New wetlands protections in Southern Ontario are an important step toward fighting climate change in Canada.
New wetlands protections in Southern Ontario are an important step toward fighting climate change in Canada.
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
The public got its first opportunity to ask questions about the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s (RDOS) possible purchase of Sickle Point at a virtual town hall held on Jan. 13. The regional district had its conditional $2.5-million offer accepted to buy the 4.8-acre piece of land on the Kaleden waterfront from Lanyard Investments, the holders of the previously defaulted mortgage. However, that deal is conditional on Kaleden Parks and Recreation Service Area taxpayers approval of the RDOS borrowing up to $3.5 million for the purchase — and final consent from the Supreme Court of B.C. in the court-ordered bankruptcy sale. The service area includes Kaleden, Twin Lakes, and St. Andrews taxpayers. If 10 per cent or more (or 182 residents) in the area send responses to the RDOS in opposition to the purchase, the local government could proceed to a referendum, or put the the borrowing bylaw on hold. Those who are in support of borrowing the funds to purchase Sickle Point do not need to submit a response in support, only those in opposition have been asked to send responses. There have been various subdivisions planned for private development in the area over the years, currently zoned residential, and there is currently a pending application for a five-lot subdivision on the land. The Kaleden Parks and Recreation Committee and the Kaleden Community Association have been strong advocates for acquiring the property, with the Save Sickle Point group fundraising roughly $285,000 and aspiring to fundraise the entire cost of the purchase to lift the tax burden on residents. The Save Sickle Point committee estimates the cost to taxpayers in the Kaleden Recreation Service Area will be less than $1 million. If no donations are received the tax burden could be an estimated $124 annually for 25 years on an average home. “It has been a high-profile property that’s been under scrutiny for many years especially with the threat of development. Now that it is up for sale, now would be the time for the community to express whether they want to buy it or not,” said Bill Newell, RDOS CAO, at Wednesday’s virtual town hall. Residents had a chance to submit questions during the Webex virtual meeting Wednesday both by chat and by calling in. Some residents questioned the possible tax burden while others had technical questions on the access to the land from the KVR trail, the borrowing process and history of Sickle Point’s ownership. Newell noted there is the possibility that if the sellers receive a better offer without conditions, notice will be sent to the RDOS and an alternative offer would go before the courts. If the RDOS is successful in its purchase, the uses for the land will be determined by the regional district, the Penticton Indian Band and the taxpayers in the area. The rare and endangered riparian and wetland habitat is a sensitive and important Indigenous cultural site, with the Penticton Indian Band opposing development at Sickle Point as well. Should the borrowing bylaw required for the purchase go through, taxes for area residents would not increase until 2022 due to time required for negotiations, and the timing of the tax rate bylaws passed annually in March. A local Kaleden resident whose home overlooks Sickle Point raised concerns about the possibility of park development in the area. However, a lot of consultation with the local community will be taking place regarding the future use of the land, Newell said, if the deal goes through. Residents in the Kaleden Parks and Recreation Service Area can access elector response forms at the Regional District office or online at www.rdos.bc.ca. A response form can also be sent by mail, fax, or email on request. The deadline for delivering the original signed elector response form (not by fax or email) to the Regional District is 4:30 p.m. on Monday Feb. 8. Those with questions or seeking more information can contact Christy Malden, manager of legislative services for the RDOS at email@example.com or 250-490-4146.Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
In the first wave of COVID-19, Aurora rarely had more than 20 active cases of COVID-19 at any one time. Now, there are more than 100 active cases of the virus, most of which have been acquired within the community. By Tuesday, January 12, Aurora was grappling with 104 active cases of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 718 confirmed cases of the virus within the community, 23 of which have proved fatal. 