Housing remains key risk to Canadian economy: BoC

OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada continues to sound the alarm about the country’s housing market, adding the risk of failures in the Chinese financial system and higher long-term interest rates from the U.S. as possible triggers for a destructive crash.

The central bank’s latest semi-annual review of the financial system concedes that the probability of a sharp housing correction, particularly in prices, is small – but the consequences would be large.

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In particular, the bank worries that although the market appears to be headed for a soft landing, certain hot spots like Toronto’s condominium market continue to race forward, and prices continue to rise.

READ MORE: Federal mortgage insurer reassures us, there’s no housing bubble

“House prices have continued to rise since the December (report),” the bank’s governing council points out. “Although the more moderate pace of price increases suggests a soft landing, they are still growing faster than disposable income,” the report adds.

The report cites Toronto, Quebec, Winnipeg and Hamilton as cities where housing prices have increased.

The Bank has long flagged Canada’s housing sector as a potential problem, not just for indebted households, but also for financial institutions and the economy writ large.

In its latest financial review, the bank says the risk of a Chinese “hard landing” from vulnerabilities in the country’s largely unregulated shadow banking system had increased, which would affect Canada’s economy through lower demand and prices in the natural resources sector.

Although regarded as unlikely, a sharp increase in U.S. long-term interest rates, which affect Canadian rates, would also cause problems in the housing sector, it said.

“High household debt-to-asset ratios and debt-service ratios would increase the likelihood of bankruptcy if their debt burdens become unsustainable following an increase in interest rates or if their homeowner equity was eliminated by a decline in house prices,” said the report, released on Thursday.

Particularly vulnerable to a housing correction may be smaller financial entities, such as credit unions, which may not have the resources of big banks to withstand a reversal.

READ MORE: The highest and lowest rents in Canada

“Many smaller entities, including some mortgage investment corporations and smaller credit unions, cater specifically to borrowers who do not qualify for insured mortgages. These may include low-income individuals, recent immigrants, rural residents whose income tends to be more volatile.”

On Wednesday, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development also warned about Canada’s housing market and suggested the government should limit its vulnerability to defaults by reducing the guarantee on mortgage loans. Canada, through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp., insures 100 per cent of high-risk mortgages issued by banks, whereas the OECD says most other industrialized nations guarantee only 10 to 30 per cent.

Recently, several large Canadian banks have lowered their five-year fixed rates below three per cent, although Finance Minister Joe Oliver said he does not see that as a major problem.

Although the Bank of Canada’s latest report does not directly link low mortgage rates to the government insurance system, it does caution that it believes financial institutions are taking on more risk in search of higher profits in the low-interest environment.

Overall, it sees the risks to Canada’s financial system as basically unchanged from December, the last time it reported on the issue, with three out of the four key vulnerabilities coming outside, including a sharp increase in long-term interest rates emanating from the U.S., stress from China and other emerging markets, and weakness in Europe. It judges the risks in China as having increased while those in the eurozone have lessened in the past six months.

With this report, the central bank is changing the way it reports on financial system risk by stressing each vulnerability separately without giving an overall rating. But governor Stephen Poloz said in an accompanying statement the bank’s “level of comfort as policy-makers remains roughly what it was six months ago.”

As well, the bank governor will give a news conference after each report, a move designed to give greater visibility to the financial system review. Previously, the governor’s news conference only followed release of the quarterly monetary policy report.

As he has in the past, Poloz signalled that he believes the world has entered into a new normal in terms of growth and interest rates tending to be more temperate than was the case before the 2008-09 financial crisis.

“This combination of higher equity prices, lower bond yields and lower volatility may reflect, in part, growing market expectations of a post-crisis steady state that is characterized by reduced global potential growth and lower long-term equilibrium interest rates,” the report says.

“It may also partly reflect lower risk premiums, driven by prolonged, exceptional monetary policy stimulus in these economies.”

©2014The Canadian Press

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Nova Scotia man sentenced to 10 years for stabbing Scott Jones

PICTOU, N.S. – A 19-year-old Nova Scotia man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for stabbing a man and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

The judge in the provincial Supreme Court in Pictou says the sentence will be reduced by one year to take into account time Shane Edward Matheson has already served.

READ MORE: Scott Jones looks to the future following brutal attack

Matheson pleaded guilty in March to attempted murder in the stabbing of 27-year old Scott Jones.

