Israeli cabinet reneges on pledge to create egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall

Israel’s government on Sunday nixed an ambitious plan approved last year to allow mixed-gender religious services at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, angering many American Jews, who said they felt insulted and abandoned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

Israel’s holy Jewish sites are managed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, and in keeping with their traditions, the area for prayer at the Western Wall is divided according to gender. Women are not permitted to read aloud from the Torah, wear prayer shawls or sing there.

Non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, including the Reform and Conservative denominations that are prevalent in the United States, allow men and women to pray side by side, and female rabbis regularly lead services. 

Reform and Conservative Jewish leaders in the United States and Israel have long pressed for an area of the Western Wall where fathers can stand beside daughters and mothers beside sons for prayer and religious services.  

A 2016 plan approved by the government to provide such an area was described as a “fair and creative solution” by Netanyahu. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will seek a new solution to the fraught issue of a mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall. (Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

“It’s a place that is supposed to unite the Jewish people,” he said at the time.  

According to a study by the Pew Research Center published in March 2016, more than half of American Jews identify themselves as either Reform or Conservative, while only about 10 percent observe Orthodox practices. In Israel, only a small minority are affiliated with the non-Orthodox movements.  

Sunday’s decision to cancel the new Western Wall arrangement has drawn denunciations from liberal Jews in Israel and the United States. It also appeared to threaten Netanyahu’s fragile coalition, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman — head of a faction that represents secular Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union — vowing to fight back.  

“It actually causes terrible harm to Jewish unity and to the alliance between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry,” Israeli media quoted him as saying. 

Writing in the Jerusalem Post, editor in chief Yaakov Katz commented: “Sunday will go down in history as a shameful day for the State of Israel, another nail in the coffin of Israel’s failing relationship with Diaspora Jewry.”

“Netanyahu’s office made sure to issue a statement that Sunday’s cabinet decision was not to cancel the previous deal but merely to freeze it. This is a sham,” Katz wrote. “The deal had already been frozen for the last 18 months and wasn’t moving forward. By taking the decision Sunday, Netanyahu is simply signaling to Diaspora Jewry that at the end of the day, his political survival is more important than Israeli-Diaspora relations.”

The prime minister said in a statement that he would seek an alternative solution, appointing senior minister Tzachi Hanegbi to look into it. 

“The prime minister’s decision came from the realization that over the last year and a half nothing has progressed with this plan, so another solution needs to be found,” Hanegbi said.  

“We are not going to quietly accept this. It is so insulting, I know there will be a series of responses,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union of Reform Judaism, which represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in 900 synagogues in the United States and Canada.  

The decision “delegitimizes the overwhelming majority of Jews on the planet,” Jacobs said. 

Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel who formulated the original plan, said he was deeply disappointed. “Five years ago, the prime minister asked me to bring all the sides together to create a solution where there would be one wall for one people,” he said.  

Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall, a feminist group that has been pushing for a solution at the site, described Netanyahu’s decision as “shameful.” 

“It’s a terrible day for women in Israel when the prime minister sacrifices their rights while kowtowing to a handful of religious extremists, who want to enforce their religious customs while intentionally violating the rights of the majority of the Jewish world,” she said.  

Even though the new prayer space had been approved by the government, the plan stalled because of ultra-Orthodox opposition. In September, Israel’s Reform and Conservative movements, together with Women of the Wall, filed a legal petition to force the government to divide the plaza.  

The Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday quoted Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, as saying that the original plan was approved “because the Haredi parties did not pay attention to its details,” a reference to the ultra-Orthodox parties.

In Deri’s view, the Reform movement’s decision to file a petition shut the door to a compromise, Haaretz reported.   

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For Canada’s energy sector, challenges go beyond oil’s latest price drop

The list of challenges facing Canada’s oil and gas sector just keeps growing.

Oil’s latest price slump is bad news for energy companies around the world. But Canadian producers face a wider set of mounting obstacles – everything from carbon taxes and an oil sands emissions cap to endless opposition to pipeline developments, argues Ted Morton, a former Progressive Conservative Alberta cabinet minister, now a professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

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  • Enbridge Inc
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Canada to apologise for ‘LGBT purge’ of military during Cold War

Canada is set to apologise for the “LGBT purge” when actions were taken against thousands of soldiers and public servants due to their sexual orientation and gender during the Cold War. 

