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FILE PHOTO: France, Paris, 03-12-2022. March against the Uighur genocide

Fiora Garenzi / Hans Lucas via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Slave labor gets free pass, China probes fried chicken blast, Fresh beef over origins of meat, Windfarms vs. farmlands, Record numbers at US-Canada border

0: Is Canada complying with its obligation, under the revamped NAFTA accords, to stop importing goods that are made with forced labor? A Politico report earlier this week suggested Canadian border services officials were starting to detain shipments from Western China, where Beijing is accused of using slave labor among the Uighur population. But the Globe and Mail reports that zero imports have so far been rejected. Of particular concern are exports of relatively inexpensive Chinese solar panels, which have helped businesses and homes wean themselves off fossil fuels without breaking the bank.

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Windmills generate electricity in the windy rolling foothills of the Rocky Mountains near the town of Pincher Creek, Alberta, September 27, 2010.

REUTERS/Todd Korol

Hard Numbers: Alberta renewables ban, ‘Dirty Harry’ smuggler arrested, Three Amigos at risk, China keeps digging into Canadian mines

0: New regulations from the Alberta government will permitzero new renewable energy projects to be built on private property that has high value for irrigation, specialty crops, or other farming importance, as well as areas where projects would interfere with “pristine viewscapes.” Alberta, which leads Canada in renewables development, has drawn nearly $5 billion into the sector in recent years, stoking concerns about the balance of farmland vs. alternative energy.

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FILE PHOTO: Satellite image shows wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, September 24, 2023.

European Union/Copernicus Sentinel-2 via Pierre Markuse/Handout via REUTERS

Alberta sounds alarm on 2024 wildfire season

It’s already begun … The Alberta government on Tuesday declared an early start to the 2024 wildfire season as firefighters there prepare for a hot, dry year ahead. Across Canada, authorities are bracing for a difficult year of fires after a record-setting year in 2023, which sent smoke plumes to population centers across the continent.

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A homeless man's tent is seen in an alley in downtown Toronto, Ontario.

Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto

HARD NUMBERS: Ontario’s ex-cons struggle to find homes, First Nations challenge carbon tax, “Super pigs” eye the border, Alberta cashes in on TV

17.3: The percentage of prisoners released from Ontario jails who have nowhere to live has nearly doubled over the past five years, reaching 17.3% in 2021-2022, the most recent annual data show. Experts blame a triple crisis of housing affordability, mental health, and addiction, and warn that there is a high correlation between homelessness and recidivism.

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AI generated images of armed rats

DALL-E and the human Ari Winkleman

New Zealand declares war … on rats

It is a truth universally acknowledged that where there are humans there are, generally, rats. As humans have moved about the world, the rats have followed to feast on their crops, their garbage – and in the case of New Zealand – their native birds.

There are, to be fair, a few exceptions. Two, to be precise. One is Alberta, Canada, which launched a massive anti-rat mobilization in the 1950s and has been rat-free since. The other is South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean, which was declared rat-free in 2018, after the government deployed helicopters to rain poison pellets from the sky.

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A screen displays the logo for ConocoPhillips on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Hope for carbon sinks

Leaders at international oil companies, who have to worry about carbon balance sheets when they take projects to market, have divested from Alberta’s oil sands over the last decade. These energy giants face pressure to publicly report on the emissions that cause climate change, and the oil sands extraction in Alberta is some of the most carbon-intensive oil production in the world since the oil is boiled out of bitumen sand.

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Danielle Smith of the United Conservative Party (UCP) gestures during her party's provincial election night party.


Populism in Alberta

The big political news of the week in Canada was the down-to-the-wire Alberta election, which pitted the ruling United Conservative Party against the left-leaning New Democratic Party. The UCP, led by controversial populist Danielle Smith, managed to defeat the NDP, whose leader, former premier Rachel Notley, managed to win most of the urban seats.

The results reveal a province more polarized than is typical for Canadian politics, where most legislatures have three parties. Alberta, which is politically influenced by Western states, now resembles them politically in a heavily polarized two-party alignment.

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