Winston playing in his puppy pen will brighten your day. Enjoy!
Winston playing in his puppy pen will brighten your day. Enjoy!
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for British Columbia's attorney general says the provincial health officer understands the importance of balancing any COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings against the charter right to freedom of religion. In a hearing over a petition challenging Dr. Bonnie Henry's health orders, Gareth Morley told the B.C. Supreme Court that Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders both verbally in public briefings and in writing. He says Henry's statements described how rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in B.C. last fall threatened exponential growth that could have overwhelmed the health-care system, and further restrictions were necessary to prevent transmission while keeping schools and essential workplaces open. Paul Jaffe, a lawyer for the group of petitioners that includes three Fraser Valley churches, told the court this week the restrictions substantially and unjustifiably interfere with his clients' charter right to freedom of religion. Morley told Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson that Henry believed accelerating cases constituted a health hazard, allowing her to issue orders that she acknowledged may affect charter rights in a reasonable and proportional way. However, Hinkson questioned whether Henry fully appreciated the right to religious freedom based on Morley's description of her statements related to the orders last November and December. "She talks about needs of persons to attend in-person religious services, but that really wouldn't capture the charter right that's asserted by the petitioners ... would it?" he asked. The orders have since been amended and now include specific reference to the charter and freedom of religion, Morley said, adding Henry has always recognized the importance of religious practice and in-person worship. Morley told the court Henry consulted with faith leaders before issuing the orders last year and invited churches to submit requests for case-specific exemptions in proposals outlining how they could conduct services in ways that minimize the risk of COVID-19 to her satisfaction. Jaffe said during his argument this week that his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. He said during a separate hearing last month that his clients applied for an exemption in December and did not receive a response. More legal challenges to B.C.'s public health rules have been filed by representatives of 10 other churches that are part of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats are hustling to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, confident they can avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was set for a House vote late Wednesday. The sweeping legislation, which was approved last summer but stalled in the Senate, was named in honour of Floyd, whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked protests nationwide. The bill would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement and create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. Democrats say they are determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry. But the debate over legislation has turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that Democrats were intent on slashing police force budgets. This bill doesn't do that. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said it was a reason the party, after talking confidently of growing its majority in November, instead saw it shrink to just 10 seats, 221-211. “We played too much defence on ‘defund the police,’” Perez said. Moderate Democrats said the charge helped to drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has pushed for more police funding in places like his city of Laredo, where law enforcement presence is especially concentrated given the close proximity to the Mexican border. While Democrats used their then-larger majority to pass the police reform measure in the House last summer, it stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP senators pushed an alternate plan that Democrats blocked from consideration, calling it inadequate. Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. The bill had been set for a vote Thursday, but House leaders abruptly changed the schedule after U.S. Capitol Police warned of threats of violence by a militia group seeking to storm the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 siege. Democratic control in the House is now so narrow that the loss of even a handful of moderate votes can sink legislation. But senior Democratic congressional aides said Wednesday they were confident the policing bill would clear the House and were eager to get it to the Senate, where negotiations will take longer. Despite the political attacks by Republicans, even the House's more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, appear ready to back the bill. Aides pointed to the moderate New Democrat Coalition saying this week that its members would support it. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill's prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without such legal protections, fears of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits such suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it., “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity and easing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Bass said she was not planning to make concessions before the bill clears the House. Changes would only serve to weaken it while failing to shield Democrats from the false “defund the police” narrative surrounding it, she said. “Even if they were to vote against the bill, even if they were to have a press conference denouncing the bill, they are still going to be hit with the same lie,” Bass said of Democrats. She also acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But Bass said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how, “The scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, she conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50s. Bass said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding “hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” That could prove a tall order, despite the White House's vocal support for police reform. Biden has promised to combat systemic racism and signed executive orders he says will begin doing that, though advocates are expecting the new administration to go further. Biden has tweeted that he hopes "to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario will extend the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months after a national panel recommended doing so, paving the way for an acceleration of the province's immunization effort. A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province welcomed the updated guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization released late Wednesday afternoon. The recommendation came two days after Ontario sought advice on dosing intervals in an effort to speed up its rollout, which has been criticized for being slow. "This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible and, in doing so, provide more protection to more people," Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement. The province said it will soon share details on an updated vaccine plan that accounts for the new dosing recommendation as well as expected supply of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca shots. Earlier Wednesday, Ontario said it plans to administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to residents aged 60 to 64. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the targeted use of the vaccine will help cut illness and death across Ontario. "We know that from age 60 and up there are, unfortunately, more hospitalizations when someone gets COVID," she said. "By focusing in on those parts of our population that are more vulnerable, what we ended up actually doing is tamping down and curbing transmission." Jones said the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot will not be administered through mass immunization clinics but through a "different pathway," although she did not elaborate on what that would be. Ontario said earlier this week that it was following the advice of the national vaccine panel that recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot on people aged 65 and older due to limited data on its effectiveness in seniors. Jones also said the government has signed an agreement with the province's pharmacists' association to have COVID-19 shots administered in pharmacies in the coming months. Ontario has so far focused on vaccinating the highest-priority groups, including long-term care residents and certain health-care workers. The province has said it aims to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older starting the third week of March, though the timeline is subject to change. Some public health units, however, have moved ahead with vaccinations for the general population, starting with people aged 80 and older. Those units are taking bookings for immunizations through their own web or phone systems as a provincial portal remains under development. Ontario has administered a total of 754,419 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine so far. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday that the government should follow the advice of its science table which said last week that thousands of cases could be prevented if the vaccine rollout was based on neighbourhood as well as age. "It just seems logical to me that there's an opportunity there when it comes to AstraZeneca," she said. Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the government must clearly communicate its updated plan soon. "I'm just pleading with the government, if you want public confidence, then give us a clear transparent plan," he said. "Let us know that there might be adjustments, I think the public is going to understand that." The province reported 958 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 17 more deaths from the virus. There are 668 people currently hospitalized, including 274 people in intensive care and 188 on ventilators. Meanwhile, Ontario is expected to determine later this week if a number of COVID-19 hot spot regions will move back to its pandemic restrictions framework. Toronto, Peel, and North Bay remain under strict stay-at-home orders that are set to expire Monday. The top doctors in Toronto and Peel both said Wednesday that they want their regions to re-enter the framework next week in the strictest "grey lockdown" category. Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, said lifting the order is reasonable but precautions still must be taken. She says moving to the grey category, which allows retailers to open at 25 per cent capacity, is better than placing the city in the second-strictest red category, which allows indoor restaurant dining and personal care services. Peel's medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, said positive trends are reversing due to a growing number of virus variant cases and he’s recommending a return to the grey-lockdown zone to preserve the progress that has been made. “This does permit a gradual reopening of certain sectors in our community,” Loh said. “I know it may be hard to hear for some, but our indicators still remain somewhat precarious and it makes it difficult to recommend any other level.” -with files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter and Denise Paglinawan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Pembroke – A 21-year-old Bonnechere Valley man is back home after he was granted bail following his arrest last Thursday in relation to large objects left on local roads over a five-month period, among them a hot water tank left on Highway 17 in the middle of the night endangering the lives of unsuspecting motorists. Despite the strong objections of the Renfrew County Crown Attorney’s Office citing reckless behaviour putting at risk the lives of people travelling along the highway, Joshua Patrick Boyce was allowed to return home after his mother was appointed Surety along with posting a $500 bond. He was arrested last Thursday afternoon by members of the Crime Unit of the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). A long with other local OPP Detachments in the area, police originally charged him with two counts of mischief endangering life; theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000. After his arrest, police laid three additional charges of mischief endangering life. The investigation began on October 1st, 2020 after police received numerous complaints of debris on roadways. The main roadway where this debris was located was on Highway 17 from the Olmstead-Jeffrey intersection east of Cobden, to the pull off lanes just east of B-Line Rd in Laurentian Valley. He is also accused of willfully leaving items on some other area roads endangering the lives of motorists. Beginning in early October it is alleged Mr. Boyce was involved with placing pylons on Pembroke St. E. near the 148 Highway. Along with Mr. Boyce, Annie Immel and Brent Ethier are said to have seen pylons on Cecilia St near LifeLabs, took them, and placed them on the Highway 148 west-bound turn off at Pembroke St E. across the lane so no car could drive through. It is alleged they then parked at the Esso gas station to watch what vehicles would do with the pylons on the road. After some of the vehicles started to drive off into the ditch to get around the pylons, Ms. Immel went out and removed the pylons before an accident occurred. Then, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ms. Immel returned to Pembroke St E near the small hill by Old Mill Rd. where the speed limit changes from 60km/h to 80km/h. They placed pylons across the road in the lanes near that location, but as they were unable to find a place to sit and watch the vehicles avoid the pylons, they removed them shortly after placing them there. On January 8, Mr. Boyce and three others are accused of placing numerous stones across the lanes of Highway 17 near Olmstead-Jeffrey Rd. causing vehicles to swerve to avoid the stones, with two vehicles hitting the stones, causing damage to the vehicles. On February 7, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ryan Fitzgerald were driving late at night on Round Lake Rd near Doran Rd. when Mr. Boyce left the vehicle and walked to the rear of the building coming back to the car with 4 black metal tire rims and put them in the rear seat area of the vehicle. The men proceeded to drive on Highway 17 towards Cobden and while en route, Mr. Boyce is alleged to have attempted to push out the tire rims onto the highway and Mr. Fitzgerald became upset and pulled off the highway. Mr. Boyce is said to have grabbed the ignition keys and placed the four tire rims onto the highway in the lanes despite Mr. Fitzgerald’s objections. A third incident on February 9 linking Mr. Boyce to the highway debris involved a hot water tank and water softener tank that had been left on the shoulder of the road at the intersection of B-line and Highway 17. Over the course of five months numerous other debris was placed along Highway 17 during the night hours. These caused many motorists to swerve and some caused damage to their vehicles. As a result, many people became hypervigilant and nervous to drive the highway due to the debris being found. History of Criminal Activity Mr. Boyce is also identified as a person of interest related to other criminal activities prior to the placement of objects on the highway. Based on interviews with some of those involved, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and some companions were driving through Pembroke in the early hours of May 24 when they began discharging fireworks at various locations. One of the locations was near 385 Mackay Street, and it is alleged Mr. Boyce had lit a firework and threw it over the car towards a residence. The firework ignited causing a fire. The Pembroke Fire Department responded and quickly contained the blaze. One occupant of the home escaped without injury and damages are in excess of $14,000. Police have also linked Mr. Boyce to a shed fire in an apartment fire located at 9 Bennett Street in Pembroke. The fire began shortly after six o’clock in the morning on December 26th, where it alleged Mr. Boyce and another individual started the fire which resulted in complete structural loss of the shed, with an estimated value of approximately, $20,000.00. On January 30th, an individual was being interviewed on another investigation. During the interview, the individual stated that Mr. Boyce had told him that he and Braden Baumhour started the shed fire because they were bored. The two men were charged with arson. When he appeared for his bail hearing last Friday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke, the Crown argued against his release, citing the numerous crimes linked to Mr. Boyce. Despite the Crown’s objections, Justice of the Peace Jocelyne St. Jean granted the accused bail with strict conditions and he is to remain at his Eganville home until his next appearance. Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
It has been more than a year since the government issued a temporary extension on renewing health cards, driver's licences and licence plate stickers. The pause was implemented to prevent line ups at Service Ontario during the pandemic. So what's the status on that now? Jessica Nyznik has the details.
Calabogie – Calabogie – A long-time Conservative, who spent several years as a volunteer on the local Tory riding association and is proud to be a card-carrying member of the federal Conservative Party of Canada, said the time has come for MP Cheryl Gallant to resign due to her inappropriate statements in a video, among them being that Liberals want to normalize sexual activity with children. “That statement is inexcusable,” Bill Beacham told the Leader. “She painted all Liberals with the same brush and although she said her statement was taken out of context, the damage was done. It gives me no pleasure in calling for Cheryl Gallant to resign.” Although no longer directly involved in the local association due to health reasons, he is immensely proud of the various roles he performed as a volunteer and said local Conservatives should be proud they helped Mrs. Gallant win seven consecutive elections. Whether it was serving as financial officer for the riding association or emptying garbage cans after a political event or delivering turkeys to raise funds, he said he holds no malice towards her nor does he have an axe to grind. “I have nothing against her and I have worked alongside her over the years, but I think I speak for many when I say her time has passed and instead of leading by example, she is promoting conspiracy theories. She has been elected or re-elected seven times and has represented Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke for over 20 years in Parliament. She is currently the longest serving woman in the Conservative caucus." Mr. Beacham said Mrs. Gallant enjoys tremendous support in the riding and one would hope that after 20 years as a politician she would have earned the title of “elder statesman”. “Unfortunately Mrs. Gallant continues to make hyper political statements that contributes to the current polarization and divisiveness in Canada,” he said. “It is not helpful, in my opinion, to the Conservative Party of Canada.” Mr. Beacham admits he struggled when coming to his decision to publicly call on her to resign, while at the same time calling on Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to address the matter. He understands Mr. O’Toole likely has bigger “fish to fry”, but he said at the very least he should allow a nomination process well before any future election. In his opinion an open and fair nomination meeting should take place to not only present a new candidate for an upcoming election, but it will allow fresh ideas to be introduced among the local membership. “I am disappointed with Mrs. Gallant’s recent controversy and at the same time I am also disappointed by the inaction of Mr. O’Toole,” he said. “I have written letters to both of them and I have yet to receive any reply. I even called Mrs. Gallant’s office out of respect for her and asked her to contact me so that she can explain her actions to see if there is any rationale behind her series of allegations against the Liberals and her continued promotion of baseless conspiracy theories. I have yet to hear back from her and it is for that reason I decided to publicly call for her resignation.” Perhaps what disappoints him most is the forum where she made the statements. The video, which was posted by Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell on her YouTube page, was made earlier this year when she was interacting in a virtual meeting with