Weather Network meteorologist Kevin MacKay has more.
Weather Network meteorologist Kevin MacKay has more.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor says there may have been a miscarriage of justice when a babysitter was convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the drowning of a toddler in Cranbrook, B.C. Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge in the death of 19-month-old Iyanna Teeple, who was found unconscious and not breathing in a bathtub while under her care. The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. The service says in a statement Thursday that Sandford has completed her review and provided a written report, in which she says there is a strong case to be made that Bouvette did not receive disclosure of significant and relevant materials. The statement says Sandford concluded that as a result of that non-disclosure, Bouvette's charter rights may have been breached and her conviction may represent a miscarriage of justice. It says Sandford found a review by the B.C. Court of Appeal is desirable in order to determine whether a miscarriage of justice occurred, and she directed the prosecution service to provide Bouvette with copies of all materials collected in her investigation. The prosecution service says the Crown will not oppose Bouvette if she applies to the Appeal Court for a time extension to file an appeal of her conviction, nor if she applies to file fresh evidence based on any materials not previously disclosed to her. It says Sandford will continue as special prosecutor on the matter and has already taken steps to begin implementing her conclusions and recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
The fence outside of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School is decorated with colourful cardboard signs bearing messages of support for the school, which is closed amid an outbreak of COVID-19. The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board reported a new case of the virus at the west Mountain school on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases at the school to 10 — six students and four staff. “Obviously, it has been a difficult time,” chair Pat Daly said. “Our staff have been working with the principal and our health and safety staff and others to make sure that everything is being done to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff.” An outbreak was declared at St. Teresa of Avila on Feb. 17 after five positive cases were found. The school is closed as a result of the outbreak — a first in the Catholic board. In-person learning is expected to resume on Monday. COVID-19 testing was offered to all staff and students at St. Teresa of Avila on Saturday. The HWCDSB said 60 tests were conducted — 23 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests among those self-isolating and 37 rapid tests for other staff and students. The HWCDSB said all 37 rapid tests came back negative. As of Feb. 24, the board was still waiting on the PCR test results. The HWCDSB is “thoroughly” investigating the outbreak, Daly said in a Feb. 19 interview with The Spectator. Daly said on Thursday there is “nothing confirmed” to explain how transmission at the school occurred. The Catholic board has two additional outbreaks: St. Ann Catholic Elementary School in central Hamilton and St. Eugene Catholic Elementary School in east Hamilton — each with three outbreak-related cases. There is also an outbreak at the public board’s A.M. Cunningham Elementary School, where two students are infected. As of Wednesday, there had been a total of 78 cases — 37 in the Catholic board and 41 in the public board — since students returned to school on Feb. 8. “We definitely expect to see cases occurring in the schools, and there are going to be instances where there is transmission that happens within a school,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, said at a media briefing on Tuesday. “The key piece is to keep these absolutely to a minimum as we go forward.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
People on reserve have received the coronavirus vaccine at a rate of six times higher than Canadians, yet Dr. Evan Adams said he is still fielding questions about whether or not people should be signing up for injections. “People are so suspicious that we’re trying to do something bad to them, when we’re trying to do something good for them… I find it sad that some people don’t trust. In a way, of course, it’s understandable we don’t trust particular things, but I hope there are somethings that you would trust and I hope you would trust, say, an Indigenous physician like me, who says, ‘Let me help. I’m very interested and very concerned about you and your family and your knowledge keepers and your community’,” said Adams, deputy chief medical officer of Public Health, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). Adams, who was speaking today on the weekly edition of the First Nations Health Managers Association’s (FNHMA) virtual town hall, said he was grateful that science offered such an efficient method to protect against COVID-19. “I’m looking forward to having a vaccine. If I get a sore arm, if I feel a little bit tired, I’ll probably just smile through all of that because … the vaccine is teaching my body to fight off the natural virus,” he said. FNHMA CEO Marion Crowe, who hosts the town hall, said it was important that First Nations people were able to hear such information from a First Nations physician. “I’m grateful to have an Indigenous physician here with us … so that we know to trust in the words that you speak, the inherent knowledge that you share, and the wisdom of your experiences and education… while understanding that some of us are a little bit mistrusting when it comes to any government initiative,” said Crowe. She added that mistrust has stemmed from a health system that continues to prove itself to discriminate systemically and from history where Indigenous people were test subjects. Adding levity to the serious discussion, Crowe said she was willing to be a “guinea pig.” “This is one time I’m happy that I’ll be a guinea pig because I’m right in there with all the front line – police, ambulance, doctors, nurses, … (personal support workers), long term care folks. If we’re going to wipe out everyone, that’s the group we’ll be with, so we’re not going to do that. So just having confidence in the science is going to be so welcoming and evidence-based,” said Crowe. Evans said the impact of the virus is beginning to lessen on reserves thanks to the vaccine coupled with other measures such as handwashing, physical distancing and masking. But statistics to this point have been sobering and demonstrate that First Nations people in community, and Indigenous people in general, contract COVID-19 at a rate 1.67 higher than Canadians. However, hospitalization rates (at 0.6 times Canadians) and fatality rates (at 0.42 times Canadians) are lower because COVID is hitting more First Nations youth and less Elders. As of Feb. 24, ISC is aware of 222 deaths on reserve. While there are new variants of the coronavirus appearing throughout Canada, none have been officially reported on reserves. “We expect that one day we will hear about cases on reserve because that’s the nature of how viruses work … so we will eventually see more and more cases of that variant and probably will start to see it in communities,” said Evans. Evans offered reassurance, though, saying that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were “excellent” for the UK variant and offered “partial” coverage for the South African variant. Evans said that when people were tested for the virus, further screening followed to indicate if a variant was involved. The variant was confirmed by testing in a provincial or national lab. Although ISC is