11,500 Alberta open-heart surgery patients potentially exposed to bacteria

Approximately 11,500 former open-heart surgery patients may have been exposed to bacteria during their procedure, according to Alberta Health Services.

AHS is notifying former patients after the Federal Drug Administration, Center for Disease Control and Health Canada reported a potential risk for Mycobacterium chimaera infection with certain heater-cooler units.

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Notifications are being mailed to Alberta physicians and former adult and pediatric open-heart surgery patients who had their procedures done at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Edmonton’s Mazankowski Alberta Health Institute or the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Potentially affected patients in Edmonton would have had their surgery between January 2012 to present while potentially affected patients in Calgary would have had their surgery between January 2013 and present, according to AHS.

Watch below: AHS said open-heart procedures are not possible without this piece of medical equipment. As such, AHS said it will do everything it can to minimize the risk until the companies who make the equipment come up with a fix.

Dr. Mark Joffe, AHS senior medical director in infection, prevention and control, said the hospital was first alerted by Health Canada about five weeks ago.

When asked why there was a delay in reporting it to the public, Joffe said the procedure for doing that is complex.

“AHS began to review our own situation. We need to be able to support patients, guardians and parents of children who may have had surgery. We need to make sure everything is in place before we put out this notification,” he said.

The risk comes as a result of heater-cooler units that are critical for cardiac surgery. The units are used to warm and cool blood during adult and pediatric open-heart surgery.

“The device has a reservoir that contains water. At the same time, [it] has to maintain its own temperature so it has an exhaust system to keep the machine from overheating,” Joffe said.

“There is a very small potential for water, a very small amount of water, to leak into the exhaust system of the heater-cooler unit and then that is exhausted into the airflow within the operating room.”

Joffe said the circumstances for this potential type of exposure are unique.

“Where there happens to be the growth of this particular bacteria, within that water reservoir, if enough of it happens to leak into the exhaust system of the heater-cooler unit, if it’s directed in the right way into the airflow within the operating room – it could land inside the surgical site, in an individual who’s having a surgical procedure.”

Watch below: AHS says infection is very slow to develop

The machines are only used in three facilities in the province: at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary and the Mazankowski Alberta Health Institute and Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

Joffe said there is no exact number on how many patients are in Edmonton or Calgary, though the Edmonton program is larger so more patients from the Capital Region may be impacted.

He said there is also no exact number for how many patients are adult and how many are pediatric. He said about 10 per cent of open-heart surgery patients in general in the province are children.

Joffe said there is an extremely low risk of infection to those who may have been exposed, adding it is less than one in 1,000. He said no infections have been identified to date. M. chimaera infections grow slowly and may take months or years to develop.

“On average it develops approximately 18 months after surgery. It could start earlier, [after] a few months. It can even go out to five years after the surgery,” Joffe said, adding it can be fatal.

“This would be the type of infection that will begin slowly, will gradually get worse. An individual with that kind of infection would find their health deteriorating, declines over a period of time.”

Symptoms include fever, persistent and profuse night sweats, unintentional weight loss, muscle aches, fatigue and red, heat or pus at the surgical incision site. Joffe said it cannot be spread by person-to-person contact but it can be treated with antibiotics.

At this point, Joffe said open-heart surgeries are critical and there have always been risks involved with the procedure. AHS will continue using the heater-cooler units and advise patients of the risk involved.

“At this point Health Canada has issued some recommendations that we are following. Primarily, that involves ensuring we are following manufacturer instruction for disinfection, cleaning, maintenance of the equipment. There is a risk mitigation strategy whereby we try to ensure that the machines, these heater-cooler units are positioned in the operating room and the exhaust is directed away from the patient instead of potentially towards the patient,” Joffe said.

He adds manufacturers are expected to come up with a fix for the issue, such as a better filtration system, which is expected in the next few months.

2nd hottest November in Saskatoon history, December deep freeze coming

After the second warmest November ever recorded in Saskatoon, we plunge into the deep freeze into December!

November Numbers

Saskatoon just saw the second hottest November ever recorded in the city!

Temperatures averaged out just shy of two degrees above freezing throughout the month (technically 1.9 degrees) – a whopping eight degrees warmer than normal!

This is incredibly impressive, especially when averaging out 30 days of data.

It was the second warmest November ever recorded in Saskatoon.