members of the Queen’s University Conservative Club based in Kingston. While talking to the students she made several other outrageous claims including that Liberals are "radicals" who want all illicit drugs to be legal. She also promoted a conspiracy theory that "cultural Marxists" have taken over every university administration and are silencing free speech on campuses. She also claimed the ‘elites’ call the university takeover as part of a great reset or build back better or green new deal. She said the names change but the goal remains the same and that means more power for the powerful and less freedom for everyone else. Up until the last month, Mrs. Gallant has remained relatively quiet and has rarely spoken in a public forum since the 2019 federal election. Over the years, she has made several outlandish statements that have drawn national media attention and caused embarrassment for her fellow caucus members and the various leaders of her party. On more than one occasion she has been forced by the Leader’s Office to issue public apologies, sometimes on the floor of the House of Commons. When asked why she has suddenly resumed her habit of getting national attention for controversial statements, Mr. Beacham could only guess at the reason. “In my opinion, I think she actually believes these wild conspiracy theories,” he said. “That in itself should be a good sign that it is time for her to step aside. Even if she issued an apology today for her actions, it is too late for that. “She is not some rookie making a first-time mistake. She knows better. Instead of using her experience to help promote the values of the Conservative Party, especially to impressionable university students, she is only adding to the divisiveness of today’s politics. I find no joy in calling for the current MP to resign.” Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
The owner of a Calgary cafe has started a letter-writing campaign aimed at convincing city council to reverse a decision that will result in the eatery being evicted from a historic building in Eau Claire. The city, however, says its decision is irreversible — and has been in the works for a long time. The 1886 Buffalo Cafe has been running out of the historic Eau Claire Lumber Company building for about 40 years. Next month, however, the city will not be renewing its lease, in order to undertake some long-anticipated area refurbishment. City councillors said the cafe owners were given notice in 2017 that the city would need to move the building to do some major flood work, and as part of the redevelopment that was happening in Eau Claire. But owner Joanna McLeod told CBC News she feels the city led her astray with confusing communications that made her think they'd be able to stay in the building longer. It prompted her to start a letter-writing campaign and petition in the hopes of saving the cafe. "I just think there's a lot of missing information for the city's aspect," she said. "We've been the best tenants for 40 years … and we would really just love to stay in that building." 'Timeline of assurance' McLeod said they were in negotiations with the city to renew its lease in 2018. At the time, they were on a month-to-month lease, she said, because of the developments that were planned for Eau Claire. The cafe owners were told the revitalization of the area would have the cafe moved closer to the river, and in the same building. In February 2020, McLeod said, she was offered a five-year lease by the city that went unsigned after a realtor told her the language wasn't typical for a commercial lease, and the cafe owners wanted a few details changed before they committed. According to the city, the lease was rescinded in November 2020, after the tenant failed to sign and the city received confirmation of $8.6 million in funding from the province to proceed with the Eau Claire Plaza reconstruction project. But McLeod said there are documents and emails that showed a "timeline of assurances given to us by the city, and kind of leading us down a path of security with them." The owners were blindsided, she said, when they were eventually given notice by a leasing agent that they had 90 days to vacate the premises. And thinking they were going to be staying in the building, McLeod said they invested money into the place. "Had we known that it was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to continue business out of that building … we would have chosen to do business a little differently," McLeod said. Development plans not a secret, councillor says If the decision isn't reversed by the city, McLeod said, she is hoping they will be compensated for the business decisions they made "under bad faith." However, Coun. Druh Farrell told the CBC that while she is very sympathetic with the owners, they have known for a very long time that these developments were in the works. "It's not a secret, and the information has been shared with council, and we've been working on this for a number of years," said Farrell, who represents Ward 7. Significant changes are coming to the area, including essential flood work, that will be very disruptive — but there is a commitment to restore the building and put it in a new designated location, Farrell said. It will be available again in 2023. "There will be no reversing this decision," Farrell said. Still, McLeod is hoping the city might budge. "We're imploring them to change their mind. It's a building that's not only close to our hearts, it's a building that's close to many hearts," McLeod said. "It's just such an iconic piece of Calgary."
Rideau Lakes Township has approved a one-per-cent property tax rate increase for 2021. At the township council's regular meeting earlier this week, members agreed in a 7-2 vote for the local tax rate increase, down from the 2.5-per-cent increase that was presented in December. The one-per-cent tax increase translates into an additional $12 per year in property taxes on the average home, assessed at $250,000. This in turn measures out to an increase of $113,000 in revenue for the township. The township ended 2020 with an estimated surplus of just over $1 million. Township administrators say this is attributed to the impact of COVID-19 delaying some projects and stronger-than-forecasted revenue. Many on council gave kudos to the township staff for configuring a budget for this year that increases property taxes by only one per cent while still increasing reserves and decreasing the debt level. "I'm really happy with the budget that the staff presented," said South Crosby Coun. Claire Smith during Monday's meeting, adding that in a way she feels the budget is more the staff's than council's due to the strains virtual meetings have on discussions and debates. Only Mayor Arie Hoogenboom and South Elmsley Coun. Jeff Banks voted against the budget. Banks said he would have preferred no increase in the property tax, with Hoogenboom agreeing. "I received a lot of calls, a lot of people are struggling with the COVID," said Hoogenboom. Despite the mayor voting against the budget on the "principle" of the matter, he also said he will respect the will of council and ensure it works best for the township. "The township's fiscal future is bright," said Hoogenboom. "The 2021 budget continues our commitment to prudent spending and progressive rural governance." In a municipal services committee meeting last week, council had a lively discussion on what budget proposal to bring to the regular council. Four options were presented by staff, two each offered either a zero- or one-per-cent property tax increase. At the committee meeting, Hoogenboom and Banks were joined by Couns. Cathy Livingston and Bob Lavoie in voting no on the eventual budget option. Both Livingston and Lavoie ultimately voted yes on the budget in the regular council meeting Monday. All other councillors – Carolyn Bresee, Joan Delaney, Marcia Maxwell, Ron Pollard and Smith – said in the meetings they were happy with the budget brought forward by staff and voted for it in both committee and council. According to a release by the township, the budget includes revenue and expenses of $18.6 million. A total of $2.9 million is being invested towards roads. Plum Hollow Road, which runs from County Road 5 to Healey Road at the Elizabethtown-Kitley Township line, has been designated for a full roadbed reconstruction. The schedule of maintenance stone application to gravel roads has been altered to have the program run at a two- and three-year cycle rather than a three- and five-year cycle. Major investments in buildings include revamping the Ronald E. Holman Municipal Complex. The building formerly housed the Rideau Lakes detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police before it moved to the former Rideau Centennial Public School in Portland. Along with renovating the former police space into a library, work on a new outdoor recreation area will begin this year. Other community halls and parks in the township will be receiving a combined $600,000 in investments, of which half is coming from revenue sources like grants, donations and parkland reserves. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
