Canada in Brief, March 8-14

March 8, 2018 Updated: January 9, 2019

Troubled MMIW inquiry seeks two more years

The national inquiry looking into the saga of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is formally asking for two more years and another $50 million to finish its work.

The commissioners say they have asked Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett for the additional time, which would extend the group’s mandate to the end of 2020.

The inquiry was originally scheduled to wrap up by December 2018, but chief commissioner Marion Buller has long warned that she believes more time would be necessary.

The commission says an extension would also allow it to commission original research on the criminal justice system and systems of colonial violence.

Feds eye tougher screening of gun owners

The federal government has been eyeing changes that would allow authorities to more quickly identify people considered unfit to have guns for reasons such as mental instability or violent behaviour, an internal memo shows.

The Liberals are planning to introduce legislation in coming weeks to fulfil platform promises on firearms, including a requirement for “enhanced background checks” for anyone seeking to buy a handgun or other restricted gun.

The memo, released under the Access to Information Act, indicates the government could go further, beefing up screening of those who already have guns “by allowing authorities to reassess licence eligibility in a more timely fashion.”

Ontario passes concussion safety law

Ontario has passed concussion safety legislation designed to protect amateur athletes and educate coaches about the dangers of head injuries, calling the law the first of its kind in the country.

The bill, named Rowan’s Law in memory of 17-year-old Rowan Stringer who died from rugby injuries, passed with rare all-party support March 5.

Rowan’s father, Gordon Stringer, said he hoped the Ontario legislation would lead to reform in other provinces.

“The heavy lifting has been done here in Ontario,” he said. “But this is not something that’s an Ontario issue—this is something that needs to be addressed across Canada.”

Monarch butterfly population plummets

Right about now, the kings and queens of the butterfly world are emerging from hibernation in Mexico, looking for love and ready to make more butterflies.

But scientists say the number of monarch butterflies that will start their annual, 5,000-kilometre migration north to Canadian gardens and wildflower patches this summer is down sharply, thanks to extreme weather last fall.

A survey released March 4 by the World Wildlife Fund and the Mexican National Commission for Protected Areas showed a 15 percent drop in the forest area occupied by hibernating monarchs in the fir forests of central Mexico this winter.

Loblaw adds cricket powder to its PC line

Loblaw Companies Ltd. is adding cricket powder to its lineup of President’s Choice products.

In a statement March 4, Loblaw says the flour is high in protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. It also has a “neutral flavour,” making it a versatile ingredient for many kinds of recipes.

Loblaw says it’s sourcing the product from a farm in southern Ontario. The company says crickets are more sustainable than other forms of animal protein, because they require less food and water.

With files from The Canadian Press