Check out this hilarious clip of a baby trying his best to make animal sounds with mommy. Cuteness overload!
Check out this hilarious clip of a baby trying his best to make animal sounds with mommy. Cuteness overload!
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
The Canadian government anticipates that at least 95 per cent of the Canadian population will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the third quarter of the year, between July and September.
In a typical year this would be the beginning of snowmobile/poker rally season; the time of year when avid snowmobilers help community halls and recreation centres in small towns and villages across the province to raise money for the upcoming year’s operating expenses and improvements. However, with COVID continuing to run rampant, the typical fundraisers are not happening this year and organizers are trying to think ‘outside the box’ and devise safe ways to raise the funds they need. For a village of roughly 150 people, any major financial undertaking requires many volunteer hours of fundraising. The hall is an important part of any small community and Prud'homme is no different. Funerals, weddings, and Ukrainian dance are all held on the hall, which is also home to the community's library, but with no events last year the volunteers had to put their collective thinking hats on. The Village of Prud’homme regularly runs a poker rally and holds other fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to operate and maintain the Prud’homme Community Centre. One day COVID will end, but until then bills still need to be paid. The volunteers at Prud’homme have held drive-through suppers where individuals pre-pay for their meal and then just come and pick-up the cooked and packaged meal on the designated day. They also hosted a lobster fundraiser where people pre-ordered the number of lobster they wanted, and the group then brought in frozen lobster from the Maritimes for supporters to come and pick-up. Saturday January 23, 2021 the Prud’homme virtualsnowmobile rally will take place (Registration deadline is 9 pm on rally day). There is no need to own or have access to a sled. To purchase a $20 hand, first send payment via e-transfer to: email@example.com(memo: Hand). Second, pick three sets of five numbers from 1 – 500 and email your name and the three sets of numbers to: firstname.lastname@example.org . To purchase 50/50 tickets for $20 each send payments via e-transfer to: email@example.com(memo: 50-50) Anyone wishing to purchase a drive through supper of perogies and smokies for $15 per meal must pre-order by Friday January 22 and send payment via e-transfer to: firstname.lastname@example.org(memo: supper) The supper will be available for pick-up at the Prud’homme Community Centre between 4 and 6 pm on January 23, 2021. For additional information on this event contact Candice at 306-491-2371. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Russia has ordered TikTok and other social networks to restrict online calls for nationwide protests in support of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.View on euronews
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is drafting legislation around the sale of used police vehicles and equipment, after a man driving a replica RCMP cruiser killed 22 people last April. Justice Minister Mark Furey told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the legislation will regulate how police vehicles are decommissioned, which will include, he said, ensuring they are stripped of equipment and decals. "We are certainly aware of the previous circumstances and the most recent circumstances," Furey said. The minister made the comments a day after the Mounties said a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have driven a vehicle that looked like an unmarked police car and pulled over drivers. The vehicle in question, a white 2013 Ford Taurus, is similar to the car Gabriel Wortman used during his 13-hour, deadly rampage in northern and central Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020. Furey noted that under current law it's illegal to impersonate a police officer. "When it comes to police articles and decommissioned police vehicles there is certainly some work to do to fine-tune that legislation and the ability to mitigate and prevent, as best we can, access to this equipment that is used to mock-up police vehicles." he said. Furey said there are no plans to ban the sale of decommissioned police vehicles despite calls by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives to prohibit those sales. He said RCMP and municipal police services have been consulted and are in support of the government's draft legislation. Furey is recommending the Liberal government table a bill during the next sitting of the legislature. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Members of the P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Co-operative put forward a detailed plan Thursday to increase and manage irrigation on Island farms. Appearing before the province's Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the group said P.E.I.'s ongoing moratorium on new high-capacity wells for irrigation — implemented in 2002 — hasn't achieved the goal of safeguarding the province's fresh water supply. And the group's research co-ordinator Karen Murchison said the ongoing debate around whether to lift the moratorium has "really distracted I think from the bigger conversation that we really need to be having about how we value, protect and manage our very precious resource, which is water on this Island." The group's presentation comes more than three years after MLAs passed new legislation, the Water Act, meant to manage the province's water supply. But that legislation still has not