Joe Natale is being replaced by Tony Staffieri as interim president and CEO, the company announced late Tuesday. Company chairman Edward Rogers thanked Natale for his “leadership and contributions.” The move has pitted members of the Rogers family against each other. It comes as the company is in the midst of trying to finalize the $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. Edward’s sister Melinda said she, her sister Martha and mother Loretta all voted against replacing Natale. Edward — the son of company founder Ted Rogers — was himself ousted as chairman in October after Natale got wind of a plot against him and alerted the board. Staffieri, who was the company’s chief financial officer, left abruptly when the plot failed. But Edward used his power as head of the voting trust that controls 97 per cent of the company’s voting shares to fire five members of the board, replace them with his hand-picked choices and reinstate himself. Read more about the leadership change at Rogers.
A military panel that looked into the case of two Canadian special forces soldiers who both claimed to be victims of a sexual assault has experts calling into question the military’s ability to investigate complex and sensitive cases. The investigation centred on an incident that occurred in a two-bed hotel room shared by two military members — a sergeant and a corporal — while on a training course in Tennessee last year. Both soldiers claimed to be victims, though only the sergeant was charged with sexual assault. He has since unanimously been found not guilty by a five-person military panel. But the laying of the charge itself outed an LGBTQ member. Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel and expert in military law, said military tribunals should not be trying sexual misconduct cases. The lack of independence from the chain of command can leave cases vulnerable to interference from superior officers, and military police lack the expertise to investigate sexual misconduct, he said. Read more on this story here.
Sajeev John, a professor and scientist who developed a way to confine and control particles of light, similar to the way electrons are controlled in electronics, has been awarded Canada’s top science prize. John was named this year’s recipient of the $1-million Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal — the highest honour given out by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) — on Wednesday. The medal is awarded annually for “sustained excellence” and “overall influence” of research conducted in Canada. “Thanks to his discoveries, it may be possible to process information optically rather than electronically, enabling a supercomputing technology more stable and scalable than quantum computers,” said a statement from NSERC. The technique is now being used for non-invasive laser surgeries and the development of a thin solar cell “coating” for buildings, cars and even clothing. Read more about the award here.
Edmonton writer Norma Dunning is this year’s winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for English fiction for her short story collection Tainna: The Unseen Ones. The Governor General’s Literary Awards are among Canada’s oldest and most prestigious prizes for literature. There are seven categories, awarded in both French and English, with $25,000 going to each winning book. The seven categories are: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, translation, young people’s literature (text), and young people’s literature (illustrated books). Dunning is an Inuk writer, scholar and assistant lecturer in the University of Alberta’s faculty of education. Tainna: The Unseen Ones includes six stories, each centred on a modern-day Inuk character living in southern Canada. Their circumstances range widely — from homelessness to extravagant wealth, young to old, alive to dead — but their experiences of isolation echo from story to story. Read about Dunning and the rest of the winners here.
Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: For those regularly attending minor league hockey games in St. John’s, Seth Hyde is a familiar face — and voice. He’s developing a career as a hockey commentator — at only 13 years of age. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do ever since a young age,” Seth said. He was about three or four years old when he started calling games in the family living room. The Grade 8 student now calls games for three teams, and has had to turn down requests by four more. Seth’s talent has also been noticed by professional commentators. Newfoundland Growlers commentator Chris Ballard has joined Seth at a few games, and word of the budding commentator has even travelled to Toronto, where TSN sportscaster James Duthie praised a clip of Seth calling a game. Read more about the budding announcer here.
Opinion: How a cutlery metaphor can help explain the energy it takes to live with disabilities
Using spoons to visualize our energy output helps non-disabled people begin to grasp what we are going through, writes John Loeppky. Read the column here.
Front Burner: The cyberattack throttling N.L.’s health-care system
Since the end of October, a cyberattack on the health-care system in Newfoundland and Labrador has caused thousands of delays and cancellations for services.
Patients have missed appointments and procedures, including chemotherapy. With their IT networks knocked out, facilities resorted to pen and paper. The CEO of a cybersecurity firm in Fredericton, David Shipley, called it “the worst cyberattack in Canadian history.”
Disruptions to health services are easing. But while the province has now confirmed that both patient and employee data was stolen, it is still offering little information on the attack.
Today on Front Burner, St.John’s-based CBC reporter Peter Cowan joins us to explain what this attack was, why the province isn’t saying more, and why health breaches like this are happening so often.
Front Burner22:16The cyberattack throttling N.L’s health-care system
Today in history: November 17
1869: The Suez Canal formally opens for navigation. The man-made waterway stretches 168 km and joins Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Suez on the Red Sea.
1938: Singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot is born in Orillia, Ont.
1973: U.S. President Richard Nixon tells The Associated Press managing editors meeting in Orlando, Fla.: “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”
1993: South African President F. W. de Klerk, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela and other political leaders endorse a new constitution, which ends the apartheid system.