Justin Trudeau pushes for gender equality at UN women’s conference

NEW YORK – Justin Trudeau told large New York audiences Wednesday that he looks forward to someday being able to call himself a feminist without having it wind up in news headlines.

The prime minister told a packed United Nations convention hall that he foresees a generational shift, as more parents raise their kids to embrace the term as a endorsement of basic equality.

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“I’m going to keep saying, loud and clearly, that I am a feminist. Until it is met with a shrug,” he told the UN women’s conference Wednesday, in an auditorium filled with a near-total female audience.

“It shouldn’t be something that creates a reaction. It’s simply saying that I believe in the equality of men and women and that we still have an awful lot of work to do to get there. That’s like saying the sky is blue and the grass is green.”

The event was one of several on a day where Trudeau announced to a photo-snapping crowd in the UN lobby that Canada was pursuing a seat on the security council in 2020; met with business leaders; and was honoured at an evening gala by the women’s group Catalyst for having formed a gender-parity cabinet.

He delivered a similar message to the evening crowd — an audience that featured high-power heads of famous companies like McDonald’s, Campbell Soup, Carnival and Shell.

He said everyone there had enjoyed some privilege, to wind up at a gala in a glitzy ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, and he urged them to use it to help others rise: “We must use that privilege… We need to remember to always challenge the status quo, even though it may be what got us here tonight.”

Trudeau explained to both crowds that long before he’d uttered the now-famous phrase, “Because it’s 2015,” his team worked in 2014, 2013, and 2012 to recruit talented female candidates.

WATCH: PM Trudeau announces Security Council plans, but faces Saudi human rights questions

He said that process was complicated by the fact that women were more likely to refuse career opportunities — because they were busy caring for children and elderly parents.

Trudeau suggested policies that encourage a work-life balance. He offered one potential example of parental leave that would only be available to men. A PMO official explained that the government isn’t actually considering this, but is looking at family-friendly policies including changes in the House of Commons rules for federal employees.

The moderator at the UN auditorium event, New York ABC news anchor Sade Baderinwa, told him: “With all the nods, and all the clapping, I think you’re well-liked in this room, prime minister.”

READ MORE: RCMP won’t charge 24 senators named in AG spending report

He suggested in both events that companies might be moved to better gender balance just by making them address how many women are in their work forces and their boards.

“One of the things that has shown effectiveness is just making people report explicitly on the gender balance within their organization, within their boards at the highest levels,” Trudeau said.

“That incentivizes positive behaviour in meaningful ways.”

The Harper government’s last budget in 2015 included a proposal to require companies to either put a gender equality policy in place or explain publicly why they don’t have one.

Trudeau stressed in both events that Canada still has a long way to go. He cited the male-female earnings gap as one example and violence against women — especially aboriginal women — as a particularly egregious problem.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie arrive at ceremony for gender equity

He described feminism as a generational trend.

Asked at the UN event how he started using the term, he referred to his parents. He said his mom was a feminist. He said the term didn’t apply to his dad, despite having been a human-rights advocate who introduced the modern Canadian Constitution: “He was a great guy — but I don’t think he’d ever be able to be qualified as a feminist.”

He said it’s different now.

He said he and his wife are teaching their kids — two boys and a girl — to embrace feminism. And he predicted that more and more people would do so over time, with young people leading the way.

“It’s just really, really obvious,” he said, drawing applause from the diplomatic crowd.

“We should be standing up for women’s rights and trying to create more equal societies? Like, duh.”

Report: huge gas resource in B.C., Yukon, NWT

CALGARY – One of the world’s largest supplies of shale natural gas is sitting beneath an area spanning the British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories boundaries, according to a new study.

But with dismal commodity prices and no immediate way to export the gas to global markets, the prospect of a development bonanza in the Liard Basin is far from certain.

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The study was a joint effort by the National Energy Board, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, the Yukon Geological Survey, the Northwest Territories Geological Survey and the British Columbia Ministry of Natural Gas Development.

The NEB said Wednesday that the Liard is Canada’s second-largest known gas resource after the Montney, which straddles B.C. and Alberta. Globally, it ranks ninth, according to the federal energy regulator.

