While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
International students who are on a co-op work term don't have to wait for their permit to begin their job placements, according to a new policy released earlier this week by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Students can start working while their applications for their co-op work permit are being processed. This is a special permit that allows international students to complete all work components related to their academic degree, including co-op terms, internships, and practicum. It is a separate permit that students have to apply for, in addition to their study permit, with which students are authorized to complete non-academic-related work. Amy Braye, the manager of the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, said students are now allowed to use the regular work hours allocation from their study permit for their co-op experience while they wait for approval for the special work permit. "Basically the regular work and the co-op work were always separate. And the government has said, listen, we're going to allow that students can use their regular work allotment for their co-op experience, if they want to, and if they can," said Braye. The new policy applies to students who are studying remotely in their home country as well. "In the past, if a student didn't have their co-op work permit, and they said, 'I'm living in China, but Nova Scotia Power wants to hire me, they are OK if I telecommute. Is that acceptable?' We would have advised that no, it's not acceptable," Braye said. But with the new policy, the answer is yes, she said. However, according to IRCC's website, it requires approval from both the institution and the employer. "Ultimately both the employer and the co-op program must be in agreement that the specific opportunity is suitable for remote work from outside of Canada and that the employer can support the student in their learning appropriately," said Janet Bryson, associate director of media relations and issues management at Dalhousie University. A standard study permit only grants students 20 hours per week of off-campus work experience. Students may work full-time off campus during an academic break. "It's still good for students. It means that they can work right towards their co-op, whereas before, they were just barred from working towards their co-op," Braye said. "It doesn't solve all of the problems, because they have to meet the co-op hours that they need." Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
VANCOUVER — Residents of a tiny community in northeastern British Columbia are suing the local and provincial governments over two slow-moving landslides they claim caused their property values to plummet. In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week, 35 residents in Old Fort, B.C., allege negligence and breach of their charter right to security of the person. Evacuation orders and alerts were issued in October 2018 and June 2020 after a slope above the community of about 50 homes slumped, damaging the only road in and out. "The Homeowners have suffered and will continue to suffer loss, damage, cost and expense and threats to their health and security until access to Old Fort is stable and assured," the lawsuit says. The statement of claim alleges that activity at the Blair Pit gravel mine, located atop the slope, caused or contributed to the first slide. The ground moved over the course of at least one week, while movements below the surface were detected for another 25 days. The homeowners also allege it was foreseeable that construction at the Site C dam project a kilometre away, as well as sewage lagoons connected to Fort St. John's sewer system east of the mine, would cause or contribute to a slide. The allegations haven't been proven in court. The Peace River Regional District and gravel pit owner Deasan Holdings declined to comment as the matter is before the courts. The B.C. government and City of Fort St. John said they had yet to be served, while BC Hydro, the utility building Site C, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The June 2020 landslide was a "reactivation" of the 2018 slide, the lawsuit says. During that event, about 100 metres of Old Fort Road was destroyed and shifted about 235 metres south toward the Peace River. Some evacuation alerts remain in place for certain areas of Old Fort, the claim says. The legal action alleges property values have sunk because of the vulnerability of the road, which has affected their ability to market the properties and obtain mortgage financing. The evacuation alerts also make the properties uninsurable or only insurable at rates well above the standard premium, it alleges. "Where a property becomes inaccessible, or, where there is uncertainty as to assured, reliable access to a property, the value of that property is significantly decreased or diminished," the court document says. Nobody has been able to sell their property since the 2018 landslide, it says. The residents also endured financial and economic hardship because of the evacuations, including paying for expenses out of pocket, it claims. The homeowners are seeking damages and costs. They allege that each of the defendants should have foreseen the possibility of a landslide, taken action to avoid it and warned residents of the hazard. In addition to breaching their duty of care to the residents, Site C and Deason are also accused of nuisance and breaching the homeowners' right to have their soil supported in its natural state. "BC Hydro, in causing or permitting excavation of earth and diverting water at Site C, disturbed the subsurface in the vicinity of Site C and, in doing so, caused a substantial, non-trivial and unreasonable damage" to the properties, it alleges. The homeowners accuse the province, regional district and city of the alleged charter right infringements. "These actions or omissions have caused the homeowners to fear living at the homeowner properties, resulting in serious interference with each individual homeowners' psychological integrity, which is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
A group of high schoolers from Prince George, B.C., are showing support for a teen from Mission who was attacked by two girls last week. On Wednesday, students of Duchess Park Secondary School in the northern city sent cards and letters addressed to the 14-year-old transgender student from the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver. The student was beaten by two female Grade 8 students at École Heritage Park Middle School on Jan. 11 in an incident captured on video. "I just want to commend you on your strength and resilience for going through such a terrible thing," wrote Daisy Scheifley, Grade 11 student at Duchess Park. "Don't let others' judgment change you or scare you. Never apologize for being yourself." Scheifley was one of the students who watched the video in teacher Tanja Gattrell's class on Tuesday. "Every student felt moved by what happened," Gattrell told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West. "Lots of disbelief, anger and sadness and confusion on how people could just stand by and not do anything … in this day and age." On Sunday, hundreds of vehicles festooned with pink balloons, rainbow signs and anti-bullying messages drove slowly through a riverfront area of Mission to offer support to the bullied teen. In the past, Gattrell and her students wrote letters to seniors in care homes and decorated school windows with paper hearts to show solidarity with front-line workers. Having communicated with the principal of École Heritage Park last Friday, Gattrell suggested the whole class write to the Mission student after watching the video. "It was very emotional just watching them engage in this [letter and card writing] and doing it so wholeheartedly and lovingly," said Gattrell. Scheifley was encouraged by fellow classmates who shared her desire to show support. "I honestly find it very uplifting that so many kids in our class were so open and supportive and wanted to make a change," she said. "We need to start standing up for others, and it's OK to be different." Two girls have been arrested in connection with a violent incident in École Heritage Park Middle School, which is still under RCMP's investigation. After a separate assault on Jan. 13 at Mission Secondary School, a 14-year-old girl was arrested last Friday. Tap the link below to hear Tanja Gattrell and Daisy Scheifley's interview on Radio West:
Two international aquaculture companies are heading to court to try to quash a recent federal decision to phase out controversial fish farms in the Discovery Islands. Mowi Canada West and Cermaq Canada want the Federal Court to set aside federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan’s decision — in whole or in part — to phase out salmon farming operations in the region by the end of June 2022. But First Nations supporting Jordan’s decision say any reversals of the plan by the court would come at the cost of the inherent rights of Indigenous people. The two fish farm companies are seeking costs and an injunction to suspend the decision, or parts of it, from going ahead until the court hears their applications On Dec. 17, Jordan announced licences for 19 operations in the waters near Campbell River on Vancouver Island were being renewed for the last time and no new fish could be transferred to the salmon farms during the 18-month period. The fisheries minister said her decision was largely the result of overwhelming opposition to the farms expressed by the region’s seven First Nations during government-to-government consultations. Mowi and Cermaq stated in the court application that the fisheries minister gave no advance warning of the decision, and did not allow the companies to provide input on its negative impacts. The minister’s announcement followed heated public debate around the fate of the fish farms and the risks they might pose to wild salmon stocks. The farms are on key migration routes for wild juvenile salmon, and eliminating operations in the Discovery Islands was a recommendation made by the 2012 Cohen Commission investigating the decline of Fraser River sockeye. However, the recommendation depended on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) finding the fish farms posed a danger to wild sockeye. At the end of September, DFO concluded the farm operations posed minimal risk to Fraser River sockeye after studying nine different fish farm diseases. Both Mowi and Cermaq argue in their applications that Jordan’s decision was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally unfair. Cermaq said DFO’s decision not to allow any new fish into its three Discovery Islands farms will force the cull of millions of juvenile fish scheduled for transfer to the region, the loss of 20 per cent of its production volume, and the potential closure of a hatchery. The company also said 21 direct jobs are endangered, in addition to others employed in supporting positions, with total annual wages in the millions of dollars. Mowi stated their affected farms represent 30 per cent of the company’s operations and 645 direct jobs, many held by First Nation employees. The largest operator in the region, Mowi owns 13 of the salmon farms impacted — nine of which were empty of fish when the decision was announced, according to DFO. Both companies said the millions of fish slated for transfer take approximately five years to rear — starting with the selection of brood stock, the spawning of fish, hatching eggs, and finally raising fish until the smolts are ready to grow out in ocean pens. DFO departed from past practice in failing to provide advance warning before making decisions that will materially affect, severely impair and end operations without providing operators a chance to provide input into the decision, the companies said. Jordan also relied solely on input from her consultations with area First Nations, and failed to take social, economic and scientific considerations into account, the companies said. Bob Chamberlin, a former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and a longtime advocate for wild salmon, said he wasn’t surprised to hear the aquaculture companies want to challenge DFO’s decision. Jordan’s announcement was the result of consulting with the Homalco, Klahoose, K’ómoks, Kwiakah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations about whether to renew licences for the fish farms operating in their traditional territories, he said. But more than 100 First Nations dependent on wild salmon elsewhere on the coast and along the Fraser River also support the removal of the salmon farms, Chamberlin said. Aquaculture companies regularly express concern about how closing the region’s fish farms will negatively affect First Nations employees, communities, and partners, Chamberlin said. Yet the same companies are willing to challenge a decision by the ministry that is respectful of the inherent Indigenous rights of First Nations, both within the region and across the province. “They only respect us until they disagree with something,” Chamberlin said. “So, really, it’s a conditional acceptance of our human rights.” Homalco Chief Darren Blaney said DFO has had conflicting roles as both a promoter of fish farms and a regulator tasked with protecting wild salmon. Aquaculture companies haven’t faced many decisions contrary to their interests before DFO’s recent decision, he said. “They’ve gotten comfortable, and they didn’t bother to address the issues they were creating with sea lice and diseases,” Blaney said. “They never looked into closed containment or fish farming on land because they’ve had a (free ride) in the ocean.” Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver said the phasing out of the fish farms might impact jobs and revenue, but protecting depleted wild salmon is a question of food security for Indigenous people. “Those who are benefiting from the fish farms are few, (and) at a great expense to the environment and to wild salmon, and many First Nations,” said Silver, who is also fisheries representative for the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. The two aquaculture companies may be frustrated by a lack of consultation, but that’s a situation First Nations have a lot of experience with, Silver observed. “The non-consultation argument is something we’ve had for a long, long time,” Silver said. “No one talked to us about certain things that had great effect on our way of life, and are still affecting us.” Chamberlin said he had trouble believing aquaculture companies were entirely surprised by Jordan’s decision, given the Cohen Commission recommended the closure of the farms in December 2020 if DFO determined they posed a minimal risk to wild salmon. Plus, the fisheries minister is developing a plan that is due in 2025 to transition away from open-net pen salmon farms in B.C. waters, Chamberlin added. “The writing was certainly on the wall. It seems to me, (the companies) weren’t proactive,” Chamberlin said. “Their lack of business planning shouldn’t be a legal starting point to overturn a decision made in consultation with First Nations.” First Nations rights will be the collateral damage if the court decides in favour of the agriculture industry, Chamberlin added. “This could result in a message that Crown process with a company is more important, or trumps respect for Aboriginal rights — whether that is the intention or not,” he said. Jordan's office said Wednesday the minister is aware certain companies have asked for a judicial review of her decision regarding aquaculture licences in the Discovery Islands. "As the matter is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,"the ministry said. Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
WASHINGTON — Vice-President Kamala Harris broke the barrier that has kept men at the top ranks of American power for more than two centuries when she took the oath Wednesday to hold the nation's second-highest office. Hours after she was sworn in as the first female U.S. vice-president — and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent in the role — she cast the moment as one that embodied “American aspiration." “Even in dark times we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be," she said in brief remarks outside the Lincoln Memorial. “We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up." For Harris, the day was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one. She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of colour on the court, on a Bible that once belonged to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She wore a deep purple dress and coat created by two emerging Black designers. Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary falls away, expanding the idea of what's possible in American politics. But it's particularly meaningful because Harris takes office at a moment when Americans are grappling over institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated Black and brown communities. Those close to Harris say she'll bring an important — and often missing — perspective to the debates on how to overcome the many hurdles facing the new administration. “In many folks' lifetimes, we experienced a segregated United States," said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and longtime Harris friend and mentee. “You will now have a Black woman who will walk into the White House not as a guest but as a second in command of the free world." Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — “carries an intersectional story of so many Americans who are never seen and heard." Later during the procession to the vice-presidential office building, she was led by her alma mater Howard University's marching band and walked while holding the hand of her grandniece and alongside her husband, stepchildren, sister, brother-in-law and nieces. She then quickly got to work, presiding as Senate president for the first time to swear in three new Democratic senators: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California, Harris' replacement. Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she'd served as attorney general and as San Francisco's district attorney. She had expected to work with a White House run by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump's victory quickly scrambled the nation's capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars. Her own presidential bid fizzled, but her rise continued when President Joe Biden chose her as his running mate. Wednesday evening, she urged Americans to join Biden's call for “the courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good." With Trump absent from the inauguration, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, took on the symbolic duty of escorting former Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, out of the Capitol. It's a gesture that would normally be performed by incoming and outgoing presidents. To celebrate the historic day, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the nation’s oldest sorority for Black women, which Harris joined at Howard University, declared Wednesday as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day. Members of the sorority watching the celebrations across the country were clad in pearls, as was Harris, and the sorority's pink and green colours. “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” said Elizabeth Shelby, a member of the sorority's Alpha Psi chapter, who watched from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us.” Biden, in his inaugural address, reflected on the 1913 march for women's suffrage the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, during which some marchers were heckled and