The apology announcement comes after a recently filed $757 million (£594 million) class-action lawsuit filed by former military and public servants who were forced out of their jobs because of their sexuality. 

A lawyer on the case, Douglas Elliott said that up to 10,000 Canadians could join in on the lawsuit. 

Several were dismissed, fired, demoted, or not promoted from the 1950s up until the late 1980s because the government considered them a threat to national security. They were considered vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet operatives.  

Others were given a choice to undergo psychiatric treatment as an alternative to dismissal, which involved crude machines that acted as “lie detectors”. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said those discriminated against will have their records expunged, which may allow many to collect benefits associated with their service. 

The Canadian Human Rights Act was not amended to included sexual orientation until 1996, nearly four years after former army officer Michelle Douglas helped bring an end to discriminatory policies because she was dismissed for being a lesbian. 

Randy Boissonnault, Mr Trudeau’s special adviser on LGBTQ issues, is “leading public consultations with a view to ensuring the apology is comprehensive and satisfying,” according to Pink News. 

The formal apology is expected to be issued this fall and compensation is also being considered. Canada would join the UK, Australia, and Germany in apologising for past atrocities against LGBTQ public servants and military members. 

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CORRECTED-UPDATE 6-Sears Canada to close stores, cut jobs in restructuring

(Corrects 10th paragraph to show that Sears Canada will
continue to sell home appliances. Previous said the company
plans to shift away from that area.)

By Solarina Ho

Sears Canada Inc said
on Thursday it plans to cut jobs and close about a quarter of
its stores as it restructures its operations after a steady
decline in sales due to competition from big-box retailers and
online merchants.

Like many department stores, the Toronto-based company has
struggled for years to attract fashion-conscious shoppers who
have embraced apparel stores more adept at keeping up with
fast-changing clothing trends.

The company, which in 2012 was spun off from U.S. department
store pioneer Sears Holdings Corp, said it planned to
close 59 of its 225 stores and cut 2,900 of its 17,000 workers
as part of a restructuring approved by an Ontario bankruptcy
court on Thursday.

Sears Canada also plans to file a motion to request
permission to suspend certain monthly payments to its pension
plan because it is running low on cash, according to court

It also intends to stop payments to a post-retirement
benefit plan providing retirees with life insurance and medical
and dental benefits, according to the filing.

Retail experts said they were not convinced the company
would succeed in its effort to remain in business, but noted
that it could get more for its assets by winding down its
operations in several phases, rather than pulling the plug
through a liquidation.

“It’s just been baby steps toward the ultimate end,” said
Sally Seston, managing director at Retail Category Consultants
Inc. “A forced liquidation becomes a fire sale.”

“One way or another, it’s not going to be an easy road for
them. As is the case with all department stores,” said Maureen
Atkinson, a senior partner at retail consulting firm J.C.
Williams Group.

Existing lenders have agreed to provide up to C$450 million
($340 million) in interim financing to help the company
controlled by billionaire hedge-fund investor Eddie Lampert
focus on selling discounted designer labels and low-priced

The plan shifts away from areas long associated with the
iconic Sears brand, such as tools, electronics and auto parts. A
spokesman said the retailer will continue to sell home

Lou Brzezinski, an attorney who represents several of the
retailer’s landlords and suppliers, said his clients were
relieved that the company had not given up.

“It’s a measured and a reasonable approach to continuing
operations in Canada and we’re happy to see that,” Brzezinski
said, but noted the fallout would hit employees and retirees the

“It’s the older people who need the money for their medical
benefits and their dental benefits. They’re the ones that’s
going to have to pay the price.”

The company has total liabilities of C$1.1 billion as of
April 29, according to financial disclosures. That includes
outstanding loans, accounts payable, pensions and other debt.

Its shares tumbled 14.7 percent to 40 cents in Thursday
Nasdaq trading after touching a record low of 16 cents earlier
in the day. The stock did not trade in Canada, where it was
halted by the Toronto Stock Exchange.

About 78 percent of Sears Canada shares are held by Lampert
and others close to the company, according to Thomson Reuters

Sears Canada named Bank of Montreal as its
financial adviser and the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
as its legal adviser. It said FTI Consulting would serve
as restructuring consultant.