It’s estimated to contain 219 trillion cubic feet of marketable natural gas — enough to meet all of Canada’s demand for 68 years at 2014 consumption rates.

Mike Johnson, technical leader of hydrocarbon resources at the NEB, said it was the first detailed look at the Liard and he was taken aback by its size.

“We expected big,” he said. “It was bigger than we thought it was going to be.”

The bulk of the Liard marketable resource — 167 trillion cubic feet — is in British Columbia, with 44 tcf in the Northwest Territories and eight tcf in the Yukon segment.

“This report shows our long-term prospects are stronger than before and that the Liard Basin can create economic activity and jobs in our province for a very long time to come,” said Rich Coleman, B.C.’s natural gas development minister.

There are already pipelines in the region, but links would need to be built to connect that gas to its logical outlets: liquefied natural gas terminals planned for Prince Rupert or Kitimat, B.C., which would enable exports to Asia.

However, it’s unclear whether the companies behind those export proposals — whose price tags can run into the tens of billions of dollars — will ultimately decide to go ahead.

Chevron Canada and Australia’s Woodside Petroleum have teamed on a project to develop gas, mostly from the Liard Basin, and liquefy it at a terminal planned for the Kitimat area.

The partners expect to have drilled five wells in the Liard by year-end as they continue to appraise their holdings, said Ray Lord, a spokesman for the project.

“These results are confirming, I think, what we’ve felt all along — that we are dealing with a world-class resource,” he said.

But Lord provided no timeline for when the companies would make an official go-ahead decision.

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod said that with the downturn in oil and gas prices, pretty much all the exploration companies have “packed up and left” the territory.

“It’s a high-cost environment and it’s usually the first place that’s affected when prices go down,” he said.

But long-term demand forecasts give him hope.

“We see this as an opportunity to get ready,” he said.

Yukon Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Scott Kent said his government is using the slowdown to work on baseline testing for water and seismic activity.

“Somebody once told me that winter’s a good time to buy a straw hat, so that’s what we’re doing now,” Kent said. “We’re doing a lot of that work and we know the markets will come back. We know British Columbia’s working hard to get LNG offshore.”

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Site of collapsed Gas Works building in New Westminster could be turned into emergency service station

The site of the oldest industrial building in New Westminster could be transferred to the city for use as an emergency service station after it collapsed last weekend.

The roof of the abandoned Gas Works building at 12th Street and 3rd Avenue caved in suddenly on Sunday. No one was hurt.

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The facility was built in 1886, but the site has sat vacant for decades due to contamination caused by the site’s original use as a coal gasification plant and its subsequent use as a foundry, a paint manufacturing facility and a sash and door manufacturing operation.

The large lot is owned by the provincial government, but has sat in limbo due to the high costs of cleaning and redeveloping the land.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed to Global News contamination is present in soil and groundwater at the site.

On Monday, ministry staff were on site, along with officials from the City of New Westminster.

The ministry had a structural engineer assess the building, and there is a recommendation to demolish the north end wall and the remainder of the roof, supported by both the ministry and city.

The ministry says that would leave a brick shell that could be used by the community in the future.

Prior to any redevelopment, however, site remediation is required.

The ministry says site redevelopment is currently challenging, given the combination of the contamination and the requirement to maintain the heritage-designated building.

Remediating the site while retaining the heritage building requires installing pilings underneath to allow contaminated soil to be removed and replaced.

The provincial government also says the building is seismically unsafe for occupation without significant upgrades and its location limits the feasibility of constructing a large residential tower typical of the neighbourhood.

As to who will be footing the bill, the remediation and building preservation costs for the property would be shared between the province and the City of New Westminster.

The province says it will be paying for engineering work and costs associated with security to ensure public safety after the collapse.

With files from Justin McElroy

Neptune Theatre comes out on top as feds give millions to arts and culture

The arts, culture and language institutions in Atlantic Canada received a big boost from the federal government on Wednesday.

Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage was in Halifax to announce $3.38 million dollars in funding for multiple official-language groups in Atlantic Canada and the Neptune Theatre Foundation.

