Canada in Brief, Jan. 26 – Feb. 1

January 25, 2017 Updated: January 25, 2017

Trudeau says he misspoke when he said oilsands need to be phased out

CALGARY—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he misspoke earlier this month when he talked about phasing out the oilsands.

In Calgary on Jan. 24 for a cabinet meeting and a town hall meeting, Trudeau said petrochemicals from the oilsands will always be valuable—even though the world is moving away from fossil fuels.

Trudeau angered many in Alberta when he told a town hall meeting in Ontario that the oilsands need to be phased out. Alberta Opposition Leader Brian Jean responded by saying that Trudeau would have to go through him and four million other Albertans first.

Trudeau said he understands that critics will always try to jump on his words, but pointed to his approval of pipeline projects needed to develop the oilsands.

Postmedia laying off 15 positions at Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette

TORONTO—A media union says it’s been told by Postmedia that the company plans to cut 15 positions at the Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette newspapers.

CWA Canada said that the cuts, combined with recent buyouts, will reduce Postmedia’s workforce by about 20 percent on top of a 50 percent cut in previous years. The company has slashed more than 3,000 jobs in the last six years.

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said the $2.3 million in retention bonuses paid to company CEO Paul Godfrey and other executives could have saved as many as 40 jobs.

“Where do you think the money is better spent?” O’Hanlon said in a statement. “On bonuses for overpaid, under-performing executives or on hard-working employees who actually produce something and contribute to the economy?”

Most Canadians like current voting system, but open to electoral reform: Report

OTTAWA—A report on the federal government’s online electoral reform survey says two-thirds of Canadians who responded are happy with how the current voting system works.

The report, quietly released by Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, also suggests Canadians are willing to entertain changes to the system—provided they don’t complicate the voting process.

And while just over half of respondents say they are opposed to mandatory voting, they do support the idea of being able to cast a ballot online, just so long as the system is demonstrably secure.

The report says more than 380,000 people responded, 96 percent of whom live in Canada.

Trial starts for Dutch man suspected in cyberbullying cases

AMSTERDAM—A Dutch man suspected of cyberbullying young girls and gay men via webcams has gone on trial in the Netherlands.

The suspect, Aydin C., also faces a separate trial in Canada, where he is charged in the cyberbullying of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old girl who drew global attention to online abuse when she posted a YouTube video recounting her ordeal. She later took her own life.

In the Dutch trial that started Jan. 25, C. is charged with abusing 34 young girls and five gay men by blackmailing them into performing sexual acts and recording them on their webcams. He faces other charges including identity fraud and drug possession. He denies the charges.

Jacques Corriveau gets 4-year prison term for sponsorship fraud

MONTREAL—An ex-Liberal organizer convicted of fraud-related charges in connection with the federal sponsorship scandal was given a four-year prison term Jan. 25.

Jacques Corriveau, previously described as the “central figure” in the scandal, will also have 10 years to pay a fine of $1.4 million.

A jury found Corriveau guilty of three charges in November: fraud against the government, forgery, and laundering proceeds of crime. Corriveau, 83, was handcuffed and placed in the prisoner’s box after the sentence was read out.

His lawyer, Gerald Souliere, said he would seek his client’s immediate release pending an appeal of the sentence. He is already appealing the conviction.

U of A research shows fracking fluids cause significant harm to fish

EDMONTON—Research has found that liquids used to frack oil and gas wells can harm fish.

A newly published paper by University of Alberta scientists concludes the water that flows from such wells causes “significant” damage. The study says chemicals damage the gills and liver of fish and disrupt the endocrine system, which controls the flow of hormones.

The study concludes more work is needed to figure out just how the fluids cause the damage—as well as what might be the best way to lessen the impact.

The research is published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

With files from The Canadian Press