not in charge of the vaccination roll-out, which falls into the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, Evans said his department would still provide support where needed. “The provinces are supposed to speak to Indigenous leadership and confirm with them that the plans that they’re making for their communities are acceptable, are well organized, are giving priorities where they should be,” said Evans. He pointed out that depending on the community and leadership, the vaccine will be rolled out differently. However, he said, that roll-out must be “evidenced-based,” which means it would comply with the latest National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines. Those guidelines have “adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences” recommended for Stage 1. NACI also acknowledged that in urban settings where poverty, systemic racism and homelessness were factors, “these populations may be considered for immunization concurrent with remote and isolated Indigenous communities if feasibly identified within jurisdictions, understanding that these are traditionally hardly reached populations for immunization programs.” Evans said it has been “nerve-racking” waiting for the vaccine because of production issues experienced by manufacturers, but the shipment of both vaccines will be ramping up. He said while people are waiting for their vaccines, they “should be happy” for the Elders and others who have received theirs. “If you are relatively well, you shouldn’t mind having to wait. And those of you with the most risk, yes, you should be prioritized. Let’s keep speaking up for those amongst us who are most at risk and help them get vaccinated,” said Evans. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
(CBC - image credit) The Salvation Army's Centre of Hope shelter in Windsor's downtown will be cutting off new intakes starting Friday as it struggles with a large COVID-19 outbreak at its facility. "We want to get out of outbreak as soon as we can and that's our number one priority right now," Glenn Van Gulik, the divisional secretary for public relations with Salvation Army Ontario said. The facility first reported its outbreak last week with eight positive cases, but that has now grown to 34 total cases. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said it would not order the Salvation Army to close, even though it just mandated that for the Downtown Mission, another shelter experiencing a large outbreak. "We haven't considered a similar order that we have for the mission because of how the salvation is structured and their ability to implement some of these outbreak control measures," Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said. Glenn Van Gulik is the divisional secretary for public relations with the Salvation Army Ontario. The Salvation Army has room for 50 individuals, including a shelter capacity of 26 and 24 additional housing units on-site. Van Gulik said while some have gone to the city's Isolation and Recovery Centre, others are able to recover on site because it acts as both an emergency shelter and residential program. "We've got a number of individuals who are housed on our third floor that have small apartments that we are able to make sure they are safe in those locations," he said. "That can be separated from and we can work with those individuals in a different way rather than have them in a congregate population." No new intakes across province While the Windsor shelter is suspending new intakes this week, it's not the only one. Other Salvation Army locations across the province are doing the same. As for Windsor specifically, Van Gulik said it will not be taking in new people until the outbreak is over. "What we want to do is stop that intake... until we can get ourselves out of outbreak and then we can re-admit people safely," Van Gulik said. It is, however, attempting to open its gymnasium as a separate place for people seeking refuge, he said. But he said it's unclear when that will happen as the effort is somewhat hampered by a recent fire the facility had. "We're working with the city, working with public health and working with the fire marshal to make sure that we can re-open that safely but that will be separated from the rest of our residents at the Windsor Centre of Hope so that we can add up to 25 people on that side of our facility."
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska House cancelled most Thursday hearings after a member tested positive for COVID-19, disrupting work that just recently got underway in the chamber after weeks of organizational delays. The disclosure followed the announcement Wednesday that Gov. Mike Dunleavy had tested positive for COVID-19. Dunleavy was in quarantine at his Wasilla area home with what the state’s chief medical officer said were mild symptoms. Alaska House Republicans, in a release Thursday, identified the lawmaker as Rep. Mike Cronk of Tok, a member of their caucus. The release states that Cronk is in quarantine in Juneau and experiencing mild symptoms after testing positive Wednesday. It says Cronk's staff had tested negative as of Thursday morning and that contact tracers had begun identifying close contacts of Cronk. It was not immediately clear where Cronk may have been exposed, said Ben Dietderich, a spokesperson for the House Republicans. He said two other House members who attended a recent event with Cronk outside of Juneau tested negative on Wednesday. House Speaker Louise Stutes, in an email to fellow representatives Wednesday, announced a member had tested positive. The email did not say when the test was taken or identify the lawmaker. Protocols in place for access to the Capitol require testing every five days, filling out a health questionnaire for daily access and undergoing a temperature check. Capitol access to the public has been restricted. Stutes asked that House members and staff come into the Capitol Thursday only if necessary. She said this was to allow for the “appropriate response, contact tracing, and cleaning to occur.” She said any House member or staff requiring entry into the Capitol on Thursday must be tested Thursday and provide proof of that test. Stutes said all House committees would be cancelled Thursday though the posted schedule showed the House Health and Social Services Committee would meet by teleconference. The meeting topic involved a proposed reorganization of the state health department. One week ago, on Feb. 18, the House, which has struggled to organize a clear governing majority, set up committees a month into the session. The first House committee meetings began this week. The Senate pressed on with its work Thursday though “vulnerable staff and legislators” were encouraged to stay home, said Daniel McDonald with the Senate majority press office. Neither the House nor the Senate had planned floor sessions for Thursday. The Senate earlier this session passed a resolution intended to allow for remote voting if necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House has yet to act on a similar measure. Jessica Geary, executive director of the Legislative Affairs Agency, said by email that the contractor handling testing and screening for the Legislature is “assisting with disinfection and sanitation protocols” and working with public health officials on contact tracing. She said there also had been a case in which an aide had tested positive. Geary cited health protocols that state if the person is asymptomatic, “two follow up tests, taken 24 hours apart and producing a negative result, will allow them to be cleared by public health. That is what happened in this instance and there is no relation to the current positive case in the House." A code of conduct, adopted by the Legislative Council ahead of the session, said legislators and staff must avoid nonessential trips out of Juneau, the capital city. Geary has said it is up to individual legislators to define what is essential travel. Stutes asked House lawmakers and staff Thursday to not travel outside of Juneau "unless absolutely necessary until further notice.” The House has considerable work before it, she said. “Further, recent events highlight the likelihood of additional COVID protocol delays and the increased risk of contagion from travelling outside of the Capitol Building bubble,” Stutes said. She added the House would be working weekends “until our business, the people’s business, is concluded.” Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich said he was the only one in his office Thursday afternoon. He said he's asked members of his minority caucus to test before coming into the Capitol, even if they are still within their testing cycle, and said he has been keeping regular contact with House leaders for updates. Begich said he sent staff home when he learned of the House case. There are mask-wearing requirements in the Capitol, and dividers have been placed between members on the House and Senate floors. But lawmakers often huddle to talk, and seating around committee tables or in committee rooms does not always allow for or encourage spacing. State health officials have recommended mask wearing, keeping at least 6 feet from others and handwashing as mitigation steps. Rep. Sara Hannan, a Juneau Democrat, has taken over as chair of the Legislative Council, a committee of House and Senate leaders that handles legislative business. The council met for the first time this session on Thursday, by teleconference. Hannan, who was working from home Thursday, said she's been asked if protocols would change. She said she thinks the current situation is “a reminder that we're probably not ready to change our protocols, that COVID is actively spreading when mitigation efforts like masking, distancing and handwashing aren't being done fastidiously.” Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan's top doctor says the presence of more contagious variants makes testing even more important to stem the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Saqib Shahab says the province needs to keep its daily cases low and people must follow public-health advice to try to prevent more infectious variants from taking over. "We need to use testing more, even more now, because of the variants of concern," he said during a briefing Thursday. The province says thousands of rapid-testing kits from Ottawa will be deployed into long-term care homes, schools, detox facilities, shelters, as well as to first responders. The province is also looking to hire a third-party provider to help any groups that may be unable to use the kits themselves. Shahab says some people have delayed getting tested and gone to work with symptoms, which has led to outbreaks. Testing will help the province's caseload decrease because tests can help break chains of transmission, he said. Cory Neudorf, a public health and epidemiology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said provinces are at a critical point in the pandemic. He said vaccine rollouts for the most vulnerable are in their early days and the risk is that variants could drive up spread before many older residents are immunized. Two weeks ago, the Saskatchewan Health Authority gave an update to physicians that included a discussion on community spread with some point-in-time modelling. A senior medical which warned that confirmed cases in the province could double to 50,000 by mid-April, if certain indicators didn't change, such as the reproductive figure for how many people one person with COVID-19 infects. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Thursday that calculation was based on an earlier case count. It said as of Feb. 20, the reproductive figure has been below one. That means case growth is less than it was when the town hall estimate was given. “It’s a slightly less possibility than it was a few weeks ago, but it’s still possible that we would be seeing a resurgence by mid-April. Whether or not it gets to 50,000 cases, I don’t know," Neudorf said. Neudorf does point out that caseloads have begun to stabilize and drop in the past few weeks in parts of the province, including around Saskatoon and in the south. The province on Thursday reported 211 new infections after only 56 on Wednesday — the lowest count in months. The total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic took hold last March sits at slightly over 28,000. Shahab said it's a positive sign that pressure on the health system has dropped. There were 165 people in hospital and 18 in intensive care Thursday. But Saskatchewan, with a population of 1.1 million, still reports having the highest rate of active cases per capita in Canada. It also has two cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom with no known links to travel. Shahab has said this is the third week in some time in which seven-day averages of new daily cases are below 200. He also said the province's test positivity rate is about seven per cent, down from 10. Still, health officials say more testing is needed because it's higher than five per cent. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Christian Siriano opened his second show of the pandemic Thursday with two ladies in bed, models who emerged flawless in black one-pieces, then dressed for all to see before hitting the runway. It was a dreamy, colour-saturated show during a tough time for fashion inspiration, Siriano said. He created an alternate reality inspired by a recent jaunt to Aspen, Colorado, to visit family for the first time in a year. While most designers have gone fully digital during an expanded New York Fashion Week that has stretched the traditional calendar, Siriano remains committed to the runway. “If you take this away, and the glamour, then it's like I'm just at the office talking about money all day, and that's not what I want,” he told The Associated Press after the fall-winter show attended by about 75 in-person guests. “I wouldn't want to do this job if I couldn't have this world.” In this world, shared on Instagram Live, there were looks for hidden parties and cocktail hours in the Colorado mountains, and silky evening dresses in fuchsia and chartreuse. There were cutouts, and ruffles and lace for ombre and peekaboo impact. And there was Siriano muse Coca Rocha camping it up for the cameras in a voluminous black gown with a plunging neckline — after she woke up to start the show. Siriano included two thrifted pieces he previously designed and found on the site thredUP, including a black fringe coat he made about seven years ago. He was pleasantly surprised it held up, both esthetically and through its well-worn years. The other look was a plunging silk crepe dress in fuchsia washed many times. “You shouldn't do that because it's silk, but it looked so cool. It looked worn but new. Hopefully it will show people we can do this in fashion,” Siriano said of the growing reuse movement. He partnered with thredUP after creating the universal logo for thrift, in the shape of a coat hanger. As for his newly created clothes, there was an “homage to the lodge” in plaid lames and cashmeres, melting into sunset-drenched oranges and pinks inspired by his Colorado vacation. He threw in some creams in a snakeskin print and bright winter whites, including a white jacket worn with loose fuchsia trousers for day. Siriano carried his check lame print from a trouser set to a strapless cocktail gown to a loose, long-sleeve top with a plunge. There were psychedelic swirls of orange and brown in a pantsuit and an evening dress with a high slit. What if, heaven forbid, he's forced to design a third collection in a pandemic come the September show cycle, trying to wrangle staff working remotely while sourcing materials. “Honestly, I don't know," Siriano said, "because I love doing this but it's very hard to do in a pandemic. The logistics are a challenge, but we're just going to move on and hope for the best.” Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