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Police said Matheson attacked Jones outside a New Glasgow, N.S., bar last October, stabbing him in the back and slashing him in the throat.

Jones attended the sentencing hearing and read a victim impact statement describing the physical and emotional toll of the stabbing, but he said he forgives Matheson.

Matheson spoke afterward, saying he was sorry and he did not know why he did it.

Jones has alleged he was attacked because he is gay.

He told Global News in December that he has been keeping a positive and optimistic outlook, and also admitted the weight of his new reality can be tough to bear.

“There are days that I struggle. I have some meltdowns and there are days when I’m happier and not as sad,” he said at the time.

Jones said his parents and sisters as sources of inspiration who have taught him how to stay positive during his recovery.

News of the attack prompted an outpouring of support for Jones in the community and on social media.

With files from Julia Wong

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RCMP arrest 31 suspects in organized crime raids in Quebec; 3 remain at large

MONTREAL  – In a major police operation dubbed “Project Clemenza,” RCMP and Quebec police said that they dismantled two “violent and active” Italian-based organized crime cells.

More than 200 officers were involved in the raids, which began at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Thirty-one suspects were arrested in locations across the province, including in Montreal, Gatineau, Laval and Quebec City.

Officials confirmed that three suspects remain at large. They are 23-year-old Hussein Abdallah, 49-year-old Giovanni Gerbasi and 50-year-old Patrizio Silvano.

According to RCMP, 23-year-old Hussein Abdallah, 49-year-old Giovanni Gerbasi and 50-year-old Patrizio Silvano are wanted in connection to organized crime in Quebec.

Handout/RCMP

Officials said Project Clemenza began in 2010. The purpose of the operation on Thursday was to dismantle two major cells that took over organized crime in Quebec after Project Colisée, a three-year police investigation into Montreal’s Mafia that led to the end of the Rizzuto family’s hold on organized crime in the city in 2006.

TIMELINE: Life of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto

Authorities said that they believe that one of the cells was associated with the Bastone brothers and the other with the now deceased Giuseppe De Vito, who died in prison in 2013 of cyanide poisoning.

In a press conference on Thursday morning, RCMP Superintendent Michel Arcand confirmed that investigators used intercepted BlackBerry messages to identify a number of suspects connected to a series of violent crimes committed in the Montreal area, including arson, forcible confinement, drug trafficking, gangsterism and conspiracy.

“This was the first time that this technique was used on such a large scale in a major investigation in North America,” said Arcand.

“Over one million private messages were intercepted and analyzed as evidence using the PIN to PIN interception technique.”

Ten searches were conducted, and officers seized firearms, drugs, two residences belonging to Roberto Baston in Laval and St-Côme, as well as two bank accounts.

Assets seized during RCMP raids in Quebec linked to Project Clemenza on June 12, 2014.

Handout/RCMP

Assets seized during RCMP raids in Quebec linked to Project Clemenza on June 12, 2014.

Handout/RCMP

Assets seized during RCMP raids in Quebec linked to Project Clemenza on June 12, 2014.

Handout/RCMP

Assets seized during RCMP raids in Quebec linked to Project Clemenza on June 12, 2014.

Handout/RCMP

The suspects are expected to appear in court on Thursday afternoon to face a total of 87 counts, including conspiracy, gangsterism, drug importation, trafficking and possession, kidnapping and forcible confinement, possession of weapons and explosives, arson, extortion and assault.

Project Clemenza was carried out in partnership with Quebec’s provincial police, Montreal and Laval police forces, Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Revenue Agency and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

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How much fish should pregnant women eat? – National

TORONTO — If you’re expecting, chances are you’re cutting back on your intake of fish and seafood. But U.S. health officials have, for the first time, issued a recommendation on the minimum intake pregnant women should be aiming for.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding moms and young kids should be eating eight to 12 ounces of a variety of fish each week. That’s about two to three servings, and consumers should pick fish that are lower in mercury, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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“For many years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s chief scientist, said in a statement.

“But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health,” Ostroff explained.

READ MORE: Do babies inherit junk food addictions from their moms?

The FDA is pointing to omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D as key nutrients in fish.

Consumer groups have sued the agency, saying its warnings haven’t been clear enough about what fish could pose a risk. Those groups asked for labels on packages or at fish counters to help shoppers remember which products are okay during pregnancy or for youngsters, according to the Associated Press.

What fish should pregnant women eat?

