British actor Ian McKellen, who played the wizard Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, said he was euphoric after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and urged everyone who was offered the jab to accept it.
British actor Ian McKellen, who played the wizard Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, said he was euphoric after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and urged everyone who was offered the jab to accept it.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Wearing mittens made out of recycled materials and a warm winter jacket, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled off a casual inauguration outfit — and vibe — that only he could. Many people quickly highlighted the 79-year-old independent Vermont senator's look, and created endless memes, from Wednesday's inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which he said was more about keeping warm than fashion. “You know in Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders told CBS on Wednesday. People were particularly enthralled with Sanders’ mittens, which were made by a Vermont elementary school teacher who has a side business making mittens out of recycled wool. “I love it that he loves them, and that he wears them,” Jen Ellis, an elementary school teacher, told NECN-TV. “And I’m totally honoured that he wore them today.” Ellis has never met Sanders. But when her daughter went to a child care centre owned by one of his relatives, she was able to slip a pair into Sanders' hands. “I think people like a heartwarming story — especially now,” she said when asked about the all the attention the mittens were getting on social media. The widespread interest in the mittens prompted Ellis to tweet Wednesday that there were “no more” of the coveted hand warmers. Sanders has donned the mittens before while running for president in 2020 and in interviews with Vermont journalists, the station reported. “Mittens are easy to slip on, they're cozy, you know you're hands stay a little warmer in a mitten, you've got the the body heat thing,” said Ryan Leclerc, a hard goods buyer for Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont. “And you just can't deny how stylish they are, especially the ones he was wearing." Sanders’ inauguration look, including a brown winter jacket made by Burton snowboards, has spawned countless memes since Wednesday including the former presidential candidate on the subway, on the moon, sitting on the couch with the cast of “Friends”. In memes spreading across Indian Country, Sanders is draped with a Pendleton blanket sitting alongside the parade route during a tribal fair, next to the fire during a ceremony and riding in the back of a pickup truck across remote land. Even before inauguration day, he was dubbed “cheii,” the Navajo word for “grandfather." Ryan Leclerc, a hard goods buyer for Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont, said Sanders is more about substance than style, noting the senator's inauguration attire emulated what is “great” about the him. “Those are the mittens you might see when you’re sipping cider around a fire. Sanders doesn’t care and it’s not important to him," Leclerc said. The Associated Press
You can pass through Penville and not real-ize the area was once a thriving village that was settled by early pioneers in the 1830s. The area has no real reminders of a village that would have had all the amenities needed to keep a small town viable at the time. It was located at what is now the 5th Line and 19th Sideroad of New Tecumseth. There are now several houses surrounding the site but almost all are of a relatively recent design. Penville was founded in the 1830s when the area was unpopulated and wild.With no real roads leading into the region, settlers would have had a tough life arriving, probably by ox cart, and building their fi rst home from the materials on the land. The Penfield, Ausman, and Dale families are recorded as being the first to arrive in the area and they began clearing the land for farming operations. They were all Scottish immigrants.Presumably, the Penfield family lent its name to create the village on a map. The village attracted more settlers to the area.So many arrived that a Town Hall was built in 1858 at a cost of $450.00 with the fi rst Reeve being recorded as Robert Cross. Black’s Methodist Church was built in 1850 and a cemetery established in 1858. There is no record of a tavern in the area, however almost every new town in Ontario had at least one local watering hole, and some had several, so most likely some enterprising entrepreneur set up some kind of hotel or tavern in the town. By 1871, the town had grown to a thriving village of 130 souls. By early Ontario standards, that was a sizable population for a pio-neer settlement. Most likely the town would have had a blacksmith, cabinet maker, and a saw mill, which were pretty much standard business in pioneer towns at the time. Like many small towns in Central Ontario, Penville reached its peak in the late 1800s. Over time, residents began to leave to search for more opportunities in other places. By the time the twentieth century arrived, the village was all but abandoned. The church was still standing as late as the mid 1950s, but by that time hadn’t had servic-es in decades and was being used as a granary. The church was demolished sometime in the 50s although the cemetery remains.There are 18 recorded interments in the cemetery, with the last person buried in 1933. After the demolition of the church, the remaining headstones were grouped together in a cairn in the middle of the property. It has been suggested that many of the graves in the cemetery were moved to other cemeteries in the area in the late part of the 19th century, however there is no offi cial record of that. Penville had a good start; however, like many small early settlements, it faded into history as residents moved on to fi nd their fortunes elsewhere. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