($1 = 1.3249 Canadian dollars)

(Writing by Jim Finkle; Reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto.
Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, Jessica
DiNapoli in New York, Richa Naidu in Chicago, and Siddharth
Cavale, Yashaswini Swamynathan, and Gayathree Ganesan in
Bengaluru; Editing by Denny Thomas and Dan Grebler)

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China agrees to stop cyberattacks on Canadian private sector – Globe and Mail

The agreement was worked out on Friday during talks in Ottawa between senior communist party official Wang Yongqing and Canada’s national security and intelligence adviser, Daniel Jean, the report said.

“This is something that three or four years ago (Beijing) would not even have entertained in the conversation,” Globe and Mail reported, citing a Canadian government official, who is not authorized to speak on the record for the government.

The new agreement only covers economic espionage, which includes hacking corporate secrets and proprietary technology, but does not preclude China from conducting state-sponsored cyberattacks against the Canadian government or military, the report said.

“The two sides agreed that neither country’s government would conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors,” the Globe and Mail reported, citing an official communiqué drawn up between China and Canada.

Offices of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland did not immediately respond to requests for comment.  

China’s foreign ministry also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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The Government of Canada announces Low Carbon Economy Fund

Canada News Wire
News release

The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada today echoed yesterday’s announcement (June 15) from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on the Government’s $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund. The Fund will help support projects from provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous governments, businesses, and other organizations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating clean growth. The Fund will provide funding over five years and will deliver clean, sustained growth for years to come. The Low Carbon Economy Fund will be split into two parts: the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund and the Low Carbon Economy Challenge.

The Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund will provide $1.4 billion to provinces and territories to help them deliver on leadership commitments on their emission reduction priorities and those they outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This funding will help them build on the leadership they have shown to date and deliver on their commitment in reducing emissions. This summer, the Government of Canada will work closely with the provinces and territories to find out more about their proposed projects and will review and assess the projects for eligibility to the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.

The remainder of the funding will be available for the Low Carbon Economy Challenge and the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework. All provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous governments and organizations, businesses and both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations will be eligible to apply for the Low Carbon Economy Challenge.

“The $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund will play a crucial role in reaching our 2030 emissions reduction target. This funding will also help us generate clean economic growth and will create jobs by growing the economy and protecting the environment.”
– Hon. Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada.

“Canada has great expertise and a proven history of innovation in our natural resource and energy sectors. This investment will help to build on this capacity, to create and capture new opportunities in the low-carbon economy across a broad range of industry sectors.”
– Hon. Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources.

Quick facts

. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change was released in 2016 and is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of Canada’s economy, accelerate clean growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. Actions outlined in this Framework will enable Canada to meet its target to reduce emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

. The $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund is an important part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Provinces and territories that are part of the Framework can apply to the fund for projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, innovate, create jobs, reduce pollution and create cleaner and healthier communities.

Canadian leaders have given up on Trump—so now they’re going around him

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Donald Trump is not fit for office. He’s not stable, he has little to no interest in the nation itself, and is so self-absorbed as to judge every international interaction solely through the lens of his own momentary needs. This has turned our relationships with our allies immediately sour as each leader Trump meets with, dictators aside, finds it impossible to hold a coherent conversation with the man. When German leader Angela Merkel came to the public conclusion that the world could no longer count on a United States led by Trump, it was a dramatic policy shift by a key ally.

After only a few interactions with Trump, the Canadian government likewise decided that attempting to communicate substantively with Team Trump was a lost cause. Their workaround is now to largely ignore him, instead focusing on working with individual states and cities. It’s been more effective, and is a preview of what our nation’s relationship with the rest of its closest allies might soon look like.

Canadian officials have fanned out across the United States, meeting with mayors, governors, members of Congress and business leaders on matters from trade to the environment.

Ministers’ schedules resemble those of rock bands on summer tours. They travel armed with data on the precise dollar amount and number of jobs supported by Canadian firms and trade in that area. […]

“Something snapped in the last few weeks,” said Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trudeau. With trade threats looming, Mr. Trump’s break on climate convinced Canadian leaders of the need for drastic steps.