Fish lower in mercury, including salmon, shrimp, pollock, tuna (light canned), tilapia, catfish and cod are all safe bets, according to the FDA.

What fish should pregnant women avoid?

Four types of fish have been singled out: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. These types are highest in mercury. Limit white (albacore) tuna to six ounces a week.

READ MORE: New moms, lose baby weight or face diabetes, heart health risk, study warns

What are the Canadian recommendations?

Health Canada says when pregnant, women need more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets to help their babies with brain development.

It recommends that expectant moms eat at least five ounces of cooked fish every week. Read more about its recommendations here.

The Canadian Paediatric Society suggests that this group avoid raw fish, which may contain bacteria or parasites that can make you sick. Read more about its recommendations here.

(Andre Paquette/Global News)

– With files from the Associated Press

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Four more years: Ontario awakes to a Wynne-led Liberal majority

TORONTO – Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne shook off the ghosts of Liberal scandals past, winning a majority government in the Ontario election. Wynne’s stunning victory is the fourth straight mandate for a party that had been mired in controversy.

Here’s what you need to know, now:

The Liberals have a majority – the party’s fourth straight mandate.Kathleen Wynne got a helping hand from her rivals – one of whom scared voters, the other of whom left them disillusioned.Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has stepped down.Ontario voter turnout is – wait for it – actually going up.The NDP lost in Toronto’s urban heartland, but clung tight ridings in Brampton and Oshawa.桑拿会所 had opinions about all this – and about one broadcaster calling homosexuality a “lifestyle choice”.

Throughout the bitter 40-day campaign, Wynne continually had to defend herself and her party against accusations of corruption and scandals inherited from former Premier Dalton McGuinty.

“You voted for jobs, you voted for growth,” Wynne told a jubilant crowd on Thursday night. Wynne said the Liberals would fight for all Ontarians.

“Elections aside, we live in one Ontario, and our job is to build this province up for every single person here,” she said.

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ELECTION RESULTS: Complete Ontario riding-by-riding election results

Wynne faced continual condemnation from both Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and NDP leader Andrea Horwath who made Liberal spending scandals and fiscal mismanagement key talking points in their campaigns.

Ill-advised campaign fliers and accusations of voter suppression marred the finals days of campaigning, as party staff went door to door, making every effort to get supporters out to the polls.

The Liberals defied almost all predictions, with most pre-election polls predicting either a Liberal or PC minority.

Preliminary results put the Liberals at 59 seats, the PC at 27 seats and the NDP at 21. At dissolution in the 107-seat legislature, the Liberals held 48 seats, the Tories 37 and the NDP 21, with one seat vacant.

On Thursday night, Wynne thanked Hudak and Horwath for the hard-fought campaign and thanked voters for putting their trust in the Liberal party. “We will not let you down,” she said.

Wynne said she would convene a new legislature within 20 days and will table the budget the New Democrats rejected on July 2.

Voter turnout bucks 24-year trend

Voter turnout in Ontario, which had fallen steadily in the last five elections, reversed a 24-year trend and rose above 50 per cent.

More than 9.2 million people were eligible to vote in the provincial election, but leading up to the election, political observers predicted low voter turnout.

Experts said there was no hot-button issue driving people to the polls and more importantly, none of the leaders were able to capture the public’s imagination.

“There is not a lot of enthusiasm for any of the leaders, in part because I don’t think any of them are inspiring,” said Queen’s University political studies professor Jonathan Rose.

“This election has been a bust for everyone,” said Wilfrid Laurier University professor Barry Kay.

“None of the leaders have really been able to gin up enthusiasm for anything much that they’ve talked about.”

Last provincial election, fewer than half of eligible voters (48.2 per cent) cast a ballot.

Beyond the negativity of the campaign, many Ontarians just didn’t have elections on their minds.

“A lot of people are vacationing and a lot of people are just occupied by different things and that’s one of the reasons I think this election has got less traction maybe than the ones held in autumn or the very early spring,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

(There’s also the kick-off of a little-known soccer – sorry, football – tournament on Thursday).

Shaking the ghosts of McGuinty’s past

Beyond the mud-slinging, the discourse throughout the campaign focused on jobs, the economy, and lots of catchphrases.

Wynne positioned her party as one that would be open and transparent if elected, but controversies she inherited from McGuinty followed her throughout the campaign.

Wynne split her time on the campaign trail defending the party against accusations of corruption from both challengers and portraying her party as one that would provide support through a provincial pension plan and public services.