In a typical year this would be the beginning of snowmobile/poker rally season; the time of year when avid snowmobilers help community halls and recreation centres in small towns and villages across the province to raise money for the upcoming year’s operating expenses and improvements. However, with COVID continuing to run rampant, the typical fundraisers are not happening this year and organizers are trying to think ‘outside the box’ and devise safe ways to raise the funds they need. For a village of roughly 150 people, any major financial undertaking requires many volunteer hours of fundraising. The hall is an important part of any small community and Prud'homme is no different. Funerals, weddings, and Ukrainian dance are all held on the hall, which is also home to the community's library, but with no events last year the volunteers had to put their collective thinking hats on. The Village of Prud’homme regularly runs a poker rally and holds other fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to operate and maintain the Prud’homme Community Centre. One day COVID will end, but until then bills still need to be paid. The volunteers at Prud’homme have held drive-through suppers where individuals pre-pay for their meal and then just come and pick-up the cooked and packaged meal on the designated day. They also hosted a lobster fundraiser where people pre-ordered the number of lobster they wanted, and the group then brought in frozen lobster from the Maritimes for supporters to come and pick-up. Saturday January 23, 2021 the Prud’homme virtualsnowmobile rally will take place (Registration deadline is 9 pm on rally day). There is no need to own or have access to a sled. To purchase a $20 hand, first send payment via e-transfer to: email@example.com(memo: Hand). Second, pick three sets of five numbers from 1 – 500 and email your name and the three sets of numbers to: firstname.lastname@example.org . To purchase 50/50 tickets for $20 each send payments via e-transfer to: email@example.com(memo: 50-50) Anyone wishing to purchase a drive through supper of perogies and smokies for $15 per meal must pre-order by Friday January 22 and send payment via e-transfer to: firstname.lastname@example.org(memo: supper) The supper will be available for pick-up at the Prud’homme Community Centre between 4 and 6 pm on January 23, 2021. For additional information on this event contact Candice at 306-491-2371. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has moved quickly to remove a number of senior officials aligned with former President Donald Trump from the Voice of America and the agency that oversees all U.S.-funded international broadcasting. The actions address fears that the U.S. Agency for Global Media was being turned into a pro-Trump propaganda outlet. The agency announced Thursday that VOA’s director and his deputy had been removed from their positions and that the head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting had resigned. The moves come just a day after President Joe Biden was sworn in and demanded the resignation of Trump’s hand-picked CEO of USAGM, Michael Pack. The agency said in a statement that VOA director Robert Reilly had been fired just weeks after having taken the job. He had been harshly criticized just last week for demoting a VOA White House correspondent who tried to ask former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a question after a town hall event. Two agency officials familiar with the matter said Reilly and his deputy, Elizabeth Robbins, were escorted from VOA's headquarters by security guards. The officials were not authorized to discuss personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, who was just recently appointed to run Cuba-focused broadcasters Radio and TV Marti, resigned at the request of the new administration, they said. Pack, who appointed all three of those terminated on Thursday, resigned just hours after Biden was inaugurated. Soon after his resignation, the Biden White House announced that a veteran VOA journalist, Kelu Chao, would head USAGM on an interim basis. Pack created a furor when he took over the agency last year and fired the boards of all the outlets under his control along with the leadership of the individual broadcast networks. The actions were criticized as threatening the broadcasters’ prized editorial independence. The moves raised fears that Pack, a conservative filmmaker and former associate of Trump’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon, intended to turn venerable U.S. media outlets into pro-Trump propaganda machines. His further actions did little to ease those concerns. Indeed, just on Tuesday he appointed new conservative members to the boards of Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. Biden had been expected to make major changes to the agency’s structure and management, and Pack’s early departure signalled that those would be coming sooner rather than later. Though many presidential appointees resign when a new administration comes in, Pack was not required to do so. His three-year position was created by Congress and was not limited by the length of a particular administration. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
