WHO's expert advisory group says there is a 'plausible expectation' that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be effective against severe disease from the coronavirus variant found in South Africa, despite a small study that prompted concerns.
WHO's expert advisory group says there is a 'plausible expectation' that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be effective against severe disease from the coronavirus variant found in South Africa, despite a small study that prompted concerns.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration stepped up its condemnation of the coup in Myanmar on Thursday, demanding that military authorities stop their brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and release demonstrators and journalists who have been detained. The White House called the situation, including the arrest of an Associated Press journalist, “troubling” and of “great concern.” The State Department said it’s working with other countries to send a unified message to the military that its actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences. The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military leaders since the Feb. 1 coup, but stepped up pressure after security forces killed as many as 38 people on Wednesday. The administration says it’s in close touch with partners and allies, as well as with countries like China, to try to convince Myanmar officials to ease their heavy-handed response to the protests. “The detainment of journalists, the targeting of journalists and dissidents is certainly something that is of great concern to the president, to the secretary of state and to every member of our administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price said the administration was “deeply saddened” by reports of deaths in the crackdown on protests. “This latest escalation in violence demonstrates the fact of the junta’s complete disregard for their own people, for the people of Burma,” he said. “It is unacceptable.” “We are deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on and arrest of journalists,” he said. “We call on the military to immediately release these individuals and to cease their intimidation and harassment of the media and others who are unjustly detained for doing nothing more than their job, for doing nothing more than exercising their universal rights.” Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw and several other members of the media were arrested last week while covering security forces charging at anti-coup protesters. They have been charged with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years. The AP and press freedom groups have called for Zaw’s immediate release, but there has been no response from the authorities. In a statement Thursday, National Press Club President Lisa Nicole Matthews, the AP’s assignment manager for U.S. video, and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane expressed concern for Zaw’s safety. “We believe he was simply doing his job as a journalist and look forward to his swift release,” the statement said. The U.S. and other countries have roundly condemned the coup and the ensuing crackdown on dissent to little effect thus far. Price said the United States was looking toward China, Myanmar’s most powerful neighbour and friend, to exert its influence on the military. “We have urged the Chinese to play a constructive role to use their influence with the Burmese military to bring this coup to an end,” he said. “There have been a number of conversations with Chinese officials at different levels, and our message in all of those conversations has been consistent: The world, every responsible constructive member of the international community, needs to use its voice, needs to work to bring this coup to an end and to restore the democratically elected government of Burma.” Earlier Thursday, footage of the brutal crackdown on protests against the coup unleashed outrage and calls for a stronger international response. Videos showed security forces shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip in recent years, the international community lifted most sanctions and poured in investment. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
The Town of New Tecumseth has hired a new Director of Ad-ministration Services and Clerk. Pamela Fettes will take over the position effective March 22, 2021. She will fill the vacancy created when the former clerk retired at the end of 2020. Ms. Fettes’ previous experience includes the past eight years with Clearview Township as the Director of Legislative Services and Municipal Clerk. “We are excited to welcome Pamela to the Town of New Te-cumseth,” said Mayor Rick Milne. "Her experience, expertise and knowledge of Simcoe County and our growing community will be an asset to the Town. Council and staff are looking forward to her leadership in the important role of Director of Administration Se-vices and Clerk as we continue to move the Town’s administration forward.” Under the Corporate Services division, as the Director of Admin-istration Services and Clerk, Ms. Fettes will lead the Town’s admin-istrative services which includes customer service, the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement area, licenses and permits, the preparation and circulation of Council documents, records management, requests for information under the Mu-nicipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the conduct and administration of municipal elections. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Destination Toronto says the city has lost billions in revenue from the loss of the tourism industry during the pandemic. While some business operators are attempting to hang on by reinventing their operations, past experiences say it will likely take years for the industry to recover. Matthew Bingley reports.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. There are 878,391 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 878,391 confirmed cases (29,903 active, 826,337 resolved, 22,151 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,832 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 78.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,063 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,866. There were 47 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 286 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 41. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.28 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,763,481 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,002 confirmed cases (125 active, 871 resolved, six deaths). There were five new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 23.