been enacted by government, pending another draft of regulations as the province looks for a way to provide the irrigation that farmers say they require, while at the same time satisfying those who worry that allowing more water for agriculture could leave streams or household wells without enough. Urgent need for water cited Until now, the case put forward on behalf of producers has primarily been voiced by some of the biggest players tied to P.E.I.'s potato industry, including the P.E.I. Potato Board and processor Cavendish Farms. The last few years, it seems like the heat and the wind have turned up even more. - Matt Ramsay Just like those other industry players, organic farmers described an urgent need to allow farmers access to more water to grow their crops. Matt Ramsay, whose farm includes traditional and organic production, said rainfall in 18 of the last 20 years has been below the level needed to produce an optimal crop on P.E.I. "The last few years, it seems like the heat and the wind have turned up even more," Ramsay said. "We need to consider at what point we can't reverse the effects of this… Once farms go under, there's no coming back. And we are at a point where the rainfall we've been seeing is not enough to at least stabilize crop yields." The co-op's plan proposes making drinking water the top priority for water usage on P.E.I., with water for food production the second priority. That would make farmers a higher priority than other industrial users of water, such as golf courses and car washes. Proponents of the agriculture industry have frequently pointed out the moratorium doesn't include wells to supply those other industrial users. The co-op is urging government develop a specific management plan for water used in agriculture, though. Representatives suggest that plan should require farmers to follow certain management practices around tillage and crop rotations to maximize water retention before they are allowed to irrigate. Their water usage would be metered, and the co-op suggested there be a discussion around requiring farmers to pay for the water. The group also said water levels would have to be closely monitored throughout the growing season in every watershed, with the ability to turn off irrigation taps if levels drop too far. "I do think there's going to be a lot of situations where we're just not going to be able to meet everyone's water demands, because we'll start seeing those upstream ecosystems suffer," said Ramsay. Moratorium has failed, group says Co-op chair Brian MacKay said the moratorium isn't serving to protect the water supply because the agriculture industry has found a work-around, with some farmers installing multiple low-capacity wells and using those to fill holding ponds. The net result to our groundwater? It's a wild west right now. - Brian MacKay "The net result to our groundwater? It's a wild west right now," said MacKay, noting that even more holding ponds and wells are being dug in his area for next season. "The moratorium has not restricted water. It's restricted the deepwater well, and that's all." Government officials have said they're working on a second draft of water extraction regulations after the first draft was presented in July 2019, but the target date to deliver the regulations has been pushed back numerous times. The King government has also said it needs the new regulations in place before the Water Act can be proclaimed into law. It is required to present the regulations to committee 90 days before they're adopted by cabinet. Committee chair Cory Deagle said he didn't know when the regulations might be put forward, and there was no immediate response from the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change on a request for a timeline. While waiting, the committee has been providing further recommendations on the Water Act. In November, it recommended that the government immediately proclaim the legislation, and expand the moratorium to include all new high-capacity wells except those for residential use. More from CBC P.E.I.
Premier François Legault says if the federal government doesn't want to ban non-essential flights then it should force those returning home from vacation to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, for two weeks. At a news conference Thursday, Legault said cracking down on travel abroad will help reduce the possibility of bringing new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus back to the province from resorts where people congregate from all over the world. The current system of checking up on people with automated calls simply isn't enough, he said, raising concern March break will lead to another surge in cases. "Right now, the quarantine for these people is not a big enough guarantee for the protection of Quebecers," the premier said. Legault said hotel quarantining worked in New Zealand and could be effective here. He said there is plenty of room in hotels, and that the RCMP or Quebec provincial police could help enforce the quarantine. The daily number of infections has been on the decline in Quebec for the past 10 days, though Legault said it's too early to lift restrictions, given that hospitalizations remain high, at just under 1,500. Legault is scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later Thursday. Earlier this week, Trudeau urged Canadians travelling for pleasure to cancel their plans but said there are limits to what Ottawa can do to stop them, given constitutional guarantees on the freedom of movement. "Our measures have been very strong, but we're always open to strengthening them as necessary," Trudeau said, when asked if the government would consider a ban on international travel. "We're always looking at various measures as they are effective elsewhere in the world."