A new educational resource looks at British Columbia’s long history of racist policies and the resiliency of the many Indigenous, Black and racialized people who have been affected. The open-source booklet Challenging Racist British Columbia: 150 Years and Counting was released today by co-publishers the University of Victoria (UVic) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The 80-page document is being made available as Black History Month wraps up and as B.C. approaches its 150th anniversary of joining Canada this July 20. “In 1871, this province joined the Canadian federation and, ever since, communities of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized peoples have waged protracted struggles against the dispossession of Indigenous lands, institutionalized discrimination, and the politics of exclusion,” the report begins. “They have won many victories, yet, 150 years later, we are witnessing yet another uprising against systemic racism.” The booklet was written by a group of academics and activists from diverse communities, who link historical events to recent anti-racism movements — around Black Lives Matter, the Wet’suwet’en blockades and more. One of the report’s authors Christine O’Bonsawin, a historian from the Abenaki, Odanak Nation, says the goal of the report is to educate people in so-called B.C. about the many injustices that haven’t been widely discussed in schools. O’Bonsawin is faculty of UVic’s History and Indigenous Studies departments, and the university’s former director of Indigenous Studies. “An important role of historians is to connect the past with the present,” she tells IndigiNews over the phone. “No doubt it’s a booklet about justice, and it’s about racism and oppression, but we wanted to prioritize activism, resistance and resilience.” The booklet’s authors say it’s meant to be utilized by teachers, scholars, policymakers and others doing anti-racism work. O’Bonsawin says those behind the report are doing outreach to provincial education organizations to ensure that it does. “One of our guiding objectives was that we hoped this would be useful for teachers to support the K-12 Indigenization process,” she says. “We wanted to make sure this was a public document that was accessible to all.” The document is divided into six sections covering various stories from the Indigenous, Black, Chinese, South Asian and Japanese communities. It spans from 1871, when B.C. joined Canada, to the present day. It includes historical photos, poems, and profiles of key people and organizations. Another of the report’s authors Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra — coordinator of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley and co-curator of exhibits at the Sikh Heritage Museum — says it counteracts inaccurate information about B.C. history. “This book offers a bold, honest, historical correction to the false narrative that Canada is exempt from white supremacy and racist nation state formations,” Sandhra says in a statement. “And for that reason, this book is the exact resource needed in this pivotal moment where an anti-racist movement continues to take shape. It is a resource for activists, students, educators, community professionals — it is a resource for all.” President of the BC Black History of Awareness Society, Sylvia Mangue Alene, says the booklet showcases how racism must be challenged. “In this booklet, subjects have answered in a very clear way what needs to be challenged, and that is racism,” she says in a statement. “Racism is challenged because we believe that there are better ways to treat people and that is with respect and inclusiveness in all aspects that life has to offer.” With B.C.’s 150th anniversary approaching, report co-author John Price, a historian at UVic, adds that it marks the ways in which activists and communities have been standing up to racism since the province’s formation. “Hopefully it serves as a wake-up call to governments that no longer should they engage in divide-and-rule policies. 150 years is long enough,” he says. The booklet’s other authors are Nicholas XEMŦOLTW̱ Claxton, Denise Fong, Fran Morrison and Maryka Omatsu. According to the resource website and accompanying press release, an interactive digital version of the resource “providing direct access to primary and community-based sources,” as well as an accompanying 20-minute video, will be released sometime this spring. Cara McKenna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
(Wind Energy Institute of Canada - image credit) Prince Edward Island is getting 50 new Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations. The federal government announced $250,000 for Maritime Electric to do the work, as part of a series of announcements Thursday on funding for climate change projects. The federal charging station cash will be combined with contributions from the province and Maritime Electric, adding up to just under $600,000. It's part of Natural Resources Canada's Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program. "The infrastructure resulting from these investments will ensure that people can drive and charge their vehicles across Canada," the federal government said in a news release Thursday. The federal government is helping fund 50 new Level 2 electric vehicle chargers across P.E.I. as part of a commitment to build a network of chargers across Canada. Here, Tom McLean of Fredericton charges his EV Nissan Leaf at the Lincoln Big Stop using a faster model of charger. Maritime Electric says the work should be complete by the end of this year. "Electric vehicles are going to play a big role in reducing pollution in the years to come," Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay said in a statement as the funding was announced. Level 2 chargers usually take a few hours to fully charge an electric vehicle, whereas newer DC fast chargers take much less time. As of early February, Natural Resources Canada estimated that the country now has 13,230 electric vehicle chargers at 6,016 public stations. Provincial funding details also out In a related announcement Thursday, the provincial government said 15 Island groups will receive a total of nearly $1 million from P.E.I.'s Climate Challenge Fund. The funding is part of a three-year plan "to help Islanders adapt to climate change, develop new technologies and opportunities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in innovative ways." The recipients include: All EV P.E.I., which gets $99,382 "to provide an education, outreach, and experiential program provincewide to residents and businesses on the climate and ownership benefits of electric vehicles." The school of climate change and adaptation at UPEI, which gets $100,000 "to develop 1 km x 1 km high-resolution regional climate scenarios for Prince Edward Island." The department of engineering at UPEI, which gets $99,400 to explore sustainable agriculture practices. Upcycle Green Technology, which gets $100,000 toward its efforts to replace traditional engines in older cars with electric versions. BIPOC USHR, which gets $100,000 "to actively address inequities and discrimination that are generated or augmented by climate change and work to ensure discrimination is considered when addressing climate change." Wind Energy Institute of Canada, which gets $100,000 "to work with UPEI's Climate Research Laboratory to create a climate monitoring facility, including a meteorological tower." More from CBC P.E.I.
The harmless puppy just wanted to play around! How cute is that?