591 cases are now marked as recovered. The twenty-third Aurora resident to lose the fight against COVID-19 was a 90-year-old female resident of Willows Estate, a long-term care home in Aurora’s south end, one of two active long-term care outbreaks in the community. She lost her fight at the residence on January 11 after receiving positive test results and the onset of symptoms on January 4. The twenty-second resident, this time a 91-year-old female resident of Kingsway Place Retirement Residence, lost her fight at Southlake on January 6 after receiving positive test results on December 16. Willows Estate was issued an order under the Province’s Health Protection & Promotion Act on Thursday. The order instructs Willows Estate, which has been in outbreak mode since Christmas Eve, “to take a series of actions to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff,” said Patrick Casey, Director of Communications for the Regional Municipality of York. The order, issued by Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, states that York Region Public Health “has received information and conducted inspections evidencing” that the residence has “inadequate staffing levels to meet the needs of residents; has inadequate senior leadership (supervisory staffing) presence on the institution’s units, at all times, to ensure appropriate adherence to IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control) measures; and has inadequate and/or insufficient IPAC knowledge and processes to protect resident needs and requires assistance from York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Public Health Ontario, and the Local Health Integration Network to provide IPAC expertise to the institution to help contain the stop of COVID-19 outbreak at the institution.” According to Patrick McCarthy, President & CEO of OMNI Health Care, which operates Willows Estate, the residence will work closely with the Region, Southlake, and the Ministry of Long-Term Care to support staff and residents. “The situation evolved rapidly over several days, as test results were received by the home,” said Mr. McCarthy. “In addition to the increase in residents affected, several key staff from the leadership and nursing team were quarantined and unavailable. OMNI mobilized its response team with our Director of Operations on site to assume leadership. As well we have brought in management and nursing staff on site from other OMNI homes as support, and recruiting additional staff and agency contract staff to supplement our existing staffing during the outbreak. “We continue to work closely with York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health and have arranged a site visit this week with federally sponsored Canadian Red Cross for IPAC and possible ongoing staffing supports.” At press time this week, 32 of Aurora’s 104 active cases of COVID-19 were related to institutional outbreak. 71 active cases are attributed to local transmission or close contact, with 94 new cases in this category reported to York Region Public Health in one week alone. 1 active case is attributed to workplace cluster and there are zero travel-related cases.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
There were more adjournments in La Ronge Provincial Court in a case against a North Battleford man accused of breaking into a home and assaulting the resident. At his Jan. 11 appearance, Brandon Holmes, 27, was expected to elect how he wants to be tried but the matter was adjourned to Jan. 18. Another warrant of committal was issued for him at his Jan. 11 court appearance. A warrant of committal was also issued at his Dec. 21, 2020, appearance. It’s common for warrants of committal to be issued again when the accused returns to provincial court after a show cause hearing where he was denied bail. After the accused appears again as required, another warrant is needed to hold him until the next scheduled appearance. Holmes is charged with discharging a firearm with intent, carrying a concealed weapon, assault, and two counts of break and enter. The charges against Holmes haven’t been proven in court. Stanley Mission RCMP arrested Holmes in October. Police say they got a call on Oct. 5, 2020, that an armed man was in a residence. He fled before police arrived. Police say they later found him hiding in a cabin a few kilometres from Stanley Mission after allegedly stealing a boat to flee the area. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Stay-at-home orders will take effect at 12.01 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, to limit mobility in the fight against COVID-19. The Provincial Government announced the stay-at-home orders on Tuesday afternoon, along with an Ontario-wide state of emergency, which will be in place for a minimum of 28 days.” As the number of new cases of the virus continue to rise, there is a “looming threat” that Ontario’s hospital system could collapse, said the Province. The stay-at-home order will require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise and for essential work. As such, employers must ensure that any employee who can work from home does so. Additional measures announced Tuesday include restricting organized outdoor public and social gatherings to no more than five people with limited exceptions, requiring individuals to wear masks or face coverings in the indoor areas of businesses and organizations that are open, and requiring all non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and businesses offering curbside pickup and delivery to open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. These restrictions do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. “The Ontario spirit has lifted us through worse, the people of Ontario have battled through worse, and I know this time will be no different,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Now more than ever, we need you…to do your part, stay home, save lives [and] protect our health care system. The system is on the brink of collapse. It is on the brink of being overwhelmed. We’re at levels we have never seen before. Last week, I stood here and I told you that our province is in crisis and the facts are clear. Cases and deaths are at the highest level since the start of the pandemic and community spread continues to escalate. The…very dangerous