SkyTracker Weather

READ MORE: October 2016 is way wetter and colder than normal in Saskatoon

There was only one other year where the city saw a warmer average temperature, which was 99 years ago in 1917, when we averaged out at 2.7 degrees.

It was the warmest November in recorded history in Regina, Estevan, Key Lake and Yorkton, and was the second hottest ever in Prince Albert.

It was the warmest November in recorded history for much of Saskatchewan.

SkyTracker Weather

It was the warmest November in recorded history for much of Saskatchewan.

SkyTracker Weather

Precipitation-wise we saw 9.2 millimetres of rain and melted snow and other forms of precipitation throughout the period, slightly below our normal amount in November of 13 millimetres.

Saskatoon Forecast

Here is your Saskatoon SkyTracker 7-Day Weather Forecast.

SkyTracker Weather

Today

The first day of December and meteorological winter kicked off on a mild note with temperatures only dipping back to -4 overnight, warming up to -2 by noon!

This is quite impressive, especially given that our normal daytime high for this time of the year is -6 and an average overnight low is -14.

Cloudy skies started the day and will continue right through the afternoon with the mercury sitting around -2 for the remainder of the day.

Tonight

Clouds stay around tonight with temperatures dipping back to around -5.

Friday

-10 is around what it’ll feel like with wind chill when you wake up tomorrow morning before temperatures push up to around -2 for an afternoon high, which has become a trend for daytime highs this week.

It will once again be a mostly cloudy day with a bit of clearing possible into the evening.

Weekend

A developing low pressure system will quickly swing through on Saturday bringing with it the clouds and a decent chance of snow.

Behind that system we should see some clearing on Sunday as we start to dive back into the deep freeze.

Big upper trough starts to set in later this weekend.

SkyTracker Weather

Temperatures should hold up around -2 or possibly even pushing up to -1 on Saturday before falling back a few more degrees for a high on Sunday and then dropping toward minus double digits late in the day.

Work Week Outlook

Arctic air invades Saskatchewan for the first full week of December.

SkyTracker Weather

The real deep freeze settles in early next week as arctic air plunges in under mostly cloudy skies with a chance of flurries, dropping temperatures back into double digits on Monday before falling even further into minus teens for Tuesday.

Wind chill values could push toward the -30s mid-week with morning temperatures possibly even dipping into the -20s by later on in the week.

Jodine Siebert took this Your Saskatchewan photo near Borden:

Dec. 1: Jodine Siebert took this Your Saskatchewan photo near Borden.

Jodine Siebert / Viewer Submitted

Saskatoon weather outlook is your one stop shop for all things weather for Saskatoon, central and northern Saskatchewan with a comprehensive look at your local forecast that you can only find here.

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‘Nashville’ Season 5 trailer: Country music show returns to pluck your heartstrings

The holidays have come early for fans of Nashville: Canadian broadcaster W Network has released the trailer for Season 5, and also announced a sneak peek of the first hour of the two-hour premiere on Thurs., Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The season itself begins on Jan. 5, 2017.

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Nashies (as the show’s fans are often called) have been waiting patiently for new footage of the show since it was cancelled earlier in 2016. American network CMT resurrected the show after Nashies put up a fight to get it back on the air.

READ MORE: Nashville saved, picked up for Season 5 by CMT after fan outcry

Nashville is set against the backdrop of the city’s music scene, and follows Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Both women face personal and professional challenges as they navigate their paths as artists and individuals. Surrounding them and often complicating their lives are their family, friends and, in some cases, lovers, as well as the up-and-coming performers and songwriters trying to get ahead in the business.

Music City can mean so many things to different people. In Nashville, musicians and songwriters are at the heart of the storm driven by their own ambitions. Some are fuelled by their creativity and passion for fame. Others struggle to cope with the pressures of success and are doing everything in their power to stay on top.

READ MORE: Cancelled TV shows: Castle, The Muppets and many more

The new season begins with Rayna and Deacon (Charles Esten) facing a new normal with Maddie (Lennon Stella) now back home and Highway 65 struggling financially. The shocking news about Juliette creates a wave of emotions throughout Nashville and sets Rayna off on a journey of discovery.

Watch the ‘Nashville’ Season 5 trailer, above.

The two-hour season premiere of Nashville will debut on W Network on Thursday, January 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Follow @CJancelewicz

WATCH: Car plunges 40 feet off highway into roaring creek on Sunshine Coast

A Surrey woman’s life was saved in a dramatic rescue after her car plunged about 40 feet into a creek in Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast last week.

