Here's the latest for Friday, January 1: Congress overrides Trump veto of defense bill; Pence seeks dismissal of suit aiming to overturn election; Britain braces for new spike in virus cases; Archdiocese of Washington holds New Year Mass. (Jan.1)
Here's the latest for Friday, January 1: Congress overrides Trump veto of defense bill; Pence seeks dismissal of suit aiming to overturn election; Britain braces for new spike in virus cases; Archdiocese of Washington holds New Year Mass. (Jan.1)
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars.Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province.The frustration comes as B.C. leaders have allowed gyms, restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November.Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December.Those sorts of creative rebrandings were applauded by the province's Health Ministry in a statement on Wednesday that recognized those in "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic."Bronfman says the trade group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive.""Most movie theatres don't have liquor licences, and they are on the verge of shutting their doors forever," she says."All we're asking is to be looked at as an industry, as a sector that has a very low risk of any kind of transmission of the disease."Theatres across Canada have been shuttered for a large part of the pandemic over concerns they are a spreading ground for the virus. But representatives for the industry have argued there's no data that points to cinemas as being a point of transmission.Bronfman says if concerns about airflow are part of the issue, it's unclear why health authorities would deem it safe for people to sit across from each other at a bar, but not inside a theatre with high ceilings.It's equally confusing why showing a Sunday night football game would be allowed, but not a screening of sports favourites "Rudy" or "Friday Night Lights," which are shorter and would provide less theoretical exposure to the virus."We're not getting the answers as to why we can't open," she says."There's a level of frustration and quite frankly desperation."Before they were closed, cinemas across the country had introduced various safety protocols that limited the size of crowds and kept them distanced with assigned seating.However, there were critics of the reopening of movie theatres who questioned whether proper enforcement was in place at multiplexes to prevent people from sitting in groups.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
The commission investigating the mass killing in Nova Scotia last April has announced the six people who will lead the teams supporting its work during the joint federal-provincial inquiry. "This is a carefully selected group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the Mass Casualty Commission said in a news release. "They include a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from Nova Scotia; a deputy chief of police of Canada's largest city, who is originally from Nova Scotia; the country's foremost scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women; and leaders in human rights and mental health and wellness." The new roles announced Thursday are: Thomas Cromwell, former Supreme Court justice, as commission counsel director. Emma Cunliffe, law professor whose research focuses on complex criminal matters such as violence against women, as research and policy director. Christine Hanson, CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, as executive director and chief administrative officer. Barbara McLean, Toronto Police Service deputy chief, as investigations director. Mary Pyche, mental health and addictions expert, as mental health director. Maureen Wheller, mental health and addictions communicator, as community liaison director. In the release, Cromwell described the commission as "one of the most important undertakings in recent Nova Scotia history." "My team is responsible for presenting evidence to the Commission that will permit the Commissioners to fulfil their mandate and the many people who have been affected by this mass casualty to get the most complete and accurate answers to their questions," he said. "The most important thing for me is that we do that to the very best of our ability and with the highest standards of fairness and thoroughness." The three commissioners for the inquiry were already announced. They are J. Michael MacDonald, Leanne Fitch and Kim Stanton. Inquiry commissioners will have the authority to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath. They also will be empowered to compel witnesses to produce documents or other items they deem relevant to their investigation. The commission says it is working to design a process to hear from people who want to participate, while still observing COVID-19 protocols. In an email, Mass Casualty Commission spokesperson Sarah Young said the commission will share updates once other team members and team details are in place. Reports expected in 2022 They are expected to deliver two reports on their findings, lessons learned, and recommendations — an interim report by May 1, 2022, and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. In the release, the Mass Casualty Commission said the new directors will lead teams investigating and gathering evidence, conducting meetings, researching, and helping with the groundwork that will inform the development of the recommendations "Currently, the directors are working with the commissioners to identify the people, resources, and processes required to undertake this important work," the release said. "They are also focused on making sure those impacted by the mass casualty have access to the mental health and wellness supports they require throughout the commission process." Twenty-two people died in the shootings on April 18 and 19, which began in the small community of Portapique, N.S., and ended about 13 hours later at a gas station in Enfield, N.S. The shooter also set fire to several homes and eluded arrest by impersonating an RCMP officer before being shot dead by police. MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Canadian record producer Bob Rock is joining a chorus of musicians selling off rights to their past work, reaching a deal with a U.K. investment firm for more than 40 songs from Michael Buble and Metallica. The agreement between Rock and Hipgnosis Songs Fund, announced Thursday, will give the London-based operation Rock's full producer rights to a raft of prominent tracks. Among them is Rock's stake in Metallica's self-titled 1991 album, often called "The Black Album," which includes the metal band's hits "Enter Sandman," "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters." He's also sold his rights to Buble's album "To Be Loved" in its entirety and his