County council formalized an economic development position and collaborative procurement as its first steps toward improving operations as recommended by a service delivery review. Council discussed the review at a special meeting Jan. 13. All members agreed to include an economic development position in this year’s budget and to begin work on collaborative procurement later this year. The initiatives are just two of the 12 overarching areas addressed by consultant StrategyCorp in the review to improve collaboration, efficiency and realize more than $1 million in potential cash flow improvements. Council also agreed to work through the other recommendations slowly at its future meetings. “I know that this has been a difficult one,” Warden Liz Danielsen said. “But I think we’ve come to some agreement about how we’re going to approach this a bit at a time, in a reasonable fashion that works for everybody.” StrategyCorp recommended the County hire an economic development officer this year, with an estimated upfront cost of $200,000 annually. It also suggested starting collaborative procurement – joint purchasing of goods and services by the County and its lower-tier municipalities – with estimated savings between $372,000 and $1,193,000 annually once implemented. Coun. Brent Devolin said it made sense to move on procurement early. “That’s some of the savings that fund and helps some of the things that will come in subsequent years,” Devolin said. “It’s a real area of need for the County,” CAO Mike Rutter said. “No one (on staff) has that expertise. They’re not a purchasing expert. That would be really helpful for us.” But these only represent two of the six initiatives StrategyCorp suggested to start in 2021. The others were communications, waste management, roads and co-ordination. Council directed staff to bring back more information about implementing those and other recommendations at a future meeting. Danielsen said ongoing discussions will be needed, adding better communication is important. “We’re not good at communicating with each other,” she said. “We have discussions at the County council and quite often the information just stays here. It doesn’t go back to the lower-tiers.” However, Devolin said live-streamed meetings make it easier for lower-tier councillors to access. Although the County may yet move on other initiatives, deputy warden Patrick Kennedy cautioned to not overload staff. “I’m just so worried about our staff, about burning them out,” Kennedy said. “If it takes an extra year, I don’t care.” “We definitely need to agree on an approach and what those, maybe one or two low-hanging fruit pieces are,” he said. “That aren’t going to create a massive workload for any specific individual.” Kennedy praised council for getting through the meeting. “I’m just so proud of this group,” Kennedy said. “We’ve made some pretty big decisions and I’m just so thrilled to be part of it.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
HALIFAX — The number of seniors in Atlantic Canada will increase by 32 per cent over the next 20 years, putting added pressure on the region's health-care system and labour market, a new study says. The study released Thursday by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council says the most rapid growth will be among older seniors. Policy analyst Fred Bergman said the number of Atlantic Canadians aged 75 and older will double by 2040. The independent think tank says these changes in demographic patterns will have significant implications for the region's economy. Atlantic Canada's population is already the oldest in Canada. By 2040, there will be three seniors for every two young people in the region, the council says. "We estimate Atlantic health care costs will rise by 27 per cent by 2040 simply due to the population aging." Bergman said in a statement, adding that the region will need an additional 25,000 beds in nursing or seniors homes. This so-called grey tsunami, which refers to the large wave of baby boomers who are reaching retirement age, is also having a profound impact on the labour market, the study says. In 1990, there were 20 young workers entering the job market for every ten retirees. Thirty years later, there are just seven, and APEC does not expect that number to change any time soon. The region's primary industries — agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining and oil and gas — have the oldest workforce in the region. Meanwhile, the working-age population — those between 25 and 64 — has fallen by almost 50,000 in the past 10 years. During that time, the number of seniors has surpassed the number of people under the age of 19 for the first time. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said aggressive immigration policies are helping solve the province's demographic problems. "We need to welcome new Nova Scotians," he said Thursday after a cabinet meeting in Halifax. "If we don't deal with the demographics of our population, our health-care budget will consume all of the operating ability of our government." Despite the doom and gloom about Atlantic Canada's aging population, the council's report also includes some uplifting news: retirees today have 44 per cent more disposable income than seniors just 20 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. As well, the region's charities and non-profit organizations are sure to benefit from the fact that seniors, on average, serve as community volunteers for over 200 hours every year, which is 50 per cent more than the rest of the population. And there will be opportunities for businesses that take advantage of the trends outlined in the report, APEC says. "Seniors will be a growth sector," the report says. "Senior homes, assisted living, and care workers will be in demand, as well as personal services to help those aging at home. Products and services that cater to or are adapted for an aging population will be in demand." The new numbers would not come as a shock to the region's politicians and business leaders, who have been receiving similar reports for years. In 2014, for example, the Nova Scotia government was handed a report from a panel of experts who warned the province was doomed to endure an extended period of decline unless population and economic trends were reversed. The report, written by a five-member panel led by then Acadia University president Ray Ivany, predicted that by 2036, the province could expect to have 100,000 fewer working-age people than it did in 2010. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