Since then, Mr. Paris said, “the approach has been to maintain cordial relations with the White House while going to extraordinary lengths to activate American decision makers at all levels of the political system.”

The irony of Trump’s bullying is that it threatens to make him impotent. If international allies decide there’s simply no point in negotiating with Trump—given that he both lies during the interactions and can’t be counted on to uphold whatever he agrees to in those conversations anyway—they will certainly ignore him. That which can be negotiated with individual states will be negotiated with individual states, and that which can’t be will simply be placed on hold in the hopes that the United States will at some future point have a leader who is not mentally ill.

On Canada’s 150th birthday, journey through B.C.’s past

The B.C. Parliament Buildings, lit up at night, overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Destination British Columbia

Silvery totem poles peek through the mists of Haida Gwaii. An abandoned rail track meanders along a Kootenay mountain pass. In Gastown, the perfume of gin lingers in a former bootlegger’s haunt.

Traces of the past are all over British Columbia, if you know where to look. Luckily, B.C.’s 91 National Historic Sites, 10 Provincial Historic Sites and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites make it easy to journey back through the 150 years of Canada’s history in its westernmost province.

In 1867, British Columbia was still largely the home of indigenous peoples who had lived here for more than 13,000 years, but that was changing fast. It had been less than a century since Spanish Captain José María Narváez and British Captain George Vancouver became the first Europeans to truly explore this coast and already it was clear that nothing would be the same again.

By the time B.C. joined Confederation on July 20, 1871, Simon Fraser had already charted much of what was then known as the Columbia District. The Hudson’s Bay Company had built its Fort Langley fur-trading outpost. The young colony had survived the gold rushes of the 1850s and 1860s. And, on the shores of Burrard Inlet, a loquacious Yorkshireman named “Gassy” Jack Deighton had opened a saloon in a logging camp that would grow up to become the City of Vancouver.

In the 150 years since Canada was born, and long before that, the history of British Columbia has been one of epic adventure, a tale that is at times tragic, sometimes heroic and occasionally scandalous.

Celebrate Canada 150 by becoming part of the adventure at these 10 great historical destinations.

Panning for the past in Barkerville

Barkerville in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

Once a thriving gold rush boom town in the Cariboo Chilcotin, today Barkerville is the largest living-history museum in western North America and a bucket list destination for every British Columbian.

Back in the 1850s, a British prospector named Billy Barker had given up on California and headed north to try his luck. Good thing he did; on Aug. 17, 1862, he struck gold here on Williams Creek, 80 kilometres east of Quesnel, and the rush was on. It turned out to be the world’s greatest creekside placer gold deposit ever found, a 20-year, multi-billion-dollar bonanza that helped build this province.

The town of Barkerville grew up virtually overnight. From a smattering of tents and ramshackle cabins, it became a prosperous, if somewhat transient, community of 5,000 people, with several general stores including the Chinese-owned Kwong Lee Company as well as numerous boarding houses, saloons, churches for the “sober set,” a theatre and a literary society. Like so many frontier towns, it burned down, back in 1868, and was rebuilt with haste and optimism. It flourished until the gold rush ended and the price of gold fell; by the end of the Depression it was just a small village in the wilderness.

It was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924 and a Provincial Heritage Property in 1958, a year after the B.C. government decided it should be restored and turned into a tourist attraction.

Today it is known as Barkerville Historic Town and it still boasts more than 140 well-maintained historic buildings and displays where you can watch costumed characters enact life in the 19th century. Visitors can experience authentic gold rush theatre and pan for gold, browse in Chinatown shops, watch a courtroom in action or take lessons in a traditional schoolhouse.

Barkerville also has accommodations, numerous campsites and plenty of merchants and restaurants, making it a comfortable trip back into B.C.’s golden age.

Ghosts of the Kootenays

Main street in the historic village of Kaslo.

The towering mountains of southwestern British Columbia have long attracted nature lovers, fortune seekers and adrenalin junkies, as well as those with something to hide — or something to hide from. Rugged and remote, the peaks and valleys of the West Kootenays have plenty of fascinating stories tucked in their forested folds.

The historic city of Nelson.

For a scenic but haunted drive, take the loop along Highway 6 from Nelson to New Denver, then the twisty Hwy 31A to Kaslo and back to Nelson along Hwy 3A and take in these sights along the way.