A total of $2,435,895 will be provided to 26 different organizations throughout Atlantic Canada.

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The Neptune Theatre Foundation is getting the largest chunk of change –  over the next two years Neptune will receive $945,138.

“Our government really believes in the importance of arts and culture,” Joly said.

“We believe that it plays an important role in bettering our communities, but also it’s part of our economic growth vision because in order to create growth of course, we have to need the right innovation in system and that at the core of this innovation system there are great actors and creators, such as the Neptune Theatre.”

WATCH: Neptune Theatre talks about the production ‘Stag and Doe’ on The Morning News

On top of the funding from the Canadian government, the provincial government also announced Wednesday they would be donating an addition $100,000 to the theatre.

“With an enduring mission to inspire audiences with great stories, Neptune Theatre is now celebrating its 53rd season,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

“The theatre is part of our cultural fabric in Nova Scotia, and I wish them many more years of success.”

The funding will allow Neptune Theatre to renovate its performance spaces with improved lighting, sound and lift capabilities.

Tony Ince, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage says the investment is good news for people of all ages.

“Young people now will have a greater capacity to probably do some more training, have access to more programs, we can now probably build the capacity to bring more people in,” Ince said.

“Society is really starting to see the value of culture. How important culture is and how important everything that culture brings into our economy.”

‘This is it’: the cancer treatment that has doctors talking about a cure

There’s a revolution in cancer treatment.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” said Dr. Howard Kaufman. “We’ve attempted to say we’ve cured cancer many times, there’s a lot of Time magazine covers and Newsweek covers that say ‘Is this the cure?’ that go back 20 years and never has been,” Kaufman told Global News’ 16×9. “But this is different.”

“This is it.”

The new hope and optimism is immunotherapy. A cancer treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defences to fight cancer. The disease kills one in four Canadians.

“Given what we’re seeing, we really think that this is a possibility at least for some patients,” said Kaufman, a surgical and medical oncologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

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WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Howard Kaufman is a surgical and medical oncologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. As a leader in the field of immunotherapy, he feels a cancer cure for some patients could be a reality.

READ MORE: Behind the science of cancer-fighting immunotherapy

The three main ways to treat cancer patients are by using surgery, radiation or chemotherapy – these are referred to as the three pillars of cancer treatment. Now immunotherapy is considered to be emerging as the fourth pillar.

The hope is one day immunotherapy can help treat all cancers.

“I would say that probably all types of cancers eventually will be able to be targeted by immune therapy,” Marcus Butler, a medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, told Global News’ 16×9.

WATCH ABOVE:  Dr. Pamela Ohashi is the Director of the Tumour Immunotherapy Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She outlines some of the successes of immunotherapy.

In basic terms, immunotherapy harnesses the body’s immune system’s ability to fight and kill cancer cells.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) February 2016 report, two main strategies of immunotherapy are now being explored, “the first involves unleashing the body’s natural immune response to cancer, and the second helps the immune system find and destroy cancer cells.”

Not all immunotherapies work the same way. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, “immunotherapies either stimulate the activities of specific components of the immune system or counteract signals produced by cancer cells that suppress immune responses.”

“When we talk about immune therapy, we’re using agents that target the immune system instead of targeting the tumour directly. In other words, we try to induce a T-cell or some other type of immune cell to be able to target and kill the cancer cells,” Butler said.

The concept of using immune therapy has been around since the late 1800s, but in the last 15 to 20 years, researchers have gained better understanding of how the immune system works, and those discoveries have led to new therapies and treatments.

For now, there are only a handful of immunotherapy drugs available in Canada. Researchers and physicians are developing new treatments, which some Canadians are getting access to through clinical trials.

The patient experience

WATCH ABOVE: Jeanette Edl tried surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but her cancer kept spreading, then she enrolled in an immunotherapy clinical trial.

She’s just finished treatment and Jeanette Edl is sitting on a bed at Princess Margaret smiling and laughing – she knows the fact that she is here at all is “a miracle.”

Edl has been battling cancer for almost six years. She tried surgery, radiation and chemotherapy – she had small victories only to be faced with a return of the cancer and it kept spreading.