The OPP is enforcing a new stay-at-home order and dispersing larger gatherings, but said it is not targeting individuals. The province introduced a new stay-at-home order Jan. 14, demanding people only leave for essential trips such as work, purchasing goods, exercise, caring for animals or others, or moving. The province also said law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines under the order. OPP spokesperson Const. Iryna Nebogatova said the attention the order has received has brought more complaints, which drive enforcement. She added gatherings - limited to five people outdoors - are the main source of the complaints. “I do understand the stay-at-home order under the emergency management and Civil Protection Act, Reopening Ontario Act are quite confusing,” Nebogatova said. “What we are focusing on here would be the large gatherings, the gatherings whether they’re indoor or outdoor. “The individuals are not the focus of this enforcement,” she added. In a press release Jan. 15, OPP said it could levy fines of $750 for failing to comply with the order and/or $1,000 for preventing others from complying. However, the press release added that officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or vehicle to check compliance with the orders. “Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work,” OPP said. “Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act.” The province said bylaw enforcement can also issue fines under the order, but Dysart et al bylaw officer Robert Mascia said he is redirecting complaints to OPP. “If the OPP require assistance in enforcement measures, the municipality’s bylaw department will gladly help,” Mascia said. Cottagers being allowed County resident Donna Pugh said she called police on a cottager neighbour who visited their secondary residence this past weekend. But Pugh said OPP indicated that it is allowed – and they were not going to attend to address someone travelling to a secondary residence. “Our premier of the province has strongly told us all to stay home,” Pugh said. “Then to see our County booming with people who don’t live here all the time, when they’re asked to stay home, I just find that really frustrating.” The order states someone can travel to another residence if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours and are attending for an essential purpose; or if they intend to reside there for at least 14 days. Nebogatova did not directly address cottager enforcement when asked but said there are exemptions for people to leave their homes under the order that should be respected. “We are requesting that the members of the public voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit their mobility outside their homes except for essential reasons,” she said. Pugh said despite the province’s words, the enforcement is not going far enough. “The whole thing doesn’t have many teeth,” she said. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
A regional chief from the Assembly of First Nations says the practice of birth alerts may result in court action. “I have not out-ruled bringing forward a class action for all birth alerts that have been put in place, for the atrocities and the separation between mothers and children unnecessarily in the past,” said Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart. Hart was speaking at the AFN’S virtual gathering Jan. 19 to discuss An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. That Act came into law Jan. 1, 2020. Section 14 of the Act ends the practise of birth alerts. It states, in part, “To the extent that providing a prenatal service that promotes preventive care is consistent with what will likely be in the best interests of an Indigenous child after he or she is born, the provision of that service is to be given priority over other services in order to prevent the apprehension of the child at the time of the child’s birth.” Birth alerts, according to the Manitoba Department of Children and Families, “are used as a mechanism to notify hospitals and other child and family services (CFS) agencies of the need for further assessment before a newborn is discharged to the care of a parent who has been assessed as ‘high risk’. Under this practice, a CFS agency issues the birth alert and Manitoba Families is responsible for the distribution of the alert.” Manitoba stopped issuing birth alerts as of July 1, 2020, six months after the federal Act came into force, announcing the practise would be “replaced with preventative and community-based supports for families.” For Ontario, the call came even later. The Ontario Ministry of Children and Women’s Issues made the announcement on July 14, 2020 that it would eliminate the birth alerts effective Oct. 15, 2020. “It has been reported the practice of birth alerts disproportionately affects racialized and marginalized mothers and families,” the Ontario government said in a news release. Ending the use of birth alerts was a recommendation from both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the legacy of Indian residential schools, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “The birth alerts, in my respectful view as a law professor and someone who has worked in this field for a long time as a lawyer, they have never been legal in terms of taking your private information and pasting it into an entire healthcare system,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who also spoke at the AFN virtual conference. She called birth alerts “one of the most traumatic, toxic, harmful experiences” a mother could have with her newborn baby ripped away from her. Turpel-Lafond pointed out that that experience with the healthcare system followed the mother, who often times was reluctant to seek health care and when she did she experienced discrimination because the birth alert was on her file. “I do see for … Indigenous women, even by the time they’re grandparents, their kids have (been) brought up, they still feel they cannot access needed health care and they are treated disrespectfully in the health care system. That is discrimination, the stain of discrimination,” she said. Turpel-Lafond said she is aware of some provinces and territories claiming they are phasing out birth alerts, but have not as of yet, which she called “unconscionable.” Indiginews reported on Jan. 15 that British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon officially cancelled the practice of birth alerts in 2019, but Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Quebec continue the practice of birth alerts. Neither Hart nor Turpel-Lafond offered any suggestions for remedies should a class action go ahead. However, Turpel-Lafond said there has to be consequences “because harm has been done.” Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