UK strain of COVID is being found across the Province. Ontario had eight new cases confirmed today and if we don’t move fast, our hospital ICUs could be overwhelmed by the first week of February. “I know everyone is tired. I know everyone is sick of COVID, including myself. I know everyone wants to return to normal. New reports and data show one third of Ontarians are not following Public Health guidelines. Many are travelling and gathering. Now, let me be clear: I am not blaming anyone, only one thing is truly at fault and that is the virus. It just takes a moment. If you let your guard down, it can strike. Think of the teenager out with their friends not wearing their masks. They go home, pass it to their parents. Later that day at dinner, the virus passes from parents to grandparents. Within days, the grandparent is in the ICU and tragically passes. This is a story we’re hearing too many times. Stories like this are why we need to stay home and save lives.” Added Health Minister Christine Elliott: “The measures we are introducing today are absolutely necessary to save and protect the lives of Ontarians. This is not the first wave. Now, community transmission is widespread. It is in our hospitals, it is in our long-term care homes, and it is in our workplaces. The number of cases and the number of deaths due to COVID-19 are at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic a year ago. In a few short weeks, our hospital and ICU capacity could be overwhelmed. Yesterday, 41 Ontarians died from COVID-19. It has been an extremely tragic year. Over 5,000 Ontarians have lost their lives to COVID-19 since this pandemic began. These are not just numbers or statistics. These were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and grandparents.” Ontarians, she said, must change mobility patterns. Too many people are having too many contacts, resulting in increased cases, and the cycle must be broken. The new orders also come with increased enforcement measures. The Province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the OPP, local police forces, bylaw officers and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home orders. Additional enforcement measures will also impact big box stores, noted the Premier, with “inspection blitzes” over the coming days. “We have been up front about the severity of the threats we face if the numbers begin moving in the manner we have seen during these past days and weeks,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We have said we would not hesitate to explore and exhaust all options necessary to protect Ontarians if the situation worsens, and it has. We are declaring this Provincial Emergency to allow for stronger measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and these measures will be enforced. “If people are found not complying with these orders, they will be subject to fines and persecution. Penalties may include up to a year in jail. We are taking the current situation very seriously and we ask that all Ontarians do the same. It is critical now more than ever that people adhere to the orders and follow public health measures. Please stay home, stay safe. Orders can only take us so far. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 can only be done if we all band together and make an extraordinary effort to protect the communities our family and our friends call home.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
La Gaspésie et les Îles-de-la-Madeleine ont attiré un nombre record de nouveaux habitants en 2019-2020. Pour la quatrième année consécutive, la région présente un solde migratoire positif, avec 681 nouveaux venus, au grand plaisir des acteurs locaux. Avec 2217 nouveaux arrivants, la région de la Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine est dévoile un bilan positif pour une quatrième année consécutive. « Nous aurions difficilement pu imaginer un meilleur scénario pour une région qui perdait, il y a vingt ans, environ 1 200 habitants pour année au profit des autres régions », affirme le coordinateur de la Stratégie Vivre en Gaspésie, Danik O’Connor. Mis en place par une centaine de partenaires, Vivre en Gaspésie se félicite d’avoir réussi pour la première fois à attirer de nouveaux arrivants dans toutes les zones de la péninsule. «C’est la toute première fois que chacun des territoires a un solde migratoire interrégional positif, précise Danik O’Connor. C’est vraiment une très belle nouvelle pour les différents milieux de vie qui ont mis beaucoup d’énergie afin d’attirer de nouveaux arrivants et de garder sa population actuelle», ajoute M. O’Connor Au total, 681 personnes s’ajoutent à la population gaspésienne. Dans la Capitale-Nationale, 1367 personnes supplémentaires y habitent, dans presque tous ses secteurs. Seule la ville de Québec a vu son nombre de citoyens diminuer de 140. Portneuf et la Côte-de-Beaupré ont accueilli toutes les deux plus de 450 habitants supplémentaires. La pandémie, mais… La nouvelle réalité imposée par la pandémie de COVID-19 a certes contribué à ce bon résultat, alors que l'engouement pour les régions s’est fait sentir cet été, particulièrement loin des grands centres. Vivre en Gaspésie note cependant que la tendance était là bien avant le virus. «L’attrait de la Gaspésie pour la population québécoise était présent bien avant la pandémie, mais nous constatons que plusieurs personnes ont devancé leur projet de migration. Je pense que nous pouvons certainement espérer un cinquième solde migratoire interrégional positif l’année prochaine», note le coordinateur. Le compte fait par l’Institut de la statistique du Québec s’est terminé le 30 juin dernier, mais «l’engouement est toujours très présent», assure l’organisme, qui dit avoir vu son nombre de demandes multiplié dans les derniers mois. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