In the late 19th century, Nelson was a prosperous city of merchants providing supplies to silver prospectors. Later, it became a refuge for Doukhobors fleeing persecution in Russia and Americans dodging the Vietnam War draft. Today, it has a laidback, artsy vibe — be sure to check out the funky boutiques and restaurants along bustling Baker Street, as well as the large number of well-preserved heritage homes.

A little bit north, in the valley known as the “Silvery Slocan,” you’ll find the picturesque village of New Denver, once a silver mining boomtown, now a destination for outdoors adventurers. In a much darker time, it was an internment camp for hundreds of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. Their lives are commemorated at the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, a National Historic Site that opened in 1994.

Another former silver boomtown is Sandon, halfway between New Denver and Kaslo and today B.C.’s most famous ghost town. In the late 19th century, it had a population of more than 5,000, two railroads, several taverns and even more brothels. Then a flood almost wiped it out, followed by plummeting silver prices, a devastating fire, and another flood. Sandon simply faded into the wilderness. Today, the railway lines have been turned into hiking trails and the old mercantile building is a museum. The best reason to visit, though, might be the 10,000 silver coins rumoured to lie on the bottom of the stream that runs through town.

Further down the road, Kaslo began as a sawmill camp, but like its neighbours grew rich on the silver boom. Evoking those heady days is the SS Moyie, the world’s oldest surviving intact sternwheeler, which used to ply the waters of Kootenay Lake from 1889 to 1957. The ship has been beautifully restored and is now a National Historic Site.

Keeping watch in Haida Gwaii

Haida mortuary poles in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve on Haida Gwaii.

Look at the top of a Haida totem pole and you will often see three human figures wearing tall hats, one looking ahead, the other two out to each side. These are the watchmen, whose role is to alert the people to the approach of danger. It is also the symbol of the Haida Gwaii Watchman program, which protects culturally significant sites in the South Moresby Island region now known as Gwaii Haanas, or Island of Wonder.

Today, Gwaii Haanas is a protected national park reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But it wasn’t always so.

In the 19th century, Haida watched in dismay as European sailors blithely carried off their treasures, including the intricately carved mortuary boxes that held the remains of their ancestors, and vowed, never again. And so they started keeping watch.

In 1981, the Haida realized that once the area was deemed a park more visitors would bring with them the potential for vandalism at sites like Ninstints, the haunting Haida village painted so memorably by Emily Carr.

And so they created the Haida Watchman program, in which volunteers camp for a season, keeping watch over the most precious sites. At the same time, they would act as guides for visitors, sharing the stories and traditions of their people.

All over Haida Gwaii are extraordinary First Nations experiences, like the Haida Heritage Centre near Skidegate, with its many totem poles and hand-carved canoes. But an afternoon spent with a Haida Watchman truly is one of the most moving and inspiring experiences one can have.

Gastown by night

Vancouver’s historic Gastown neighbourhood at night.

Need an excuse to hit the trendy bars and restaurants on Vancouver’s Gastown? Tell yourself you’re on a historical research mission. It was here, after all, that the city of Vancouver was born.

In 1867, a chatty Yorkshireman named “Gassy” Jack Deighton arrived in what was then a sawmill camp known as Granville. He opened the first saloon in the town, which soon became a sort of rowdy port of call for loggers, fishermen and sailors.

Boom times followed when the Canadian Pacific Railway built its cross-Canada terminus there in 1886 and the town became a major shipping centre. That same year, it was incorporated as the City of Vancouver and saw the great fire that destroyed all but two of its buildings. (One of the few to be saved, it is said, was the brothel.)

As Vancouver entered a new century, Gastown continued to be the place locals came to drink, and by the 1930s, there were some 300 licensed establishments in its 12-block area.

After the Great Depression, though, Gastown fell into decline and became little more than a seedy Skid Row of beer parlours and flophouses. It got so bad that, in the 1960s, the city was planning to demolish it to build a freeway. Then an unlikely alliance of business owners, hippies and preservationists joined to save and restore it.

Today, of course, Gastown is a major tourist draw, a centre for creative businesses, and a lively entertainment district that includes top restaurants and stylish cocktail bars.