“If I ever got a chance to speak to the Biden administration, I would plead my case,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, president of Natural Law Energy (NLE). That “case” would be the value in continuing the United States’ portion of the 1,897-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline which travels from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Montana and South Dakota, ending in Steele City, Nebraska. Yesterday, in his first day in office, new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor Donald Trump’s Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. NLE, a group of three Alberta and two Saskatchewan First Nations, has been working towards a $1 billion investment in the TC Energy-owned Keystone XL pipeline. “It's a disappointment, right? It really is because it's going to affect many First Nations, even the tribes in the United States. It's going to affect them because TC Energy was almost close to actually signing up joint venture partnerships with those in the United States side,” said Francis. He says chairmen of the Nebraska tribes have told him that Biden wants to create jobs and this pipeline meets that goal. First Nations involvement was recognized by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a scathing address late Wednesday afternoon that condemned the new U.S. administration for rescinding the permit and not respecting its closest ally and trading partner. “Let me also point out that TC Energy has made tremendous progress in bringing on board First Nations on both sides of the border as potential equity partners,” said Kenney. However, not all U.S. tribes support the pipeline. The Native Organizers Alliance applauded Biden for his decision. “Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all,” said NOA executive director Judith Le Blanc. Earlier Wednesday, in anticipation of President Biden’s decision, Calgary-based TC Energy shutdown its operation. Kenney said that shutdown had cost 2,000 people their jobs. Francis admits Biden’s actions were not unexpected. In fact, the too-close-to-call November U.S. election had dampened some of the activity undertaken by NLE. Late last year, NLE hired consultants Price Waterhouse Canada to round up investors for the $1 billion investment. Investors were found but nothing was finalized. “(Price Waterhouse has) done their job on that. But really it was, of course, the election. That's what they were waiting for also,” said Francis. Also of note were preliminary talks with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. The Crown corporation created by the Alberta United Conservative Party government offers loan guarantees from $25 million to $250 million for Indigenous-led natural resource projects. “Say the project and partnership was at the point they were ready to paper the deal, we would not be in a position to offer a guarantee at this time, because there is a huge risk in respect to the way the American election may go. We don’t want to put Alberta taxpayer dollars at risk,” AIOC CEO Alicia Dubois told Windspeaker.com last October. Trump’s approval of Keystone XL came after outgoing President Barack Obama nixed the project. Biden had promised to cancel the project should he win. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer money in the Keystone XL pipeline. The Biden administration is saying no to the project now, says Francis, but he is a “glass is half-full” person. He believes Biden’s decision is political as the new president is “getting away from everything Trump has put his stamp on.” “I'm not going to give up on it because, really, Keystone XL is going to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly pipeline that is. We just have to go back to the drawing table and really re-evaluate what have we got to do to make it even more environmentally friendly?” said Francis. He believes that part of that discussion with the Biden administration has to include the science around the pipeline that makes it environmentally safe and the ongoing need for oil. Francis is hopeful there is a future for Keystone because “it really is such a big project that it could mean, in every community that we have signed up, it'll make an economic difference.” In the meantime, Francis says NLE remains involved with TC Energy. “Whenever there is something, a project that is available, if they are going to approach us to see if we have interest and, of course, we're going to show interest, because any economic development or project that we can actually put our hand on to make it more green, more environmentally friendly, we want to be there to back it up,” he said. While Keystone XL pipeline is a set back for Nekaneet First Nation, it is not the only project driving the economics for that Treaty 4 Nation. “I’m always involved with the province (of Saskatchewan). I’m always talking to them in every which way,” he said. Francis said he has received band member approval to develop a section of land along a 1.5 km-stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. He says investors are committed to a gas station in that area and there are talks about a possible Tim Hortons franchise. However, since COVID-19 hit, development has stalled. NLE members also include Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and three Alberta First Nations: Ermineskin Cree, Montana, and Louis Bull Tribe. Each member was to share equally in the benefits from the Keystone XL pipeline project. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Southern California city of Riverside has approved plans to remodel its main library to display Cheech Marin’s art collection and commit about $1 million of city money a year to help pay operational costs, according to a newspaper report. The Riverside City Council voted 4-0 to greenlight the renovation of the 1960s building that will reopen as the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture late this year, the Press-Enterprise reported Wednesday. A new main library is being constructed a few blocks away. Under the plan, the city will enter into a 25-year contract with the Riverside Art Museum to run the centre. The newspaper says so far Marin, a California native, has donated 11 masterpieces, with 500 additional pieces expected once there's a proper storage facility. The 74-year-old actor and comedian of Cheech & Chong fame is considered one of the world's foremost art collectors, according to the newspaper. The Riverside Art Museum is financing the $13 million renovation with a state grant and donations. The city will cover annual operating costs of about $1 million. Proponents say the new museum will boost downtown Riverside's economy. But opponents worry the 25-year agreement could hamstring the city's finances over the long run. The Associated Press
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
A group of doctors from Hamilton emergency departments say the province should pay nurses who have to isolate after being exposed to COVID-19. Hospital administrators in Niagara and Hamilton have said that some Ontario nurses don't get paid during this self-isolation time, which can range from seven to 14 days, if they test negative for the virus. They also can't work. The Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) emergency physician group wrote to Health Minister Christine Elliott this week about its "deep concern." "This is certainly felt to be punitive by staff. It is perceived to show a lack of support for the many sacrifices they have made, and continue to make for their profession on a daily basis," said the letter. Dr. Gaurav Gupta, who works in various HHS emergency departments, wrote the letter. His efforts started after the hospital told two nurses on the same shift as him to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate after a colleague tested positive. They were also told that they wouldn't be compensated for it. "How are we going to manage after we get sent home with no pay?" Gupta remembers a nurse telling him. Health-care workers are afraid of contracting the virus and bringing it home to their families, Gupta said. "This almost seemed like it was another pretty big blow to the nurses on that day." From April to June 2020, the letter says, an Ontario Health recommendation meant nurses were paid to self-isolate. But that expired, and the compensation ended. "Morale and burnout has been an issue throughout the pandemic," Gupta said. Ontario Health referred questions to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which said "human resources-related decisions, including decisions related to sick leave, are made by health-care organizations." But heading into self-isolation doesn't necessarily mean a person is sick, meaning some workers don't quality for sick pay under their collective agreements. This differs from what Elliott said during Question Period in November. "This was raised to me quite recently through the Ontario Nurses' Association," she said. "We want people to be paid for the work that they do, and if they're not able to work because of an exposure to someone that they're caring for, then that's a situation that we need to look into." The ministry hasn't said whether this is happening. It pointed CBC News to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. Minister Monte McNaughton was also copied on the physicians' letter. Jeff Burch, Niagara Centre NDP MPP, raised the issue in a letter to Elliott, saying the ministry was behind a directive to Ontario hospitals to stop paying self-isolating health-care workers. Elliott pointed him toward the Ontario Health recommendation. The letter, Gupta said, has received "overwhelming" support from his fellow physicians. Health-care workers have a unique experience, he said, and risk virus exposure each day they head to work. At one staff huddle, he said, a nurse said it concerned her that families had no backup if health-care workers get sick and die. "Everyone is saying that we're heroes. Everyone wants to bang pots and pans for us and cheer us on. But in the end, we really are humans," Gupta said. Wendy Stewart, spokesperson for HHS, confirmed self-isolating workers aren't paid by HHS. The organization says it supports its doctors' letter to the government. "HHS staff and physicians make incredible contributions every day to protect our community against COVID-19. We applaud our emergency physicians for supporting their colleagues who they work with side-by-side on the front lines," HHS said. Nurses support the letter, and appreciate the doctors' support, Gupta said. Physicians, nurses, and other health-care employees work in teams, so what affects one section of the team affects them all. "This lack of a safety net for health-care staff sent home due to exposure at work is also counter-productive to the efforts at reducing the spread of COVID-19 within the healthcare environment," the letter said. The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says it thanks their physician-colleagues for their solidarity on the message that nurses should be paid in full for lost time. "We are all in this global pandemic together, and value their strong voices in support of this important issue," said the ONA in a statement. "Wages should be kept whole, whether it be from the employer or from a government-initiated COVID fund." The association called the issue "vital" and says it continues to lobby the government and employers. Employees can apply for the federal government's Canadian Recovery Sickness Benefit, which gives workers who are sick or who must self-isolate $500 per week for up to two weeks. The government says people can apply for up to two weeks between September 2020 and 2021.