As intensive care units across the province continue to see a surge in critical care demand due to COVID-19, doctors are being told to prepare to determine who gets a bed — and who doesn't. The medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, Dr. Michael Warner, says ICU doctors across the province have been told to prepare to use critical care triage to determine who will receive life-saving care when ICU resources are limited. "The public needs to understand they're at risk of not getting the care they need," Warner told CBC News on Thursday. Warner said the province sent out a memo on Wednesday outlining the protocol to prepare ICU physicians to implement triage when instructed by the critical care command centre, although no start date has been given so far. "I've never been in that position before, I didn't train for that," Warner said. "And that's the position we may be in, in a matter of weeks." This comes exactly one week after the province began warning hospitals to prepare for the transferal of patients across and out of regions, in a memo dated Jan. 7. Hospitals that have intensive care space available in Ontario were told to reserve one-third of those beds for transfers from hospitals that have reached ICU capacity. Warner said implementing this criteria would mean that not every patient today who needs critical care — COVID-19 or not COVID-19 related — will get the critical care if triage comes into effect. He said doctors will be required to use a checklist of criteria to determine who is most likely to survive their critical illness not only for a week or two but 12 months from then, and allocate critical care accordingly. "It makes me very uncomfortable, it's morally distressing and it's terrible for patients." Only two days ago, a mandate from the Ontario critical care table required nine patients to be moved across the province to another ICU to help loadshare the stress on harder-hit hospitals, Warner said. "Right now if there's a patient that I would normally offer life-support to, instead of offering them life support — if we're in triage — I go through their short-term mortality risk, which is a checklist to determine or 'guesstimate' how likely they're going to be alive 12 months after their critical illness," Warner said. The memo says the standard of care is based on a document from Sept.11, 2020 titled "Critical Care Triage during Major Surge in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Proposed Framework for Ontario," which was updated Jan. 12. and prepared by the Ontario COVID-19 Bioethics Table. "In the context of a major surge in demand for critical care resources, where the demand actually exceeds the number who can be safely managed with available resources (including ventilators, supplies and trained staff), it is inevitable that some who may have otherwise benefited from critical care will not receive it, and as a result, some will die who would otherwise have lived," the memo points out. But Ontario has faced major criticism once before, when trying to implement a critical care triage protocol. In March of last year, when Ontario Health sent out a triage protocol during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it retracted it shortly after following backlash from human rights organizations. "Given the evolving situation in Ontario hospitals, the health-care system is preparing for if there is a major surge of critically ill patients outstripping critical care resources across the province," Dr. Andrew Baker, head of the Ontario Critical Care COVID-19 Command Centre told CBC News. "To help the critical care community plan and to ensure a common approach across the system, training information and standardized tools have recently been shared with the critical care sector so they can learn how to quickly operationalize an emergency standard of care for admission to critical care, if ever needed and directed by the Ontario Critical Care COVID Command Centre," he said. Baker says the emergency standard of care, which fits within the Health Care Consent Act, is not currently in place. The memo notes that critical care triage for major surge should be considered an option of last resort and to be invoked only when "all existing local and regional critical care resources have been used, all reasonable attempts have been made to move patients to, or resources from areas with greater critical care resource availability, and only for as long as the major surge lasts." 3-level approach to triage The document outlines a three-level approach to triage: In a level one triage scenario, patients who have a greater than 20 per cent chance of surviving 12 months from the onset of critical illness based on an evaluation of their clinical presentation at the point of triage should be prioritized. In a level two triage scenario, patients who have a greater than 50 per cent chance of surviving 12 months from the onset of critical illness should be prioritized. In a level three triage scenario, patients who have a greater than 70 per cent chance of surviving 12 months from the onset of critical illness should be prioritized. "That's pretty dramatic," Warner said. "That's something Ontarians have never faced and something I hope I never have to use."