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
If you are planning to go for a skate on the outdoor rink in Tottenham, plan on waiting in line. Because of the new situation with lockdown across the province, the Town has had to make adjustments to its facilities. This includes the number of people allowed to gather at both indoor and outdoor facilities and during outdoor activities. As a result, the outdoor ice pad at the Tottenham Com-munity & Fitness Centre has changed the allowable number of people on the ice at one time, as well as the length of time individual skate can stay on the ice. The ice pad will remain open for skating only. A maximum of five skaters will be allowed on the rink at any given time and masks must be worn at all times when on the ice. A time limit of 30 minutes will be in place for each skater, rather than the previous 55 minutes, to allow access for more people. There was a plan to create outdoor ice rinks at the Fairgrounds in Beeton and at Doner Park in Alliston. However, the weather has not provided the proper temperatures to start flooding, and with new public directives regarding the number of people allowed to gather, and the effort to have people stay home, it was decided to pause any effort to create those rinks. In addition, the indoor ice surfaces at the New Tecums-eth Recreation Centre and the Tottenham Community Centre will be removed to reduce the costs associated with maintaining an ice surface that can’t be used. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. The greenhouse gas would be captured from coal-fired power plants, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured gas would instead be pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production from oil fields. In all, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) of federal land for pipeline development through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the plans last Friday, days before leaving office with the rest of President Donald Trump's administration. The approval allows companies to begin submitting pipeline construction proposals. Wyoming officials including Republican Gov. Mark Gordon have promoted carbon capture as a way to boost the state's struggling coal mining industry. Utilities nationwide have been turning away from coal-fired electricity in favour of cheaper and cleaner natural gas and renewable energy. “The ability to have a CO2 delivery system, as made possible by the pipeline corridor initiative, helps make CO2 commercially viable,” Gordon said in a statement Wednesday. Whether a large system of carbon capture for oil production is technically and economically feasible remains to be seen. One of two such systems in North America, the Petra Nova facility in Texas, has been offline since global oil prices plummeted last year. The Petra Nova system moves carbon dioxide 80 miles (130 kilometres) from a power plant to an oil field in southeastern Texas. In southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, near the U.S. border, the Boundary Dam carbon dioxide system connects a power plant with an oil field 40 miles (65 kilometres) away. Energy markets drive development of carbon capture projects for oil development, said Matt Fry, state of Wyoming project manager for the pipeline initiative. “We’re just helping to incentivize and provide some sort of a bridge for folks to help them move forward. Hopefully, this and future federal incentives will help get the ball rolling, and we’ll get some projects on the ground,” Fry said. Environmental groups including the Western Watersheds Project have criticized the pipeline corridor plan, saying the pipelines would cross habitat of sage grouse — brown, chicken-sized birds that spend most of their time on the ground. Sage grouse numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century and much of their habitat in Wyoming carries development restrictions. The Associated Press
The OPP is enforcing a new stay-at-home order and dispersing larger gatherings, but said it is not targeting individuals. The province introduced a new stay-at-home order Jan. 14, demanding people only leave for essential trips such as work, purchasing goods, exercise, caring for animals or others, or moving. The province also said law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines under the order. OPP spokesperson Const. Iryna Nebogatova said the attention the order has received has brought more complaints, which drive enforcement. She added gatherings - limited to five people outdoors - are the main source of the complaints. “I do understand the stay-at-home order under the emergency management and Civil Protection Act, Reopening Ontario Act are quite confusing,” Nebogatova said. “What we are focusing on here would be the large gatherings, the gatherings whether they’re indoor or outdoor. “The individuals are not the focus of this enforcement,” she added. In a press release Jan. 15, OPP said it could levy fines of $750 for failing to comply with the order and/or $1,000 for preventing others from complying. However, the press release added that officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or vehicle to check compliance with the orders. “Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work,” OPP said. “Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act.” The province said bylaw enforcement can also issue fines under the order, but Dysart et al bylaw officer Robert Mascia said he is redirecting complaints to OPP. “If the OPP require assistance in enforcement measures, the municipality’s bylaw department will gladly help,” Mascia said. Cottagers being allowed County resident Donna Pugh said she called police on a cottager neighbour who visited their secondary residence this past weekend. But Pugh said OPP indicated that it is allowed – and they were not going to attend to address someone travelling to a secondary residence. “Our premier of the province