VANCOUVER — Endangered southern resident killer whales would have a much better chance of survival if chinook were in their hunting grounds during winter off the coast of British Columbia, a new study says. The whales expand their menu and the distance they travel as they forage for food from October to March in the waters off California up to Alaska, which leaves them with little energy, says the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Plos One. Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said this is the first study that looks at the diet requirements of killer whales from their perspective. Hanson, fellow author Robin Baird and others collected and analyzed the prey and fecal samples of northern and southern resident killer whales for 13 years, starting in 2004. They found that chinook salmon made up almost all of the whales' diet in spring but fell to around 70 per cent in mid-winter and plunged to about 50 per cent heading into the fall. Baird said the animals supplemented their diet with coho and chum salmon, as well as other fish including lingcod, halibut and flounder, which are bottom dwellers. Of all the fish in the sea, whales prefer chinook salmon because they are the largest, richest, most energy dense and easily intercepted, said Baird, who is a research biologist at Washington's Cascadia Research Collective. "The whales have become these chinook specialists probably over tens of thousands of years because of the great availability of those fish," he said in an interview Wednesday. "If the whales have to expend a lot more energy getting that prey then they basically get less bang for the buck." The whales then don't have enough energy to store fat that helps them keep warm in the cold waters. This leaves them weak and unable to reproduce, he said, adding most mothers are not able to feed a calf even if they do give birth. "Reproduction of southern residents is directly or indirectly related to chinook abundance," he added. Chinook populations have fallen dramatically over the last 100 years by human actions including farming, the construction of dams, industrial activity and the destruction of estuaries, he said. All 14 stocks of chinook salmon that are preferred by whales are threatened, he said. These fish would move in and out of inshore waters at different times of the year and ensure a steady supply of food for the orcas. "Let's say, just for sake of argument, there was one river that had 100 million chinooks that all came back during the same time of the year," Baird said. "That's going to be a lot less beneficial to the whales than 100 rivers, each of which have a million chinook and those chinooks all come back at different times of the year." One way to ensure a steady chinook supply for orcas is to catch fish at the mouths of rivers after they've passed through areas where whales forage, he said. "Unfortunately, there is no one simple solution." Overfishing and large-scale degradation of spawning and rearing habitat are some of the biggest threats to chinook salmon and by extension the southern resident killer whales, Baird said. The southern resident killer whale population is just over 70. Killer whales are top predators, which means they are often ecosystem indicators, he said. A reduction in the southern resident killer whale population is indicative of a degraded environment, which affects everyone, he said. "So, I think that killer whales are an indicator," Baird said. "And the big question is whether or not we're listening." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
Pembroke -- Three new cases of COVID-19 in Renfrew County and district were confirmed on Tuesday, bringing the total of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 349. The Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU) reported on Monday two individuals were in hospital in intensive care and another individual was in hospital. At that point 29 people were in isolation with confirmed cases of the virus. Last week Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health for the RCDHU, issued a stern warning to county residents following a large number of cases identified in the Arnprior and McNab-Braeside area after a gathering in the community which saw a large number of people infected and several businesses affected. “RCD has been classified as a Green Zone for weeks now, which will likely change if cases continue to rise,” he warned. “Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers delayed needs. The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the Arnprior area.” Last Friday, the RCDHU confirmed nineindividuals that reside in the Town of Arnprior and five that reside in the Township of McNab-Braeside tested positive for COVID-19 in a period of a week. The health unit noted there were 37 high-risk contacts and six local businesses affected. According to the health unit, many of these cases attended the same social gathering, and several others are considered close contacts of those that attended the gathering. RCDHU has directed all persons and business impacted to self-monitor and/or self-isolate until exposure and risks have been assessed by the contact tracing team at RCDHU. “This will continue to be followed by further testing and investigation, which could lead to more cases over the coming days,” Dr. Cushman said. The health unit was supported by the mayors of the affected communities in asking for continued vigilance and adherence of COVID protocols among area residents. “I really encourage the residents of Arnprior to take this virus seriously and not let your guard down,” Arnprior Mayor Walter Stack said. His comments were echoed by Mayor Tom Peckett of McNab/Braeside. “With the new variants of concern spreading in other regions across Ontario, we want to ensure that we are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community, family and friends safe,” he said. The county currently has one long-term care home in outbreak. Miramichi Lodge in Pembroke has seen three confirmed cases of the virus. The health unit has completed 65,633 tests since the pandemic began and although almost 350 cases have been identified so far there have been zero of the more contagious variants identified in the county and district. COVID testing continues in the county with tests on Thursday in Laurentian Valley, Cobden and Deep River. Friday tests are being done in Arnprior, Horton and Barry’s Bay. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Those requiring a test are reminded to wear a face mask or covering, arrive at their scheduled time and bring their health card and proof of address. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Mariah Carey's older brother on Wednesday sued the singer over her recent best-selling memoir "The Meaning of Mariah Carey," accusing her of defamation and inflicting emotional distress. Morgan Carey is seeking unspecified damages in a complaint filed in a New York state court in Manhattan, including over book passages that he said falsely suggested he was violent. The lawsuit was filed one month after Mariah Carey's older sister Alison sued her for $1.25 million for alleged emotional distress over the memoir, which was published in September and topped The New York Times' nonfiction best-seller list in October.
When the Hilton Garden Inn Fredericton was opened in 2018, the expectation was its rooms would be packed every spring and summer with thousands of convention attendees from across the country. But, for the second year in a row, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to that. With restrictions on travel and gatherings continuing for the foreseeable future, that's put a chill on large national and regional conventions, and that's a cause for concern to Celine Bertin, general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn. "April, May, June, are big convention months, however, August is probably one of the biggest convention months, along with September, October and very much November as well. "So with that said, we're a convention hotel and a corporate hotel... so, yeah, [there being no conventions] does affect us in a big way." Bertin said the hotel's plan hinged so much on catering to convention attendees, that its was located next door and attached to the Fredericton Convention Centre. "If there wasn't a convention centre, frankly, we wouldn't be downtown." Trevor Morgan, general manager of the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton.(Submitted by Joanne Barlow) The Crowne Plaza is directly across the street from the centre, and typically hosts convention attendees in its rooms and at its pub and restaurant. That won't be happening this year, and that worries Trevor Morgan, its general manager. "The bottom line is we won't be able to replace that revenue, so we do anticipate running significantly lower revenue and occupancy through that period because of the lack of that business," Morgan said. More help needed for businesses The likely loss of the 2021 convention season is just the latest blow to an industry already particularly hard hit by the pandemic, said Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.(Submitted by Carol Alderdice) "It makes such a big difference to hotels and restaurants when conventions are in town. It keeps them busy and it keeps them alive, and that's just not been happening. "That's why we've had to count on federal support to keep them going." Alderdice said that aid has been well used, but more is needed. She said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which provides up to 75 per cent of employee wages for eligible employers, should be extended to the fall, and raised to cover 85 per cent. She also wants to see an extension to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which helps tenants pay the rent if their business or non-profit has lost revenue due to the pandemic. In a media briefing Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those two programs, which were originally set to end next week, will be extended to June. CBC News did not receive a response from the Prime Minister's Office about whether it would also increase the pay-outs offered under those programs. Hopeful for recovery The Fredericton Convention Centre accommodated 34,000 convention attendees and generated an estimated $12.9 million for the local economy in 2019. Instead of convention-goers, for 2021 the convention centre will be hosting lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, as the Department of Justice has agreed to rent the space to act as the Fredericton Court of Queen's Bench to allow enough space for physical distancing. The Fredericton Convention Centre on Queen Street.(Daniel McHardie/CBC) While the agreement has softened the blow for the convention centre, Cathy Pugh, its general manager, said the loss of the season is hard on the industry. "We were the first hit, the hardest hit, and it will take us the longest to recover," Pugh said. "But we are hopeful that we will start to recover. It will take a couple of years. We'll start seeing groups coming back in 2022 and then hopefully in 2023 it will continue on the upswing, and we're hopeful that we will return in 2024 to pre-pandemic numbers or thereabouts." Jeremy Trevors, a spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, said convention activities related to catering and meeting facilities typically account for about $30 million in revenue generated in New Brunswick annually, while another $80 million is earned in room bookings related to conventions. Trevors said the department hopes bookings for small meetings will re-emerge in the late spring, but that remains contingent on COVID-19 public health protocols, which will dictate what can and can't be done. "We look forward to working with the New Brunswick Hotel Association and destination marketing organizations to plan recovery for this area of business," he said.