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A judge has declared a southern Alberta man with a history of sexually assaulting teen girls a dangerous offender, a designation that means he can be held in jail indefinitely. Trevor Pritchard of Coaldale, Alta., has been convicted of sexual assault five times between 2004 and 2019. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Johnna Kubic says despite attending sex offender programs while in jail, Pritchard made little or no progress and continued to reoffend. Kubic handed Pritchard an indefinite sentence in Lethbridge on Thursday. During the dangerous offender hearing process, his victims gave impact statements describing serious negative, long-term effects on their physical and emotional well-being. The victims said this included taking part in self-harm, struggling to maintain relationships, substance addiction, anxiety, and panic attacks. (LethbridgenewsNOW, The Canadian Press) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021 The Canadian Press
Working from home isn't an option for the many Canadians who work essential jobs, and neither is paid sick leave. As Mike Drolet explains, advocates say that has to change if Canada wants to get COVID-19 under control.
The Town of Aurora has suspended the trapping of beavers at stormwater management ponds following a public outcry. According to Eliza Bennett, Acting Manager of Corporate Communications for the Town of Aurora, the Town has suspended trapping activity pending consultation with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources about “best practices and alternative methods for beaver management.” “Our preference is always to have peaceful co-existence with local wildlife, and we are hopeful that we can find a way to protect residents from flooding and enhance our handling of wildlife at the same time.” Residents raised alarm bells over the use of traps to capture beavers in stormwater management ponds near Bayview Avenue and St. John’s Sideroad. One such resident, Rachel Evans, who said she had concerns not only with the impact on wildlife but on dogs and pedestrians as well. “I have heard from numerous nature walkers that the Town is setting wildlife traps in ponds to kill beavers,” she said. “These lethal traps are hidden in the water at the end of wildlife trails. Check out reports from dog owners across the country whose pets suffered broken muzzles and leg amputations after stepping on a concealed trap in the water. “There is no law that requires public posting of the location of these cruel traps, but we expect Town policy of transparency. Let us know the location of these traps and why they are necessary. Aurorans take pride in the natural trails and forests. Killing wildlife should be the last resort.” The issue was subject to significant discussion on social media as well, prompting the Town to state that the practice of trapping is to “maintain public safety and to manage risks associated with beaver activity as it relates to public health and infrastructure.” “We have a healthy beaver population in our Town, and our preference is always for co-existence, tolerance and prevention,” said Ms. Bennett. “We actually use a number of methods to manage beavers, including wrapping trees with wire, planting species of trees that beavers don’t touch, and removing dams where necessary. That being said, in some cases, and despite our best preventative efforts, beaver activity results in a risk to public safety, or a risk of damage to public infrastructure.” In this particular case, Ms. Bennett said a beaver dam was blocking the outlet of the stormwater management pond “impairing the facility’s functioning and creating risks to both public and private property.” “As such, for this type of situation, we operate a nuisance beaver program that includes trapping – a common practice in municipalities across North America. This is, again, a last resort. Trapping is done with licensed trappers and in accordance with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. We work closely with these bodies to make sure that the program is run within regulations.” The trap in question, she added, was subsequently stolen.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril, under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec's Health Department said Thursday that it plans to make more use of rapid COVID-19 tests, less than a week after the province's health minister told reporters the tests were unnecessary. The decision to increase use of the tests comes after a report by a committee of 30 experts commissioned by the Health Department, released publicly on Thursday but dated Monday, recommended “prudent” use of the tests. Health Department officials warned that the rapid tests are less accurate than the laboratory tests Quebec currently relies on. However, Dr. Isabelle Goupil-Sormany, the co-chair of the committee, told reporters at a technical briefing on Thursday afternoon that there is a place for rapid tests if they’re used carefully. Quebec plans to make increasing use over the next 60 days of a test that detects the virus's RNA. That test, known by the brand name ID NOW, will be used to test people with symptoms who live in isolated areas, such as Indigenous communities