attacked. “Today, we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice-President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change," Biden said. As vice-president, Harris will expand the definition of who gets to hold power in American politics, said Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All." People who want to understand Harris and connect with her will have to learn what it means to graduate from a historically Black college and university rather than an Ivy League school. They will have to understand Harris' traditions, like the Hindu celebration of Diwali, Jones said. “Folks are going to have to adapt to her rather than her adapting to them,” Jones said. Her election to the vice presidency should be just the beginning of putting Black women in leadership positions, Jones said, particularly after the role Black women played in organizing and turning out voters in the November election. “We will all learn what happens to the kind of capacities and insights of Black women in politics when those capacities and insights are permitted to lead,” Jones said. __ Ronayne reported from Sacramento, California. Associated Press journalist Christine Fernando in Chicago contributed. Kathleen Ronayne And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Souvent embauchés pour exercer un emploi de nuit, des milliers de travailleurs au statut migratoire précaire sont dans l’impossibilité d’obtenir une attestation de leur employeur pour justifier leurs déplacements entre 20 h et 5 h. Craignant d’être interceptés par la police, ce qui pourrait leur valoir une contravention, voire l’expulsion, ils sont contraints de quitter l’emploi qui leur permet de subvenir à leurs besoins et à ceux de leurs familles. Le couvre-feu a des conséquences lourdes pour des milliers de travailleurs de nuit œuvrant dans des domaines essentiels, comme l’entretien ménager et l’alimentation. Deux travailleurs mexicains nous ont confié l’état de leur situation. Les noms des travailleurs cités dans ce reportage ont été modifiés afin de protéger leur identité. Arrivée du Mexique avec un permis de travail temporaire en septembre 2019, Angela a travaillé comme femme de ménage dans un hôtel de Québec jusqu’en décembre 2020. L’industrie de l’hôtellerie ayant été durement touchée par la pandémie, son employeur n’a pas été en mesure de fournir une nouvelle évaluation de l’impact sur le marché du travail (EIMT), ce qui a entraîné le refus du renouvellement de son permis de travail. « Mon permis expiré, je suis tombée sans statut à la fin décembre », raconte la mère de trois enfants, venue au Québec en quête d’une meilleure rémunération pour pouvoir subvenir à leurs besoins. « J’ai pu trouver un emploi en entretien ménager de nuit dans un centre commercial à Lévis, mais j’ai dû le quitter début janvier en raison du couvre-feu. » Travaillant au noir, Angela se débrouille pour l’instant pour payer son loyer en faisant l’entretien ménager de bureaux quelques heures par soir. « J’arrive à 17 h, une fois que les gens sont partis. Toutefois, je dois repartir vers 19 h 40, pour réussir à attraper le bus qui me permet de rentrer chez moi juste avant 20 h. » Gagnant très peu d’argent en faisant trois heures de travail quotidien, elle nous confie devoir à tout prix trouver un autre emploi de jour pour pouvoir couvrir son loyer, payer les honoraires de l’avocat qu’elle a embauché pour l’aider à retrouver son statut migratoire et recommencer à envoyer de l’argent à ses enfants. « Je veux pouvoir offrir à mes enfants un meilleur avenir. Mon fils aîné est à la veille de commencer l’université. Il veut être médecin », raconte Angela, qui devra quitter le Québec si elle ne réussit pas à trouver un emploi de jour à temps plein d’ici quelques semaines. Sans statut depuis 2013 en raison du refus de sa demande d’asile, Omar travaille en assainissement dans un abattoir situé à l’extérieur de Montréal depuis quelques mois. N’ayant droit à aucune aide du gouvernement en raison de son statut, tout comme Angela, il dépend à 100 % des emplois au noir qu’il peut trouver çà et là pour couvrir ses dépenses et pouvoir envoyer de l’argent à ses enfants au Mexique chaque mois. Jusqu’à l’entrée en vigueur du couvre-feu, le résident de Villeray devait se rendre chaque soir à 22 h tapant à une station de métro dans l’est de la ville pour monter en voiture avec un de ses collègues qui l’emmenait au travail pour son quart de travail qui commençait à 23 h. Depuis le 8 janvier, il doit se rendre chez son collègue avant 20 h et attendre l’heure du départ assis près de la porte. « Je ne suis pas censé entrer chez lui, mais je n’ai pas d’autre choix si je veux me rendre au travail. Je dois briser une loi pour éviter de contrevenir à une autre », avoue le père de trois enfants, qui craint de tomber sur la police chaque fois qu’il est en déplacement vers son travail depuis le 8 janvier. « Mon collègue n’est pas à l’aise de m’accueillir chez lui, car il habite avec sa famille, et mon boss craint que je lui attire des ennuis si je me fais arrêter, car il m’embauche sans papiers. Alors, c’est ma dernière semaine de travail. » Juan devra recommencer sa recherche de travail dès samedi prochain. « J’ai toujours fait le travail que les autres ne veulent pas faire. Actuellement, je lave les machines et le plancher souillés de sang et d’excréments de porc, mais cela ne me dérange pas, pourvu que je puisse travailler pour nourrir mes enfants et payer l’avocat qui soumet ma demande de résidence permanente pour des raisons humanitaires », dit-il. « Depuis la première vague de COVID-19, le rôle clé des travailleurs sans statut dans notre société a été mis en évidence. Ils occupent souvent les emplois que la société n’arrive pas à pourvoir malgré les incitatifs financiers du gouvernement », explique Mostafa Henaway, organisateur communautaire au Centre de travailleurs et travailleuses immigrants. Il ajoute qu’il est nécessaire de remettre en question le rôle de la police dans la crise sanitaire actuelle. « En raison du couvre-feu, ces travailleurs doivent rester cachés dans l’ombre et perdre leurs revenus, n’ayant aucune garantie que la police ne vérifiera pas leur identité ou n’alertera pas l’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada. Nous devrions plutôt consacrer toutes ces ressources aux agences de santé publique ou à la santé et à la sécurité au travail », conclut-il.Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Health is asking anyone who travelled on the Blue Puttees ferry to or from Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques between Dec. 29 and Jan. 16 to call 811 to arrange for COVID-19 testing. The request comes on the heels of a crewmember testing positive for the disease. Marine Atlantic said Wednesday it’s the first such case it has had to deal with since the pandemic began. “We have been in contact with public health officials in Nova Scotia and with Marine Atlantic occupational health and safety, and are co-ordinating a response,” Newfoundland's chief medical officer of health told reporters. “We’d like to indicate that the risk is low for these people, but we are doing this out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. Testing can also be arranged by completing the online assessment tool at covidassessment.nichi.nl.ca. Fitzgerald would give no further details about the case because of privacy concerns. However, a Marine Atlantic spokesperson said it’s clear the crewmember contracted the disease on board because he only developed symptoms after leaving his two-week shift. The incubation window for COVID-19 is 14 days. Fitzpatrick said the risk is low for passengers because there are less spaces for people to intermingle on board. “Marine Atlantic certainly has put a lot of protocols in place since the beginning of the pandemic to reduce the amount of interaction that their staff and the passengers will have,” she said. “They’ve certainly got masking protocols and all of that as well, and they’ve reduced common spaces.” When contacted, the Marine Atlantic spokesperson didn’t have specific details on the number of passengers who have travelled on the ferry during the timeframe in question, but said it would be in the hundreds. He said on one recent crossing, there were about 10 regular passengers and 50 commercial passengers, but those numbers vary day by day. The Public Health Authority in Nova Scotia has already started contact tracing of crewmembers, although Fitzgerald said any contact tracing that involves this province will be conducted by local public health officials. Crewmembers must self-isolate on the ferry after the testing. With the Blue Puttees moored indefinitely, Marine Atlantic cancelled its morning crossing from North Sydney, N.S., to Port aux Basques and Wednesday evening’s crossing from Newfoundland to Cape Breton. The company says the MV Highlanders will remain in service, and the MV Atlantic Vision is currently being prepared to enter service should it be required in the days ahead. The Atlantic Vision has been moored in North Sidney on standby, but it may take up to 48 hours to establish a crew and get it into service. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