WASHINGTON — Less than a month after excoriating Donald Trump in a blistering floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he would “absolutely” support the former president again if he secured the Republican nomination in 2024. The Kentucky Republican told Fox News that there's still “a lot to happen between now" and the next presidential election. “I've got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president, plus governors and others,” McConnell said. “There's no incumbent. Should be a wide open race.” But when directly asked if he would support Trump again were he to win the nomination, McConnell responded: “The nominee of the party? Absolutely.” McConnell's remarks underscore an awkward balancing act he sought to maintain since Trump lost the election, reflecting the reality that McConnell’s own path back to power in the Senate hinges on enthusiasm from a party base that still ardently supports Trump. McConnell's comments come before an annual gathering of conservative activists that this year is expected to showcase Trump's vice grip-like hold on the GOP base. Trump, along with most other leading 2024 presidential prospects, are set to address the Conservative Political Action Conference, which will be held in Orlando this year due to coronavirus restrictions. McConnell, a regular at the annual conference, will not be on the program following his condemnation of Trump. The 36-year Senate veteran had an expedient relationship with Trump while he was in office. He made a habit of saying little about many of Trump’s outrageous comments. But together they secured key Senate victories such as the 2017 tax cuts and the confirmations of three Supreme Court justices and more than 200 other federal judges. Their relationship soured after Trump’s denial of his Nov. 3 defeat and relentless efforts to reverse the voters’ verdict with his baseless claims that Democrats fraudulently stole the election. It deteriorated further last month, after Republicans lost Senate control with two Georgia runoff defeats they blamed on Trump, followed by the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. The day of the riot, McConnell railed against “thugs, mobs, or threats” and described the attack as “this failed insurrection.” Still, McConnell likes to pride himself on playing the “long game,” which was the title of his 2016 memoir. And his comments on Thursday may yet prove prescient. Recently, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, a longtime Trump opponent, predicted the former president would win the nomination if he ran again. “I don't know if he'll run in 2024 or not but if he does I'm pretty sure he will win the nomination,” Romney said during an online forum hosted by the New York Times. Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern): 6:25 p.m. Alberta is reporting 399 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths due to the illness. It says there are 280 people in hospital with the virus, with 56 of them in intensive care. Another 32 variant cases have also been detected, bringing that total so far in Alberta to 355. --- 6 p.m. Prince Edward Island’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, has confirmed a cluster of three new COVID-19 cases. The cases, involving three men in their 20s, are under investigation and contact tracing is underway. Health officials are urging anyone in the Summerside area with any COVID-19 symptoms to get tested Friday and self-isolate until they receive results. The province has six active cases of COVID-19 and has had a total of 120 cases since the onset of the pandemic. --- 5:25 p.m. The Manitoba government is looking at easing many of its COVID-19 restrictions as early as March 5. The proposed changes include raising capacity limits at stores and restaurants to 50 per cent from the current 25 per cent. Outdoor public gatherings would be capped at 10 people instead of the current five, and people could invite an entire other household into their home. The province says there will be public feedback before things are finalized next week. --- 4:15 p.m. B.C. is reporting 395 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths today, pushing the death toll in the province to 1,348. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news briefing there are 4,489 active cases, including nine cases of virus variants of concern. She says B.C. is ramping up its screening for the variants, aiming to test 100 per cent of COVID-positive samples by next week to determine whether it’s likely they are variant cases and should be sent for further study. Henry is also warning that weekly average case counts and test positivity rates have ticked up in recent weeks, particularly in the Lower Mainland. Close to 240,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. so far, including more than 68,000 people who received their second shot. --- 3:45 p.m. Starting March 1, Nunavut is loosening some restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Nunavut's Qikiqtani and Kitikmeot regions, all schools can reopen for full-time learning. Some schools have been operating on a part-time basis since November. Also as of March 1, theatres, bars, restaurants, conference spaces and places of worship can operate at 75 per cent capacity, up from 50 per cent. Gyms, libraries, museums and galleries can operate at 50 per cent capacity. Schools in Arviat, the only community in Nunavut with active cases, remain closed. There are 25 active cases of cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat. --- 3:25 p.m. Experts advising the Ontario government say a risky period of the pandemic lies ahead as more contagious variants of COVID-19 are expected to make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March. The province's science advisory group says the government needs to be very careful with loosening public health measures. The group says declines in cases and hospitalizations that followed strict lockdown measures have begun to slow. Projections show hospitalizations will likely rise as variants spread, and intensive care capacity will be strained over the next month. The group says vaccinating high-risk communities and older people will drive down hospitalizations and deaths. It also says the province will need to react quickly with strong public health measures when flare-ups happen. --- 2:40 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 211 new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say there are 156 people in hospital, with 18 people in intensive care. Another resident who was 80 and older also died. The province says it's given around 65,000 vaccinations to date. --- 1:40 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the case is in the Edmundston region and involves a person in their 30s who is a close contact of a previously reported case. Officials say the number of active reported cases in the province is 49 and two patients are hospitalized with the disease, including one in intensive care. New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,427 COVID-19 infections and 26 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. --- 1:40 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 67 additional COVID-19 cases and one death. The province's numbers have been trending lower in recent days, although there are still high numbers, per capita, in some northern communities. --- 1:40 p.m. Pfizer-BioNTech says it has officially requested that Health Canada change the label on the COVID-19 vaccine to reflect that it is now safe to store it for up to two weeks in regular freezers. The vaccine has until now been shipped and stored in ultra-low-temperature freezers until just before it is injected. Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow said the English paperwork was submitted Thursday and the French paperwork required to complete the application will follow soon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed to make the change this week. Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, said if Health Canada follows suit it will give the provinces more flexibility in where they can use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It has been limited to a smaller number of sites because there are only so many freezers capable of keeping it at the right temperature. --- 1:15 p.m. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, says he understands that provinces may not have a lot of confidence in the vaccine deliveries after the disappointing shipments in February. But he says he has much more confidence in the situation now that Moderna has confirmed deliveries until the end of March and Pfizer-BioNTech into the middle of April. Fortin says provincial, territorial and federal governments are planning a virtual exercise March 9 to go over what is in place for provinces and territories to handle the increased deliveries that are starting to come now and will get even bigger in April. Pfizer has confirmed it will send more than 3.7 million doses between March 1 and April 15, and Moderna confirmed 1.3 million doses will be shipped in March. --- 12:45 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador health officials are reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19. Authorities say all of the new infections are in the eastern region of the province, where officials have been battling an outbreak in the metro area of St. John’s. The regional health authority says the outbreak affected students and staff in 22 different schools in the St. John’s area. Eastern Health says that number includes 145 infections among staff and students of a high school in Mount Pearl, where officials say the outbreak began. --- 12:15 p.m. Nunavut is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. All the new cases are in Arviat, the only community in the territory with active COVID-19 cases. Because of the rise in cases, Arviat's hamlet council has imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day. There are 25 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 858 new COVID-19 infections and 16 more deaths due to the novel coronavirus. Health authorities say the number of patients requiring hospitalization has declined by 22 to 633, with eight fewer patients in intensive care. The latest numbers come as the province began accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for those 85 and older. Officials also say primary school students in Quebec's red pandemic-alert zones -- which includes the greater Montreal area -- will be required to wear a mask at all times beginning March 8. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,138 new cases of COVID-19. The province is also reporting 1,094 cases have been resolved since yesterday's update and there have been 23 more deaths linked to the virus. Ontario is set to release new COVID-19 projections this afternoon. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's science advisory group, is presenting the data. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Is it Mr. Potato Head or not? Hasbro created confusion Thursday when it announced that it would drop the “Mr.” from the brand’s name in order to be more inclusive and so all could feel “welcome in the Potato Head world.” It also said it would sell a new playset this fall without the Mr. and Mrs. designations that will let kids create their own type of potato families, including two moms or two dads. But in a tweet later that afternoon, Hasbro clarified that the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters will still live on and be sold in stores, but under the Potato Head brand. In a picture posted on Twitter, the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” names are less prominently displayed at the bottom of the box, instead of the top. “While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD,” the company tweeted. The tweet came after news of the brand name change exploded on Twitter, with people asking if Barbie will change her name next. “I think Hasbro needs to drop the “Bro” and just be “Has,'” another person tweeted. Hasbro appears to want to have it both ways: expand the brand, while not killing off its most iconic characters, which appeared in the “Toy Story” films. “They are looking to broaden the franchise,” said Robert Passikoff, founder of marketing consultancy Brand Keys. “You take the focus of what is essentially one character and now allow it to be a platform for many characters.” Kimberly Boyd, a senior vice-president at Hasbro, said the intention of the brand name change was to be more inclusive and to have the characters still live within the Potato Head universe. “It created a lot of excitement," she said about the reaction. GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group, applauded the more inclusive Potato playset. “Hasbro is helping kids to simply see toys as toys, which encourages them to be their authentic selves outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s chief communications officer, in a statement. Many toymakers have been updating their classic brands in recent years, hoping to relate to today’s kids and reflect more modern families. “It’s a potato,” said Ali Mierzejewski, editor in chief at toy review site The Toy Insider, about the new playset. “But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.” Barbie, for example, has tried to shed its blonde image and now comes in multiple skin tones and body shapes. The Thomas the Tank Engine toy line added more girl characters. And American Girl is now selling a boy doll. Mr. Potato Head first hit the toy scene in 1952, when it didn’t even come with a plastic potato — kids had to supply their own vegetable to poke eyes, a nose or moustache into. Hasbro, which also makes Monopoly and My Little Pony, bought the brand and eventually added a plastic spud. Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press
(Powerboat Racing World - image credit) "First Lady of Offshore, Lady Violet Aitken, has passed away." The headline in Powerboat Racing World, one of the first Canadian outlets to report Aitken's death on Feb. 18, seems at first blush to be a remarkable understatement of her larger-than-life life. In her 94 years, there was little Aitken hadn't experienced or achieved. She was the daughter-in-law of Miramichi-raised Sir William Maxwell Aitken, better known as Lord Beaverbrook, a leading benefactor of the University of New Brunswick and founder and sponsor of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Her marriage to Beaverbrook's son, Sir Max Aitken, brought her into New Brunswick's orbit and sparked what would become a lifelong love of the province and of Canada. She was the first female chancellor of the University of New Brunswick, a post she held for 10 years. She was on the board of the Beaverbrook Foundation and the driving force behind many of the foundation's key projects. She was one of New Brunswick's most ardent ambassadors, a mother of two children — the current Lord Beaverbrook, Maxwell Aitken, and Laura Levi — and grandmother and great-grandmother of many more. And yes, as noted by Powerboat Racing World, she was also a fiercely competitive powerboat racer. Lady Violet Aitken with powerboat racer and journalist Ray Bulman. Clearly, as stated by the Beaverbrook Foundation in announcing her death, "she had a zest for life." In a pithy Facebook post, her granddaughter, Lucci, concurred. "My Gran was a badass. RIP." That's the challenge of capturing a life as broad, as deep and as enthusiastically embraced as Aitken's was. There is no one word that quite suffices. There is, however, a general consensus, and that is this: Lady Violet Aitken was "utterly genuine and quite simply remarkable." Lady Aitken leading the tour outside Cherkley Court during Kevin Fram's visit in the 1990s. An extraordinary tour, followed by lunch and cocktails Kevin Fram, a keen student of Lord Beaverbrook and his family, had the opportunity to meet with Lady Violet Aitken several times back in the '90s, a fact that still seems to amaze him. He was working as an assistant to then Governor General Roméo LeBlanc and was planning a trip to the United Kingdom. Former