work on "Call Me Irresponsible," "Crazy Love" and "Christmas." Rock, who was born in Winnipeg, is one of Canada's most prolific rock music producers, having worked with the Tragically Hip, Aerosmith, Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi. The Hipgnosis deal, which encompasses 43 songs, comes as the fund moves quickly to build its library of rights holdings. Last week, Hipgnosis picked up the publisher and songwriter rights to Shakira's entire catalogue of 145 songs, and earlier this month acquired a 50 per cent stake in Neil Young's catalogue of 1,180 songs. Rights deals have become a hot commodity in the pandemic as artists look to monetize their assets while the touring industry remains at a standstill and listening moves increasingly to streaming platforms over record sales. Each transaction can be slightly different than the next, depending on what rights the creator is selling. Rock is selling off his royalty percentage of sound recording copyrights, or "points" as they're called in music industry. That covers his share in revenues for his contribution to studio recordings, such as mixing or production. His points share could vary by each track, but would ultimately determine how much money funnels back to him — from album sales and streaming, to licensing for commercials and TV shows. Those rights are now owned by Hipgnosis. Other artists have recently sold their publishing rights, which cover anything earned for the musical work that's committed to paper. Typically that means a slice of revenues from live performances as well as licensing fees from covers recorded by other artists. Bob Dylan recently sold publishing rights to more than 600 songs to the Universal Music Publishing Group for estimates that were priced between $300 million and half a billion dollars. Stevie Nicks sold an 80 per cent stake in her music to Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. — Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Alice Hoagland, a beloved figure of the gay rugby movement that her own son, Mark Bingham, helped set in motion shortly before he perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks as one of the heroes of Flight 93, has died. She was 71. Hoagland, a former flight attendant who became a safety activist while carrying on her son’s athletic legacy, died Dec. 22 in her sleep at her home in Los Gallos, California, after battling Addison's disease, according to longtime family friend Amanda Mark. International Gay Rugby — an organization that traces its roots to one team in London in 1995 and now consists of about 90 clubs in more than 20 countries on five continents — held Hoagland in such esteem that one of the prizes at its biennial Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, is called the Hoagland Cup. Scott Glaessgen, of Norwalk, Connecticut, a friend of Bingham’s who helped organize New York’s Gotham Knights rugby club, described meeting Hoagland at the first Bingham Cup in 2002 in San Francisco. “Nine months after Mark was killed, and there she is with a never-ending smile on her face, just charming and engaging and happy and proud,” Glaessgen said. “And that resilience and that strength that she just exuded was really inspirational.” Amanda Mark, of Sydney, Australia, praised Hoagland for always fighting for people — and continuing to do so after losing her son by standing up for aviation safety and LGBT rights. “Through the Bingham Cup,” Mark said, “she became the inspiration and the acceptance that a lot of LGBT folks needed when they may have been challenged with their families or friends to be true to themselves.” Bingham, 31 when he died, had played on a champion rugby team at the University of California, Berkeley. He helped organize the gay San Francisco Fog team in 2000 and quickly became its main forward. He was on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers commandeered it. He called his mother and told her he loved her. “I only got 3 minutes with him and when I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through,” Hoagland told the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2019. “As a flight attendant for 20 years, I wanted to tell him to sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself.” But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Bingham fought back, posthumously winning praise as an openly gay patriot who joined other passengers in foiling the hijackers and causing the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania instead of its intended target, believed to be the U.S. Capitol. “He grew from a shy, chubby kid into a tall rugby competitor with the ability to amass his energy to face a real enemy in the cockpit of an airplane," Hoagland told the Press-Citizen. Bingham and Hoagland's stories went on to be chronicled in film and screen, including the TV movie “Flight 93," HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and the documentary “The Rugby Player.” Hoagland became an advocate for airline security and for allowing relatives of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it played a role in the attacks. “We’re less interested in any kind of financial gain than we are in bringing the truly guilty into court and making our case known,” Hoagland told The Associated Press in 2016. The first Bingham Cup consisted of eight teams and was hosted by its namesake's home team. Today, it is billed as the world’s largest amateur rugby event, and cities bid to host it. It was last held in Amsterdam in 2018 with 74 teams competing. Hoagland was a celebrity at every tournament she attended. Players flocked to meet her and have a photo taken. She always obliged. Jeff Wilson, of International Gay Rugby, recalled in a post on the organization's Facebook page a conversation with Hoagland at the 2012 Bingham Cup in Manchester, England. His mother had recently died. “I asked how she kept on during grief — she said it was a purpose, and a calling and that I would keep going because it drove me,” he wrote. “Her compassion, heart and focus on others touched me in ways that I cannot express.” No memorial service is yet planned. Jeff McMillan, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has confidence in FBI Director Chris Wray and plans to keep him in the job, the White House press secretary said Thursday. FBI directors are given 10-year terms, meaning leadership of the bureau is generally unaffected by changes in presidential administrations. But Biden's spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, was notably noncommittal when asked at her first briefing Wednesday whether Biden had confidence in Wray. "I have not spoken with him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days," Psaki said. On Thursday, she cleared up any confusion, tweeting: “I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing.” Wray