WASHINGTON — Defence Department leaders placed unusual restrictions on the National Guard for the day of the Capitol riot and delayed sending help for hours despite an urgent plea from police for reinforcement, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a “voice cracking with emotion” in a 1:49 p.m. call as rioters began pushing toward the Capitol. Walker said he immediately relayed the request to the Army but did not learn until after 5 p.m. that the Defence Department had approved it. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol, arriving in 18 minutes, Walker said. The hourslong delay cost the National Guard precious minutes in the early hours of the Jan. 6 rioting, with Walker saying he could have gotten personnel into the building within 20 minutes of getting approval. As it stood, the support did not happen until the evening. The delay also stood in contrast to the swift authorization for National Guard deployment that Walker said was granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled Washington last June as an outgrowth of racial justice protests. A senior Pentagon official who testified, Robert Salesses, said then-acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller wanted to take time to understand precisely how National Guard troops would be used at the Capitol and what assignments they would be given. Mindful of criticism that the response to the demonstrations last spring was heavy-handed, military officials were also concerned about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, and thought such visuals could inflame the rioters, Walker said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing was the latest in a series dedicated to the government's preparations and response as a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters laid siege to the Capitol. Taken together, the hearings have spelled out the challenge law enforcement officials face in sorting through an ocean of unverified tips but also highlighted how police inadequately prepared for the Trump loyalists; that FBI warnings about the threat of violence did not reach top police officials; and that requests for aid were not promptly answered. “Anytime there's an attack, we in the FBI want to bat 1,000, and we want to not ever have this happen again,” said Jill Sanborn, the bureau's top counterterrorism official and one of the witnesses. “So we're asking ourselves exactly the questions that you're asking: Is there a place that we could have collected more (intelligence)? Is there something we could have done?” Meanwhile, the Capitol Police disclosed the existence of intelligence of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the Capitol on Thursday. The revelation, coming as the acting police chief was testifying before a House subcommittee, differed from an earlier advisory from the House sergeant-at-arms that said police had no indication that any such violence was planned. Much of the focus at Wednesday's hearing was on communications between the National Guard and the Defence Department. Walker, for instance, described what he said were “unusual” directives he was asked to follow, including needing approval to relocate troops from one traffic control point to another. As chaos escalated on Jan. 6, then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund asked him for National Guard help in a frantic call and then again on a call with Army officials, who said they did not “think that it looked good” to have a military presence. “The response to the request took too long, so I think there needs to be a study done to make sure that never happens again,” Walker said. “It shouldn't take three hours to get a “yes” or “no” answer to an urgent request." That account was consistent with the recollection of Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, who told lawmakers last week that he was “stunned” by the delayed response. Contee said Sund pleaded with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting escalated. Walker’s testimony, however, conflicts a bit with timelines that were put out and discussed by senior military and defence leaders in the weeks after the riot. According to the Defence Department, Walker was called at 3 p.m. by Army officials, and was told to prepare Guard troops to deploy. That call was designed to give the Guard notice of the impending deployment so they would have time to move troops from their traffic posts to the armoury where they would get new orders, protective equipment and weapons. The Pentagon said Miller, the acting Defence secretary, gave verbal authorization for the Guard troops to deploy at about 4:30 p.m., and that at 5:02 p.m., 154 members of the D.C. Guard left the armoury, heading to the Capitol. The Capitol Police had also indicated days earlier that they would not seek National Guard help, and in letters to Walker, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser laid out the city’s request for help and made it clear there would be restrictions on the Guard members. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said during a break in the hearing that senators “certainly will have questions” for Miller and for former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. “Whether that’s going to require testimony or not, I don’t know, but it’s definitely going to require an opportunity to ask them questions about their view, from their perspective, of why this decision-making process went so horribly wrong,” Blunt said. At last week's hearing, officials in charge of Capitol security blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. Thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol, and multiple committees across Congress are investigating Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Sund has said he was unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had circulated it to others in the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated through the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post and posted on an internet portal available to law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” ___ Associated Press writers Ben Fox, Michael Balsamo and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Five Black Muslim women, all Somali-Canadians wearing hijabs, have been attacked or threatened in Edmonton in the last 10 weeks. The city's Al-Rashid Mosque began offering Muslim women self-defence lessons following the attacks. The classes are full. Trent Daley is a member of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. He says someone approaches him or his network on a weekly basis about an assault. Most victims are Black and Muslim women. "There's been a notable marked increase (in assaults) following the pandemic. It's so pervasive right now," Daley says. "It's full of racial epithets, full of disgusting language targeting them based off the scarf that they wear and the identity they presumed that this person has. It's dehumanizing." Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. Cheryl Voordenhout with the Edmonton Police Service says it received 60 reports of hate crimes last year. So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women. On Dec. 8, a mother and daughter were violently attacked in the Southgate mall parking lot. A week later, near the same mall, another woman was subject to racial slurs as someone tried to hit her head with a shopping bag. In February, a man made racial comments and became aggressive toward a woman at the University of Alberta transit centre. The same day, a man came up behind a woman walking in a popular neighbourhood, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa. The latest attack happened Feb. 17. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said a man approached a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Century Park transit station, swore at her and threatened to kill her. Political leaders, including Premier Jason Kenney, have spoken out against the attacks. But the CEO of the national Muslims council says condemnation is not enough and government leaders at the local and provincial level need to take action. "Anti-Black racism is a real problem in Alberta," says Mustafa Farooq. "Black-Muslim women tend to face greater challenges than almost anyone else, because racism and gendered Islamophobia are real problems. "We can look, for example, at street harassment bylaws. We can look at ways in which anti-racism initiatives are being funded. We can look at hate crime units and their advocacy in dealing with these challenges." "So much can be done immediately, but it's not happening." Daley added that recent rallies and marches in Edmonton and Calgary in opposition to COVID-19 measures are examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated racism in Alberta. Some participants were seen carrying tiki torches, which many say are a symbol used by white supremacists. Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the police service is doubling down in its effort to work with the Somali community to address racially motivated assaults. "We've got to listen to what they need and then we've got to figure out how we can ... actually get some of the changes that they need," he said at a news conference Tuesday. McFee also alluded to the suspects in the assaults possibly having mental-health issues. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This story has been edited. An interview subject was removed from the original version because of concerns raised about her safety.