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One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The City of Vaughan’s lone decision to close its outdoor amenities amid Ontario’s stay-at-home order has sparked a debate on whether some restrictions to curb the spread can do more harm than good. Vaughan announced last Friday it would close its outdoor skating rinks, a toboggan hill and a dog park effective immediately. The decision, the city said, is in response to rising cases of COVID-19 and follows the province’s stay-at-home order, which came into effect late last week. The closure has left experts perplexed and residents upset — one of whom taped a video that has since circulated across social media of a city employee salting a skating rink to prevent people from using it. Many have argued the move is a misguided public health measure that could have adverse effects on the mental and physical health of residents. Vaughan remains the only city in the Greater Toronto Area to have taken this measure. Toronto’s public skating rinks remain open to allow residents to exercise. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown tweeted on Monday his city will not be closing its outdoor amenities, “regardless of what some municipalities have been doing on their own accord.” “Outdoor activities are low risk, good for physical fitness and much needed for mental health during the current lockdown,” Brown said in a series of tweets, adding Brampton will move to add four new artificial rinks in addition to existing ones. In its release, the City of Vaughan said decisions to close or open amenities are “informed by Vaughan-specific data and reflect guidance issued by York Region Public Health.” York Region has 1,833 active cases as of Wednesday, accounting for 5.7 per cent of current cases in the province. Meanwhile, Toronto, where rinks remain open, is home to 26 per cent of Ontario’s cases. The differing policies on outdoor amenities by GTA cities may also be tied to messaging by the Government of Ontario, which has been criticized by some as confusing. In response to a request for clarification, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said “outdoor ice rinks, tobogganing hills and parks and recreational areas are permitted to open” during Ontario’s stay-at-home order, but municipalities can have additional targeted restrictions in their region if they choose to. A spokesperson for the City of Vaughan said in a statement that the city was “the first municipality in York Region to declare a state of emergency” in response to COVID-19, and closing its rinks is yet another example of the city’s “disciplined, responsible and measured approach.” The decision to close outdoor recreational amenities has already been challenged by Vaughan councillor Alan Shefman, who put forward a motion asking the city to reopen outdoor rinks with additional safety measures. Council will vote on the motion on Jan. 26. But for now, rinks in Vaughan will remain closed — a decision that Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, believes is misguided. “Any steps and policies that promote safe outdoor activity is clearly the right path forward,” said Bogoch, who also serves as a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force. Bogoch said he agrees more with Brampton’s decision to keep rinks open and build on existing outdoor amenities as they pose a minimal risk for COVID-19 spread. “We know that outdoor venues are much, much safer compared to indoor venues,” Bogoch added. “Of course, nothing in the COVID era is going to be a hundred per cent safe, but we know outdoor venues are way lower risk.” Bogoch said it’s important to keep outdoor amenities open, including outdoor skating rinks and hiking trails, so that residents have a chance to catch fresh air and get exercise in the midst of a dreary, dark second wave of infections. He added those activities can be done safely if people wore a mask and if population control was regulated on amenities to avoid overcrowding. “With us being neck deep in the second wave, we should be promoting healthy and safe activities and behaviours that promote both physical and mental health,” Bogoch said. Mental health is a big factor to why outdoor amenities should stay open, said Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. “They provide a real good mental health gain at a small physical health cost,” Joordens said. People, he added, have an innate nature of being social, and promoting activities that can allow this with minimal risk will prevent them from breaking the rules and engaging in riskier behaviour and gathering indoors. “The limbic system will always take over the frontal lobe, it’s much older and more powerful,” Joordens said, explaining how emotional needs can often trump practical needs in the human brain. “If we close down all the public areas for people to be interacting, then we’re going to drive them into the private areas where they’re probably still going to do it … and that’s more dangerous,” Joordens said. Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
WASHINGTON — The Latest on Joe Biden's presidential inauguration (all times local): 10:15 p.m. Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Washington Monument to mark the end of Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden. Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched the end of the day’s events from a balcony in the White House on Wednesday night. The Bidens' grandchildren danced and clapped on the balcony. While the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns in Washington vastly scaled back inaugural events, organizers created a celebratory atmosphere with live and recorded celebrity performances, ending with singer Katy Perry. Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, watched the fireworks from the steps of the Washington Monument after Harris delivered brief remarks. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION AS THE 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Joe Biden took the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States. He takes charge in a deeply divided nation, inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors. Read more: — Biden takes the helm as president: ‘Democracy has prevailed’ — Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration — Biden charts new US direction, promises many Trump reversals — Vice-President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics — Analysis: For Biden, chance to turn crisis into opportunity ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 10 p.m. Three former presidents are celebrating the transition of power that saw Democrat Joe Biden enter the White House. In a pretaped video that aired during Biden’s inaugural television special Wednesday night, Republican George W. Bush, along with Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, wished Biden luck. Obama said, “Inaugurations celebrate a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old.” But the mere fact that all three felt compelled to come together to address the issue speaks to the fraught moment the country faces. President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely insisted for months that the November election was stolen from him, and he whipped up a violent crowd of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago seeking to overturn the certification of Biden win. He also snubbed his successor's inauguration. In the video, Clinton urged Americans to get off their “high horses” and reach out to friends and neighbours with whom they may have differences. Bush said he wanted Biden to be successful because his “success is our country’s success.” ___ 9:40 p.m. Kamala Harris talked about the power of “American aspiration” in her first speech to the nation as vice-president. With the Washington Monument lit up behind her Wednesday night, Harris called on Americans to remember “we are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.” She also cast her ascension as the first female vice-president as a demonstration of the nation’s character. Borrowing a line she frequently used on the campaign trail, she said, “We not only see what has been — we see what can be.” Harris gave a nod to American scientists, parents and teachers who are persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged people to “see beyond crises.” She spoke during President Joe Biden’s “Celebrating America” event to mark the inauguration. ___ 8:55 p.m. Bruce Springsteen sang “Land of Hope and Dreams” as he stood alone with his guitar in front of the Lincoln Memorial to open “Celebrating America,” a broadcast special to honour the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Springsteen said, “Good evening, America,” to open the 90-minute special airing across several networks on Wednesday night in place of the usual official inaugural balls. Performing the 1999 song of solace, Springsteen sang, “I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side. You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.” Host Tom Hanks, also at the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the show by saying, “In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancour in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America.” Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria are co-hosting the show, which will also include performances from John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, the Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Jon Bon Jovi. ___ 8:40 p.m. Kamala Harris might be vice-president, but she doesn’t get to enjoy all of the vice-presidential perks just yet. Harris won’t immediately move into the vice-president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. A Harris aide says the delay will allow time for repairs to the home. The house needs its chimney liners replaced, among other fixes, and it’s easier to finish the work with the home unoccupied. The former California senator has a home in downtown D.C. where she typically stayed while in town for work, but it’s unclear if she’ll remain there while waiting for the repairs to be completed. Every vice-president since Walter Mondale has lived at the Naval Observatory, and it’s been the site of visits from foreign dignitaries, events and gatherings hosted by vice-presidents past. ___ 8:05 p.m. A group of protesters carrying anti-President Joe Biden and anti-police signs is marching in Portland and damaged the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon. Police say the group smashed windows and spray-painted anarchist symbols at the political party building on Wednesday. It was one of at least four groups planning to gather in the city on Inauguration Day. Police say officers on bicycles entered the crowd to contact someone with a weapon and to remove poles affixed to a banner that they thought could be used as a weapon. Police say the crowd swarmed the officers and threw objects at them. Portland has been the site of frequent protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days. Mayor Ted Wheeler recently decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and who should be subject to more severe punishment. ___ 7:40 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will allow Congress to decide the way forward on the impeachment trial of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Psaki said Wednesday in the first press briefing of the Biden administration that the president believes members of the Senate should figure out how to proceed with a trial that could consume the opening weeks of his presidency. Psaki says the administration is instead focused on the pandemic and the economic crisis that have engulfed the country for nearly a year, noting that the Senate can handle multiple issues at once. Trump was impeached last week on a charge of inciting an insurrection. It was his second impeachment, a record for any president. ___ 7:30 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office. Psaki said Wednesday at her first press briefing that the subject of the call will be relations between the United States and Canada as well as the status of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose permitting Biden revoked in one of his first acts as president. Psaki says Biden’s first round of calls to foreign leaders will be with allies, adding that the new president plans to repair relationships damaged by former President Donald Trump’s adversarial approach. ___ 7:15 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki is delivering the first news briefing of Joe Biden’s presidency, a once standard part of past administrations that was largely sidelined during the Trump era. Psaki said Wednesday that she will bring truth and transparency to the White House briefing room, a clear reference to her predecessors under President Donald Trump. The Trump administration took an openly combative tone with the news media. Sean Spicer, who was Trump’s first press secretary, set the tenor four years ago by claiming that the audience at Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. ___ 7:10 p.m. The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as the new director of national intelligence, giving President Joe Biden the first member of his Cabinet. The 84-10 vote by the Senate on Wednesday came after senators agreed to fast-track her nomination. Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was fitting that Haines was confirmed first. He said the intelligence post is of “critical importance to the country.” Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that China would be an important focus of the Biden administration. She said she sees her role as speaking “truth to power” and delivering accurate and apolitical intelligence even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for the administration. The Senate was able to vote quickly on the nomination, and bypass a committee vote, after Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton dropped his objection. Cotton had said he wanted to hear from Haines on the Bush-era CIA interrogation program before he agreed to move forward. Haines was a deputy CIA director in the Obama administration. ___ 6:35 p.m. The federal government has launched a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for records from former President Donald Trump’s administration. The National Archives and Records Administration announced the website on Wednesday. Eventually, it will be a repository of archived Trump-era documents, including his White House website and social media accounts. It will also offer information about accessing other records from Trump’s tenure. The agency maintains records going back to President Herbert Hoover’s administration, which ended in 1933. But there are questions about how meticulous the Trump administration was about keeping records. Trump was cavalier about a law requiring their preservation. He had a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out. That’s led some historians and archivists to worry that there will be a gaping hole in the history of Trump’s tumultuous four years in office. ___ 6:30 p.m. President Joe Biden has given the Oval Office a slight makeover. Biden revealed the new décor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office. A bust of Cesar Chavez, the labour leader and civil rights activist, is nestled among an array of framed family photos displayed on a desk behind the new president. Benjamin Franklin peers down at Biden from a portrait on a nearby wall. Biden brought a dark blue rug out of storage to replace a lighter colored one installed by former President Donald Trump. One office feature remains: Biden is also using what’s known as the Resolute Desk because it was built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. Trump used that desk, too. ___ 6:15 p.m. President Joe Biden is reminding his federal appointees and staff that “we work for the people” and is calling on them to be “decent, honourable and smart.” Biden swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday evening. He spoke from behind a lectern, while the appointees appeared at the event via video streams set up on a series of television screens. Biden said that if any of his appointees treat a colleague with disrespect, he will fire them “on the spot.” He said that mindset had been missing in President Donald Trump’s White House. The new president also told the group that “we have such an awful lot to do” and said that containing the pandemic and administering COVID-19 vaccines will be the “most consequential logistical thing that’s ever been done in the United States.” He said he’s “going to make mistakes” but promised during their swearing-in that he will ”acknowledge them” when he does. ___ 5:40 p.m. One of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s signature achievements has met an abrupt end as a large placard enunciating his “professional ethos” was removed from the State Department’s main entrance. Workers removed the giant sign from the department’s C Street lobby on Wednesday shortly after President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The placard had been prominently placed near a plaque honouring foreign service staff who died while serving their country, but many career diplomats considered it insulting and filled with unnecessary platitudes. Department spokesperson Ned Price says, “We are confident that our colleagues do not need a reminder of the values we share.” Pompeo unveiled his “ethos” statement to great fanfare in April 2019 with an eye toward improving morale. But it had the opposite effect, and many complained it was condescending. Pompeo foes had accused the secretary and some of his top aides of failing to abide by the precepts of the ethos statement themselves, particularly during Trump’s Ukraine-related impeachment, when they decided not to publicly defend career diplomats. ___ 5:20 p.m. President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders from the Oval Office hours after his inauguration. Biden wore a mask while seated behind the Resolute Desk with a stack of orders early Wednesday evening. He said there was “no time to start like today.” The first order Biden signed was related to the coronavirus pandemic. He also signed an order reentering the U.S. into the Paris climate accord. While his predecessor Donald Trump broke long-standing practice by skipping Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition and left behind a letter for Biden. The new Democratic president said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But Biden said he wouldn’t reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump. ___ 4:55 p.m. President Joe Biden has directed that federal agencies halt all rulemaking until his administration has time to review proposed regulations. White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the move in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies Wednesday afternoon, hours after Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president. The regulatory freeze order is a staple of presidential transitions, allowing the incoming administration to review the pending actions of their predecessors. ___ 4:50 p.m. Three new Democratic senators have been sworn in to office by Vice-President Kamala Harris. That means their party now has control of the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won Senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, defeating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Alex Padilla was appointed by California’s governor to fill Harris’ seat. Wednesday was Harris’ first time presiding over the Senate. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Padilla is California’s first Hispanic senator. Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish senator and, at 33, the Senate’s youngest sitting member. The Senate is now divided 50-50. Democrats will be in control because the vice-president casts tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Democrats have a 221-211 House majority, with three vacancies. Democrats last controlled the White House, Senate and House in January 2011. ___ 4:40 p.m. The New Radicals reunited after more than 20 years to virtually perform their 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” at the celebration for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The anthem about social and political issues affecting America at the turn of the millennium raised eyebrows when it was announced for Wednesday’s festivities, but has strong connections to the president and vice-president. In Biden’s 2017 autobiography, “Promise Me, Dad,” he wrote that “You Get What You Give” became the family’s theme song when his son Beau was battling cancer. The song was also used on the campaign trail as the theme for Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, at rallies. “This whole damn world could fall apart/You’ll be okay, follow your heart,” go some of the lyrics. “Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live/Can’t forget, we only get what we give.” The new administration also was serenaded — virtually, of course — by some of the funkiest artists in American music: Earth, Wind & Fire and Niles Rogers with Kathy Sledge. Three members of Earth Wind & Fire — Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson — performed their hit “Sing a Song,” while Rogers and Sledge combined for a version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” The performances, interspliced with marching bands, varied performances and stories from Biden-Harris supporters, played on social media and online after the Biden and Harris families concluded the inauguration parade. ___ 4:20 p.m. Vice-President Kamala Harris has entered her new office building for the first time in her new role. Harris was joined Wednesday by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the vice-president’s office and is located near the White House. The marching band of her alma mater, Howard University, helped lead Harris’ procession. She was joined by her extended family and held hands with one of her young grandnieces, who was beaming and wearing a fur coat meant to mimic one Harris wore as a child. Shouts of “We love you!” greeted her as she walked along the procession route. She waved at White House staffers gathered to watch and gave one final wave to the crowd before entering the building. ___ 3:50 p.m. President Joe Biden has entered the White House for the first time as chief executive after walking an abbreviated parade route, still wearing his protective mask amid sounds of “Hail to the Chief.” The 46th president and first lady Jill Biden walked through a military cordon lining the White House driveway with the flags of U.S. states, leading the first couple to the main entrance under the North Portico on Wednesday. Biden was expected to immediately begin working, with a stack of executive orders on immigration and other matters awaiting his signature. The final ceremonial flourish completed an abbreviated inaugural afternoon unlike any Washington has seen, with Biden being seen in person by only a relative smattering of Americans given security lockdowns after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and public health protocols amid the ongoing pandemic. ___ 3:45 p.m. President Joe Biden and his family have concluded his inaugural parade by walking a final short distance of the route to the White House. Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, their children and their grandchildren held hands Wednesday afternoon as they strolled, waving to a mostly nonexistent crowd because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines. Biden jogged over to the sidelines several times to stop to talk to reporters and spectators. The first family arrived on the White House grounds with a band playing and press in tow. Joe and Jill Biden completed the trip by embracing at the entrance to the White House while the band played “Hail to the Chief.” ___ 3:35 p.m. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he hopes Donald Trump will continue to be the leader of the Republican Party after his election defeat and second impeachment. The Republican senator said Wednesday during an interview on Fox News that “if you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.” Over the course of Trump’s one-term presidency, Graham went from being one of his fiercest critics to being one of his most prominent allies in Congress. Graham said it was inappropriate for Republicans in Congress to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory and called Trump’s comments ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “a big mistake.” But he says ultimately that it wasn’t a crime and that he blames “the people that came into the Capitol, not him.” He said he thinks there would be a lot of support for Trump if he ran again in 2024. He added: “But I’m not worried about 2024. I want to help Biden where I can, I want to get this country back on track.” ___ 3:25 p.m. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says it really lifted her heart to see Joe Biden sworn in as president on the same platform that supporters of President Donald Trump climbed when they attacked the Capitol two weeks ago. Clinton and her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, attended Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden. Afterward, she told The Associated Press that she was “relieved and grateful” to see Biden sworn in with a peaceful transition of power. That’s been taken for granted in the U.S. for over two centuries. But two weeks ago, hundreds of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory over Trump. The House impeached Trump a week later on a charge of inciting an insurrection. Clinton says she thinks it was meaningful to many Americans to see Biden take his oath of office where, “just a few weeks ago, marauders and terrorists had been attempting to stop democracy.” Trump defeated Clinton for the presidency in 2016. ___ 3:15 p.m. The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says former President George W. Bush lauded his role as a “saviour” in helping get President Joe Biden elected to the White House. U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Wednesday on a call with reporters that the Republican former president told him ahead of the inaugural ceremony that, if he had not given Biden the boost he did ahead of South Carolina’s primary, “we would not be having this transfer of power today.” Clyburn says Bush went on to say that Biden was “the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Donald Trump. Trump and the Bush family didn’t get along. Clyburn’s pivotal endorsement ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary helped propel Biden to the nomination. Biden won South Carolina by a margin of nearly 30 points. Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democratic representative in Congress, is the dean of the state’s Democrats and the third-ranking member of the U.S. House. ___ 3:05 p.m. President Joe Biden has spent a few of the first moments of his term at Arlington National Cemetery, honouring fallen veterans with three former presidents and their families. The president, first lady Jill Biden, and newly sworn-in Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on Wednesday. After cannon fire rumbled in the distance, Biden saluted as a military band played the national anthem. Biden and Harris later briefly touched the wreath before bowing their heads in prayer. The president also made the sign of the cross, then he and Harris stood somberly for the playing of taps. Joining them at the ceremony were former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary. Former President Donald Trump flew to Florida before Biden was sworn into office. The Associated Press
As they often did during nicer weather, Wayne and Michael Cherrington were preparing to sit and sip wine from the enclosed balcony of their fourth-storey suite, one night in October 2018. But their peaceful evening tradition was interrupted by tragedy. "My God Wayne, she doesn't see them, she's going to hit them," Michael, 78, remembers calling out in the moments before a vehicle hit 85-year-old Doreen French and her daughter in the parking lot of the Heritage Park Towers housing complex in south Edmonton. French died 12 days later in hospital. Marion Rickett-Beebee, a nurse who assisted clients in the apartment complex, is accused of careless driving under the provincial Traffic Safety Act. She is not facing criminal charges. The Cherringtons appeared remotely during the second day of the trial on Wednesday, testifying back-to-back about the events of Oct. 18, 2018. They say they saw French and her daughter, Patricia Wilton, walk toward the south tower on the roadway of the parking lot. A barricade and pipes were blocking part of the sidewalk at the time. Wilton said during her testimony Tuesday they were walking to visit a friend in the south tower. They stepped onto the parking lot road to avoid the obstacle — that's when they were hit by an SUV. Wilton said she suffered a number of injuries, including a broken right femur and a fractured vertebrae. The Cherringtons said the black SUV did not slow down prior to impact. "I remember that very distinctly" Wayne, 79, said. "That was my first reaction, to look at the back of that vehicle and see if the brake lights were going to come on. "They didn't." 'I turned away' Defence lawyer Darin Slaferek questioned the couple's recollection during cross-examination, referring to the shock of the event, the amount of time that had passed, and conversations since between them. He pointed out the black SUV must have hit the brakes at some point. Wayne said he did not see the actual moment of impact. "I turned away," he said. Slaferek also challenged Michael on her assertion that she could see the driver looking at the passenger's seat and not the road prior to impact, referring to photos taken from her fourth storey suite and the partially-tinted windows on the vehicle. At one point he asked whether Michael was trying to help her deceased friend and her daughter. "I'm trying to tell you what I saw the best I can," said Michael, who said there are many details of the day she cannot recount. "The only thing I can totally and completely remember … is when the car hit those two girls." The trial is set to continue for the rest of the week.