She took aim at Hudak’s job cuts, including 100,000 public sector jobs, saying they would thrust the province back into a recession. She also attacked the NDP for straying from its core principles and warned voters that a vote for Andrea Horwath is essentially a vote for Hudak.

After winning the majority, Wynne told supporters that her government will promote jobs, transportation infrastructure and benefit “every single person in this province.”

She said she was proud to be the first woman ever elected as Ontario premier.

One million, 100,000 whatever – we’re talking jobs

The PC leader hammered home his “Million Jobs Plan” throughout the campaign – a promise to create one million new private sector jobs over eight years.

Hudak’s plan was scrutinized by a number of independent economists who questioned the math behind his jobs promise. But despite the criticism, Hudak stayed on message, saying he wants to be the “jobs premier.”

On Thursday he made one final pitch for votes, saying he would create jobs in Ontario so the province’s youth don’t have to fly out west for work (while standing in front of a plane at Pearson International Airport – get it?).

Political opponents weren’t the only ones taking aim at Hudak. A number of unions spoke out in unprecedented ads, asking members not to vote for Hudak.

As the news of Wynne’s victory sunk in on Thursday night, Hudak announced he was stepping down as PC leader.

“This has been a long campaign, without question. It has been a hard-fought campaign. We did not receive the results that we had wanted, but let me tell you this: I could not be more proud of the work of our team, and the positive message of hope and jobs and change that we offer,” he told a crowd chanting his name in Grimsby, Ont.

So you don’t like “corrupt” or “crazy”?

After refusing to support an NDP-friendly Liberal budget – triggering the $90-million snap election – Horwath spent her time on the campaign trail positioning her party as a viable alternative for voters.

The NDP leader repeatedly messaged that voters didn’t have to choose between the “corrupt” Liberals or PC’s “crazy” jobs plan.

“We’ve tried to do the work that we needed to do to show the people of this province that they can choose change that makes sense for Ontario,” she said.

But Horwath faced scrutiny from party supporters who said they were “deeply distressed” by the direction the party had taken during the campaign. In an open letter to Horwath, 34 long-time NDP supporters said they were angry she voted against “the most progressive budget in recent Ontario history” and for propping up Hudak’s policies “by adopting a more moderate right-wing program focusing on balanced budgets, austerity or at least public service cuts and ‘common sense.’”

On Thursday, Horwath said her party’s third place finish wouldn’t dampen her resolve to fight for working people in Ontario, telling supporters in Hamilton that the NDP would “work day in and day out” to hold the governing Liberals accountable.

Follow @heatherloney

With files from The Canadian Press

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How carving up Newfoundland’s dead whales is helping science

TORONTO – When two blue whales washed up on the shores of Trout River and Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland, residents didn’t know what to do about it.

But Mark Engstrom did.

The deputy director of collections and research at the Royal Ontario Museum in Ontario wanted it.

READ MORE: WATCH – Preparing Newfoundland’s dead blue whales for a big move

Engstrom saw an opportunity to not only promote the research being done at the museum, but to also educate people about marine conservation and do some ground-breaking research on the mammal.

“It’s a real tragedy,” he told Global News. “I mean, we lost five per cent of the population of blue whales in the North Atlantic through this one incident.”

A rotting blue whale carcass sits on the shore in Trout River, N.L.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – NTV News, Don Bradshaw

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It is believed that there are only 200 to 250 blue whales in the North Atlantic waters. They are the largest animal on the planet, weighing as much as 200 tons. Though whaling was stopped in the 1970s, the populations have been slow to make a comeback, mainly due to the fact that they breed relatively slowly. These whales were two of nine that were likely killed after they were crushed by ice in the waters off the coast of Newfoundland.

The last blue whale to have washed up on a shore was more than 20 years ago, in Prince Edward Island. So the fact that not only one but two blue whales had washed up ashore was a unique chance to study the enormous mammals.

Engstrom said the towns were supportive of the whale removal since, though the carcasses were attracting tourists, they were also emitting a foul smell.

Eddie Samms, left, and Aaron Thom work to cut up the carcass of a blue whale in Woody Point, N.L., on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

“You couldn’t have it sitting there rotting for five years,” he said. “Or more.”

He said that for a whale to decompose takes an awfully long time. The blue whale from PEI was buried on a beach more than 20 years ago, he pointed out, and when it was recently dug up, it was still there.