Then she was told it was stage four. There is no stage five.

“Things were not heading in the right direction,” Edl said. “I had several tumours in my lungs that were growing pretty rapidly…things were really in a very bad stage.”

When she arrived at Princess Margaret her physician knew Edl was running out of options.

Butler is her oncologist. He’s also the director of the immune monitoring laboratory at the cancer centre. He thought immunotherapy might be able to help Edl. So she enrolled in an immunotherapy clinical trial of a drug she takes intravenously.

Within a few months, her cancer started disappearing.

“So with the great turnaround of immunotherapy, it’s like a miracle to me,” said Edl.

Jeanette Edl receives immunotherapy treatment at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.

16×9/Global News

Edl says her cancer has shrunk by at least 70 per cent.

“So she’s had a really impressive clinical response with the tumours that were seen on scans,” Butler said. “When we look at the scans, there’s a possibility that that 30 per cent residual is actually just scar tissue.”

Edl also likes to talk about one of the other remarkable patient experiences with immunotherapy – the lack of or minor side effects. Patients report flu-like symptoms: fever, nausea and headaches.

Edl has joined a growing group of patients who have had success on immunotherapy.

READ MORE: Former US president Jimmy Carter no longer needs cancer treatment

One of the most well-known is former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. In 2015, Carter, 91, announced he had stage four melanoma in his liver and brain. He was treated with radiation and the immunotherapy drug Keytruda. He says he’s cancer-free and no longer needs treatment. He will continue to be monitored.

Although the success rate of immunotherapy treatment varies, doctors are encouraged by the results they are seeing in different cancers, including kidney, lung and melanoma.

Before immunotherapy there were limited options for patients with advanced melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.

“If you talk to the clinicians in the melanoma clinics, their clinics are now just overrun with patients who are surviving longer,” said Pamela Ohashi, director of the tumour immunotherapy program at Princess Margaret. “So this whole therapy has really been a game changer.”

“Approximately 30 per cent of the patients will respond. And that means their tumours shrink to some degree, if not completely shrink and disappear altogether.”

But like all cancer treatments it isn’t effective for everyone.

Preparing a patient’s medication for an immunotherapy treament.

16×9/Global News

Pamela Brush has been battling alveolar soft part sarcoma for nearly 20 years. She’s tried surgery and radiation – but the cancer kept spreading. So her doctor recommended an immunotherapy trial.  She says the treatment worked for awhile and then it stopped.

“I was devastated,” Brush said. “This whole year everything was fine, no side effects, no bumps, nothing.  And then right at the very end … there was another tumour that popped up.”

She recently finished a round of radiation, and says she just started on a new immunotherapy trial hoping it will be her answer. With such a rare cancer, it’s her best hope.

“Yes. It is my only option.”

As promising as immunotherapy is, researchers are still trying to determine why some patients respond and others do not, and if there is a way to combine or tailor the therapies for each patient and cancer.

“The biggest challenge we have right now is that not every single patient benefits. And, in fact, in many cases, the majority of patients don’t have these long-term benefits from treatment, so we need to figure out how to make it so that everyone benefits from treatment,” Butler said.

Natural killers – using viruses to kill cancer

We often think of viruses as enemies.  Now they are a promising cancer-fighting tool.

It’s a form of immunotherapy called oncolytic virus therapy – using live viruses to kill cancer.

“Viruses are really nature’s way of stimulating an immune response,” Kaufman told Global News. “So if you ask, ‘What is the most powerful way to get an immune response in any host?’ it’s really using a virus.”

A virus is prepared to be administered to a patient at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

16×9/Global News

Herpes virus

Kaufman is an international leader in the field. In clinical trials he and his team tested a modified herpes virus in patients with melanoma.

It too activates the immune system, but there’s more. The drug in this case, T-VEC, is injected directly into the tumour, the cancer cells are destroyed and then release more of the virus into the body, and at the same time the immune system is called into action to fight.

In October 2015, it became the first virus cancer treatment to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to Kaufman, close to 26 per cent of study patients with melanoma had some sort of tumour shrinkage, and close to 11 per cent saw their tumours disappear entirely.

At Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, patient John O’Donnell had stage four melanoma that had spread to his lungs. All other treatments had failed. The survival rates for late stage melanoma are “dismal.”

So he enrolled in the modified herpes virus trial.

WATCH ABOVE: John O’Donnell was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. He believes he is alive today because of immunotherapy.

“Dr. Kaufman had noticed that after the first treatment, already he felt a difference in the hardness of the lump that was under my arm,” O’Donnell said. “As my treatments continued, it got smaller, smaller, smaller … to the point where they were able to just remove it.”

He says it also cleared up the cancer that had spread to other parts of his body. Right now he is cancer-free. He will continue with check-ups to make sure. He believes the modified herpes virus saved his life.

“I’m sure that’s what did it for me. You know, as far as I’m concerned – it’s a near miracle. And I’m more than happy with the results,” said O’Donnell. “Unbelievable. It was just unbelievable.”

Currently researchers around the world are trying to develop the next virus to be approved for use in patients.

The Canadian virus fighting duo

At the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, senior scientist Dr. John Bell and his team across the country have developed a combination strategy.

The first in the world to do so, they are testing the Miraba virus, found in the Brazilian sand fly and a common cold virus, Adenovirus. Both viruses have been modified.

“We’re pretty excited about this approach.  I think this combination strategy is really going to be a game changer we think,” Bell told Global News’ 16×9.

Bell’s team is at the clinical trial phase.

READ MORE: Viruses that can destroy cancer? Canadians leading the way in new research

Bell’s next line of attack is to combine oncolytic viruses with other immunotherapy drugs to eradicate cancer.

“At trial we combine immune cell therapy with the virus therapy,” Bell said. “It makes a lot of sense to us. It’s sort of like bringing in the army, the navy, and the air force as opposed to just bringing in one approach to kill the cancer.”

He also believes one virus treatment will not work for all patients.

“Everybody’s tumour is unique to their body and their genetic makeup,” said Bell. “So the same way some people get a bad flu and others don’t, some viruses will actually work on some tumours but not others.”

READ MORE: Oncolytic viruses: North American scientists test new therapy to fight cancer

“So we’re going to need a spectrum of virus products to be able to attack all the different kinds of tumours that happen within people based upon a genetic makeup,” said Bell. “I think it’s likely you’re going to see a half dozen viruses as proof products in the future.”

Immunotherapy’s future

Developments in immunotherapy are happening quickly. The American Society of Clinical Oncology named it the “advance of the year.”

In addition to the developments in the area of oncolytic viruses, researchers are also attempting to create new treatments that are individually tailored to individuals; personalized cancer care.

That is still years away. But immunotherapy is taking its place in the cancer treatment field, as it continues to revolutionize cancer care.

“It’s fantastic, and that’s really changed the thinking in the field. I would say five years ago, 99 per cent of the clinicians wouldn’t – they didn’t believe in immune therapy,” said Ohashi. “And now it’s completely the other way around. That’s all they talk about. That’s where the successes are. That’s where the new drugs are being approved.”

Sobeys criticized for selling avocado halves packaged in plastic, cardboard

Supermarket chain Sobeys is being criticized for selling pre-cut, pitted avocados that have been repackaged in plastic and cardboard.

Last week, Daniel Moshe snapped a photo of the packaged avocados in a Sobeys store in Thornhill, Ont.

“Packaged, overly priced and it’s just like a joke to me,” Moshe told Global News. “It’s like, wow they have gone that far to package this product, it’s nonsense.”

Moshe posted the photo the $4 product on Facebook, where his friend Christine Kizik shared the image on Sobeys Facebook page.

“Surprised and disappointed after a friend posted a picture of an avocado for sale at his local Sobeys in Thornhill, ON. It’s been precut, then wrapped in plastic and cardboard,” Kizik wrote. “Avocado’s [sic] have their own perfect, compostable, wrapping. Adding packaging to an avocado is strange to say the least.

WATCH: Normal vs. Pre-Peeled avocados: Which is faster?