EDMONTON — Alberta is following guidance from a national vaccine advisory panel and increasing the time between COVID-19 doses. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the greater lag time will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. She said the plan is for Alberta to match British Columbia, which announced Monday it will follow the four-month window and get a first dose to everyone who wants one by July. “This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose,” Hinshaw said Wednesday. “We can all take heart that by getting more first doses to Albertans more quickly, the change I am announcing today brings the light at the end of the tunnel nearer.” Earlier Wednesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended first and second doses can be to up to four months apart if supplies are limited. The decision was made based on emerging studies in places including Quebec, the United Kingdom and Israel that show even one dose of vaccine can be about 70 to 80 per cent effective. When vaccines were first available late last year, manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recommended two shots spaced three to six weeks apart. Alberta is now into its second round of priority vaccinations. The 29,000 highest-risk Albertans, those in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, have been vaccinated twice. Seniors over 75 and First Nations people 65 and older are among those now allowed to book their shots. Hinshaw said second dose appointments will go ahead for those who have already booked them, and those who want to book a second shot within the previous six-week window will be able to up to March 10. Starting then, those who book a first vaccine dose will have the second one delayed by as much as four months. Newfoundland and Labrador also announced an extension to four months. Manitoba has said it will bring in a delay. Ontario said it was weighing a similar move and seeking advice from the federal government. The change comes as more vaccine doses are on the way. Along with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the federal government has approved a third vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca. Hinshaw said Alberta expects to soon receive shipments of that vaccine as early as next week. Alberta has so far administered 255,000 vaccinations, with 89,000 people getting the full two doses. Hinshaw reported 402 new cases Wednesday. There were 251 people in hospital, 48 of whom were in intensive care. Twelve more people died, bringing that total in the province to 1,902. Case numbers and hospitalizations are a small fraction of what they were at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 in December. The economy remains under public-health restrictions, which include no indoor gatherings and limited capacities for retailers and restaurants. Premier Jason Kenney announced earlier this week a delay in loosening some rules, given unknowns, such as variant strains of the virus. The strains can spread much faster than the original one, with the potential to quickly overwhelm the health system. Alberta has detected 500 variant cases, and Hinshaw announced Wednesday the first variant case at a continuing-care home. Churchill Manor, in Edmonton, has 27 staff and residents who have tested positive, with 19 of them positive for the variant. “Local public-health teams and the operator are taking this outbreak extremely seriously and (are) working closely together to limit spread and protect everyone involved,” said Hinshaw. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
A promotional photo and video shoot was produced at McGeachie Trails in Limerick Township on Feb. 27 to highlight the trails’ suitability for various winter sports for residents and tourists alike, and to promote economic development. The photo and video materials, focusing on cross country skiing and snowshoeing, were produced by Hastings Destination Trails Inc. with a grant from the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, in cooperation with Hastings County. It is set to be used to promote McGeachie Trails after the pandemic has subsided, likely for the 2021/2022 winter season. According to HDTI’s Cathy Trimble, the organization had received a $2,500 digital marketing grant from the OHTO recently, and decided to do a photo and video shoot to market McGeachie Trails as a winter tourist destination for the 2021/2022 winter season. Luisa Sorrentino is the marketing coordinator for economic development and tourism with Hastings County, and emphasizes that the photos and video will not be used to publicize McGeachie Trails this year, due to COVID-19, but will be used to do so next year for the 2021/2022 winter season. “So, we are not promoting the area this time during COVID-19. We are all local within Hastings County. We’re wearing masks and we’re doing everything according to protocol,” she says. While there was an uptick in local tourism to the area in 2020, with some businesses seeing a 30 per cent increase in revenues, Sorrentino wants to prepare for when the pandemic is behind us and tourism from other parts of Ontario, Canada and the world can start to resume. “We’ve been busy helping businesses survive and pivot during COVID-19, and also to be ready with services when [COVID-19] ends and tourists come back to the area,” she says. To that end, HDTI and Hastings County highlighted the trails’ suitability to use for cross country skiing and for snowshoeing. They had Clive Emery, the owner and operator of Trips and Trails Adventure Outfitting (tripsandtrails.ca), and an avid skier and sportsman, to teach a handful of people how to cross-country ski on the trails and take them on a short journey for the video. Trimble confirmed that Emery was there that morning teaching skiing fundamentals and that the photo and video shoot went well. “He was the instructor and supported us with equipment for the event. They [his students] were novice cross country skiers and they really enjoyed themselves. Clive just showed them the ropes and they went for a short ski,” she says. Bernie Hogan was also there that afternoon to teach a small group of people how to snowshoe for the afternoon’s video segment and to take them on a brief snowshoeing excursion. They were the Card family; Meredith, Shayne and son Maxwell, and Rick Cassidy and Mary Ann Pierce. An award-winning long-distance runner and snowshoe racer, Hogan is also the athlete ambassador for northern Ontario with Snowshoe Canada (snowshoecanada.ca/contact). He works at CP Rail as a track maintenance technician. He’s been snowshoeing since he was a kid, but took up snowshoe racing a few years ago to keep his conditioning for running in place over the winter. Racing snowshoes are smaller and lighter than traditional snowshoes. “I started getting injured running in the snow, so I was looking for a different kind of sport and found it with snowshoe racing,” he says. Hogan has seen more people on snowshoes this winter than he did last year, and says it’s even hard to buy snowshoes at all as they’re selling out. Grooming the trails that day was Don Stoneman, a retired editor and journalist, director of Canoe Kayak Ontario and an avid canoeist. He used his specialized extra wide track snowmobile and its grooming attachment. “It was a bit of a challenge as the snow was so wet, so I just packed it down with the snowmobile. I’ll track it when it gets a bit colder,” he says. The cross-country skiing and snowshoeing were captured for posterity that day by local photographer Emily Musclow (emilymaeannphotography.com) and local videographer Erica Tripp (ericasorensonmedia.ca). Tripp, who recently moved back to Gilmour from British Columbia, captured the action along the trail with her digital video camera and her gimbal, which is a camera mount that uses three motors within the mount to compensate for unwanted movements and keep the camera steady. “The weather was pretty interesting this morning. It was a bit of a challenge shooting with the snow, but we made it work,” she says. Overall, the photo and video shoot went great that day and Trimble and Sorrentino were happy with the results. “The idea is for people, not during COVID-19 but next year, to come up here as tourists or even if they buy a place up here,” says Sorrentino. “They want to be able to have opportunities to go out and live an active lifestyle and try new experiences, something they’ve never done before, like snowshoeing or skiing.