“It wasn’t great internally, but it was still a whale. It wasn’t bones,” he said. “So [Newfoundland whales] would’ve been there for many years. Of course, that’s an untenable situation. I mean it’s 100 tons of meat out there.”

So Engstrom, who is also the senior curator of mammals at the ROM, gathered the funding through donors and residual funds earmarked for this kind of research and got the project underway.

As for the total cost of the endeavour, Engstrom said, “I’d rather not say. But, yeah, it’s expensive.”

There were multiple factors in the cost: paying staff, as well as hiring local people and heavy machinery. There was the cost of the landfill that would be home to the non-skeletal remains. Then there was the cost of the services from Research Casting International, the company that assists with specimen restoration.

What’s next

So how do you prepare the largest creature on Earth for display?

It’s a long process.

For the whale at Trout River, the first step was to get it to a place that was accessible by the researchers. It had washed up under the town’s boardwalk. So the whale was moved to Woody Point.

WATCH: Dead blue whale towed ashore in Newfoundland

Then the carving began. The team had to remove a large section of blubber; then the muscle. Once that was done, each bone had to be removed individually and catalogued, then loaded into a truck and sent back to Research Casting International in Trenton. That process took six days.

When asked about the smell, Engstrom said that, though he saw some people throw up when near it, he doesn’t even notice it.

“It just smells like whale to me. It doesn’t smell like chicken,” he laughed.

The bones are currently in Trenton where they will be buried in composting in order to clean whatever flesh remains. It will lie there for between six months to a year.

The oil in the bones will have to be removed as well. Though there is a mechanical degreasing machine available to do that, Engstrom said that he doesn’t think they’ll use that process.

Instead, they will put it in a water bath where the oil will rise to the top. That will take one or two years.

And the process still won’t be done.

Once the bones are clean, the team plans to scan the bones so they can create a cast.

The whole process, from beginning to end, will likely take around five years, Engstrom said.

Once it is done, Memorial University, which also contributed funds to the project, will get one of the whales for display.

What will be learned

“The question is ‘why’? Why do we do this?” Engstrom said. “I think it would be an attraction that people would be interested to come and see it. But what I really want to be able to do is to talk about what goes on at the museum behind the scenes. People don’t realize that the ROM is a big research institution…to understand the kind of research we’re doing and what it contributes to knowledge.”

WATCH: Dead blue whale carcass on the move

He’d also like to better understand the massive creatures of our oceans.

One of most interesting endeavours will be the sequencing of the blue whale’s genome, something that has never been done before.

Engstrom recognizes the loss of the whales as a tragic event, but knows that good will come of it. Researchers will be able to learn such things as the evolution of the whale and genetic variations within populations.

“It’s a real sad event,” Engstrom said. “I don’t want to make light of this. I never would have wished this to happen. I would rather not have a whale.”

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How Global News is covering the Ontario election

WATCH ABOVE: Global News Anchor Leslie Roberts discusses the Ontario election campaign and how our coverage will roll out tonight after the votes are tallied.

TORONTO – Millions of Ontario residents are casting their vote Thursday to decide the province’s next government.

Global News has complete coverage of the Ontario election.

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READ MORE: Ontario’s $90M election could bring province right back to where it started

We’ll have the latest news stories, poll results, seat projections and interactive features. Find out what the hot ridings are leading up to polls closing, the issues that are the driving force behind the leaders’ campaigns, and more.

And of course, if you’re still an undecided voter, check out our handy guide on the candidates platforms.

Meanwhile, follow our live blog for photos, updates, and analysis from our Global News reporters in the field and specialists in studio.

When the polls close at 9pm ET Globalnews桑拿按摩 is your source for real-time election results. Find out who won your riding, seat counts, and who will form the next Ontario government.

ELECTION RESULTS: Get real-time results on election night

Global Toronto’s complete Decision Ontario special broadcast will be live streamed on our blog starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The West Block‘s Tom Clark will be reporting from Kathleen Wynne’s camp, Jackson Proskow will be with Andrea Horwath and Sean Mallen will be at Tim Hudak’s headquarters.

Host Leslie Roberts will be joined by our Queen’s Park bureau chief Alan Carter in-studio as well as two former Ontario premiers, Ernie Eves and David Peterson.

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AHS says measles outbreak in Calgary now over

CALGARY – Alberta Health Services says a measles outbreak originally declared in Calgary in April has now been lifted.

