Alberta loosens restrictions and protesting coal mines: In The News for Jan. 15

·7 min read

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 15 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

In an approach that differs from elsewhere in the country, Alberta announced it would be easing some restrictions next week.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said starting Monday, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only.

Outdoor social gatherings will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people and the limit for funerals will increase to 20 people.

New daily cases have fallen slightly in the province. Alberta reported 967 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths.

Shandro said the small adjustments to the restrictions implemented in December will allow people to take part in some activities. But, he said, the virus is still a real risk.

For Ontario, today is the second day under a stay-at-home order imposed by the provincial government.

It came into effect Thursday as Ontario reported 62 more deaths and 3,326 new novel coronavirus infections. COVID-19 cases, including a new United Kingdom variant, are increasing rapidly in the province.

Federal officials have also warned that access to vaccines in Canada will remain a challenge until at least April.

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Also this ...

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif misses football.

The Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman has no regrets about opting out of the 2020 NFL campaign to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. But the six-foot-five 321-pound Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., native is finding it increasingly difficult to be a fan and definitely plans on resuming his pro career with Kansas City after this season.

After finishing atop the AFC West with an NFL-best 14-2 record this season, Kansas City begins its Super Bowl defence Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns in their first playoff contest.

Duvernay-Tardif helped Kansas City cap last season with a 31-20 Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers. It was the storied franchise's second NFL championship but first in 50 years.

But in July, Duvenay-Tardif — who received his medical degree from McGill in 2018 — became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While others did so for safety reasons, Duvernay-Tardif temporarily hung up his cleats to work as an orderly at a Montreal long-term care facility.

Kansas City head coach Andy Reid — whose mother also graduated from McGill's medical school — and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes were among those to praise Duvernay-Tardif for his decision.

Sports Illustrated named Duvernay-Tardif as one of its Sportspeople of the Year and he was later a co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, given annually to Canada's top athlete.

Duvernay-Tardif, who turns 30 next month, has taken some time away from the long-term care facility to do work for his foundation as well as towards his master's degree at Harvard. But he's scheduled to receive his COVID-19 vaccination Friday before returning to the facility next week.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment could go to trial as soon as Inauguration Day, with senators serving not only as jurors but as shaken personal witnesses and victims of the deadly siege of the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure.

In pursuing conviction, House impeachment managers said Thursday they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to overturn the November election results.

It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president's rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he'd lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The trial could begin shortly after Biden takes the oath of office next Wednesday, but some Democrats are pushing for a later trial to give him time to set up his administration and work on other priorities.

No date has been set. Already National Guard troops flood the city and protect the Capitol amid warnings of more violence ahead of the inaugural.

It's a far different picture, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the threats of violence, from the traditional pomp and peaceful transfer of power.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

MADRID — Most of Europe kicked off 2021 with earlier curfews or stay-at-home orders amid sharp spikes in coronavirus infections increasingly blamed on the more contagious variant first detected in the U.K.

But authorities in Spain say the variant causing havoc elsewhere is not to blame for its sharp resurgence of cases and that the country can avoid a full lockdown even as its hospitals fill up.

The government has been tirelessly fending off drastic home confinement like the one that paralyzed the economy for nearly three months in the spring of 2020, the last time that Spain could claim victory over the stubborn rising curve of cases.

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On this day in 1962 ...

The RCMP Musical Ride became a permanent, full-time unit of the force.

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In entertainment ...

With sultry mannerisms and sharp comedic chops, Kim Cattrall fully embodied confident sexpot Samantha Jones on "Sex and the City."

But the Canadian-raised star won't be in the upcoming "Sex and the City" revival, and speculation abounds about what will happen with the role of the pleasure-seeking publicist, who was part of the group of four best friends living in New York.

Media scholar Robert Thompson says he thinks replacing Cattrall, who was nominated for five Emmys and won a Golden Globe for the role, with another actor "would be a laboratory experiment gone bad."

"Every now and again you get perfect casting, the perfect melding of an actor and a role, and I think Kim Cattrall and Samantha was that," Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said in an interview.

"Which is why I think recasting would be a grave error," added the professor of television and popular culture.

"It's one thing to recast the sister on 'Roseanne'; it's another thing to recast Samantha."

Parker confirmed on Instagram that Samantha "isn't part of this story" for the HBO Max original series, "And Just Like That...," which will include herself as the lead character, sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw. Also returning are original co-stars Cynthia Nixon as lawyer Miranda Hobbes, and Kristin Davis as art expert Charlotte York.

The news has sparked a flood of articles and social media posts about Samantha's fate. Online betting site Bovada has even released gambling odds for the character’s whereabouts in Episode 1 — options include that she moved away, is dead, or "confined to a prison or institution."

Some Twitter users say Samantha was the heart of the show, which ran for six seasons, starting in 1998. There were also two films, which Cattrall was in before she declared she was done with the franchise.

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ICYMI ...

Another country music star from Alberta has voiced protest against proposed coal mines on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Paul Brandt, who leads a committee on human trafficking set up by the Alberta government, has posted his concerns on Instagram in support of fellow musician Corb Lund.

Lund released a Facebook video earlier this week in which he calls the government's move to open vast swaths of the area to industry short-sighted and a threat.

Brandt says in his post that Lund is right and the plan is a big — and bad — deal.

He is asking the provincial government to reconsider putting economic benefit ahead of long-term consequences that would devastate the land for generations to come.

Alberta's United Conservative government has revoked a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of the mountains and eastern slopes of the Rockies.

One mine is under review and vast areas of the mountains have been leased for exploration.

Lund says coal mines would endanger the ranching lifestyles of his neighbours as well as drinking water for millions downstream.

He's urging people to speak out and oppose open-pit coal mines in the Rockies.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021

The Canadian Press