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This is wasteful and I’m curious about the reasoning for Sobeys stocking avocodo this way? Looking forward to a response. Thank you,” Kizik wrote.

The supermarket responded by suggesting the halved fruit product was to attract shoppers that are complete rookies when it comes to the pitted fruit.

“This product was developed for people who might be new to using avocados and for a little more convenience,” Sobeys wrote. “It eliminates the guess work when it comes to ripeness and any challenges if you are not familiar with peeling and seeding a fresh avocado.

READ MORE: Whole Foods apologizes for selling whole, peeled oranges in plastic containers

“The packaging is there to keep the fresh wholesome appearance and quality of the avocado without it browning prior to consumption,” the supermarket wrote.

Social media users were quick to criticize the store’s packaging decision.

“Are you going to start feeding it to people too? How ridiculous and needlessly wasteful!,” Verna Chan questioned on Facebook.

“How “fresh” is the product when it has been peeled, seeded, and packaged in a factory?” Leets Bakker wrote. “Not to mention the obvious distance the fruit travelled to come to Canada in the first place.”

Other shoppers saw the useful side of packaged fruit.

“I would love to send this to school with my kids when I am in a rush to make lunch. Great idea!,” Sarah Kelly chimed in.

“Also useful for people with disabilities who may have trouble opening avocados! I support this product,” Sabrina Scott wrote.

It turns out the product was part of a pilot project and was only sold in select stores in Ontario.

READ MORE: Whole Foods mocked for selling 3 spears of asparagus in a bottle of water for $6

“This product, like all others we introduce, will be reviewed and re-evaluated to determine whether it will become part of our regular offering,” Sobeys spokesperson Vicki Leung told Global News.

Earlier this month, American supermarket chain Whole Foods was forced to apologize for selling whole, peeled oranges in plastic containers at one of its California locations, after a shopper tweeted a photo of the product, questioning the company’s packaging methods.

Nathalie Gordon tweeted a photo showing whole, peeled oranges packaged in a plastic container.

“If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them,” Gordon questioned.

Last year, Whole Foods was targeted on social media after a customer shared in image of $6 bottles of water containing three spears of asparagus.

The bottles of “asparagus water” were spotted by a Los Angeles-area shopper who snapped a photo of the $6 product and shared it on Instagram.

Amy Poehler, other celebrities charged for overusing water during California drought

California is in the midst of one of its most serious droughts in history, yet certain celebrities (who most certainly make more money than the average person) seem to have missed the memo.

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According to the United States Drought Monitor, almost the entire state is under the “Extreme” drought status, while Beverly Hills, where many celebrities live, is located in the part of California facing “Exceptional” drought. The city is trying to reduce water usage by 32 per cent.

The Wrap is reporting that several celebrities, including actress Amy Poehler and music mogul David Geffen, are disregarding water conservation measures, and are being forced to pay fines for using too much water.

Poehler and Geffen are among 86 Beverly Hills residents who received letters from the city in November, warning them that they’re using far more water than the average Californian.

READ MORE: Bristol Palin responds to Tina Fey SNL impression of Sarah Palin

The LA Times outlined some of the charges faced by water overusers: Between June and August 2015, Geffen was charged more than $30,000 by the city for using 1.6 million gallons of water. Poehler was charged more than $2,200 for 170,000 gallons for the period between May 14 and July 14. (All amounts are in USD, and for perspective, the average family of four in the U.S. uses 400 gallons of water a day.)

Others who received warning letters include Will & Grace co-creator Jason “Max” Mutchnick and executive producer of The Revenant, Brett Ratner.

WATCH: This May 2015 report shows that there was evidence that some celebrities were opting to keep their lawns green despite California’s water woes. 

Geffen sent an email to the Times saying he’s looking into digging a well on his property, so he can “access the underground river that flows beneath my home instead of water from the city… that water is not potable and simply flows into the ocean and is wasted.”

He did not mention anything about the exorbitant 1.6 million gallons or the hefty fine.

READ MORE: Journalist inspires movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with Tina Fey

In a statement, Ratner said he was not aware of his household’s excessive water use. After looking into the problem, he claims he discovered multiple pipe leaks and promised to repair them. A spokeswoman for the producer says that Ratner is now replacing his entire water line.