Five of six cats abandoned in a remote area on Pigeon Lake Road at Short Drive south of Bobcaygeon have been found and brought to the Lakefield Animal Welfare Society. On Monday morning, a local farmer and Bell Canada worker named Ryan were able to round up three of the cats — one of which is pregnant — according to LAWS manager Janet Evans. To help find the other three cats, volunteers with Operation Catnip was contacted, she said. “They’re a local organization that does trap, neuter and release (of feral cats),” Evans said. On Tuesday morning, the organization was able to capture a grey cat and, in the evening, they were able to catch an orange one. They were still out looking for the sixth one on Wednesday. Four of the five cats were found in good physical condition. The fifth cat had a bit of frostbite on one of its ears, she said. “We took them to the vet this morning and as it turns out only one of them was pregnant,” Evans said. “They’re all between three months to just over a year. They all know each other because when we reunited them here at LAWS, they just kind of sniffed each other. There was no reaction.” She said she doesn’t believe the cats were strays. “Only because if you were to look at a cat that is actually a stray or a feral at this time of the year, they’ve grown really thick coats and they usually look a little worse for wear and that’s because they’re always worried about where their next meal’s coming from or who’s going to eat them,” Evans said. “So, visually there’s a difference between a cat that’s just been dumped and one that has been living out there for quite some time.” Because of the current pandemic, she said it’s been difficult for some people with pets. “If they lose their job or they get laid off due to COVID, then other things come first in some situations and that’s when decisions have to be made,” Evans said. There are a number of organizations in the Peterborough region unwanted pets can be brought to as opposed to being abandoned or sold on Kijiji, she said. “There’s the Kawartha Lakes Humane Society, ARC, which is a smaller rescue in Lakefield, there’s ourselves, LAWS, and there’s also the Peterborough Humane Society,” Evans said. “Please, please do reach out to an organization. At least this way if you contact a shelter, you’re going to be confident that they’ll get vetted and be placed in a loving home.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Two salmon farming operations have applied to the Federal Court of Canada in Vancouver for a judicial review of a decision made by Fisheries Minster Bernadette Jordan to phase out fish farms on B.C.'s Discovery Islands. The decision, released on Dec. 17, 2020, states all 19 farms have to be free of fish by June 30, 2022, when their renewed 18-month licences expire and that no new fish can be brought in. At the time, Jordan said her decision was a result of consultations she had with seven First Nations: the Homalco, Klahoose, K'ómoks, Kwaikah, Tla'amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum. "We heard overwhelmingly from First Nations in the area that they do not want these fish farms there," she said. "They feel that they should have a say in their territorial waters, and I absolutely agree with them." Mowi Canada West, and Cermaq Canada, both salmon farming operators in the area located near Campbell River, have applied for the judicial review. In its statement, Mowi Canada West said the decision was "made without consultation of the industry, one week before Christmas." It also outlined the consequences of the decision, including the loss of almost a third of its business, the culling of several million young fish currently in hatcheries and significant job losses in coastal communities. In a statement, Cermaq Canada said it too would have to make labour cuts and put a significant number of fish at risk. It added, however, that its request focuses only on the conduct of DFO and the minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and that it "respects the opinions and the rights of the First Nations in the Discovery Islands region."
REGINA — A former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has submitted paperwork with reasons why he should not be sent back to India when he gets out of prison. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is now waiting for the Canada Border Services Agency to write a report that will recommend whether he be allowed to stay in his adopted country or be deported. A grieving father of one of the hockey players killed will be waiting, too. Scott Thomas said he aches every day for his 18-year-old son, Evan, but submitted a letter in support of Sidhu. “I know for a fact that he’ll never drive a semi again. I know for a fact that if he could take back what happened that day he would in a heartbeat. He would trade places with any one of those boys," said Thomas. Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 2018 collision that killed 16 people and injured 13. Court was told that Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, had missed a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and driven into the path of the Broncos bus carrying players and staff to a junior hockey league playoff game. The lawyer for the then-30-year-old Sidhu noted during sentencing arguments that jail time would mean the commerce graduate wouldn't be allowed to stay in Canada, where he has lived since following his partner who had come over in 2013. A criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than six months makes a permanent resident ineligible to remain in the country. An immigration lawyer says Sidhu's bid has the makings of other cases where deportation was avoided. “ I do think this is one of those types of cases where (border services) could choose to exercise their discretion … given the exceptional circumstances," said Erica Olmstead, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, who's not representing Sidhu. But some other parents do not support Sidhu's attempt to stay in Canada.Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said he intends to send a letter to the Canada Border Services Agency asking for the deportation to go ahead. Joseph said he doesn't want the world to think that all of the families support Sidhu."I don't think the rules should be bent again for him to allow him to stay in the country," Joseph said. "I don't doubt that he lives with regret every single day. I'm not sure that his staying in Canada is best for him."Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband Tom have a constant reminder of the accident. Their son Ryan is paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the crash."I'm not in any way trying to be punitive but absolutely the law is the law and it's not special for anybody else," she said. "I wish I could be more forgiving but we never want this to happen again and there's got to be consequences. I do feel sorry for his family."Sidhu's lawyer, Michael Greene, acknowledges his client's crime had catastrophic consequences but his actions weren't malicious. Greene notes Sidhu wasn't impaired, has a low likelihood to reoffend, and deporting him would also mean deporting his wife. "This offence was more of a tragedy than it was a crime," Greene said Wednesday. He said he has been overwhelmed with letters in support of Sidhu, including from a retired judge, some of which he submitted to border services. “The main thing we’re up against is the perception that ... it would be offensive to the victims and their families and/or the Canadian public to allow him to stay given the magnitude of the tragedy.” “We want to show that ... the Canadian public is not hell-bent on giving him further punishment." Thomas said he's more concerned about regulations that allowed the inexperienced truck driver, three weeks on the job, to get behind the wheel. “We just always felt that the deportation part of it shouldn’t necessarily apply. He’s a broken man. He’s broken psychologically and spiritually, and to deport him now would just add to the suffering to him and his family." Thomas forgave Sidhu in court and has kept in touch with his wife, who shared their emails with her husband. Thomas realizes Sidhu's desire to remain in Canada is divisive. “There’ll be a lot of families that would never support this and there are going to be some that do, too.” Greene said support has come from some other Broncos families, but they asked to remain anonymous so as not to upset others. Olmstead said the deportation policy is there to protect Canada's security, but she has seen orders avoided when someone is guilty of a single offence as in Sidhu's case. "But on the other hand, you’ve got this terrible tragedy where there were so many victims." She explained that a border officer considers community connections and someone's chance of reoffending when writing a report, which could take months, and decides whether there are "exceptional circumstances" that would allow a person to remain in Canada. "It’s quite rare for people to not then still get referred for a removal order.” The Immigration and Refugee Board then holds a hearing to consider the report and is responsible for issuing any deportation order. A permanent resident can appeal the board's decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but not if a sentence, like Sidhu's, is longer than six months. “This is the end of the road for him," Olmstead said. Sidhu could seek a review before a Federal Court, but would first need to be granted leave to do so, she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 -- With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — For years, legions of QAnon conspiracy theory adherents encouraged one another to “trust the plan" as they waited for the day when President Donald Trump would