Emergency crews were called to the 12000-block of the Sunshine Coast Highway around 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 after the woman’s SUV fishtailed and plummeted off the roadway, over a waterfall and into the rushing creek below.

Police say the car came to a rest on its side in the swollen creek bed, on the edge of another drop-off, with the driver’s side of the vehicle under the water level.

The driver, Carolynne Drane, was the sole occupant of the car, had to be extracted by rescue crews.

Before I knew it, I was going over that cliff, and I thought I was going to die, Drane told Sunshine Coast RCMP after her ordeal.

Drane found herself immersed up to her neck in the frigid water after the crash. She was able to release her seat belt and climb out of her seat, onto the exterior passenger side, only to be soaked by water rushing over top of the vehicle.

The driver, Carolynne Drane, talks about her horrifying accident.

Rumina Daya | Global News

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She says she could see other cars on the highway, but no one could see her.

Drane had to make a tough choice between staying in her car and risking hypothermia as well as the possibility that the vehicle could be pushed further downstream, or trying to swim to either side of the creek, where she would almost certainly be swept over the next waterfall.

She decided to move into a corner inside her vehicle where she could get herself partially out of the water to try to preserve her body heat. Investigators say doing so may have helped to save her life.

They say a passerby, a man who was visiting the Sunshine Coast, spotted Drane.

He happened to be in the area, because he was recommended to look at the stunning waterfalls.

BC Ambulance Service and the Pender Harbour Volunteer Fire Department were the first to respond and worked quickly to make sure the vehicle did not get pushed farther towards the next waterfall. Sunshine Coast RCMP, members of Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue and the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department also rushed to help, with the Sechelt Fire Department using their ladder truck to lower one of their members down to the vehicle.

PHOTO: A rescue crew member seen helping to get Drane out of her car (Courtesy: Sunshine Coast RCMP)

After about 3.5 hours, Drane was pulled out of her car and airlifted to hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia, a broken nose, a concussion and soft tissue damage. She has now been released.

She is very grateful for everyone’s efforts to rescue her.

Const. Harrison Mohr with Sunshine Coast RCMP told Global News it was not safe to remove the vehicle right away because of the dangerous location and high water levels.

He says the car is still in the creek, and it’s still far too dangerous to remove it.

“It may stay there for some time until water levels drop,” said Mohr.

Police are investigating, but Mohr says it was raining heavily at the time of the incident and the highway in the area has a lot of tight corners.

Police are asking that residents in the area spread the word to their friends and family so that others are not alarmed if they happen to see the vehicle in the creek.

PHOTO: Drane’s car, still in the water, as seen from the edge of the creek on Nov. 30, 2016

They are also asking people not to stop to try to take pictures as the road is narrow in that area.

“There are not a lot of places to pull over,” said Mohr. “We certainly would not want to see another collision occur from people trying to take pictures or get a look at it.”

Ontario youth with mental illness waiting months for help, auditor general finds

Ontario’s government watchdog says kids and teenagers struggling with severe mental health problems are languishing on hospital wait lists and the consequences can be devastating.

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Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found in her annual report that youth mental-health agencies have been overwhelmed by a 50 per cent spike in hospitalization cases since 2009 and the government has not analyzed the reasons behind the increase or taken steps to address it.

“It is crucial that the government do its best to understand the reasons for these troubling statistics and that it can provide timely and appropriate treatment and avoid the potential high social and financial cost of not dealing proactively with the issue,” Lysyk said in a statement Wednesday after tabling her report at Queen’s Park.

READ MORE: Ontario schools are missing ‘perfect opportunity’ to address mental health amid rash of youth suicides

The auditor general said it was troubling that many of the findings in the report were similar to those identified in audits from 2003. She noted the Ministry of Children and Youth Services continues to fund agencies based on “historical spending instead of the current mental health needs of the children and youth they serve.”

Currently the ministry is spending $438 million to treat more than 120,000 children and youth across Ontario for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and eating disorders, among others.

WATCH: Ontario Auditor General report

Ontario Auditor General slams provincial government

02:23

Ontario Auditor General slams provincial government

02:56

Metrolinx too soft on contractors: Ontario Auditor General

03:11

Auditor general says ad expenditures have risen; wouldn’t have approved some ads

02:05

Metrolinx spending more than it needs to, says Ontario auditor general



Lysyk’s findings are consistent with a Global News investigation earlier this month that examined the mental health crisis facing young people in Ontario.