University of New Brunswick president Colin B. Mackay heard about the trip and offered to introduce Fram to his dear friend, Lady Violet Aitken, so he could meet up with her when he landed. It was arranged that Fram would take a train from London to Leatherhead, Surrey, and she'd meet him at the train station. "She picked me up in her little Volkswagen and took me on what turned out to be an extraordinary tour of the area," Fram said in an interview Thursday. "She showed me the gravesite of R.B. Bennett [former prime minister and a childhood friend of Lord Beaverbrook], and she took me on a tour of Cherkley Court." Kevin Fram at the entrance to Cherkley Court, the former home of Lord Beaverbrook. Cherkley Court, once the home of Lord Beaverbrook, was like a time capsule, he said. "The drawing room, the dining room, the study, there was a movie theatre — it was all there," Fram said. "It was as if Lord Beaverbrook were still alive." Aitken was living in a cottage on the Cherkley estate, and after the tour, she invited Fram in, served him "lunch and gin and tonics and then talked and talked and talked" about Lord Beaverbrook and her husband and New Brunswick. "It was obvious how passionate she was about New Brunswick," Fram said. "She cared very deeply about the province and was very proud of the fact that her husband, and then of course she herself, had been so intimately involved with the University of New Brunswick." The second time Fram visited, he was on his way to India. "She said 'Well, you're going to need a good square meal before you head off,' " he said with a chuckle. Aitken insisted on cooking him lunch – fried pork chops, green beans, all the fixings — followed by an afternoon of gin and tonics and hours of conversation. "Whatever your preconceptions might be about a well-bred member of the British aristocracy, I can tell you this: Lady Aitken was warm, genuine, gracious, charming — she was completely enchanting." Lady Violet Aitken in a recent photo, posted on the Beaverbrook Foundation website. Decade-long dispute over paintings Judy Budovitch remembers Lady Violet Aitken as a woman of incandescent natural charm. Budovitch chaired the board of Fredericton's Beaverbrook Art Gallery from 1990 to about 2000, when Aitken was the custodian of the gallery, and said she "elevated the energy of every event she attended just by being there." "When she stood up to speak, she captured the room," Budovitch said. "She spoke beautifully and warmly and she cared a great deal about the institution. She was a wonderful custodian." The fact that Aitken was so universally well-liked and admired made what eventually transpired so difficult. In 2004, a dispute arose between Fredericton's Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the U.K.-based Beaverbrook Foundation. At issue were 133 works of art worth millions of dollars that arrived at the gallery in the 1950s and 1960s. The foundation argued it owned the pieces and lent them to the gallery; the gallery maintained Lord Beaverbrook gave the works as gifts. In 2007 an arbitrator awarded 85 of the works, including the most valuable paintings in the collection, to the gallery. The foundation won the remaining 48. "Those were trying times for her, and for everybody here who liked her so very much," Budovitch said. Warm memories Aitken had retired from the board by that time, and Budovitch said she never spoke to her after the dispute arose. "But I'm sure it pained her greatly to see a fracture between the Aitken family and their longstanding support for good works in New Brunswick," she said. However, that's long since been overtaken by the many warm memories Aitken left in her wake. Budovitch recalls how, when she went to England with her teenage sons, Aitken met up with them in London. "We went to her home at Cherkley and had lunch with her. … She just couldn't have been more gracious," Budovitch said. "She just put you at ease immediately, she was interested in people and you felt that when she spoke with you, even my boys felt at ease with her. "She was very special. Truly, it was the highlight of my years on the board at the gallery to have gotten to known her."
The Peace River Regional District will issue a letter of support for a plan by Telus to expand LTE connectivity in the region. The company is applying to the federal Universal Broadband Fund and is under the wire after its original Feb. 15 deadline was pushed to March. PRRD directors expressed mixed opinions at their board meeting Thursday, with some saying the company has failed to properly communicate with them. Hudson’s Hope Mayor Dave Heiberg said he was initially skeptical, but was convinced of the benefits after a conversation with Telus’ Northern Alberta and BC Interior General Manager Brian Bettis. "This is what the fibre working group was trying to achieve, to get that last mile,” said Heiberg of PRRD’s connectivity committee. “And if the intent is to provide these areas with service to premise, that is a large part of what our goal was, in my mind.” Telus is proposing to expand connectivity in Bear Flat, Bear Mountain, East Pine, Farmington, Farrell Creek, Fort St John, Goodlow, Moberly Lake, Mount Wabi, Pouce Coupe, Prespatou, Rose Prairie, Septimus, Taylor, and Tupper. Heiberg noted the company is also looking at fibre optic and cellular upgrades around Canyon Drive and a portion of Beryl Prairie in Hudson's Hope. But director Leonard Hiebert says the company has backed out meetings scheduled with electoral area directors about their plans. “Considering they’re a communications company, they don’t communicate very well,” said Hiebert. “I can’t justify supporting this if they’re not going to communicate with us in the areas that they’re trying to do this work in." "They expect us to support them blindly," he said. Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille says the district's questions to Telus about its plans have also gone unanswered. "To this day, I haven’t got a response to what they were going to give us in terms of fibre. I would not support this,” said Courtoreille. Director Dan Rose said Telus is the most likely to complete any cellular upgrades in the region, but said it has not improved its communications with the PRRD. “We met with Brian Bettis when he was first appointed into this new role, and he guaranteed us that we would see a big change in how they communicated. And we have, they’re even worse,” said Rose. “People who adjudicate these applications probably place a fair amount of weight in to what kind of support they’re getting from the community. This is not nearly enough information for me, after the way we’ve been left hanging.” Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman agreed that Telus is the only choice for connectivity, and supported writing a letter of support. “Connectivity is a topic on absolutely every bloody call that we have with every minister, regardless of what their mandate letter contains," Ackerman said. "Putting in this infrastructure is extremely expensive.” Director Karen Goodings noted there are a number of other connectivity initiatives already underway. “We’re getting this again from too many directions, and not being able to ascertain what ones are actually going to be able to support the people,” said Goodings. Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead said connectivity is a problem in rural areas, pointing to areas around Prespatou and Buick Creek. “It’s very spotty in terms of being able to have any access to anything," Bumstead. "This is a good thing if we can increase capacity." Telus representative Bettis said the company is spending $10 million dollars on the plan, and that the federal grant would only cover a portion of its infrastructure costs. He said says some new LTE towers will be installed, while others will be upgraded to enhance existing service. "It's been a particular challenge getting back in front of the PRRD for a proper meeting," he said of the directors' criticisms. "Universal broadband fund is a significant initiative, and we wanted to make sure that every municipality elligible was able to be engaged." Scheduling has been an issue, he said. "With that comes the fact that we're dealing with multiple municipalities across different areas, and trying to co-ordinate meetings. Most councils meet on similiar days," he said, adding he met with directors shortly after Christmas, providing background and maps on the proposed LTE upgrades. Bettis says he's reached out to arrange another meeting with the regional district. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