orchestrate mass arrests, military tribunals and executions of his Satan-worshipping, child-sacrificing enemies. Keeping the faith wasn’t easy when Inauguration Day didn’t usher in “The Storm,” the apocalyptic reckoning that they have believed was coming for prominent Democrats and Trump’s “deep state” foes. QAnon followers grappled with anger, confusion and disappointment Wednesday as President Joe Biden was sworn into office. Some believers found a way to twist the conspiracy theory's convoluted narrative to fit their belief that Biden’s victory was an illusion and that Trump would secure a second term in office. Others clung to the notion that Trump will remain a “shadow president” during Biden's term. Some even floated the idea that the inauguration ceremony was computer-generated or that Biden himself could be the mysterious “Q,” who is purportedly a government insider posting cryptic clues about the conspiracy. For many others, however, Trump’s departure sowed doubt. “I am so scared right now, I really feel nothing is going to happen now,” one poster wrote on a Telegram channel popular with QAnon believers. “I’m just devastated.” Mike Rothschild, author of a forthcoming book on QAnon called “The Storm is Upon Us,” said it’s too early to gauge whether the wave of disillusionment that swept through the QAnon ranks Wednesday is a turning point or a fleeting setback for the movement. “I think these people have given up too much and sacrificed too much in their families and in their personal lives,” he said. “They have believed this so completely that to simply walk away from it is just not in the realm of reality for most of these people.” On Wednesday, as it became obvious that Biden’s inauguration would proceed, many QAnon message boards and online groups were bombarded by hecklers and trolls making fun of the conspiracy. Some longtime QAnon posters said they planned to step away from social media, if only temporarily. “Trump has said, ‘THE BEST IS YET TO COME.’ I’m not giving up,” Telegram user Qtah wrote in an announcement to his 30,000 subscribers that he was taking a social media break. Some groups seized the moment to try to recruit disillusioned QAnon supporters to white supremacy and other far-right neofascist movements like the Proud Boys. On Wednesday, for example, an anonymous poster on 4chan posited in a thread that “this would be the perfect time to start posting Nat Soc propaganda in Q anon groups. Clearly, this is a very low point for Q believers, and once people have been broken, they will look for ways to cling back to hope again.” Nat Soc stands for national socialism, commonly referred to as Nazism. QAnon emerged in 2017 through anonymous, fringe online message boards before migrating to Twitter, Facebook and other mainstream platforms that were slow to purge the conspiracy theory from their sites. Although Facebook and Twitter platforms vowed last year to rid their sites of QAnon, accounts with thousands of loyal followers remained until this month, when the tech companies finally disabled thousands of users who used violent rhetoric to encourage protests of the election results at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Twitter announced it had suspended more than 70,000 QAnon accounts in the days following the riots. Facebook, meanwhile disbanded more than 57,000 pages, groups, Facebook profiles and Instagram accounts this month. Trump also was barred from using his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. The crackdown sent some of the conspiracy theory’s most ardent promoters fleeing to less populated social media sites like MeWe and the Telegram messaging app, where they quickly raked in thousands of followers. But the social media companies’ suspensions paralyzed QAnon chatter on the sites, with mentions of popular QAnon hashtags like #FightforTrump and #HoldTheLine declined by roughly 90%, according to an analysis by media intelligence firm Zignal Labs. Other QAnon believers still found ways to promote their message on Facebook and Twitter, urging followers to hold out hope that Trump would find a way to stay in office or expose the “deep state” network of government leaders who they believe operate a child sex trafficking ring. Videos and posts on Facebook, Telegram and YouTube predicted Trump would take over the emergency broadcast system to declare martial law and arrest prominent Democrats. “This presidential inauguration that we’re going to see coming up ... I’m telling you it’s going to be the biggest thing we’ve ever seen in the history of the United States,” one pro-Trump singer, who promotes QAnon conspiracy theories, warned in a Facebook video viewed more than 350,000 times since Monday. But the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to Biden came and went Wednesday. Among the most notable defectors appeared to be Ron Watkins, a prominent promoter of election fraud conspiracy theories who helps run an online messaging board where QAnon conspiracy theories run wild. “We gave it our all,” Watkins wrote in a Telegram post, minutes after Biden was sworn into office. “Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.” Travis View, a conspiracy theory researcher who co-hosts The QAnon Anonymous Podcast under his pseudonym, said Watkins encouraged Trump supporters to travel to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally that led to the Capitol riots. “He did a lot of damage to a lot of people,” he said. “He’s responsible for a lot of pain.” Other QAnon followers spent their time online Wednesday calling Biden an illegitimate president and accusing Democrats of pulling off voter fraud. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed support for the conspiracy theories, called for Biden’s impeachment across her Twitter, Facebook and Telegram accounts as the new president was sworn in. Other followers continued to hunt for clues that QAnon prophecies would be fulfilled, with several social media posts noting that Trump's speech Wednesday was delivered in front of 17 American flags — a significant number to QAnon conspiracy theorists because “Q” is the 17th letter of the alphabet. “I believe the game is still being played this is not over!” one QAnon user wrote to his 26,000 Telegram followers moments after Biden took office. __ Seitz reported from Chicago and Klepper reported from Providence, Rhode Island. Associated Press reporter Garance Burke in San Francisco and researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center Investigations Lab and the Investigative Reporting Program contributed to this report. Michael Kunzelman, Amanda Seitz And David Klepper, The Associated Press
Thousands of people on both sides of the border watched history in the making on Wednesday as Kamala Harris became the first woman of colour to be vice-president of the United States. Longtime supporters of Harris, Shikha Hamilton and her daughter Avani, say they've been following Harris's journey to the White House since she ran for attorney general of California in 2010. "To see her take that oath, that moment, it was very emotional, very," Shikha said in an panel interview on CBC News Network. "It is a momentous occasion that it's hard to hold back tears," she told CBC's Ginella Massa. Avani considers herself as one of the many women of colour who have been inspired by Harris's accomplishments. Harris is of South Asian and Jamaican heritage. "I met her when I was a little girl and throughout my life I've had her to look up to," Avani said. "It's exciting to know that little girls now can see themselves in her … and know that they can dream big like she did." WATCH | Kamala Harris makes history: The Hamiltons had plans to attend the ceremony and watch Harris take her oath in person, however because of the pandemic, their tip was cancelled. Instead, like many others, Shikha and Avani watched the historic moment from their home in San Francisco. Avani admits she didn't really comprehend who Harris was, or the importance of her past positions as attorney general and senator, when she first met her in 2010. However, she said seeing someone that looked like her gave her the motivation that "anything is possible for a strong woman of colour." "She has definitely proven that … it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, or that you're a woman." Shikha and Avani said they are looking forward to the next four years with Harris as vice-president and Biden as the new president of the United States. With Harris's background as a prosecutor, both Shika and Avani would like to see the new administration take on issues of police brutality, immigration and preventing gun violence. McGill University student Joanna Kanga said she breathed a sigh of relief as she watched President Joe Biden and Harris enter the White House on Wednesday. WATCH | Women of colour inspired by Kamala Harris: Kanga, who lives in Montreal, was part of the panel interview with the CBC on Wednesday to talk about Harris's significance to women of colour. She said she felt a connection with the new U.S. vice-president, knowing that Harris also used to live in Montreal. "It was almost like those tumultuous four years were finally over and we could go back to work and go back to a workplace that is more decent," she explained. She said although there might be a lot of pressure on Harris to set the standard high for those who will follow her footsteps, it was "incredibly inspiring" to see her ambition and drive for hard work. "She will have to prove herself and she will have to show to the world that women who look just like me and just like us ... can do it too."
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole vowed to ban Derek Sloan from running for the party again and said he would seek his ejection from the Conservative caucus earlier this week.