and the North. Another technology, which detect antigens created by the body’s immune response to the virus, could be used among marginalized communities that have difficulty accessing regular testing facilities, as well as during large outbreaks in workplaces and senior’s residences, the committee said. However, some of those results will have be validated through lab tests. The Health Department plans to continue evaluating the use of rapid tests, including with a pilot project in two Montreal high schools. On Monday, Health Minister Christian Dube said the tests weren’t needed because Quebec is already testing enough. More than 80 per cent of tests conducted in Quebec have results within 24 hours and the province has the capacity to do thousands more laboratory tests per day, Denis Ouellet, the director of medical biology at the Health Department said Thursday. The announcement comes the same day 200 Quebec scientists published an open letter calling on the province to make more use of rapid tests. Marie-Pascale Pomey, a public health professor at Universite de Montreal and one of the signatories of the letter, called Thursday’s announcement by the government a positive first step. “We already have some interesting results in different places, so we know that in some cases where the virus is very prevalent, it’s a tool to slow down the propagation of the virus,” Pomey said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
Northern Health has released a second COVID-19 exposure notice for Uplands Elementary School in Terrace. The exposure occurred Jan. 4 to Jan. 6 according to the notice, which is posted on the Coast Mountains School District 82 website. Jan. 4 was the first day students were back in class after the winter break. There have been numerous COVID-19 exposure notices for Terrace schools issued by Northern Health since Nov. 2020, and nearly all Terrace schools have had at least one exposure notice. Uplands Elementary School’s first exposure took place on Nov. 30, and Dec. 1, 2020. The last COVID-19 school exposure notice in the Terrace area was issued by Northern Health on Jan. 11, regarding an Jan. 4 exposure at Skeena Middle School. It was the first exposure notice issued after the winter break.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
An avid fan of the great outdoors, Aidan Burbank was a regular fixture on the Town’s outdoor rinks and any local ponds frozen enough to allow he and his friends to have a casual game of three-on-three hockey. It was not only a passion, but a way for them to catch up after going their separate ways for school and work – and, for Aidan, an environmental science student, it may have been something of a release. After his death in October following a struggle with mental health that plagued him since childhood, his friends decided that the tradition would continue, laying the groundwork for the inaugural Aidan Burbank Pond Hockey Tournament which, in future years, will set out to raise money and awareness for mental health. Spearheaded by friends Cameron Palmer and Charles Peters, and a group which included Aidan’s brother Bryn, they hit the ice at Case Woodlot over the holidays to honour Aidan in a new tradition. “This was fitting because Aidan loved to spend his time outdoors and when I think of him I think about how much he liked to be outside,” says Charles. “We used to go out to the pond pretty well every year and meet him and Cameron and a couple of other buddies – we would always be going out to the ponds, so we figured that was perfect.” For mother Martha Burbank, her son’s peers’ idea to further Aidan’s legacy by carrying on and doing what he most loved to do, while making a tangible difference for those living what was Aidan’s everyday struggle, the inaugural tournament “means everything.” Martha had imagined the same idea – a holiday pond hockey tournament for Aidan – and was thrilled that his friends had independently thought of it. “Aidan was an amazing runner, a hockey lover and an avid outdoorsman,” says Martha. “He loved the forest, he studied hundreds of species of trees in field labs at university and thrive on that. Nature, quiet and being outside helped immensely with his happiness.” For the Burbanks, Aidan’s struggle was something they lived with every day since he was nine years old. When he lost his fight, the family began researching what they could do to have a positive impact on mental health charities. Among the organizations they earmarked were the Canadian Mental Health Association and Jack.org, an organization with a specialization on youth mental health. “When we publicized Aidan’s obituary, a lot of people donated to Jack.org, others decided the Canadian Mental Health Association. There have been tens of thousands of dollars to date in Aidan’s name from maybe 70 to 80 people. The response to mental health support from neighbours, friends and people whose life Aidan touched has been overwhelming,” says Martha. “We didn’t want charitable donations for this year’s tournament, but with this tournament, we wanted to establish a tradition of keeping mental illness at the forefront of discussion and be clear that it is important to be talked about.” The inaugural tournament, she says, was, despite the weather, a beam of