One of the best ways to discover its fascinating past of bootleggers, blind pigs and bawdy houses is to join one of Forbidden Vancouver’s nightly Prohibition City walking tours. For tickets and info, visit

Ride or hike the rails

The Myra Canyon trestles, part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in the Okanagan Valley.

Back before highways crisscrossed this province, people got around on trains, which also shipped timber, oil, fur, fruit and other goods to world markets. Several now-defunct lines such as the Kaslo and Slocan Railway or Kelowna Pacific Railway served the otherwise remote Kootenay, Cariboo and Okanagan regions.

Today, many of those old rail lines have been transformed into recreational trails, including the old Kettle Valley Railway that winds between Midway and Hope.

Its 600-kilometre corridor travels through spectacular scenery that ranges from cool forests, lakes and mountains to Canada’s only desert, and includes the heart-stopping tunnels and trestles of Myra Canyon. Best of all, as an abandoned railway bed, the route has a grade that never exceeds 2.2 per cent, making this a relatively easy hike or ride.

Beautiful, historic and adventuresome, the Kettle Valley Railway is now part of the recently completed 22,000-kilometre Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail).

Shopping through time in Victoria

The impossibly narrow Fan Tan Alley in Canada’s oldest Chinatown.

B.C.’s capital city is known for its countless historic buildings, which range from the grand, chateau-style Legislature and Fairmont Empress Hotel clustered around the Inner Harbour, to the Victorian cottages of James Bay and Edwardian mansions surrounded by sweeping gardens in Oak Bay.

But one of the most charming places to browse through history is also one of the best places to browse for, well, just about everything else, from tattoos to tapas to trendy fashions.

Lower Johnson Street — or LoJo as the neighbourhood is inevitably called — is the strip of candy-coloured buildings between Government and Wharf streets. Dating back to the 1850s, this Old Town neighbourhood once served prospectors on their way to and from the Gold Rush with everything they needed for celebration or commiseration: hotels, saloons, brothels, supply stores, even opium dens in Chinatown.

Like many historic neighbourhoods, this area had fallen into disrepair until preservationists took it on in the 1970s. They fixed up Market Square, rebranded Lower Johnson and the surrounding streets as “LoJo,” gave everything a lick of brightly coloured paint, and the independent boutiques and restaurants soon came flooding in.

Today, it is Victoria’s hippest place to spend a day.

In its dozens of shops, you can find everything from locally made clothing to designer shoes, handcrafted soaps, home décor, garden supplies, pretty paper, and that gift idea you didn’t know you needed. You can take a break at one of the many coffee shops and restaurants, including Willie’s Bakery, the city’s oldest bakery, with its lovely courtyard.

And don’t miss out on Chinatown, Canada’s oldest, and home to Fan Tan Alley, which is also Canada’s narrowest street, and even more boutiques and eateries.

First Nations culture at Nk’Mip

A First Nations pit house at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.

For millennia before Europeans arrived in B.C., First Nations peoples lived, traded, fought, hunted and fished here. And the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos is doing its best to make sure we don’t forget that.

Inside a First Nations pit house.

An initiative of the Osoyoos band led by the dynamic Chief Clarence Louie, Nk’Mip is a sprawling complex that features the Spirit Ridge resort, a golf course, RV park and winery. But the cultural centre is its heart and soul.

It’s a 22-hectare site with a beautifully designed, award-winning main building for art exhibits, films, interactive displays and a gift shop where you can buy everything from dream catchers to fine art. From there, a trail meanders through sagebrush habitat (keep an eye out for rattlesnakes) to a reconstructed aboriginal village complete with a traditional pit house.

In summer, the centre offers daily guided walks and cultural programs that provide a rare glimpse into First Nations life both past and present. This is no kitschy theme park, but a serious, and often deeply moving, look at a traditional culture.

Fish for the past at Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Back in the 19th century, dozens of salmon canneries lined the shores of West Coast communities such as Alert Bay, Boswell and Port Essington. They employed thousands of people, with Europeans, Japanese, Chinese and First Nations peoples working side by side. Prosperous communities of shops, bars and restaurants sprang up around them. And then it all stopped.

The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, a National Historic Site in Steveston.

Today, little remains of the historic canneries but rotting ruins, except for one: The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, still perched on the pilings over the Fraser River at Steveston.