OTTAWA — The Canadian Judicial Council says a Quebec judge has resigned after the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear his appeal. Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner says Michel Girouard's decision to step down from the Quebec Superior Court "narrowly avoids his removal from office by Parliament." A 2012 complaint alleged that Girouard, while he was still a lawyer, had bought illegal drugs from a client. An inquiry committee rejected the allegations but cited contradictions and implausibilities in Girouard’s testimony. A second complaint about Girouard’s credibility during the initial proceedings led a majority of judges on the council to recommend he lose his job. The Federal Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed Girouard's attempts to overturn the recommendation, prompting his application to the Supreme Court. In a news release Thursday as chairperson of the judicial council, Wagner said Girouard's resignation "is the last chapter in a prolonged saga that has undermined expectations of access to justice and has cost Canadians millions of dollars." Wagner said Canada benefits from outstanding judges who demonstrate the highest ethical integrity but the Girouard matter shows that the disciplinary process that deals with instances of judicial misconduct must be re-examined. "In the matter of Michel Girouard, proceedings have been going on for eight years now. Throughout this entire period, Michel Girouard has continued to receive his full salary despite not sitting, and he will now receive a pension for life, all at the expense of Canadian taxpayers," said Wagner. Earlier Thursday, Justice Minister David Lametti said he would seek parliamentary approval to remove Girouard from the bench. Lametti said Thursday on Twitter that as the "lengthy process has unfolded, I have made it clear that I fully intended to act if Justice Girouard exhausted his avenues of appeal and the revocation decision was upheld. That moment has arrived." Lametti said he intended to proceed with Girouard's removal by seeking the necessary approval of the House of Commons and Senate. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Another mutated version of the coronavirus has popped up in New York City, and experts reacted to the the news with a mixture of caution and concern. The new variant first appeared in the New York area in late November, and has since cropped up in neighbouring states, according to researchers at the California Institute of Technology, one of two teams to share their work this week. But how problematic the variant may be isn’t known yet. Viruses are constantly mutating — or making typos in their genetic code — as they spread and make copies of themselves. “Most are not of particular concern,” said Francois Balloux, director of the University College London’s Genetics Institute. However, he added, “Noticing them early, flagging them, raising concern is useful." That's because some genetic tweaks can be worrisome, especially if they help the virus spread more easily, make it more deadly or curb the effectiveness of vaccines. Scientists use genome sequencing and other research to figure out which are a potential problem. New York City health officials and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday sought to tamp down worries about the new variant, emphasizing that the new research is preliminary and little is known about the variant. “Some variants are just that, they’re variants.” said Dr. Jay Varma, senior health adviser to the mayor. WHAT DID THEY FIND IN NEW YORK? Two research groups — at Caltech and Columbia University in New York — released papers this week describing their findings about the new variant. Neither paper has been published or reviewed by other scientists. The Caltech researchers found that the new variant showed up in about a quarter of the 1,200 virus sequences they looked at this month. The variant has also shown up in New Jersey and Connecticut and has made “isolated appearances across the country,” said CalTech's Anthony West, a co-author of the paper. On Thursday, Columbia University researchers released their research that scrutinized about 1,100 virus samples from patients treated at the university's medical centre, dating back to November. During the second week of February, the new variant was identified in 12% of the samples, they reported. They also found patients infected with the mutated virus were more likely to be older and have been hospitalized. Both groups noted that the new variant has a mutation that could potentially weaken the effectiveness of vaccines — a mutation seen in other worrisome variants. “There is clearly something to keep an eye on,” Balloux said. HOW MANY OTHER VARIANTS ARE THERE? New variants have been showing up throughout the pandemic, but three are considered the most worrisome — they've been designated “variants of concern." They were first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil but have spread to other countries. The one identified in the U.K. late last year has since been found in 45 U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The strain is concerning because it has so many mutations, nearly two dozen. Some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells — and that current vaccines and antibody drugs target. One of the spike protein mutations is seen in the variants discovered early on in Brazil and South Africa, and, now, the new variant in New York. A variant that has been spreading in California is also getting attention. It's been found in 40% to 50% of samples examined by the Los Angeles Count Department of Public Health, according to Director Barbara Ferrer. But there isn't enough rigorous research to determine what, if any, effect its mutations might have. WHAT'S NEXT? After what many described as a slow start, the federal government in recent weeks has ramped up its genetic sequencing to look for and study virus variants to figure out which ones might be a problem. In the meantime, Ana S. Gonzalez Reiche, a virologist at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, urged caution. “Without evidence, we don’t need to alarm ourselves about every variant detected,” she said. Studies are raising concern that first-generation COVID-19 vaccines don’t work as well against a variant that first emerged in South Africa as they do against other versions. In response, drug companies are already figuring out how to modify their vaccines. Experts say that in the meantime, public health measures like social distancing and masks will reduce opportunities for the coronavirus to continue mutating and run rampant. “Emerging of variants will occur," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told NBC on Thursday. "The trick is when they do occur, to prevent them from spreading.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marion Renault, The Associated Press
Canada's ministry of finance called a media report that the head of the country's largest pension fund had traveled to the Middle East and received a COVID-19 vaccination "very troubling". Mark Machin, the 54-year-old chief executive of the C$475.7 billion ($377 billion) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), received a Pfizer Inc vaccine shot after arriving in the United Arab Emirates with his partner this month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Manitoba government is lookig at loosening many of its public health orders as its COVID-19 numbers improve. The province is seeking public feedback on a series of changes.