CALGARY — A Calgary man who killed his daughter and seriously injured her best friend in a drunk-driving crash is appealing his conviction and sentence. Michael Shaun Bomford was found guilty last January of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as causing the 2016 crash while impaired. He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. Bomford has filed an appeal that claims the sentence was excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances. He also suggests the trial judge erred by ruling hearsay text messages admissible at trial. Bomford is serving his sentence at the Drumheller Institution in Alberta. Court heard Bomford had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he took his 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, and her friend, Kelsey Nelson, to get police checks so that they could become junior ringette coaches. His daughter did not survive the crash, while Nelson suffered a severe brain injury and has no recollection of it. Bomford's trial heard that he lost control of his Jeep while driving 112 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. The Jeep rolled into the median and all three occupants were thrown out of the vehicle. (CTV Calgary) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A British Columbia man who plied two teenagers with drugs and alcohol and then failed to intervene as they died will remain in prison indefinitely after the B.C. Court of Appeal refused to overturn his sentence. Martin Tremblay was convicted in 2013 of two counts each of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life, and was labelled a dangerous offender, which carries an indeterminate sentence. His trial heard he invited 16-year-old Kayla Lalonde and 17-year-old Martha Jackson to his home, gave them drugs and alcohol until they passed out, sexually assaulted them and then failed to get help when their conditions deteriorated. In a decision posted online Thursday, a panel of three judges ruled unanimously against allowing the appeal of his sentence or an introduction of new evidence that shows his progress in sexual offender programs. Tremblay asked that his sentence be changed to 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years under supervision, claiming the trial judge failed to properly consider his risk during sentencing. Writing for the panel, Justice Patrice Abrioux says there was no legal error and while Tremblay had made progress is addressing his risk factors, he wouldn't admit it as new evidence. "The reasons as a whole indicate that the judge paid careful consideration to the appellant’s risk assessment and treatment prospects," he says in the ruling. Tremblay had a long history of offences, the court noted. He was convicted in 2003 of assaulting five teenage Indigenous girls. He invited them to his house to party, gave them alcohol and drugs, waited until they passed out and videotaped himself sexually assaulting them. Tremblay claimed as a result of the programs he had completed in prison, he had taken responsibility for his actions. The Crown had opposed the introduction of the new evidence, telling the Appeal Court it did not relate to the legal error Tremblay claimed the trial judge made or relate to the prison sentence he had been given. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — An industry analyst says Western Canada's oil producers will likely cope better in the short term with Joe Biden's cancelling of the Keystone XL presidential permit this week than they did with the same move by ex-president Barack Obama in 2015. But Phil Skolnick, a New York-based analyst for Eight Capital, agrees with other observers that the end of the pipeline will stifle new investment and production growth in the Canadian oilpatch for years to come. Shortly after being inaugurated on Wednesday, U.S. President Biden, who was Obama's vice-president, fulfilled a campaign promise and took away the pipeline permit that former president Donald Trump returned to builder TC Energy Corp. in 2019. Skolnick says the difference between now and 2015 is that producers are looking forward to opening two other export pipelines -- Line 3 and Trans Mountain -- that together provide nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity. Richard Masson, an executive fellow and energy expert at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, agrees the two remaining pipelines will provide enough capacity to allow oil production to grow into the second half of this decade. But he says uncertainty about capacity beyond that point makes it impossible for producers to make decisions about new multibillion-dollar oilsands projects, which could take five years or more to plan and build. Canadian Energy Pipeline Association CEO Chris Bloomer, meanwhile, says excess space in the oil transport system is vital going forward to provide optionality, energy security and stable pricing for producers. Earlier Thursday, TC Energy Corp. said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. The company had previously warned that blocking the project would lead to thousands of job losses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) The Canadian Press