sunlight that helped cut through the clouds. “We have had a bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs on a lot of these days since our son died, but this day was so wonderful,” she says. “I was chatting with these young men who are about 21 and I have known many of them since they were five, and maybe six other moms just independently arrived onto the ice. Everyone had a lot of compassion. A couple of the boys had a difficult time, one who plays baseball in the States was almost in tears and we were going through a lot of emotions.” In addition to a fundraiser in Aidan’s name, it was also a reunion in his honour. “I was just happy to be there with all these people,” says Cameron, who says he hopes the tourney will become an annual tradition. “Pond hockey is something we used to do every year and being there was really important. It was a good opportunity to just get everyone together and reflect on the positive stuff. We shared good stories and good memories.” Adds Charles: “It was nice that everyone could make it out for such a special cause and pay tribute. It was a little tough at first to just be out there thinking about it, but once we were all there and everyone was sharing stories, it became more of a fun event, almost like a celebration of life.” Aidan Burbank lost his fight on October 15 at the age of 21. Pursuing his degree in Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of New Brunswick right up until the time of his death in mid-October, he was previously a French Immersion student at Lester B. Pearson Public School and Aurora High School. “We had been struggling with Aidan’s mental health since he was nine,” says Martha. “This was a very long-term challenge for us. Parents really need to continue to follow through, call, email, whatever it is – if their child is in a situation and they are struggling and you’re waiting for counselling or therapy, you really have to pursue that with a lot of proactivity. Parents need to be as proactive and blunt as possible if their child is suffering and communicate with them about their suffering. They have to reach out and do everything they can to look for support systems.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Southlake Regional Health Centre began administering its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine just before Christmas and now, in this new year, Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Complex has been transformed into a vaccination centre as inoculation efforts ramp up. Southlake, York Region Public Health and the Town of Newmarket announced the vaccination centre’s opening on January 6. By that time, Southlake had already administered 3,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with a goal of reaching 1,000 vaccinations per day by January 8. The newly-opened facility has the capacity to reach this goal in its early stages and has the capability of expanding operations in the weeks and months ahead. “In keeping with the priority groups identified by the Ontario government, Southlake has been vaccinating staff and designated care providers of long-term care homes since December 23 and began vaccinating hospital staff this week, including those working at Markham Stouffville and Stevenson Memorial Hospitals,” said Southlake. “This will continue to be the focus in the near term. “Once long-term care and hospital staff have been vaccinated the focus will shift to health care workers in community settings and other first responders, as per provincial guidelines. After these groups are vaccinated, Public Health will lead mass community clinics with the help of Southlake, primary care and other providers as a team effort.” The vaccination centre will not be open to the general public at this time, but it is anticipated they will be able to do so once these key target groups have been reached. “Doing our part to ensure this is the largest vaccination campaign this country has ever seen, means that Southlake can return to normal business as soon as possible,” said Arden Krystal, President & CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre in a statement. “The more people we vaccinate, the faster we’ll be able to get back to the surgeries we’ve had to postpone as a result of caring for the surging numbers of patients with COVID-19. “This vaccine is a turning point and as much as today is about looking forward with hope, it is also an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the partnerships we’ve forged throughout this pandemic. Today is another great example of what we can achieve when we work together, across the healthcare system and at every level of government.” Added Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, “Vaccination is a cornerstone of public health and historically has been one of the most effective ways of reducing the death and disability caused by disease. We continue to make important progress alongside our partners in quickly and safely vaccinating our front-line health care workers, including residents and essential caregivers at York Region’s long-term care homes. As more vaccines become available, Public Health is ready with plans to distribute and administer the vaccine. Every resident in York Region who wishes to receive a vaccine will be offered the opportunity.” Wayne Emmerson, Chair of the Regional Municipality of York, said he “commended all of the frontline staff and our health system partners on their continued efforts to support the health and wellbeing of our residents and communities.