WATCH: Why does California’s drought matter for Canadians?

Poehler’s representatives did not comment on her household’s water overconsumption.

“I don’t mean to get the world’s smallest violin out, but you’ve got a constituency that has the means to do aggressive water conservation,” Bruce Reznik, executive director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, told the Times. “It’s the lowest hanging fruit to turn off the sprinklers for a couple days. It’s not brain surgery.”

The water-overuse shaming and fining tactic seems to be working, with Beverly Hills cutting its water consumption by nearly 26 per cent in January, falling just short of the 32 per cent goal.

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Domestic Water Use in California | Graphiq

Number one tip for cooking spring vegetables: don’t overpower them

Spring is nature’s fashion week. After winter’s endless parade of root vegetables, it feels as though nature has pressed the big green button, refreshing the new season’s offerings. Being showcased right now is a new look for your fridge, in a variety of greens.

At my local Sunday market in London, on display are big leafy bunches of spinach, pointed sweetheart cabbages, fennel with thrusting green tops and spring’s favourite darling, the slender asparagus.

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  • Recipes for cheap roasted vegetables and stock

  • Whole Foods mocked for selling 3 spears of asparagus in a bottle of water for $6

  • Recipe: Grilled pork chops and asparagus with lemon-truffle vinaigrette

    Even in the village where I grew up, the fields have gone from empty to busy overnight. Workers lob about with big wooden crates of cut leeks, lettuces and a renewed sense of purpose. It is catching: All I want to cook and eat is green, something fresh, light and colorful.

    A favourite green supper of mine is this beautiful spring pilau. Buttery rice packed with spiced fennel, onions and garlic cooked slowly until soft and finished with a last-minute addition of still-crisp asparagus and fava beans or peas. A handful of fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon juice is stirred in just before serving to lift and unify all the flavours.

    READ MORE: Food trends for 2016 put toast and veggies in starring roles

    It’s a gentle dish. The key to spring cooking is never to overpower the flavour of the new vegetables. They’ve spent a long time getting to the point where they’re ready. So don’t hijack them with bigger, bolder flavours or spices. A little cumin, green chili and garam masala are all they need to help them sing.

    This dish can be eaten by itself, though adding a little yoghurt and mango pickle won’t hurt. But for something a bit more special, some spring lamb cutlets, flash fried with salt, cumin and chili would make wonderful sidekicks.

    READ MORE: Money-saving tips to reduce the cost of fruits and veggies


    Use whichever spring vegetables you have available. Green beans and spring cabbage or leeks make for a wonderful pilau, too.

    Start to finish: 35 minutes

    Servings: 6

    1 1/2 cups basmati rice3 cups vegetable stock2 tablespoons unsalted butter2 medium red onions, thinly sliced4 cloves garlic, crushed2 green finger chilies, very thinly sliced2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces9 ounces fresh or frozen peas or fresh fava beans (outer skins removed)1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala1 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, dill or cilantro1 lemon, cut into wedges

    Set the rice in a mesh strainer and run under cool water until the water runs clear. Transfer to a bowl, then add enough cool water to cover. Set aside for 20 minutes.

    In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Drain the rice, then add to the stock. Return to a simmer, then cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Use a mesh strainer to strain the rice, then set aside, covered with a kitchen towel.

    In a larger skillet over medium, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until translucent and softened, but not browned. Add the garlic and chilies, then cook for another 2 minutes. Add the fennel, stir to mix, then add a couple tablespoons of water and cover. Cook for 8 minutes, or until soft. Add the asparagus, peas or fava beans, cumin, garam masala and salt. Stir and cover, then cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

    Stir the herbs and rice into the vegetable mixture; you might need to delicately break up the clumps of rice using your hands. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with wedges of lemon on the side.

    Nutrition information per serving: 330 calories; 40 calories from fat (12 per cent of total calories); 4.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 640 mg sodium; 62 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 11 g protein.

    Editor’s note: Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of “Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen.”

RCMP won’t charge 24 senators named in AG spending report

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it has not been a waste of money for the RCMP to investigate senators flagged with problematic expense claims by the auditor general and then decide not to lay charges.