Global News found suicides in Ontario among 10 to 19 year olds rose from 54 in 2013 to 81 in 2014, according to the latest data from the provincial coroner’s office. And nearly 2,500 teenagers age 10 to 17 were hospitalized due to intentional self-harm from 2013 to 2014, up from just over 1,500 in 2010 to 2011.

READ MORE: Poor oversight of Ontario road and transit contracts cause for concern: auditor general

Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario, said Lysyk’s report is a clear indication the Liberal government is turning its back on young people with mental health issues.

“Ontario just isn’t prioritizing children and youth in desperate need of mental health services,” Moran told Global News. “The report articulated that children are waiting too long, but there hasn’t been any increases in resources to help these children.”

The CMHO released its own report on Tuesday, which found that more than 9,000 young people across the province are waiting anywhere from three months to a year and half for urgent mental health care.

“When kids wait too long for the care the problems can get more serious. That is probably the biggest concern,” she said. “Sadly, too many kids are dying by suicide. That’s what can happen when kids wait.”

The auditor general’s report looked at psychiatric hospital services in the province, specifically auditing four hospitals:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby.The Royal Ottawa Health Group in Ottawa and Brockville.Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene.

READ MORE: What happens when mental health education isn’t taught to kids

At Ontario Shores, children had to wait more than three months to receive help for severe eating disorders. And at Waypoint, the wait list for one of its out-patient programs was so long in 2015/16, the hospital temporarily stopped adding new people.

“Our audit of hospital records over the past five years found evidence of two people who died by suicide while waiting for help,” the report said, while not naming the hospital.

A shortage in psychiatric care in Ontario is also costing taxpayers. In 2015/2016 the government spent nearly $10 million to send 127 youths to the United States for treatment.

WATCH: Ontario man said he wished there was more of an emphasis on mental health education when he was in school

Her report found that funding for these four hospitals — which house roughly half of the long-term psychiatric beds in the province — hasn’t kept up with inflation, let alone the increase in demand.

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau said he is committed to acting on recommendations outlined in the report.

“While we have made significant progress in improving access to child and youth mental health services, we know there is more work to be done,” Coteau said in a statement. “Our government is committed to Moving on Mental Health, our action plan to deliver a co-ordinated and responsive system for parents and young people.”

The minister adds that that work is already underway including “a new funding model for children’s mental health services based on need, changes that will hold service providers more accountable to ensure efficient use of government resources, and better use of data to assess agency performance and improve services.”

However, the auditor general found that while some steps from the Moving on Mental Health plan have been implemented since 2012, the strategy has faced delays and it is unclear when it is expected to be fully implemented.

Australian cancer patient, 12, granted wish to ‘blow stuff up’

A 12-year-old Australian boy who has been battling leukemia had his wish to “blow stuff up” granted over the weekend with the help of Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Make-A-Wish foundation.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Declan McLean-Pauley is in remission from leukemia and was able to spend a day with AFP’s Specialist Response Group at the force’s headquarters in Canberra to have his Make-A-Wish granted.

“My name is Declan, I’m 12 and my wish was to blow something up,” the boy said in a video highlighting his day.

The boy was treated to a police motorcade to start his day. Later, he took in a handful of training exercises that pretty much involved blowing up stuff.

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“What inspired Declan’s wish I think was for him to do something different and something to take his mind off his illness,” the boy’s mom, Belinda, said in the video. “Declan has been pretty excited in the lead-up to today. He’s been telling all of our friends and family he’s going to blow stuff up.”

Declan participated in a mock hostage situation, used explosives to blow off doors from a training building and “breaching scenarios.”

“Being involved in something like this is a special opportunity for us to get involved with someone who is through a bit of a tough time, and that’s not only young Declan, but his family, so if we can do something to brighten their day or give them a happy experience, then we are more than happy to do that,” Sgt. Peter Murphy said.

The boy also had the opportunity to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

“I think Declan was truly speechless, which doesn’t happen very often,” his mother said.

Pipeline approval protesters set up at Portage and Main Thursday evening

WINNIPEG —; Dozens of protesters set up at a busy intersection Thursday evening, speaking out about two recent pipeline approvals in Canada.