is keeping his position even as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny for their preparations before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The Justice Department inspector general and other watchdog offices are now investigating. Wray was appointed in 2017 by President Donald Trump following Trump's firing of James Comey. Wray later became a frequent target of Trump's attacks, including by publicly breaking with the president on issues such as antifa, voter fraud and Russian election interference. The criticism led to speculation that Trump might fire Wray after the election. Meanwhile, the FBI's No. 2 official, David Bowdich, is retiring, according to a person with direct knowledge of the departure who insisted on anonymity because the announcement had not been widely announced internally. Paul Abbate, the bureau's associate deputy director, will take over the deputy position, the person said. The New York Times first reported the move. ____ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
TORONTO — Television personality Sid Seixeiro is leaving Sportsnet's "Tim & Sid" sports talk show to become the new co-host of "Breakfast Television" on Citytv. Seixeiro will make his final appearance as co-host on the show alongside longtime partner Tim Micallef on Feb. 26. Micallef will continue to host the show, which airs weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, with a rotating roster of co-hosts. The "Tim & Sid" show made its debut on Toronto radio station CJCL Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Dec. 12, 2011. He will make his Breakfast Television debut alongside co-host Dina Pugliese on March 10. The program was simulcast on television on The Score (now Sportsnet 360) starting in 2013, then was relaunched on Sportsnet as an afternoon television show in 2015. The show has been simulcast on The Fan since 2019 as its late afternoon drive program. “It’s been a dream to work 20 years in the sports industry, especially alongside Tim Micallef, and express my passion and love for sports on a daily basis,” Seixeiro said in a release. “I’ve always been curious to explore other areas of the business and this was a unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Alphabet Inc is shutting down Loon after concluding the business, which offers balloons as an alternative to cell towers, is not commercially viable, Google's parent company said on Thursday. Founded in 2011, Loon aimed to bring connectivity to areas of the world where building cell towers is too expensive or treacherous using balloons the length of tennis courts and solar-powered networking gear. But the wireless carriers which Loon saw as buyers questioned the technical and political viability of the idea.
Through an online petition a Vancouver Island teacher is imploring B.C. Premier John Horgan to close the borders of the the province for a month and quarantine travellers in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 strains. Almost 8,000 others seem to agree with him. A week ago, Christian Stapff – a teacher with School District 84 (Vancouver Island West) – started the petition to close the border to non-essential air, ground and sea traffic in order to contain and stop the spread of the virus, “especially in light of more virulent strains already in B.C.” Stapff used the efficacy of such strict measures in Western Australia as an example to further advocate for provincial border closures. “We implore you to take this action to save the economy and lives not yet lost,” Stapff tells the premier in his petition. Of late calls have been mounting for the province to impose an inter-provincial travel ban after the surge of coronavirus variants in B.C. But the premier announced late Thursday afternoon that such a move was not going to happen. RELATED: Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options It was a decision hinted at by the the provincial Ministry of Health in an email statement earlier in the day. The Ministry of Health told the Mirror that what works elsewhere may not work here. “B.C. is not an island and we have many ports of entry,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Questions about inter-provincial travel have come up repeatedly so we are doing due diligence by seeking legal advice in order to put the matter to rest,” said the ministry, and added, “Of course we can’t put up walls at our provincial borders and essential travel critical to our economy must safely continue.” The ministry said that they are also considering economic impacts and the practicalities of such a policy, and are reaching out to key sectors of the economy to get feedback. It said that no steps will be taken without thoughtful consultation with communities and businesses affected by these decisions. “As we roll out the vaccine, the bottom line is that public health advice remains the same – now is not a time for non-essential travel.” Stapff had yet to respond to requests for an interview by the time of this posting. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here. ALSO READ: Isolating provinces is a bad idea, says Canadian Chamber of Commerce ALSO READ: Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
While the North Shore mountains haven’t had much snowfall over the past week, boarders and skiers can expect a lot more fresh powder on the slopes this weekend. The last seven days has only seen around seven to nine centimetres of snowfall on the local ski hills – Cypress Mountain Ski Resort on Hollyburn Mountain and Mount Seymour haven't had any fresh snow in over 48 hours, while Grouse Mountain recorded 1 cm overnight. But, do not despair, Environment Canada has forecast snow for the local mountains and at sea level in Metro Vancouver Saturday night. Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, says all the right ingredients are coming together for a snow event on Saturday evening that’s expected to continue through to Sunday. “This event for Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse is very likely to bring some snow,” he said. “It'll be a great little top-up, whether it's five or 10 centimetres, or quite a bit more, even double that still remains to be seen. “We couldn't honestly tell you now, what it is exactly going to deliver, but all of the ingredients are for sure there that the local mountains will see some snow Saturday night into Sunday.” On top of Saturday and Sunday’s snow predictions, the Metro Vancouver forecast also calls for a 30 per cent chance of flurries on Monday night with a daytime top of 4°C and a low of 0°C at night. Plus, Castellan also said to stay tuned for a possibility of more snow on Tuesday and Wednesday at elevation and sea level, with a 60 per cent chance of flurries or rain showers in the forecast. Temperatures will hover between 4-5°C during the