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Pembroke – It’s back to the drawing board for the County of Renfrew Official Plan(OP) with a few changes still needed at the committee level and then back to Renfrew County Council before more distribution to municipalities and an eventual public meeting. “I’m not prepared to have this endorsed to commenting agencies until the council of the County of Renfrew is satisfied,” said Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue last Wednesday at a virtual county council meeting after pointing out some of the changes councillors were told were made were either vague or not outlined in the document. One issue was the OP amendment councillors had received as part of their packet had undergone additional tweaking by staff. While some areas of concern were eliminated others were being studied on a case-by-case basis and Mayor Donohue said one concern was the document needed to be clearer before it was passed on to municipalities and other agencies for comment. “Agricultural land is deserving of protection or it is not,” he noted. The result is this Official Plan amendment, which is very much a living document, will not be approved very quickly. The most contentious issues appear to be the agricultural designation of some properties as well as the deer yards in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, but many of the other areas which had created concern and angst in the community have been resolved. These include the one kilometre development buffer around urban communities and some of the mapping which is now just being used as a guide instead of triggering an automatic study. Mayor Donohue’s resolution to send it back to the Community Development committee and then return to county council was overwhelmingly endorsed by the mayors and reeves. This is despite the fact county staff, including CAO Paul Moreau, re-iterated the intent had never been to approve the document but rather to keep the commenting process ongoing. “This is a resolution that keeps the process moving forward,” the CAO said of the original resolution to send the draft amendment out to commenting groups. Director of Development and Property, Craig Kelley, had the task of outlining the changes made to the Official Plan amendment, including several which were not in the document councillors had before him. He stressed the intent by county staff was to help the county grow. “We are development friendly, but it is just a matter of working within the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS),” he said. Some of the changes he highlighted included secondary dwelling units being allowed on properties. “We’ve heard of many folks who want to bring additional family members to the area,” he said. “It does allow an additional housing unit outside the primary dwelling.” This could keep a family on the farm for example in a separate home. This will all be subject to local zoning by-laws by lower-tier municipalities, he added. The fringe development issue, where the county had recommended any development within a kilometre of urban centres be restricted to allow for the possible expansion of water/sewer services, has all but been removed. While the councillors had the information in the packet it would be narrowed down to 500 metres outside an urban limit, Mr. Kelley said staff now recommended the removal of this policy. “We talked about one kilometre or 500 metres,” he said. “We understand the tone against. At this time, we’d like to remove this proposal.” However, he said this is an issue which still needs to be considered. “When it comes to development in the fringe, we will work with the proponent and the municipality to see if it is the best fit,” he said. A growth friendly change was small housing developments on private roads which would also be for small housing groupings on private roads, he said. As well, the aggregate layer is now considered information only and does not constrain development. One issue of ongoing contention is the designation of new agricultural land in Horton Township. Mr. Kelley said staff needs direction on this. “We have to strike a balance between the PPS and what county council would like us to do,” he stressed. “We are seeing rural growth. We get it.” The planning department is receiving between two and three inquiries a day and is quite busy, he added. Warden Debbie Robinson said it is important not to focus on a confrontational environment with the Official Plan amendment. “It is not council against staff,” she said. “We are trying to work together.” Renfrew Reeve Peter Emon said residents need to recognize the county has to work within constraints set out by the province. “The County of Renfrew cannot just rip up the Provincial Policy Statement nor can they ignore the Planning Act,” he said. “We are bound by that.” He said the changes made to the plan made it “a pretty positive day. We managed to whittle down a number of contentious issues. I am a lot more hopeful today than I was six weeks ago.” Constraints on Development Horton Mayor David Bennett said while he was glad to see some things removed from the plan, like the buffer around rural areas for development, he still had major concerns about the designation of agricultural land in his township. He said his municipality has hired a consultant to study the agriculture designation. He pointed out there is no supporting documentation showing why this land was designated as prime agriculture. “It is very difficult to drive across Horton and say this is number one land,” he said. “There is no justification for a lot of that.” If the land remains designated as agriculture it will be impossible to do development there, he said. “We see this as the future for Horton,” he said. “The highway was our economic growth. When you look at the mapping, agriculture has put a rope around growth.” Understanding why some properties were designated as agriculture is baffling to him, he said. “The government flew over on a 747 and saw a piece of green land and decided it was agricultural,” he said. Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Mayor Janice Tiedje was also outspoken in her concerns. Agreeing with Mayor Bennett, she said she was happy to see some changes to the plan including the removal of the development barrier outside urban centres. “I’m very happy to hear by the stroke of a pen you removed the one kilometre buffer from the village,” she said. Her issue continues to be the map which shows most of her municipality designated as a deer yard. This covers about 80 per cent of the township, she said. “You took a little bit away,” she admitted. “But I have to show objection to that habitat in my township. I cannot justify to anybody the need for that.” North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose said he also has an issue with mapping. He pointed out there were areas identified as agriculture which should not be classified as such. “My concern is it further restricts our opportunity for development in our municipality,” he said. “We are looking to create opportunities for developers. “If we restrict further it hinders our opportunity for development and to keep our taxes at a reasonable level,” he said. Council then proceeded to vote on the move by Mayor Donohue to have the document sent back to the committee level. Mayor Tiedje asked for a recorded vote. While the vast majority of council agreed to send it back, some argued for continuing the process by having the document distributed for more comments now. “This is not a perfect document,” Reeve Emon admitted, saying it was important to get the information out and then focus on the irritants. “Part of our struggle is it has been so prolonged,” he said. “I’d like to keep moving if we can because we have had some successes.” In the end, council agreed to send it back to the committee level. Warden Robinson told the Leader later there had been some widespread concern because the document shown in the packet to the councillors was not what was presented on Wednesday. “So, staff were asked to clean it up a bit and go to committee and back to county,” she said. As well, there might be the opportunity to already hear from the consultant hired by Horton looking into the agricultural lands. Warden Robinson said council wants to have a workable document. “We are taking this seriously,” she said. “Once we have a reasonable draft, we will send it out, but it has to go to the province for comments.” While the county has been given some discretion, this is not a carte blanche to do whatever it wants, she stressed. “We still have a Provincial Policy Statement we must adhere to,” she said. “We need to use working which allows some flexibility to grow. We don’t have the ultimate authority to scrap the Provincial Policy Statement.” Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
A lawyer for Meng Wanzhou accused former U.S. president Donald Trump Wednesday of leaving a "stain" on the Canadian justice system by threatening to intervene in extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive in pursuit of a trade deal. In a blistering attack that sought to tie Trump's comments on the case to the policies of the current U.S. administration, Richard Peck claimed Meng was the public face of a company that has come to represent a threat to U.S. global technological domination. On Dec. 11, 2018 — 10 days after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport — Trump told a Reuters reporter he would "certainly intervene" in the case if he thought it necessary to reach a trade deal with China. China and the U.S. were in the middle of an escalating tariff battle. Peck called the comments "abhorrent." "These words cast a pall over these proceedings. They reduce Ms. Meng from a human being to a chattel. The notion that a person's liberty can be used in any way to advance a commercial transaction is anathema to our justice system, to this process, to the rule of law," Peck said. "It's a notion that strikes at the heart of human dignity." Plan to 'debilitate, if not destroy, Huawei' Meng, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the United States for allegedly lying to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. Prosecutors allege the bank relied on Meng's lies in deciding to continue handling financial transactions for Huawei, placing HSBC at risk of losses and prosecution for breaching the same set of sanctions. In this file photo from 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers claim Trump threatened to use her as a bargaining chip in a trade war with China. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press) The defence wants the judge overseeing the B.C. Supreme Court extradition proceedings to toss the case over what Meng's lawyers claim is an abuse of process. In making his case, Peck said it was important to understand the context of the U.S. government's focus on China and on Huawei in particular. He claimed Meng's situation was rooted in "a concerted and continuing effort on the part of the U.S. government to debilitate, if not destroy, Huawei." 'This is not hyperbole on my part' Peck said the U.S. has not been able to offer real evidence of a link between Huawei and the Chinese government, but clearly sees the telecommunications giant as a threat to the power the U.S. used to hold as a global innovator in technology. He said Huawei, and by extension China, has "stolen a march" on the United States when it comes to the race to equip the world with the next generation of wireless technology, known as 5G. Meng Wanzhou sits beside an interpreter as she listens to her lawyers argue that she is being used as a political pawn. The Huawei executive is facing extradition to the United States.(Felicity Don) "This specific technology race has been referred to as the 21st century version of the arms race of the Cold War years," Peck told the judge. "This is not hyperbole on my part. The U.S. sees China and advanced Chinese technological companies — in particular, this company Huawei — as presenting an existential threat." Peck said Meng's arrest and the ensuing publicity made her the face of the company, which was founded by her billionaire father. And he said Trump's involvement was unique. "In the annals of extradition law, it appears to be the first time the head of a requesting state has commented directly on the plight of a person sought," Peck said. 'She is not Huawei' Peck cited a statement Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made in December 2020, in which he claimed to have asked the U.S. to ensure that any trade deal it reaches with China address the situations of Meng and two Canadians detained in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been held in Chinese prisons for more than two years. They are accused of spying — though no evidence has been revealed — in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were detained by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, and remain in prison, accused of spying. (The Canadian Press, The Associated Press) Peck said Trudeau's comments gave weight to the power of Trump's threatened involvement and the notion that Meng can be used as a bargaining chip. Even as the lawyer spoke in the Vancouver courtroom, Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa that China concocted the national security charges against Kovrig and Spavor as revenge for Meng. Peck said the current White House administration has not repudiated Trump's comments. If anything, he said, senior Democrats agree that China represents a threat, citing statements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Another of Meng's lawyers, Mona Duckett, admitted the defence would be unable to show any "concrete" way in which Trump's comments had affected the proceedings. But she said it was more about the "cloud" under which Meng was having to defend herself. "She is not Huawei, she is a human being," Duckett said. "The ordinary person does not make decisions in defence of their extradition knowing that on political and diplomatic levels others are making decisions which may affect their liberty. And here those others are not innocuous individuals, they are superpowers." 'The base of their claim is non-existent,' Crown says As he began his reply, Crown attorney Robert Frater urged Holmes to reject the defence arguments, which he characterized as "thin." Frater called Trump's statements vague and "anodyne" and said the words "bargaining chip" and "leverage" never come up. "That is the crux of their case, and it is not very much at all," Frater told the judge. Frater accused Meng's lawyers of taking the comments of both American and Canadian officials out of context. "Context matters in this case, it matters a lot," he said. He read a series of statements made in the past two years by other individuals with authority over the case who said the outcome would depend on the rule of law and that the judicial and political processes would have to remain separate. He also said Trudeau had always been careful to separate his concern for the safety of Kovrig and Spavor from the workings of the justice system. "The base of their claim is non-existent," Frater said. "If context means anything at all, it is that the most relevant actors are saying something somewhat different than the vague statements made by the president." Frater is expected to conclude his arguments on Thursday. The defence will deliver a reply on Friday.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s largest city is still struggling with water problems more than two weeks after winter storms and freezing weather ravaged the system in Jackson, knocking out water for drinking and making it impossible for many to even flush their toilets. Residents in the city of 160,000 are still being warned to boil any water that does come out of the faucets. “I pray it comes back on,” Jackson resident Nita Smith said. “I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” Smith has had no water at home for nearly three weeks. Smith is concerned about her mother who has diabetes. Her mother and most of the other older people on her street don’t drive, so Smith has been helping them get water to clean themselves and flush their toilets. A key focus of city crews is filling the system's water tanks to an optimal level. But, public works director Charles Williams said Wednesday that fish, tree limbs and other debris have clogged screens where water moves from a reservoir into a treatment plant. That caused pressure to drop for the entire water system. “Today was not a good day for us,” Williams said. He said about a fourth of Jackson's customers remained without running water. That is more than 10,000 connections, with most serving multiple people. City officials on Wednesday continued distributing water for flushing toilets at several pick-up points. But they're giving no specific timeline for resolving problems. Workers continue to fix dozens of water main breaks and leaks. The crisis has taken a toll on businesses. Jeff Good is co-owner of three Jackson restaurants, and two of them remained closed Wednesday. In a Facebook update, Good said the businesses have insurance, but he’s concerned about his employees. “We will not be financially ruined,” Good wrote. “The spirits of our team members are my biggest concern. A true malaise and depression is setting in." Mississippi's capital city is not alone in water problems. More than two weeks have passed since the cold wave shut down the main power grid in Texas, leaving millions in freezing homes, causing about 50 deaths and disabling thousands of public water systems serving those millions. Four public water systems in Texas remained out of commission Wednesday, affecting 456 customers, and 225 systems still have 135,299 customers boiling their tap water, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Also, 208 of the state’s 254 counties are still reporting public water system issues. Bonnie Bishop, 68, and her husband, Mike, 63, have been without water at their Jackson home for 14 days. Both have health problems. She's recovering after months in the hospital with the coronavirus. She's home but still in therapy to learn how to walk again and deals with neuropathy in her hands and feet. She has not been able to soak her feet in warm water, something that usually provides relief for the neuropathy, or to help her husband gather water to boil for cooking for cleaning. Mike Bishop just had elbow surgery. The first week the couple was without water, he still had staples in his arm and was hauling 5-gallon containers from his truck, his wife said. Bonnie Bishop said she told him not to strain himself, but he wouldn’t listen. They feel they have no choice. On Monday, the couple drove 25 miles (40 kilometres) to Mike’s mother’s house to do laundry. Jackson's water system has not been able to provide a sustainable flow of water throughout the city since the mid-February storms, city officials say. The system “basically crashed like a computer and now we’re trying to rebuild it,” Williams said at a recent briefing. The city's water mains are more than a century old, and its infrastructure needs went unaddressed for decades, Democratic Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has said. “We more than likely have more than a $2 billion issue with our infrastructure,” he said. Jackson voters in 2014 approved a 1-cent local sales tax to pay for improvements to roads and water and sewer systems. On Tuesday, the city council voted to seek legislative approval for another election to double that local tax to 2 cents a dollar. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves would have to agree to letting Jackson have the tax election. “I do think it’s really important that the city of Jackson start collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money,” Reeves said Tuesday. Jackson has had problems for years with its water billing system and with the quality of water. Melanie Deaver Hanlin, who was without water for 14 days, has been flushing toilets with pool water and showering at friends’ homes. She said Jackson’s water system “needs to be fixed, not patched.” “That’s the issue now — poor maintenance for far too long," Hanlin said. "And Jackson residents are paying the price.” ___ Associated Press writer Terry Wallace contributed from Dallas. Martin reported from Marietta, Georgia. Jeff Martin, Leah Willingham And Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press