Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Dec. 19———TILLERSON TALKS NORTH KOREA ON CANADIAN VISIT: The North Korean nuclear crisis is expected to dominate discussions when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Ottawa on Tuesday for meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Tillerson’s supper-hour visit with Trudeau is an unusual add-on to a visiting foreign minister’s itinerary, but it’s not unheard of, and underscores the importance Canada attaches to its relations with its top trading partner and key ally. Economic issues will be on the agenda, but Canadian and American officials say discussion about North Korea will take precedence. Trudeau has taken a personal interest in the North Korea crisis and expressed concern about the rogue regime’s ability to launch intercontinental missiles that could cross through Canadian airspace. He has raised the possibility of leveraging Canada’s traditionally good relations with Cuba as a way to make progress on North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.———FOREIGN HOME OWNERS SLIVER OF MARKET, STATSCAN SAYS: The country is getting a clearer picture of the level of foreign cash in some of the hottest housing markets, adding more statistical fuel to the debate about how much influence foreign buyers have in driving prices to unimaginable heights and what should be done about it. The new housing statistics by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and Statistics Canada shows that foreign buyers owned 3.4 per cent of all residential properties in Toronto and 4.8 per cent of residential properties in Vancouver. For condos, CMHC says foreign buyers owned less than one per cent of the condo stock in 17 metropolitan areas across the country. The data also show foreign-owned homes are more expensive than those owned by Canadian residents. Graham Haines, research and policy manager at the Ryerson City Building Institute, said the foreign buyer data hints at larger issues about speculation in the real estate sector, making it the canary in the coal mine of a growing affordability problem.———WOMEN, SKILLS AND SCIENCE THE FOCUS OF FEDS’ SPRING BUDGET: Bill Morneau says the federal government’s spring budget will focus on improving the economic success of women, finding ways for science to help the economy over the long haul and preparing workers for the rapidly changing job market. The finance minister shared some of the core themes of his next budget plan in an interview with The Canadian Press. These subjects will sound familiar as the government prepares a budget designed to build upon commitments in its two previous fiscal blueprints. The document is expected to emphasize gender equality and lay out government efforts to boost the labour-force participation of women. Morneau said making it easier for women play a bigger role in the job market will not only help families, it will also boost economic growth. He said he pushed his provincial counterparts at a recent finance ministers’ meeting to follow this kind of gender-based budgeting approach — and he believes the idea is gaining some traction in the provinces.———NEWFOUNDLAND PREMIER TIPPED POLICE TO KILLER, DOCUMENTS SHOW: Less than two months before the election that would make him premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dwight Ball tipped police that the prime suspect wanted for murder in a botched robbery could be his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. Ball was then leader of the Official Opposition and preparing for the biggest political moment of his life. According to court documents released Tuesday, he told police on Oct. 8, 2015 — five days after the killing — that his tires had recently been slashed and his credit cards fraudulently charged for tens of thousands of dollars. He went to police three days after his daughter, Jade, had reported she was being harassed by a drug dealer for about $40,000 allegedly owed by her ex-boyfriend Brandon Phillips. Dwight Ball tipped investigators that Phillips could be the masked man shown on TV during a week-long manhunt. A jarring detail had caught his eye: the suspect on security images at the Captain’s Quarters bar in St. John’s was wearing a black windbreaker matching one stolen from Ball. A jury found Phillips, 29, guilty of second-degree murder earlier this month. He is due back in court Feb. 22 for a sentencing hearing.———ROGERS, CBC SIGN NEW DEAL FOR HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA: Rogers Media and CBC have signed a new seven-year sub-licensing agreement for English-language broadcasts of “Hockey Night in Canada” and the Stanley Cup playoffs. The agreement announced Tuesday begins in 2019-20 after the end of a current deal between the media giant and the public broadcaster. Rogers is in its fourth year of a 12-year, $5.2-billion agreement with the NHL for exclusive media rights. The deal included a four-year sub-licensing deal to allow the CBC to air “Hockey Night in Canada.” That agreement was later extended by a year. The seven-year extension, which also includes digital streaming rights, means CBC will carry “Hockey Night in Canada” until the end of the Rogers deal. While CBC can still show the popular NHL program, Rogers receives all revenue from “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcasts and has complete control over the show under the existing deal. Rogers said it will continue to produce the games and exercise editorial control through its Sportsnet broadcasting arm through the announced extension. CBC will continue to show nationally televised regular-season games on Saturday night as well as all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.———CANNABIS HABIT FORMING, HEALTH CANADA SURVEY SAYS: A recent government survey suggests that the vast majority of people who responded to it believe pot use could be habit forming. The survey, conducted by Health Canada from March to May, says 77 per cent of respondents shared the belief marijuana can be habit forming. The department says it asked 9,215 people about their knowledge, behaviours and attitudes towards pot use, including driving behaviours after consumption. It found 46 per cent of those surveyed, who indicated they had driven within two hours of pot use, reported they did so one to 10 times in the last year. Health Canada says only two per cent of respondents who used cannabis in the last 12 months reported having an interaction with law enforcement related to driving under the influence. It also found three quarters of those surveyed believe pot use affects driving, noting this number drops to 50 per cent when looking at responses from those who reported using cannabis in the past year.