has strongly told us all to stay home,” Pugh said. “Then to see our County booming with people who don’t live here all the time, when they’re asked to stay home, I just find that really frustrating.” The order states someone can travel to another residence if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours and are attending for an essential purpose; or if they intend to reside there for at least 14 days. Nebogatova did not directly address cottager enforcement when asked but said there are exemptions for people to leave their homes under the order that should be respected. “We are requesting that the members of the public voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit their mobility outside their homes except for essential reasons,” she said. Pugh said despite the province’s words, the enforcement is not going far enough. “The whole thing doesn’t have many teeth,” she said. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs announced that snowmobiling will still allowed the current rules of the province-wide shutdown. The OFSC cited a section of the Stay-at-Home Order which states: “The following outdoor recreational amenities may open if they are in compliance with subsection (3) with the permitted uses listed in subsection 16 as ‘snowmobile, cross country ski, dog sledding, ice skating and snow shoe trails.’” OFSC trails will remain open as they are considered a “permitted recreational activity, allowable across the province, provided the participants comply with all other provincial and local public health unit directives.” Trail grooming operations are also allowed in the province. While trails are open, snowmobilers are limited as to which trails they can use. Feeder trails between public health regions will be closed to avoid having sledders moving between regions.In addition, you should only be rid-ing with those in your household in groups of five or less and only ride trails if they are in a yellow or green availability. The OFSC reminded riders that the information they provided refers only to riding the trails – not travelling with your trailer to to the trails, so questions about getting to the trails and travel restrictions should be directed to local law enforcement agencies such as municipalities and public health units across Ontario. Anyone found to be trailering a snowmobile to a starting point in another health district may find themselves subject to a fine. The Alliston Snowmobile Club hasn’t had a lot of luck getting on the trails this year. While other regions have open trails, the Alliston system still lacks enough snow so the tails have not been open and th Club’s website is requesting people stay off the trails until there is enough snow for a good base so they can be properly groomed Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
The Nottawasaga Foundation presented a cheque for $10,500 to the local Food Banks of Alliston, Tottenham, and Angus on Monday, January 11. Each food bank received $3,500, which will be used to restock their shelves following the busy Christmas holidays as well as provide additional support for their efforts throughout the year. To date, the Foundation has given a total of $321,00 to the three Food Banks. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa asked the U.S. House on Thursday to dismiss an election contest filed by her Democratic challenger that argues the six-vote race was wrongly decided. Miller-Meeks argued in a legal motion that the Democratic-controlled chamber should not consider Rita Hart's appeal because Hart did not contest the outcome under Iowa law. Longstanding House precedent in prior cases calls for contestants to take that step first, her lawyer Alan Ostergren argued. "Rita Hart should have raised her claims before a neutral panel of Iowa judges rather than before a political process controlled by her own party,” Ostergren said. After a recount, Iowa's canvassing board certified Miller-Meeks as the vote winner in Iowa's 2nd District with a tally of 196,964 to 196,958 — the closest congressional race nationwide in decades. Hart declined to challenge the result under Iowa law, saying it did not allow enough time to conduct additional recount proceedings. The law would have required a panel of judges to rule on challenges within days. Instead, Hart filed a contest in December directly to the House under a 1969 law that spells out how congressional candidates can challenge elections that they believe were marred by serious irregularities. Hart's attorneys claim they have identified 22 votes that were wrongly excluded due to errors, including 18 for Hart that would change the outcome if counted. They also want the House to examine thousands of ballots marked by machines as undervotes and overvotes that weren't visually inspected during the recount. Miller-Meeks' filing agreed that Iowa law would have required a quick legal review but said that “was no excuse” for Hart's decision to skip it altogether. The 22 ballots that Hart claims were wrongly rejected involve interpretations of state law that should have been decided by Iowa judges, the filing said. Additional votes for Miller-Meeks may also have been rejected “in the ordinary course of election administration,” it said. Taking the extreme step of overturning a state-certified election would lead to a “parade of contests” in which losing candidates from the House majority's party will ask for intervention after close races, Ostergren warned. The House decided earlier this month to provisionally swear in Miller-Meeks, pending the outcome of Hart's challenge. The two candidates had been competing to replace seven-term Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack in the southeastern Iowa district that has trended Republican in recent years. The House Administration Committee will determine how to proceed, including whether to investigate or dismiss the case. A spokesman said it would closely review the filings from both campaigns, as required by law. Hart said that she was disappointed by Miller-Meeks' motion, saying at least 22 voters would be disenfranchised without additional proceedings. “It is crucial to me that this bipartisan review by the U.S. House is fair, and I hope our leaders will move swiftly to address this contest and ensure all votes are counted," she said. The Associated Press