The protest started at 6 p.m. at Portage Avenue and Main Street. The protesters lined up along the side of the street with a banner.

It’s in retaliation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent approval of two large pipelines – Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion and Enbridge’s Line 3.

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READ MORE: Justin Trudeau halts Northern Gateway, approves Kinder Morgan expansion, Line 3

The Winnipeg Jets take on the Edmonton Oilers at the MTS Centre Thursday evening at 7 p.m., meaning there will be a lot of traffic downtown.

This comes more than two weeks after protesters took to the streets at the busy intersection, speaking out against the Dakota Access pipeline.

READ MORE: Dakota pipeline protest closes Winnipeg’s Portage and Main during rush hour

Winnipeg police closed off the intersection and it remained closed until just after 6:30 p.m., as hockey fans were making their way to MTS Centre for the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks.

As a result, traffic was tied up in downtown Winnipeg for hours. Thursday evening’s protest did not spill into the streets.

WATCH:  Dakota pipeline protest closes Winnipeg’s Portage and Main during rush hour

Police spokesperson, Const. Rob Carver, who is a member of the Crowd Management Unit, said there is a fine balance when it comes to people’s rights.

“I have the right to assembly and I have the right to peacefully protest – I don’t necessarily have the right to block traffic,” Carver said.

“So, those are two competing rights and part of our job is to somehow balance those two competing rights with the rights of hundreds of motorists who are trying to get home or trying to get to a Jet game with the rights of individual to make a political statement.”

Fake news: From pit bulls to a fake news ban, four things that didn’t happen this week

Here’s a roundup of news this week that you may not have seen, and didn’t happen in the real world — though somebody would like you to believe otherwise.

    桑拿会所 has threatened to cut off Donald Trump’s account.

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Related

  • Fake news: Four things that didn’t happen this week

    Facebook looking to crack down on so-called ‘fake news’

  • How Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to combat fake news

    The starting point for this was a story in Slate. (There’s a very similar one in Quartz.) Reporter Will Oremus asked 桑拿会所 if it might ever ban U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, in theory, and the company responded with an e-mail in which a spokesperson cut-and-pasted the relevant part of the network’s user agreement, which prohibits “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse.” Does this apply to Trump, Oremus asked? “The 桑拿会所 Rules apply to all accounts,” the company replied.

    Which is kind of what you would expect them to say.

    It was all that Alex Jones needed, though. InfoWars promptly published a video titled ‘桑拿会所 Threatens To Kill Trump’s Account.’ 

    “You cannot make up the magnitude of this!,” Jones warned his listeners. “Kicking the president off — that’s what an enemy government would do, cutting off somebody’s communications. This is getting crazier and crazier by the minute. This is total authoritarianism. They tried to steal the election and failed, and now they’re in full panic mode, folks. They’re going to get their a#% kicked politically, just by showing everybody how evil they are, how ruthless they are, how anti-freedom they are. God Almighty, it’s next-level. If they can ban his free speech, they can ban everybody’s!”

    READ MORE: Fake news: Four things that didn’t happen this week

    2) As he prepares to leave office, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama has banned fake news outlets

    This one is kind of meta, having been published with lots of corroborative detail on the Boston Tribune fake news outlet.

    The story begins:

    “In wake of the controversial 2016 presidential election, President Obama has signed what may be one of his final executive orders. On Monday morning, President Obama signed Executive Order 13749 banning all fake news websites and ensuring penalties ranging from fines/fees to criminal prosecution for those that own and maintain such websites.”

    The editing is shaky, but some attention to detail went into this: the link goes to the page where presidential executive orders are actually published, where you will not find Executive Order 13749, because it never existed. It sounds like it could, though — Executive Order 13738 does. If you were already likely to believe the story, it might withstand at least a basic attempt at fact-checking.

    Obama banning things (in a way that is, in no particular order, impractical, impossible, unlikely or unconstitutional, but would be outrageous if they had actually happened) is a fake news staple. At various times, the outgoing president has been accused of banning the U.S. national anthem (Executive Order 14302), the Pledge of Allegiance (an alternate-reality Executive Order 13738), the possession of gold and air conditioning.