day and drop to a chilly 2-0°C at night over the week. Despite the lack of snow during the past week, Castellan said snowfall for the local mountains this season was so far above average. To date this season, Grouse has had a total of 489 cm, Seymour has recorded 505.5 cm and Cypress Resort has had 415 cm. “We're well above average right now, which is not surprising, because it was very stormy for the better part of five weeks,” he said. “Between the end of the first week of December, all the way through to just last week was just one storm after the other, and for the local mountains, they're high enough that most of that fell as snow.” While the mountains have had a fair amount of snow, he said exceedingly warm temperatures in December had made it difficult for snowfall to reach sea level. “Generally speaking, the snow has been very active at elevation but for us down at sea level, for most of the North Shore, it's been very wet and not the amount of snow that we have typically seen over the three decades that we kind of average back to from 1981 through 2010. “It's been a slow winter for sea level, there's no doubt about that.” He said the low snowfall over the past week on the local mountains coincided with the storms ending. “We've kind of turned off the tap,” he said. “There's been a little bit of rain, but the snow was hinging on storms and if you turn off the storm track, then you're not going to get very much in the way of snow. “It's that magical mix between having storms still populating the Coast but also being cold enough.” Castellan said this weekend's snow event was the result of the “La Niña pattern starting to take hold.” “What we need to happen is that the high pressure system anchors itself further west underneath or south of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and for the trough [low pressure] to be to the east of that, and that gives us that northwesterly flow. “For the longest time, we've had the trough be too close to us, and it's given us a southwesterly flow. So, finally, we're going to make some of that cold air coming south." He said the cold air coming south wasn't a true Arctic air mass, so there wouldn't be record low temperatures over the next week. "We have just enough cold that when you clash that cold with a Pacific system coming down the coast from the Gulf of Alaska, then you get that mix where finally you can get some snow and the potential for snow at sea level is significantly ramped up compared to anything that comes from the southwest.” While non-essential travel advisories are still in place, Castellan also reminded residents to be prepared for snowy conditions on British Columbia highway passes, including the Coquihalla, Sea to Sky, Okanagan Connector and the Malahat on Vancouver Island. Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in B.C. from Oct. 1 to April 30. These routes are marked with regulatory signs posted on highways throughout the province. Drivers are required to have winter tires when travelling on highways in Northern B.C., the Southern Interior, the South Coast, and areas of Vancouver Island. The province has designated winter tire and chain routes drivers can check before venturing out. Winter or M+S rated tires are mandatory for vehicles on Cypress Bowl Road and the road to Mount Seymour at all times from Oct. 1 to March 31. Winter rated tires are strongly recommended during snowfall events. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — On the first day of Joe Biden's presidency, Native Americans had reason to celebrate. Biden halted construction of the border wall that threatened to physically separate Indigenous people living on both sides. He also revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that tribes fought in court for years, and he agreed to restore the boundaries of the first national monument created specifically at the request of tribes in southern Utah. Inaugural events showcased tribes across the country in traditional regalia, dancing and in prayer. But amid the revelry, some Native Americans saw a glitch in Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony. The only mention of Indigenous people came in the benediction delivered by the Rev. Silvester Beaman. And then there was the mishmash of songs sung by Jennifer Lopez that included lyrics from “This Land is Your Land." The folk tune is popular around campfires and in grade schools, but it also called to mind the nation's long history of land disputes involving tribes. “Oh, I love J.Lo," said Kristen Herring, who is Lumbee and lives in Austin, Texas. “It wasn't super disappointing that she sang it. But I was like, ‘Oh, why did that have to be on the list of things to sing?’" Woody Guthrie, who wrote the song in the 1940s, meant it as a retort to “God Bless America” and a rebuke to monetizing land at a time of economic crisis, said Gustavus Stadler, an English professor and author of “Woodie Guthrie: An Intimate Life." Lopez put a twist on it, throwing in part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish that translates to “justice for all.” The Guthrie song has been a symbol of equality, inclusion and unity. Lady Gaga sang a rendition of it at the Super Bowl months after Donald Trump took office. It was part of Barack Obama's inaugural programming, with a trio of singers, including Bruce Springsteen, adding back some of the original, more controversial verses. But arriving amid an effort by some tribes to be recognized as stewards of ancestral land, a movement known as Land Back, the lyrics hit the wrong note for some tribal members. “It's a nice little sentiment that America is this mixing pot,” said Benny Wayne Sully, who is Sicangu Lakota and lives in Los Angeles. “But does anybody believe this land was made for you and me? Or was it made for white folks? People forget this land was made of brown people before it was colonized." Rep. Deb Haaland, who is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, acknowledged that perspective in a virtual welcoming to the inaugural events over the weekend. She's been nominated to lead the Interior Department, which oversees tribal affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American in a Cabinet post. That's one of the reasons Cherie Tebo was able to look past the song that she said was inappropriate and emphasized how little some Americans know about Indigenous people. She sees an opportunity for tribes to have a seat at the table in Biden's administration, citing Haaland and Winnebago tribal member Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, who has been named a deputy solicitor for the Interior Department. “In order to make it work, ‘this land is your land, this land is my land,' people (need) to understand it doesn’t belong to us,” said Tebo, who also is Winnebago. “If anything, we belong to it. And when our land is sick, we are sick." ___ Fonseca is a member of The Associated Press' Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FonsecaAP. Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Julie Payette resigned Thursday as Canada's governor general, saying that to protect the integrity of her office and for the good of the country it was time for her to go. Payette joins a very short list of governors general who have left the post early and is the first to do so mired in controversy. Her decision to leave will have both political and practical consequences for the minority Liberal government. Payette, 57, handed in her resignation ahead of the imminent release of results of an independent investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall, over which she has presided since being appointed in 2017. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc presides over the Privy Council Office, which requested the investigation. He said the government received the report late last week. "The conclusions were compelling and they were stark," LeBlanc said in an interview. "It was obviously an unacceptable workplace. Public servants who work for the government of Canada have the right to a secure, safe and healthy workplace and we are adamant ... that that standard be upheld at every institution of the government of Canada." He said the report "painted a picture that was not consistent" with that standard. LeBlanc said he talked to Payette about the report on Tuesday and she then talked to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday evening, at which time "she indicated that it was her intention to offer her resignation," which was received Thursday afternoon. While he wasn't part of Trudeau's conversation with Payette, LeBlanc said he didn't think the prime minister asked for her resignation or threatened to fire her if she didn't resign voluntarily. "I think she had arrived at the conclusion that it would be best for the institution and the country that she terminate her mandate." The secretary to the governor general, Assunta Di Lorenzo, also resigned Thursday from her senior post. In her statement, Payette apologized for tensions at Rideau Hall and, while she welcomed the investigation, she also suggested she disagreed with the characterizations of her leadership. "We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions," she said, noting that there were no formal complaints or grievances filed by employees during her tenure. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my viceregal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed," she continued. "Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times." She also suggested personal reasons were part of her decision, citing her father's declining health. "So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation," she wrote. Trudeau acknowledged in a terse statement he'd received her resignation. “Every employee in the government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," he said. "Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review." Payette, a former astronaut, was appointed Canada's 29th governor general in 2017. Her appointment followed the nearly seven-year term of noted academic David Johnston. While she wasn't the first female governor general, Trudeau's decision to install a woman with a long history in the sciences was seen as a reflection of the Liberals' commitment to encourage more women to be active in those areas. But Trudeau's decision was questioned nearly from the start, and again on Thursday. To select Payette, Trudeau abandoned a formal panel set up by the previous Conservative government to make viceregal appointments, and instead moved the decision into his office. Shortly after she took the job, it emerged that Payette had been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charge unfounded and it has since been expunged. But as details of that emerged, so did revelations that she was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both incidents raised immediate questions about how thoroughly she had been vetted for the job and accusations she wasn't the right fit for it have dogged her ever since. She did not move into the official residence of Rideau Hall, citing privacy concerns linked to renovations, some of which she had requested herself and whose price tag would eventually become a political problem for the Liberals. Instead, Payette based herself in her home province of Quebec, where she has spent a great deal of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, the CBC reported, citing anonymous sources, that Payette had yelled at, belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit. In turn, the Privy Council Office — the civil servants who support Trudeau's work — hired Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting Corp. to investigate. At the time, Trudeau expressed his confidence in Payette's abilities, dismissing the idea of replacing her. During a radio interview in September he said she was excellent. "I think on top of the COVID crisis, nobody's looking at any constitutional crises," he said. In the event a governor general can't carry out the job, is removed, or dies, the chief justice of the Supreme Court assumes the office's powers as long as necessary. For now, that means Chief Justice Richard Wagner will grant royal assent to bills and handle other administrative matters. "A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course, ” Trudeau said. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said that replacement ought to be considered carefully. "Considering the problems with his last appointment and the minority Parliament, the prime minister should consult opposition parties and re-establish the viceregal appointments committee,” he said in a statement. While the Governor General is a largely symbolic position, it does have some constitutional importance, particularly during a minority government such as the one Canada has now. In 2008, then prime minister Stephen Harper asked governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote he was expected to lose — a decision that was controversial at the time but in keeping with constitutional tradition. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
"Once we became aware of these reports, we made the decision to issue our earnings announcement a brief time before the originally scheduled release time," said the U.S. computer chips firm in a statement. Earlier on Thursday, the Financial Times had cited Intel's chief financial officer as saying financially sensitive information was stolen by a hacker from its corporate website. CFO George Davis said the leak was the result of an illicit action that had not involved any unintentional disclosure by the company itself, according to the report.