CALGARY — A Calgary man who killed his daughter and seriously injured her best friend in a drunk-driving crash is appealing his conviction and sentence. Michael Shaun Bomford was found guilty last January of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as causing the 2016 crash while impaired. He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. Bomford has filed an appeal that claims the sentence was excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances. He also suggests the trial judge erred by ruling hearsay text messages admissible at trial. Bomford is serving his sentence at the Drumheller Institution in Alberta. Court heard Bomford had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he took his 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, and her friend, Kelsey Nelson, to get police checks so that they could become junior ringette coaches. His daughter did not survive the crash, while Nelson suffered a severe brain injury and has no recollection of it. Bomford's trial heard that he lost control of his Jeep while driving 112 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. The Jeep rolled into the median and all three occupants were thrown out of the vehicle. (CTV Calgary) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
County council formalized an economic development position and collaborative procurement as its first steps toward improving operations as recommended by a service delivery review. Council discussed the review at a special meeting Jan. 13. All members agreed to include an economic development position in this year’s budget and to begin work on collaborative procurement later this year. The initiatives are just two of the 12 overarching areas addressed by consultant StrategyCorp in the review to improve collaboration, efficiency and realize more than $1 million in potential cash flow improvements. Council also agreed to work through the other recommendations slowly at its future meetings. “I know that this has been a difficult one,” Warden Liz Danielsen said. “But I think we’ve come to some agreement about how we’re going to approach this a bit at a time, in a reasonable fashion that works for everybody.” StrategyCorp recommended the County hire an economic development officer this year, with an estimated upfront cost of $200,000 annually. It also suggested starting collaborative procurement – joint purchasing of goods and services by the County and its lower-tier municipalities – with estimated savings between $372,000 and $1,193,000 annually once implemented. Coun. Brent Devolin said it made sense to move on procurement early. “That’s some of the savings that fund and helps some of the things that will come in subsequent years,” Devolin said. “It’s a real area of need for the County,” CAO Mike Rutter said. “No one (on staff) has that expertise. They’re not a purchasing expert. That would be really helpful for us.” But these only represent two of the six initiatives StrategyCorp suggested to start in 2021. The others were communications, waste management, roads and co-ordination. Council directed staff to bring back more information about implementing those and other recommendations at a future meeting. Danielsen said ongoing discussions will be needed, adding better communication is important. “We’re not good at communicating with each other,” she said. “We have discussions at the County council and quite often the information just stays here. It doesn’t go back to the lower-tiers.” However, Devolin said live-streamed meetings make it easier for lower-tier councillors to access. Although the County may yet move on other initiatives, deputy warden Patrick Kennedy cautioned to not overload staff. “I’m just so worried about our staff, about burning them out,” Kennedy said. “If it takes an extra year, I don’t care.” “We definitely need to agree on an approach and what those, maybe one or two low-hanging fruit pieces are,” he said. “That aren’t going to create a massive workload for any specific individual.” Kennedy praised council for getting through the meeting. “I’m just so proud of this group,” Kennedy said. “We’ve made some pretty big decisions and I’m just so thrilled to be part of it.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
TORONTO — As Ontario struggles to beat back a dire wave of COVID-19, workplace spread has been singled out by public health experts, mayors and top health officials as a major source of infections. Experts and workers say government measures so far haven’t directly targeted the issue, but fairly simple practices would help track and reduce infections. Epidemiologist Colin Furness at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health said there should be clear consequences for employers that don't take proper precautions at this point in the pandemic. “We know from contact tracing data and outbreak investigations what some of the most risky environments are. We should be coming down on them like a ton of bricks,” Furness said. Hundreds of people have been infected in recent outbreaks linked to workplaces, including at least 121 workers at a Canada Post facility whose cases were reported this week and more than 140 people at a Cargill-owned meat processing facility in Guelph, Ont., last month. Hundreds of migrant workers tested positive on Ontario farms last summer, and more than 5,000 long-term care staff have been infected to date. But observers said there isn’t consistency when it comes to penalties for employers, or even naming workplaces where outbreaks happen. Traditionally, workplaces