In its heyday, it was the biggest and busiest salmon cannery on the coast. Today, it is an exceptional interactive museum and National Historic Site that tells the story of Canada’s West Coast fishing industry in a lively and engaging way.

If you’re visiting the cannery, make time to check out the Britannia Shipyards, Garry Point Park with its fishermen’s memorial, and the busy marina, as well as the many boutiques and restaurants of historic Steveston village.

Fort Langley: Where the colony of B.C. began

Fort Langley, a National Historic Site.

Back in 1827, the Americans and British were still debating who actually possessed what was known as the Columbia District and where the boundaries would be drawn. So when Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, decided to build the fur-trading outpost of Fort Langley, he insisted it be constructed on the north side of the Fraser River — just in case.

And so began modern British Columbia.

Today, Fort Langley is a living museum and National Historic Site where visitors can experience life as a 19th century voyageur. You can dress up like a pioneer, pan for gold, watch craftspeople at work, even camp in a historically themed oTENTik.

Fort Langley hosts engaging events throughout the year, such as the Cranberry Festival in October and Canada Day in July. But any time, you can explore the site with an audio tour and live demonstrations of blacksmithing and barrel-making.

Hang with dinosaurs at Tumbler Ridge

Monkman Tarns at Monkman Provincial Park, Tumbler Ridge.

Get away from it all — far, far away — in northeastern B.C., at Tumbler Ridge in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventure, a place of jagged mountain peaks and rushing streams. It is also a place that offers us a rare glimpse into the prehistoric past when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

Tumbler Ridge, you see, is rich with fossils. In 2000, a pair of local residents on a rafting trip discovered a dinosaur trackway along a creek. Within a couple of years, B.C.’s first and only dinosaur and ancient fossil research centre, the Peace River Paleontology Research Centre, was established there. Tumbler Ridge also became the first site in western North America to become part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.

For visitors, the best place to explore the prehistoric past is at the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, an old schoolhouse that features numerous fossil exhibits. Exhibits feature both real and replica fossils (if the originals are too big or too delicate to show), as well as an interactive display, and large interpretive murals.

Celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday in B.C.

• For more information on these and other historic sites around B.C., visit the Destination British Columbia website at

• Note that in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, Parks Canada is offering free admission to all national parks and historic sites all year. For more info, visit

Barron’s Picks And Pans: Canadian Stocks, NCR, Gilead And More

Barron's Picks And Pans: Canadian Stocks, NCR, Gilead And More

  • This weekend’s Barron’s features a look at how Canadian stocks have fared and how to play the trends.
  • Other featured articles discuss one particular Canadian stock that has caught the eye of short sellers and a rising software star benefiting from the ecommerce arms race.
  • The prospects for big insurance stock and a leading biotech are also examined.

“Why Do Canadian Stocks Keep Blowing Up?” by Bill Alpert claims that U.S. hedge funds are making a bundle betting against Canadian shares. Call it The Great White Short, says this article. With resource and energy companies finding their footing again in the United States, should investors be tempted to prospect north of the border? And the country’s six big banks did survive the financial crisis relatively unscathed.

In “Is Exchange Income a New Target for Short Sellers?” Bill Alpert suggests that aviation services provider Exchange Income is worried about becoming the latest target of U.S. short sellers. Its Toronto-traded shares have swung wildly over the past month due to short selling, the company asserts. See why Barron’s thinks it isn’t hard to understand why the shorts might take an interest in this company.

Jack Hough’s “NCR: Profiting From the Amazon Arms Race” makes the case that venerable cash-register company and rising software star NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is positioned to benefit from the digital arms race among grocers resulting from the pending takeover of Whole Foods by Amazon. Also find out why NCR was JPMorgan’s top pick in this arena last week.

See also: If The Economy Is Improving, Why Are Dollar Stores The Only Retailers With Positive Trends?

During the past few years, insurer Assurant, Inc. (NYSE: AIZ), which handles consumer items ranging from cellphones to funerals, has taken steps to ensure it takes better care of its own risk, according to “Why a Big Insurer’s Stock Could Double” by Robin Goldwyn Blumenthal. See how Barron’s believes its shares could benefit from the company’s shift toward a “capital light” business model.