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — The FBI is tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” including calls for armed protests leading up to next week's presidential inauguration, Director Chris Wray said Thursday. Wray, in his first public appearance since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, said in a security briefing for Vice-President Mike Pence that the FBI remains concerned about the potential for violence at protests and rallies in Washington and in state capitols around the country. Those events could bring armed individuals near government buildings and elected officials, Wray warned, while also noting, “One of the real challenges in this space is trying to distinguish what’s aspirational versus what’s intentional." Wray said the FBI was receiving a “significant” amount of information that it was pushing out to other law enforcement agencies ahead of the inauguration. Information-sharing is critical before any significant public event like the inauguration, but the issue is receiving particular scrutiny because of signs law enforcement was unprepared for the violent, deadly surge at the Capitol by loyalists of President Donald Trump. Federal officials have warned local law enforcement agencies that the riot at the Capitol is likely to inspire others with violent intentions. “We're looking at individuals who may have an eye towards repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week,” Wray said, adding that since January 6, the FBI has identified over 200 suspects. “We know who you are. If you're out there, an FBI agent is coming to find you," he added. More than 100 people have been arrested so far, Wray said, and there are “countless” other investigations. States nationwide have already been stepping up security in preparation for possible armed protests and violence this weekend, particularly at statehouses amid legislative sessions and inaugural ceremonies. Officials are reassessing their security plans for high-risk targets and police in major cities are preparing to be put on tactical alert if necessary. An FBI bulletin earlier this week warned of potential armed protests in all 50 states. To monitor threats, share intelligence and decide how to allocate resources, the FBI during the inauguration will operate a round-the-clock command post at headquarters and at each of its 56 field offices, Wray said. “Our posture is aggressive, and it's going to stay that way through the inauguration,” he said. Separately, Pence returned to the Capitol on Thursday for the first time since the attempted insurrection forced security to whisk him to a secure location after rioters interrupted his work overseeing the congressional count of Electoral College votes. The vice-president visited with guard troops keeping watch outside the Capitol, telling them he’s familiar with the National Guard because he used to be a governor. “Thank you for stepping forward for your country,” Pence said. He told the troops they would be get to witness the transfer of power and thanked them for their service. “It’s been my great honour to serve as your vice-president,” Pence added, before ending with another round of thanks and wishing the troops a “safe inauguration and a swearing-in of a new president and vice-president.” In response, the guardsmen yelled, “Hooah.” _____ Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report. Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Another country music star from Alberta has voiced protest against proposed coal mines on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Paul Brandt, who leads a committee on human trafficking set up by the Alberta government, has posted his concerns on Instagram in support of fellow musician Corb Lund. Lund released a Facebook video earlier this week in which he calls the government's move to open vast swaths of the area to industry short-sighted and a threat. Brandt says in his post that Lund is right and the plan is a big — and bad — deal. He is asking the provincial government to reconsider putting economic benefit ahead of long-term consequences that would devastate the land for generations to come. Alberta's United Conservative government has revoked a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of the mountains and eastern slopes of the Rockies. One mine is under review and vast areas of the mountains have been leased for exploration. Lund says coal mines would endanger the ranching lifestyles of his neighbours as well as drinking water for millions downstream. He's urging people to speak out and oppose open-pit coal mines in the Rockies. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. The announcement comes a day after word that Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says one person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the South African strain of COVID-19. She also says she's saddened and disturbed at reports of racism against First Nations communities that have experienced outbreaks.