have been challenging for public health because harsh enforcement might mean future issues are covered up, Furness said. There are some signs of change, however, led by Toronto Public Health. The health unit said this month it would name employers with significant outbreaks and enforce reporting of cases among workers, a move Furness called “revolutionary.” Putting pressure on employers is also important to make sure other measures are effective, Furness said, including paid sick leave, which has become a prominent political issue in Ontario. Mayors from province’s largest cities have been calling for months for accessible, universal paid sick leave so workers don't come to work sick over fear of losing income – an argument supported nearly universally by public health experts. Janice Mills, who has a job in auto manufacturing, said sick leave is the biggest issue at the Glencoe, Ont, plant where she works with about 50 other people per shift. Workers can apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit introduced to support people missing work over a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, but they’re only eligible if they miss 50 per cent of the work week. That's an issue for hourly workers at Mills' plant, she said, because if someone falls ill on Thursday or Friday, they can’t make use of the benefit until the following week. “That's very difficult for people to wrap their heads around,” Mills said. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Ontario isn’t looking to implement its own sick leave policy because there are still millions of dollars available through the federal benefit. He said the program is sufficient, but workers may not know about it, and he’s asking federal ministers to ensure there isn’t a delay in getting money out to people. “I feel strongly that we shouldn't duplicate this program,” he said in an interview. Furness said sick leave is important, but it doesn’t guarantee workers won’t face repercussions for accessing it – so employers should be held accountable if people are pressured into working while sick. Tim Sly, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at Ryerson University, pointed to regular asymptomatic testing as another key measure that would help assess workplace spread. He noted other regions have made use of rapid tests to find the virus among people who may not know they're infected, but Ontario has until recently been reluctant to introduce the practice. “Why we've delayed it so often, I have not a clue," he said. "It costs so little, it's easy to do, and if you repeat it, you're getting up to really good standards of screening.” Some industries in Ontario, such as film and television production, are already regularly testing employees for COVID-19, and the government plans to ramp up asymptomatic testing in the coming months by sending rapid tests to hard-hit sectors like farms, manufacturing and long-term care. McNaughton said an asymptomatic testing pilot has already begun on construction sites in the Greater Toronto Area, and he said there will be "huge emphasis" on testing workers going forward. He also pointed to the government’s recent “inspection blitz” of big-box stores, which is expanding to more industries. Most fines have been relatively small, at less than $1,000 per infraction, but McNaughton said some larger investigations are underway, and employers should be aware of the potential for fines up to $1.5 million. “I hope my message was clear to every big corporation out there, every shareholder, that if they're not having a safe work environment for their workers, and for customers, I won't hesitate to shut them down,” he said. Meanwhile, frontline workers say appreciation for their work isn't often reflected in the province's official pandemic response. Brittany Nisbett, who works at a group home for disabled adults in the Niagara Region, said new restrictions announced this month haven’t changed anything in her working life – in fact, she said new limits on store hours have made it harder to complete errands during time off. She said it’s been an emotionally taxing year, especially when co-workers and clients have tested positive for the disease, but one silver living has been growing public acknowledgment of the work she does. She’d like to see that reflected with a permanent wage increase, paid sick days and more staff for support. “If you’re going to call us heroes, then I think that we need to be treated like heroes,” Nisbett said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
“If I ever got a chance to speak to the Biden administration, I would plead my case,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, president of Natural Law Energy (NLE). That “case” would be the value in continuing the United States’ portion of the 1,897-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline which travels from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Montana and South Dakota, ending in Steele City, Nebraska. Yesterday, in his first day in office, new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor Donald Trump’s Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. NLE, a group of three Alberta and two Saskatchewan First Nations, has been working towards a $1 billion investment in the TC Energy-owned Keystone XL pipeline. “It's a disappointment, right? It really is because it's going to affect many First Nations, even the tribes in the United States. It's going to affect them because TC Energy was almost close to actually signing up joint venture partnerships with those in the United States side,” said Francis. He says chairmen of the Nebraska tribes have told him that Biden wants to create jobs and this pipeline meets that goal. First Nations involvement was recognized by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a scathing address late Wednesday afternoon that condemned the new U.S. administration for rescinding the permit