Vancouver Island blew past previous highs reporting 47 new COVID-19 cases today (Jan 21.). The previous high was 34 new cases in a day, reported on Jan 12 and 15. Province-wide there were 564 new cases today, for an active total of 62,976. The Vancouver Island region now has over 200 active cases, the highest number since the outbreak began last year. As of Jan 20, there were 15 patients in hospital and 17 confirmed deaths on the Island. While the rest of B.C. has been trending downwards, Vancouver Island’s numbers have steadily risen this month. “Despite our COVID-19 curve trending in the right direction, we continue to have new outbreaks, community clusters and high numbers of new cases. COVID-19 continues to spread widely in our communities,” Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix said in the press release. “Thank you for doing your part and choosing to bend the curve, not the rules.” RELATED: Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday RELATED: Island Health’s daily COVID-19 case count reaches record high Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Michelle Myers’ clean energy journey began back in 2016 when she attended a summit while she was a student in university. And now her Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in British Columbia will soon be reaping the benefits of her participation. While attending a clean energy summit five years ago in Waterloo, Ont., Myers, who was studying at the University of Alberta, was told about a new program offered by the Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise. Myers was convinced to join the first cohort for ICE’s 20/20 Catalysts, a national clean energy capacity building program for Indigenous individuals across Canada. Myers and several other current and former participants of the program were featured in a presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 20 during the Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering. Program participants discussed the various ventures they are now involved with in their communities. “I was in my third year of university for a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies with a minor in Environmental Conservation,” Myers recalled of the time she discovered the Catalysts Program. While continuing her education, Myers simultaneously enrolled in the three-month program, which connects participants to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clean energy project mentors. Those in the program learn about clean energy project developments, including information on energy efficiency, solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal as well as on-grid and off-grid ventures. Myers was able to juggle her university studies with her Catalysts learning. “From there I was just immensely inspired by everybody that attended and inspired by the initiative and the directive,” Myers said. Upon graduation, Myers returned to her community and landed various contract jobs. Then, an opportunity to work on her First Nation’s clean energy plan arose. That led to her current responsibilities where she not only oversees clean energy projects in her community but has become the lands and resources manager for Xeni Gwet’in, located in central interior B.C. Her community is an off-grid remote one, which is not connected to the BC Hydro grid and is currently diesel powered. “My home right now is powered by an individual gas generator and I’m currently running off a battery that I charge with my generator at night,” Myers said. But plenty of positive changes are in store for her community. “We’re installing an underground line, extending from our microgrid in our central community to 28 homes,” Myers said. “The underground line idea comes from many years of community engagement around clean energy projects and clean energy development of our community not wanting to see power lines or power poles going right through our valley because we hold the esthetic value of our community and our territory very high.” Myers said Xeni Gwet’in has become a popular tourist destination, as well as a sought-after location for making movies. “We have a lot of opportunities for tourism,” she said. “We have a lot of people that come into our communities and want to utilize our territory for films.” And this helps explain why community members are not keen for many visible changes. “We also have a lot of ceremonial gatherings and traditional spots all the way from the central, middle of the community out to here and beyond that an overhead power line would kind of get in the way of and disturb if we went that route,” she said. George Colgate, the underground distribution line project manager for Xeni Gwet’in, explained there will soon be substantial savings for community members who currently operate their own generators for power. “Running a small generator probably works out to about $2 a kilowatt hour,” he said. “Once this is in, people are going to be paying BC Hydro rates out. That’s the idea. For Tier 2, I think that somewhere around 8-10 cents a kilowatt hour.” Another participant featured in Wednesday’s presentation was Alex Cook, the owner of a start-up business based in Iqaluit. His company has a vision of developing affordable, efficient and resilient housing for rapid deployment to remote Arctic communities. These houses will be partially built with shipping containers. “For as long as I can remember, Nunavut has struggled with a housing crisis,” Cook said. “The housing crisis has gotten so bad that right now across the territory there are people living outside in nothing more than tents and shacks.” With the contacts he made through the Catalysts Program, Cook believes he’ll be able to design Nunavut’s first accessible net zero home. The prototype will be built in his community of Baker Lake this fall. “Our people are strong,” Cook said. “We figured how to live here before. We’ll do it again.” Another program participant is Nathan Kaye, a finance student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. Kaye is also the co-chair of SevenGen, a virtual youth summit that will be held next month. “What we hope to accomplish there is to get youth to initiate renewable energy products in their communities by providing support, services and funding for those projects,” Kaye said. That summit has expanded and will feature an Indigenous youth mentorship program. Kaye is also involved in a food security initiative with Tsuut’ina Nation. “We built a community garden back in April and May,” he said. “And right now we’re working on building a geothermal greenhouse.” The Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering began on Monday and continues until Friday. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