    The Boston Tribune, like the Baltimore Gazette and the Denver Guardian, are fake news sites that are named to imply a bit of legacy media authority. Some thought seems to go into their names — there was a real newspaper, the South Boston Tribune, which went under in 2012 after decades of operation, and a real Baltimore Gazette existed in the Civil War era. (The Baltimore Gazette of 2016 describes itself as “Baltimore’s oldest news source and one of the longest running daily newspapers published in the United States,” ignoring a 140-year gap in operations.)

    This kind of fake news site goes to a surprising level of effort to give the impression online of being a real newspaper, complete with obituaries, horoscopes and the illusion of an advertising department, The Denver Guardian also has a physical address, but the Denver Post (a real newspaper investigating its ghostly rival) found that it was a vacant lot.

    (NPR traced ownership of many of these sites to a man named Jason Coler, who lives in suburban Los Angeles.)

    WATCH: There’s new criticism for Facebook and its handling of so-called “fake news” as the company promises a renewed effort to weed out misinformation on the site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is laying-out a plan to fight inaccurate news stories from making it to your Facebook feed.

    3) NATO is in a “declared war with Russia”.

    How did we miss that? You may well ask.

    Turkish troops entered Syria this week to keep ISIS forces well back from their border, among other things. Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan also explained they were in Syria “to end the rule of the cruel Assad, who has been spreading state terror.”

    In any case, Assad is a Russian ally, and on Thursday Erdogan explained himself in a phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which may or may not have smoothed things over. 

    “Let me explain what this really means,” Jones of InfoWars announced , speaking of Erdogan’s earlier comments. “It means that war in the Middle East between NATO and Russia has been declared by NATO. He’s a NATO member, there’s a defence pact between all the NATO nations that if one nation attacks they will all back that nation.”

    Therefore, apparently, the United States, Canada and a basket of other countries are at war with Syria — we just haven’t noticed it yet, and nobody’s told us.

    This just isn’t what the North Atlantic Treaty says, though. Article 5, which does commit member states to go to war in each other’s defence, only applies if they’re attacked. (It also only applies in Europe or North America, and all of Syria and nearly all of Turkey is in Asia.)

    If a member state invades another country, that’s their problem. For example, Canada might have sent troops to fight alongside the U.S. in Vietnam or Iraq, but chose not to.

    WATCH: Two of the world’s biggest social media companies, Google and Facebook, are facing criticism over fake news sites after the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

    4) 42 U.S. states have agreed to ban pit bulls 

    You read it first at the Boston Tribune:

    “After nearly 14-months of discussion – representatives from 42 states have agreed to implement a mandatory statewide breed specific legislation banning residents from owning any pit-bull type breed of dogs.”

    The story has lots of detail from a delighted activist that called the move “an enormous victory for everyone,” names, statistics, careful attribution of quotes to a nonexistent ABC News reporter’s interviews, an implementation date (March 3, 2017), and a screenshot of a Facebook statement, complete with logo, from a group that seems to not exist on Facebook. The list of 42 states even adds up to 42 (yes, we checked).

    As far as Global News can tell, the thing is complete hooey, from start to finish.

    Once you start asking questions, there are more and more:

    Where did the agreement take place? (Nowhere in particular.)Who in a U.S. state can commit in advance to passing a law? (Nobody — someone, a governor perhaps, could commit to introducing one.)So they couldn’t commit to having it passed by a given date? (That’s right.)Why would they need a common implementation date, anyway? (No reason.)Where does that link to an interview on ABC go to? (The main page for the network.)What if I start Googling people mentioned in the story? (Give it a try.)

Toronto Sun journalist Don Peat to take on lead role in Mayor John Tory’s office

A veteran city hall journalist will soon be taking on a lead role in Toronto Mayor John Tory‘s office at a pivotal time in his mayoral term.

Don Peat, a former city hall reporter during Rob Ford’s tumultuous mayoral term and assistant city editor with the Toronto Sun, will become Tory’s new director of communications and chief spokesman.

Peat is replacing 33-year-old spokeswoman Amanda Galbraith, who worked closely with the mayor since his 2014 election campaign.

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Thursday marks two years to the day that Tory took office and Peat’s appointment comes at a time when the mayor grapples with proposed tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, changing councillor appointments to crucial committees and a looming 2018 election.

READ MORE: Road tolls issue worth losing election over: Mayor Tory

Tory announced the changes in an email to city councillors Thursday morning.

“Don is no stranger to us here at City Hall, having served as the Toronto Sun’s City Hall Bureau Chief from 2010 to 2015,” Tory said.