and not respecting its closest ally and trading partner. “Let me also point out that TC Energy has made tremendous progress in bringing on board First Nations on both sides of the border as potential equity partners,” said Kenney. However, not all U.S. tribes support the pipeline. The Native Organizers Alliance applauded Biden for his decision. “Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all,” said NOA executive director Judith Le Blanc. Earlier Wednesday, in anticipation of President Biden’s decision, Calgary-based TC Energy shutdown its operation. Kenney said that shutdown had cost 2,000 people their jobs. Francis admits Biden’s actions were not unexpected. In fact, the too-close-to-call November U.S. election had dampened some of the activity undertaken by NLE. Late last year, NLE hired consultants Price Waterhouse Canada to round up investors for the $1 billion investment. Investors were found but nothing was finalized. “(Price Waterhouse has) done their job on that. But really it was, of course, the election. That's what they were waiting for also,” said Francis. Also of note were preliminary talks with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. The Crown corporation created by the Alberta United Conservative Party government offers loan guarantees from $25 million to $250 million for Indigenous-led natural resource projects. “Say the project and partnership was at the point they were ready to paper the deal, we would not be in a position to offer a guarantee at this time, because there is a huge risk in respect to the way the American election may go. We don’t want to put Alberta taxpayer dollars at risk,” AIOC CEO Alicia Dubois told Windspeaker.com last October. Trump’s approval of Keystone XL came after outgoing President Barack Obama nixed the project. Biden had promised to cancel the project should he win. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer money in the Keystone XL pipeline. The Biden administration is saying no to the project now, says Francis, but he is a “glass is half-full” person. He believes Biden’s decision is political as the new president is “getting away from everything Trump has put his stamp on.” “I'm not going to give up on it because, really, Keystone XL is going to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly pipeline that is. We just have to go back to the drawing table and really re-evaluate what have we got to do to make it even more environmentally friendly?” said Francis. He believes that part of that discussion with the Biden administration has to include the science around the pipeline that makes it environmentally safe and the ongoing need for oil. Francis is hopeful there is a future for Keystone because “it really is such a big project that it could mean, in every community that we have signed up, it'll make an economic difference.” In the meantime, Francis says NLE remains involved with TC Energy. “Whenever there is something, a project that is available, if they are going to approach us to see if we have interest and, of course, we're going to show interest, because any economic development or project that we can actually put our hand on to make it more green, more environmentally friendly, we want to be there to back it up,” he said. While Keystone XL pipeline is a set back for Nekaneet First Nation, it is not the only project driving the economics for that Treaty 4 Nation. “I’m always involved with the province (of Saskatchewan). I’m always talking to them in every which way,” he said. Francis said he has received band member approval to develop a section of land along a 1.5 km-stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. He says investors are committed to a gas station in that area and there are talks about a possible Tim Hortons franchise. However, since COVID-19 hit, development has stalled. NLE members also include Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and three Alberta First Nations: Ermineskin Cree, Montana, and Louis Bull Tribe. Each member was to share equally in the benefits from the Keystone XL pipeline project. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s (WDGPH) roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine will be seeing impacts with pause in production lines at Pfizer’s facility. WDGPH announced on Monday (Jan. 18) that they would be making changes to their vaccine program in response to the recent announcement from Pfizer that some production lines at their facility in Belgium are working to increase their overall capacity. Public Health, in a press release, said that the pausing in production will be felt in Ontario and affect deliveries to Guelph for a short period. WDG Public Health will be continuing to move forward with the vaccine supply that they have on hand, but will be making changes to the vaccination clinic; with rescheduling of appointments unavoidable. Those who will be affected by the pause will be contacted directly. Residents, staff, and essential caregivers in long term care and retirement homes will continue to be prioritized for vaccinations. Individuals who have already received the vaccine will be able to get their second does, although for some it will be delayed. Public Health said that the delay in the second dose will not affect individuals developing immunity to the second dose. “Everyone wants to see vaccines arrive as quickly as possible to the region,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin- Guelph Public Health. “This delay is only temporary and will allow the manufacturer the ability to provide increased vaccine to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in the coming weeks. As an agency, our commitment remains, vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible according to the provincial schedule.” For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine visit www.wdgpublichealth.ca/vaccine. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press