Senate sources confirmed that 24 of the 30 senators named in the June report have been informed that the evidence against them didn’t warrant a full criminal investigation.

ChangSha Night Net

Trudeau said the Mounties’ probing of questionable Senate expenses pointed to a need for more transparency in the upper chamber even if none will be criminally charged.

“The travails that the Senate and senators went through over the past years highlighted the need for greater transparency, greater openness, greater accountability and indeed a distancing from partisanship and the patronage that has defined the Senate over recent years and indeed decades,” Trudeau told reporters at the United Nations in New York.

The Liberals have set up a body of outside experts to recommend appointments to the Senate, which now has 24 vacant seats and a baker’s dozen of independents, including five who have left their party caucuses since the October election over concerns about partisanship getting in the way of them doing their jobs.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Inside the RCMP’s Senate investigation

Trudeau said the plan would end up overhauling the Senate and turn it into a place “that actually examines” legislation in a “much less partisan way.”

“That is what we’re committed to, that is what we’re going to do and the various investigations and concerns and issues highlighted have led us to a place where I think we’re on the right track,” Trudeau said.

The Mounties began looking at the expense claims of the 30 current and former senators shortly after auditor general Michael Ferguson released his critical review of Senate spending in early June.

At the time, they were not full-fledged investigations — they were only reviews to see if there was enough evidence to proceed.

AG says oversight, transparency of Senate expenses were ‘not adequate’


AG says oversight, transparency of Senate expenses were ‘not adequate’


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AG says Senate provided open access during audit


Senate audit cost $23.5 million


AG says Senate culture on transparency needs to change

The RCMP began informing the Senate during the federal election that it would not pursue criminal investigations against some of the senators named in the report. Senate sources said the first message came in September when the RCMP said a review of 18 senators showed none warranted further investigation and informed the upper chamber that those senators could be told their files were closed.

Six more senators were added to that list in the following months, leaving six more whose fates are still in the hands of the RCMP.

READ MORE: ‘It’s all sort of imploding.’ Part 2: How the RCMP investigates the Senate

Among the list of cases closed is independent Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Conservative Senate leader Claude Carignan, and Conservative Leo Housakos, chairman of the internal economy committee. was unable to verify the remaining senators who have been cleared.

The RCMP wouldn’t comment directly Wednesday on the Senate reviews, saying only that it would only confirm an investigation if it laid charges.

READ MORE: ‘They say justice is blind.’ Part 3: How Mike Duffy will impact the RCMP’s Senate investigation

Ferguson’s audit identified almost $1 million in problematic expenses that should be repaid, detailed a litany of oversight issues in how the Senate managed expense claims and called for “transformative change” to fix systemic problems in the upper chamber. Ferguson recommended nine senators, including two sitting senators — Liberal Colin Kenny and Boisvenu, who was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper — be referred to the RCMP for criminal review. He named 21 more with expense claims that were problematic.

All 30 senators named in the audit were ordered to repay the questioned amounts, with the most recent details on the Senate’s website showing that 14 went through an arbitration process led by former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie, seven opted out of it, and the remaining nine paying back their full bill.

READ MORE: End self-policing of expense accounts, explosive Senate audit urges

Binnie’s final report is to be made public next week after senators on the internal economy committee, which oversees Senate spending, meet to look over the report.

Senators with whom Binnie sides will not have to pay back any money to the Senate. Those against whom Binnie rules will be forced to pay the money back.

The Senate sent repayment bills this week to seven senators who opted against the arbitration process.

The Senate has previously said that those sitting senators who refuse repayment will have their salaries clawed back, similar to how the Senate withheld Sen. Patrick Brazeau’s salary until he had repaid the approximately $49,000 in ineligible housing claims. Retired senators who refuse to pay will be taken to court by the upper chamber.

Meanwhile, the RCMP has not informed Sen. Pamela Wallin as to the status of her investigation, which has been open now for over two years. Wallin’s lawyer, Terrence O’Sullivan, said Wednesday neither he nor Wallin has heard from the Mounties.