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best. While the discovery of insulin has saved the lives of millions of people afflicted with diabetes, it is not a cure. Diabetes continues to take the lives of Canadi-ans and the rate of dia-betes is alarming. One in three Canadians are living with, or are at risk of developing diabetes. Currently, youth around 20 years-old have a 50 per cent chance of being diagnose with Type 2 dia-betes in their lifetime. The current COVID-19 pandemic is hindering care for some people with diabetes and placing people with the disease at three-times higher risk of dying from the virus if contracted. Diabetes Canada is launching a new fund-raising and awareness campaign called, “We Can’t Wait Another 100 Years to End Diabetes.”“ The discovery of insu-lin in Canada ranks among the leading achievements of medical research,” said Laura Syron, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “Although insulin has enabled an incredible change in life expectancy and quality of life for millions of people around the world, it isn’t a cure. It is a treatment. More than ever, the millions of Canadians with or at risk of diabetes need our support. We can’t wait another 100 years and we hope Canadians will support us and help to end diabetes.” Beginning in January 2021, the year long campaign will recognize the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize-winning scientific achievement by Sir Frederick Banting, Charles Best, and fellow scientists and co-discoveres of insulin, JJR Macleod and James Collip. While celebrating the milestone, the campaign aims to remind Canadians about the serious and sometimes deadly consequences of the disease which can lead to other chronic illnesses includ-ing blindness, heart attack and stroke, amputation and kidney failure. Through the campaign, Diabetes Canada will engage in a national conversation about the disease. Although this is the anniversary of an incredible discovery, Diabetes Canada says “insulin is not enough. It is the starting line, not the finish line for diabetes.” New Tecumseth has a special connection to Sir Frederick Banting. He was born on a farm in Alliston in 1891 and attended high school in the Town before leaving to attend school at the University of Toronto.T he Banting Homestead Heritage Park preserves this historic site. Diabetes Canada was started by Charles Best in 1940, and is dedicated to supporting people living with diabetes. None Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Premier François Legault says if the federal government doesn't want to ban non-essential flights then it should force those returning home from vacation to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, for two weeks. At a news conference Thursday, Legault said cracking down on travel abroad will help reduce the possibility of bringing new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus back to the province from resorts where people congregate from all over the world. The current system of checking up on people with automated calls simply isn't enough, he said, raising concern March break will lead to another surge in cases. "Right now, the quarantine for these people is not a big enough guarantee for the protection of Quebecers," the premier said. Legault said hotel quarantining worked in New Zealand and could be effective here. He said there is plenty of room in hotels, and that the RCMP or Quebec provincial police could help enforce the quarantine. The daily number of infections has been on the decline in Quebec for the past 10 days, though Legault said it's too early to lift restrictions, given that hospitalizations remain high, at just under 1,500. Legault is scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later Thursday. Earlier this week, Trudeau urged Canadians travelling for pleasure to cancel their plans but said there are limits to what Ottawa can do to stop them, given constitutional guarantees on the freedom of movement. "Our measures have been very strong, but we're always open to strengthening them as necessary," Trudeau said, when asked if the government would consider a ban on international travel. "We're always looking at various measures as they are effective elsewhere in the world."
The Tahltan Nation and the owners of the Silvertip mine in northern British Columbia, 90 kilometres southwest of Watson Lake, Yukon, have signed an impact and benefit agreement. The Tahltan Central Government says in a release it wants to implement the deal with Coeur Mining immediately. "We have a shared vision of empowering Tahltan workers, entrepreneurs and companies while working together to mitigate the mine's impacts to our Tahltan territory, culture and values," said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan central government. The silver-lead-zinc mine suspended operations almost a year ago because of low lead and zinc prices. At the time, the company said mining would not likely resume until late this year. Terry Smith, senior vice president and chief development officer for Chicago-based Coeur Mining, said the agreement will help with the process of re-starting operations. "[It] lays the foundation for a strong partnership and shared benefits between Coeur Silvertip and the Tahltan Nation by aligning our interests across several key measures of success at Silvertip, including environmental protection, employment and economic opportunities.for surrounding First Nations communities," said Smith. When operations were suspended last year, the mine had more than 160 employees. In its most recent quarterly report, Coeur Silvertip stated it's been drilling on the site to determine the size of the silver-lead-zinc deposit. It's also looking at ways it can expand the capacity of the mill at the site. The mine site is in the traditional territories of both the Tahltan Nation and the Kaska Dena Council which represents a number of Kaska First Nations in Yukon and northern B.C.. The company already has an agreement with the Kaska nations.