———GEORGE WESTON SAYS IT’S BEHIND COMPETITION WATCHDOG BREAD PROBE: Bakery owner George Weston Ltd. says it and grocer Loblaw Companies Ltd. alerted the Competition Bureau immediately after discovering a more than decade-long bread price-fixing arrangement in March 2015. The companies say in a joint statement that they became aware of an arrangement involving the co-ordination of retail and wholesale prices of some packaged breads from late 2001 to March 2015. They say the participants regularly increased prices on a co-ordinated basis, and participants included both companies, as well as other major grocery retailers and another bread wholesaler. The statement says the employees responsible for Weston Bakeries and Loblaw’s role in the arrangement are no longer employed by the companies and that they have beefed up compliance programs. Loblaw is offering eligible customers who register online at LoblawCard.ca before May a $25 gift card that can be used at its grocery stores across Canada. The added disclosure came after sealed court filings into the matter were made available to the companies and other affected parties for review.———AECON SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE TAKEOVER OFFER: Aecon Group Inc. shareholders voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve a $1.5-billion takeover of the landmark Canadian construction company by a Chinese state-owned firm, leaving a review under the Investment Canada Act as the last remaining hurdle. Shareholders voted more than 99 per cent in favour of the $20.37 per share cash offer by CCCC International Holding Ltd., a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd., surpassing the two-thirds majority approval required. “It’s a bitter sweet moment for me personally,” Aecon’s long-time chief executive John Beck told the meeting at a Toronto hotel, with roughly 50 people present. “But it’s definitely the right thing for everyone involved with the company.” The vote followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to China earlier this month to deepen trade relations with the Asian country. His government faced criticism earlier this year when it allowed the takeover of Norsat by China-based Hytera Communications Co. Ltd. without a full national security review. Vancouver-based Norsat makes radio systems and transceivers used by the U.S. military and other NATO partners.———SYNAGOGUES RECEIVE ANTI-SEMITIC HATE MAIL: At least eight synagogues in four cities across Canada have received anti-Semitic letters calling for the death of Jews, B’nai Brith Canada said. Four synagogues in Toronto, two in Montreal, one in Hamilton and one in Edmonton have reported being sent the hate mail, the Jewish advocacy group said Tuesday. A photo on B’nai Brith Canada’s website shows the letter containing the words “Jewry must perish,” and a swastika scrawled onto a blood-soaked Star of David. “It’s really unfortunate that, at this time of year, with the Jewish community celebrating Hanukkah … you have a message of targeted hate that’s going out to religious institutions across the country,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said. “It’s sad to see and it’s actually quite terrifying for the individuals opening these letters with hateful genocidal messages.” Police in all four cities confirmed they were investigating the letters. Officers are “absolutely” treating the incidents as hate crimes, said Staff Sgt. Frank Partridge of 32 Division in north Toronto, where one of the targeted synagogues is located.———ARCTIC FOSSIL REVEALS ANCESTOR OF TODAY’S BEARS: The discovery of some rare fossilized remains in Canada’s Arctic has allowed experts to piece together an evolutionary tree for the descendant of North American bears. A report published in the journal Scientific Reports says the 3.5-million-year-old skeletons reveal a bear that hibernates for a long period of time with a diet so full of berries that it had cavities. Xiaoming Wang, a specialist in fossilized carnivores at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, says the discovery shows the animal is likely fattening up for winter and it’s the first such evidence that bears hibernated. The bear, named Protarcos abstrusus, was smaller than the average black bear and had a flattened forehead. Before the discovery on Ellesmere Island only pieces of the same bear species had been found in Idaho and China, so experts believed it was related to the black bear, but Wang says it’s now believed to be the grandfather of most bear species.———
The devil is in the detail: small-scale sexual segregation despite large-scale spatial overlap in the wandering albatross
Sexual segregation in foraging habitat occurs in many marine predators and is usually attributed to competitive exclusion, different parental roles of each sex or niche specialisation associated with sexual size dimorphism. However, relatively few studies have attempted to understand the patterns and underlying drivers of local-scale sexual segregation in marine predators. We studied habitat use, diet and feeding ecology of female and male wandering albatrosses Diomedea exulans, fitted with GPS and stomach-temperature loggers during the chick-rearing period (austral winter) at South Georgia in 2009. During this period, when oceanographic conditions were anomalous and prey availability was low in waters near the breeding colony, the tracked wandering albatrosses showed high consistency in their foraging areas at a large spatial scale, and both males and females targeted sub-Antarctic and subtropical waters. Despite consistency in large-scale habitat use, males and females showed different foraging behaviours in response to oceanographic conditions at a smaller scale. Males appeared to be more opportunistic, scavenging for offal or non-target fish discarded by fishing vessels in less productive, oceanic waters. They exhibited sinuous movements, feeding mostly on large prey and consuming similar amounts of food during the outbound and return parts of the foraging trip. In contrast, females targeted natural productivity hotspots, and fed on a wide variety of fish and cephalopods. They commuted directly to these areas; most prey were ingested on the outbound part of the trip, and they often started their return after ingesting large prey at the farthest point from the colony. Together, these results indicate that sexual segregation in core foraging areas of wandering albatrosses is driven by sex-specific habitat selection due to the low availability of prey in local Antarctic waters. This segregation results in different feeding behaviour at local scales which may be explained by differing breeding roles and degree of parental investment by each sex, with females investing more than males in reproduction. Further investigations are necessary to confirm the existence of this pattern through time under contrasting environmental conditions and to identify the drivers responsible for local-scale sexual segregation in wandering albatrosses.