The outbreak was first declared on April 29th after 22 cases of measles were confirmed throughout the province.

However, the outbreak remains active in Edmonton.

Officials say they will no longer be offering an early additional dose of measles vaccine to infants six months of age to less than 12 months of age, who are living in or travelling to the Calgary – which was

recommended while the outbreak was active.

AHS still warns that without immunization, Albertans may be at risk of contracting the illness.

The measles vaccine is available, free of charge, through Alberta’s publicly-funded immunization program to:

All Albertans born in or after 1970 require two documented doses of measles vaccine, to be protected.Children in Alberta are recommended to receive these two doses of measles vaccine, administered at 12 months of age and between four and six years of age.Infants who received an additional early dose of measles vaccine during the outbreak must still receive both of these routinely recommended doses (at 12 months of age and between four and six years of age) to be protected against measles.
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What is Measles?

Measles is caused by a virus that is spread easily through the air. It’s very contagious, and anyone who has not had the disease in the past or has not been vaccinated is in danger of becoming infected.

Typically, the disease will develop about 10 days after exposed, and tends to be most severe in infants and adults than in children.

Symptoms of Measles:

Fever of 38.3° C or higher, cough, runny nose and/or red eyes, and a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after fever starts, beginning behind the ears and on the face and spreading down to the body and then to the arms and legs.

How do I know if I was immunized?

Albertans uncertain of their immunization history, or their child’s immunization history, can call their local public health office or Health Link Alberta (1.866.408.5465) to discuss.

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Police, World Cup protesters clash in Brazil – National

ABOVE: Protesters and police clash in Sao Paulo before World Cup match 

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Protesters and Brazilian police clashed in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Thursday ahead of the first World Cup match, but the demonstrations largely died down before kickoff.

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More than 300 demonstrators gathered along a main highway leading to the stadium in Sao Paulo. Some tried to block traffic, but police repeatedly pushed them back, firing canisters of tear gas and using stun grenades. The flow of traffic to the arena was not blocked.

READ MORE: World Cup fever kicks off with Brazil vs Croatia

Later, a group of fewer than 100 protesters gathered near a subway stop about 8 miles (13 kilometres) west of the stadium. No protests reported near the arena itself.

IN PHOTOS: Powerful images of protests against World Cup in Brazil

A few protesters suffered injuries after being hit by rubber bullets, while others were seen choking after inhaling tear gas. An Associated Press photographer was injured in the leg after a stun grenade exploded near him. CNN reported on its website that two of its journalists were also injured.

A protester is detained by police during a demonstration by people demanding better public services and against the money spent on the World Cup soccer tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014.

AP Photo/Nelson Antoine

“I’m totally against the Cup,” said protester Tameres Mota, a university student at the Sao Paulo demonstration. “We’re in a country where the money doesn’t go to the community, and meanwhile we see all these millions spent on stadiums.”

In the crowd were anarchist adherents to the “Black Bloc” tactic of protest, a violent form of demonstration and vandalism that emerged in the 1980s in West Germany and helped shut down the 1999 World Trade Summit in Seattle.

READ MORE: Civil strife all part of the game in Brazil

Such Black Bloc protesters have frequently squared off against police in several Brazilian cities in the past year, as a drumbeat of anti-government demonstrations have continued since a massive wave of protests hit Brazil last year.

Meanwhile, about 300 protesters gathered in central Rio de Janeiro in another demonstration against the World Cup. Police started using tear gas and took a few protesters there into custody, as marchers took to streets to denounce lavish public spending on a sports tournament in a nation with profound social needs.

But that protest also mostly dissipated a few hours before the match.

Police move past burning debris during a World Cup protest outside Carrao Metro Station on June 12, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

The demonstrations in recent months have paled in comparison those last year, when a million people took to the streets on a single night airing laments including the sorry state of Brazil’s public services despite the heavy tax burden its citizens endure. Those protests were largely spontaneous and no single group organized them.

That’s now changed, said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia. He said the recent protests have shrunk, because they are “very specific in their aims, so they are quite easy for the police to control.”

Because the recent protests have been organized by established groups, there are leaders with whom the government can negotiate. Fleischer noted that federal officials recently convinced a large activist group of homeless workers to not demonstrate during Cup.

But there will remain remnants of protests because people who adhere to the Black Bloc movement and other “anonymous groups are difficult to negotiate with because they have no leaders to dialogue with,” Fleischer said.

©2014The Canadian Press

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