“During his decade at the Sun, Don has earned a reputation for his productivity and fairness, and is well liked by all. He also gets up early, which will help.”

READ MORE: Former Wynne staff member, journalist Siri Agrell joins mayor’s team

Tory said Peat would begin his new role Monday, with Galbraith’s last day Dec. 16. He mused city staff would be “arranging for a peaceful transfer of power.”

Toronto Sun Editor-In-Chief Adrienne Batra told the newspaper Peat was “irreplaceable.”

“His reporting contributions are unmatched and culminated into an anthology of some of the most important events in Toronto,” she said.

“Don has been such an integral part of the Toronto Sun family and will be missed. Our loss is definitely the city’s gain.”

READ MORE: John Tory previously campaigned against tolling the DVP, Gardiner Expressway

Galbraith confirmed to Global News she would be taking on a new role at Toronto PR firm Navigator —; known for representing high profile companies and public figures such as former attorney general Michael Bryant and former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

She said she would eventually take on a lead role in the firm’s crisis and issues management practice and help expand their municipal affairs practice across Canada.

Galbraith added she would also “play a role” in the mayor’s 2018 re-election campaign and help with planning in the future.

Here’s why oil prices, the Canadian dollar and stock markets are all up

Canada has been presented with some promising economic news over the last few days, largely thanks to a strengthening Canadian dollar and news that OPEC agreed to cut its oil production for the first time in eight years.

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On Wednesday, optimism over the OPEC deal had a positive effect on the stock market, driving the commodity-heavy S&P/TSX composite index in Toronto up 83.04 points, with the energy sector recording the largest rise, surging by nearly eight per cent.

The price of oil continued to surge on Thursday, rising another four per cent to just over US$51 a barrel.

Oil prices have also boosted the Canadian dollar, which rose by almost two-thirds of U.S. cent on Thursday to trade above 75 cents U.S.

READ MORE: Canadian dollar hits three-week high as oil surges

These positive trends are somewhat obvious to economists – but not so much to the average Canadian. Here is the low-down on why oil prices, the Canadian dollar and markets are trending upwards:

Our dollar is driven by oil

The first thing any economist will tell you about the loonie is that it’s largely driven by oil prices.

OPEC, otherwise known as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, collectively produces more than one-third of the world’s oil. They agreed to trim production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting in January – which is a good thing for oil prices.

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“When you have a cut in production that tightens up on supply, when you have less supply it sends oil prices higher,” said Neil Shankar, economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank. Shankar noted he expects to see oil prices remain around the current level  over the next few months.

“Canada is a really oil-dependent economy, out west we have the oilsands, and given the fact that we now have oil prices trending higher we should see our dollar gain strength for the next little bit.”

WATCH: What an OPEC oil production agreement means for Canada 

Donald Trump had a bit of an influence on the stock market

Global markets have been trending upwards since Republican Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States, which some say is due, in part, to Trump’s campaign touting several promises to boost the economy.

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“I think there is a lot of uncertainty still if some of the stuff he campaigned on is going to be implemented, but what we have seen so far is a very optimistic approach,” Shankar said.

Avery Shenfeld, chief economist of CIBC Capital Markets, said while the U.S. stock market has been climbing in part on enthusiasm that Trump’s administration might lower personal taxes, it could lead to uncertainty for the Canadian market.

READ MORE: What President Donald Trump will mean for Canada

“The enthusiasm from some voters in the U.S. is that they are going to promote U.S. production, if they were to do that it would be bad for Canada,” Shenfeld said.

“[But] the post-election rally will, at some point run, out of steam until we see what the new president actually brings.”

But, a good economy could mean higher interest rates in the U.S.

With higher oil prices and a strengthening dollar, things might be looking pretty rosy. But that could change when the U.S. Federal Reserve meets in two weeks time.

“To me it’s a good thing when the economy does well, it means growth, job creation, people are getting a steady income – but that also means because economic activity is ramping up, the Federal Reserve steps in and increases rates,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at Bank of Montreal.

What does a hike in interest rates in the U.S. have to do with us, you ask? According to Lee, an increase in rates from the Federal Reserve will strengthen the U.S. dollar –  and that weakens our dollar.

“If their dollar is higher, ours weakens, which is good for exporters,” said Lee. “For anyone who wants to do cross border shopping it’s not so good.”

— With files from the Associated Press