GENEVA — The United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s quick commitment to the WHO — whose response to the pandemic has been criticized by many, but perhaps most vociferously by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a more co-operative approach to fighting the pandemic. “I am honoured to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci told a virtual meeting of the WHO from the United States, where it was 4:10 a.m. in Washington. It was the first public statement by a member of Biden’s administration to an international audience — and a sign of the priority that the new president has made of fighting COVID-19 both at home and with world partners. Just hours after Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, he wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres saying the U.S. had reversed the planned pullout from the WHO that was expected to take effect in July. The withdrawal from the WHO was rich with symbolism — another instance of America's go-it-alone strategy under Trump. But it also had practical ramifications: The U.S. halted funding for the U.N. health agency — stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor just as the agency was battling the health crisis that has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. The U.S. had also pulled back staff from the organization. Fauci said the Biden administration will resume “regular engagement” with WHO and will “fulfil its financial obligations to the organization.” The WHO chief and others jumped in to welcome the U.S. announcements. “This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial.” The two men hinted at a warm relationship between them, with Fauci calling Tedros his “dear friend” and Tedros referring to Fauci as “my brother Tony.” The White House said later Thursday that Vice-President Kamala Harris had discussed many of the same themes as Fauci raised in a call with Tedros. But she emphasized the need to beef up the global response to COVID-19, “mitigate its secondary impacts, including on women and girls,” and work to “prevent the next outbreak from becoming an epidemic or pandemic,” the White House said in a statement. “In addition, the vice-president emphasized the importance of making America safer through global co-operation,” it added, highlighting the new tone out of Washington. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the renewed commitment “great news” in an email. “The world has always been a better place when the U.S. plays a leadership role in solving global health problems including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio and other diseases,” he said. Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Facebook: “This is going to have a huge impact on the world’s ability to fight the pandemic. It is decisive that the United States is involved as a driving force and not a country that is looking for the exit when a global catastrophe rages.” Fauci also said Biden will issue a directive Thursday that shows the United States’ intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world — whether in rich or poor countries. Under Trump, the U.S. had been the highest-profile — and most deep-pocketed — holdout from the COVAX Facility, which has struggled to meet its goals of distributing millions of vaccines both because of financial and logistic difficulties. WHO and leaders in many developing countries have repeatedly expressed concerns that poorer places could be the last to get COVID-19 vaccines, while noting that leaving vast swaths of the global population unvaccinated puts everyone at risk. While vowing U.S. support, Fauci also pointed to some key challenges facing WHO. He said the U.S. was committed to “transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic.” One of the Trump administration’s biggest criticisms was that the WHO reacted too slowly to the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and was too accepting of and too effusive about the Chinese government’s response to it. Others have also shared those criticisms — but public health experts and many countries have argued that, while the organization needs reform, it remains vital. Referring to a WHO-led probe looking for the origins of the coronavirus by a team that is currently in China, Fauci said: “The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.” He said the U.S. would work with WHO and partner countries to “strengthen and reform” the agency, without providing specifics. At the White House later in the day, Fauci quipped to Jeff Zients, who is directing the national response to the coronavirus, “You can imagine the comments we were getting from the people in the WHO.” Then he added, his voice trailing off, “They were lining up to thank ..." ___ Associated Press writers Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya; Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report. Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Some questions and answers about what happens when a governor general suddenly leaves office. Who does the job in the meantime? The usual term for a governor general is five years. In the event of the absence, removal, incapacitation or death of a governor general, the chief justice or, if he or she is unavailable, the senior judge of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the powers of the governor general and holds the title of Administrator of the Government of Canada, until replaced by a new governor general. How is a new one is chosen? By constitutional convention, the governor general is appointed by the Queen on the personal recommendation of the Canadian prime minister. The prime minister has discretion about whether to consult others on the selection. The appointment is made through a commission granted under the Great Seal of Canada. Has a governor general ever left early or died in office? Yes. Roméo LeBlanc stepped down in 1999, before the end of his term, due to health issues. However, the office was not left vacant, with LeBlanc continuing until Adrienne Clarkson was ready to succeed him. Two have died while serving: Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan) in 1940 and Georges Vanier in 1967. In each case, the Supreme Court chief justice of the day stepped in to fill the role temporarily. (Sources: Library of Parliament, ourcommons.ca, Supreme Court of Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. The Canadian Press
Health PEI says the province's two intensive care units are operating at reduced capacity, all as a result of a nurse staffing crunch. According to the agency, only four of the six ICU beds at Summerside's Prince County Hospital are operational. That's because 9.6 of the 15.6 ICU nurse positions there are vacant. At Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, just eight of the 10 ICU beds are open. The agency says between the ICU and the critical care unit, which share staff, there are 5.9 vacant nursing positions. 'It's huge when you get a loss from the ICU' The P.E.I. Nurses' Union says while many areas of health care continue to face staffing shortages, recruiting and training ICU nurses has proven particularly challenging. "When you get vacancies in areas like ICU, you can't just train an ICU nurse in two weeks," said Barbara Brookin, the union's president. "It's six months minimum before you get a nurse that works in ICU able to work as a second, or take charge of patients and not just supporting the other nurses. So it's huge when you get a loss from ICU." According to the union president, nurses from other departments have been shuffled around to cover some ICU shifts. Health PEI says while the staffing crunch has been manageable to date, it would become more challenging if P.E.I. saw a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, and increased demand for ICU beds and ventilators. "We could have a certain number of ventilators at Prince County Hospital. But if we don't have the nursing level to safely look after them, we wouldn't be able to receive that ventilated patient," said Arlene Gallant-Bernard, the hospital's chief administrative officer. "They probably would look at going to QEH, or on some occasions, we'd have to send them off-Island." Bubble closure hurting recruitment Gallant-Bernard said Health PEI is advertising the ICU nursing positions across Canada. The agency's also offering a $5,000 signing bonus, plus $10,000 to cover moving expenses. But she said the pandemic and closure of the Atlantic bubble have made finding nurses more challenging. Normally, she said, there are nurses living in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, willing to travel here to work during the week. "People have been in those arrangements. But it's getting harder now to make that look appealing because of all the guidelines. And every province's guidelines are a bit different," said Gallant-Bernard. "So when we had the bubble, we had a much broader group to draw from. But now we don't have that." Though one aspect of the pandemic is giving the hospital CAO some recruitment hope. She said the fact P.E.I. has had relatively few COVID-19 cases, restrictions, and health-care pressures should make it a more attractive place for nurses. "It's a very appealing place to come to right now," she said. "So I think if we can recruit, now is the time." More P.E.I. news
Work on the Oyster Bed Bridge replacement will take longer than expected due to COVID-19-related supply chain issues. The contractor for the project is based on the mainland — and it's been difficult to get materials to the Island since P.E.I. left the Atlantic bubble, says Neil Lawless, bridge engineer working on the project. "It just takes longer, you know, also sanitation and just takes longer to do the work, and so that's part and parcel to this life that we're in now. We're working as best we can to balance it all out," Lawless said. Route 6 where the road crosses over to Wheatley River has been closed since mid-October. Now the province is pushing the reopening of the bridge to the end of March, about a month later than initially expected. All construction is taking longer due to workers having to follow COVID-19 restrictions, said Lawless. "They, you know, have to maintain their separation and it just takes longer," he said. The new bridge will be longer, wider and provide more clearance for water traffic such as boats, he said. "The new bridge is designed by the current highway and bridge design code and it can take heavier loads and so it'll certainly be safer," he said. The project was started in October to minimize impacts on local industries such as farming and fishing, Lawless said. "It's never nice to have a detour and with bridge construction, but it's the nature of the game I guess. We have to replace it for public safety." The hope is after the bridge is replaced it will last about 75 years, he said. However, the detour currently in place is affecting residents who live near the area. "It's affecting me quite a bit at times. When I go to North Rustico to grab groceries and things like that it takes a lot longer," said Adam James, who lives in Brackley. "It takes at least another 10 to 15 minutes depending on the weather. Besides that it is a bit of an inconvenience and I thought it'd be done by now." The bridge replacement is a $3.2 million project. The province says the slow down due to COVID-19 won't add to the costs. More from CBC P.E.I.