In Teresa Rivas’s “Gilead Is Finally a Buy: ‘Value Trap No More,'” find out why though investors in Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) remain skeptical , the stock is cheap, it yields 3 percent and it’s on the rise. Plus, biotechs staged a fierce rally this past week amid a growing sense that the current administration will not push aggressively for drug companies to lower prices.

Also in this week’s Barron’s:

  • The top 50 annuities for income
  • Four rising star CFOs to watch
  • Whether it is too soon to worry about a financial crisis
  • Reasons for investors to beware the second half
  • Whether cloud computing has peaked for investors
  • Whether hedge fund improvements are good enough
  • Finding the best alternative ETFs
  • Fidelity’s new iPad app
  • 12 consumer stocks with nice payouts
  • Whether the U.S. economic expansion can last to 2020

Keep up with all the latest breaking news and trading ideas by following Benzinga on Twitter.

Posted-In: Assurant Barron’sShort Ideas Barron’s Hedge Funds Media Trading Ideas General Best of Benzinga

‘Darth Radar’ switches from handing out speeding tickets to helping the defence

Grant Gottgetreu has made a career change, going from handing out tickets as seen here last September in Coquitlam, to helping those charged with traffic and impaired driving offences get their tickets thrown out in court.

From handing out some of the harshest punishments that traffic laws allow to now helping those on the receiving end, Grant Gottgetreu has moved on.

Known by former police colleagues as “Darth Radar,”  Gottgetreu hung up his speed gun in April after impounding more than 2,000 vehicles for excessive speeding (40 or more kilometres an hour above the posted limit).

The 48-year-old, who was a traffic officer and team supervisor for 28 years in New Westminster, West Vancouver and with the Integrated Road Safety Unit, is now a consultant for legal defences.

“From speeding tickets to over-.08 cases, I can be the ticket to your success in court,” he says.

“I’m not suddenly a three-headed monster,” Gottgetreu said from the side of the road near Mount Rushmore, where he is on a motorcycle trip. “I’m not switching sides. I’m not against the police now. It’s no different than when I was a police officer, I wasn’t against drivers.

“I’ve always been about due process and proper procedure.”

Among the 2,000-plus vehicles Gottgetreu impounded from 2010 to 2017 were family campers to couriers to $300,000 grand tourers.

Rental car returns, a Canada Post van, vacationing families from out of province, people racing to catch a ferry or a plane, taxies, a dump truck, a Kenworth, it didn’t matter.

Nor did it matter who was driving.

Gottgetreu’s victims, such as it were, included (in their private vehicles) fellow cops, firefighters, a priest, teens, people in their 80s.

“The thing with me, and you can ask anyone whose car I’ve impounded,” he said at the time, “is I’m fair. I’m consistent across the board.”

And that’s what he is doing now, he said.

Tickets are often thrown out because an officer failed to dot every “i” and cross every “t”.

“I stubbed my toe lots of times in court and I paid very close attention to why, and learned from it,” Gottgetreu said. “I have a critical eye, I can spot things. It’s all about fairness, if there are errors they need to be identified.”

As a traffic cop, he had his boosters and detractors, all of them passionate.

When the West Vancouver Police Department announced his retirement at the end of April, 96 people commented online. A lot of them were vile, like hoping the former police corporal gets run over and killed by a drunk driver.

We’re already using him,” said Paul Doroshenko, a defence lawyer who specializes in impaired driving law. “He’s really useful. You’ve got a guy who trained everybody. And he’s able to explain things to lawyers better than most.”

There are some, however, who think Darth Radar going to the other side is just wrong on some level.

“I heard he was good (at his job), dispassionate,” said Ian Toothill of Sense BC, an advocacy for sensible road safety laws and enforcement. “But when I read about the guy impounding 2,000 vehicles …

“That tells you the law’s an ass or something is terribly wrong. Or both.”

Like politicians who go on to be lobbyists, Toothill sees the potential for a conflict of interest with former traffic officers becoming defence experts.

“My issue with the whole issue of speed enforcement is it’s seen as a career path for them when they leave the business and do stuff like he’s doing.

“I get that his knowledge is valuable and probably is a big help to people trying to prove themselves in court, people defending themselves. But he was a big believer in keeping law and order on the roads. He talked about principles. What are his principles, really?

“I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s so distasteful, but it seems completely off.”

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