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,101 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 138 confirmed cases (23 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday. The rate of active cases is 14.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 18 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 109,360 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,649 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,555 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 2.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 350,135 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,443 confirmed cases (37 active, 1,378 resolved, 28 deaths). There were five new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 4.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 239,229 tests completed. _ Quebec: 290,377 confirmed cases (7,379 active, 272,553 resolved, 10,445 deaths). There were 707 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 86.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,047 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 721. There were 20 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 84 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.81 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 304,757 confirmed cases (10,309 active, 287,424 resolved, 7,024 deaths). There were 994 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 69.97 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,446 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,064. There were 10 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 108 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,017,094 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,051 confirmed cases (1,143 active, 30,005 resolved, 903 deaths). There were 51 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 82.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 394 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 56. There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 536,934 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,220 confirmed cases (1,422 active, 27,407 resolved, 391 deaths). There were 161 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 120.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,029 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 147. There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.17 per 100,000 people. There have been 581,914 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,785 confirmed cases (4,613 active, 128,261 resolved, 1,911 deaths). There were 331 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 104.32 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,353 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 336. There were nine new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 37 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,425,265 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 82,473 confirmed cases (4,808 active, 76,289 resolved, 1,376 deaths). There were 564 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 93.4 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,691 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 527. There were four new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.73 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,950,778 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,187 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,743 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 369 confirmed cases (14 active, 354 resolved, one deaths). There were 10 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 35.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,755 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
A 20-year-old woman fatally shot by police in a Beltline hotel was found next to a replica handgun pellet pistol after being shot by officers, according to Alberta's police watchdog. A press release issued by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says Calgary police responded Wednesday to a third-floor room at the Nuvo Hotel after receiving a call from a woman who sounded distressed. ASIRT said the woman was threatening self-harm and said she had a gun. Police approached the room, at which point a woman appeared in the doorway. The woman turned and went back into the room and returned with what ASIRT said appeared to be a black handgun, allegedly confirmed by footage from body-worn cameras. "Further details regarding what the woman may have done with the handgun or what occurred thereafter are being withheld pending additional possible interviews; however, shortly thereafter, two officers discharged their service pistols," ASIRT said in the release. Calgary police were stationed outside the Nuvo Hotel in the Beltline neighbourhood on Wednesday afternoon.(Julie Debeljak/CBC) Tactical members entered the room, where it was determined that the woman had died. Nearby, they found a replica handgun pellet pistol. Speaking Thursday at a press conference, Chief Mark Neufeld of the Calgary Police Service said the situation that occurred Wednesday was "extremely dynamic" and unfolded quickly. "I do want to acknowledge that a person died in this incident, and that person had a family and friends who today find themselves mourning the tragic loss of a loved one," Neufeld said. "On behalf of all of us at CPS, I extend my condolences to all of those who have been impacted by this incident." Neufeld said he was confident that officers conducted themselves appropriately in the course of the incident. "There are times where, despite the best training, the best tactics, the best tools and even the very best of intentions, where a peaceful resolution isn't to be," he said. "In these tense moments, the preservation of life for bystanders, and even the officers themselves, necessarily becomes the immediate priority." ASIRT said that as an investigation is ongoing, no further information will be released at this time. The Nuvo Hotel is located at 827 12th Ave. S.W.
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
A family is raising concerns about decisions made at a private living facility dealing with an outbreak of a COVID-19 variant and a mouse infestation. Rose Zennick's 94-year-old father lives at Churchill Manor in southeast Edmonton. She says restrictions were loosened too soon. Her father tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday — the same day he received the vaccine. "With them knowing that the vaccine was coming within a two-week period, they should have waited," Zennick said Thursday at a news conference hosted by the NDP. "I'm so angry and frustrated and disappointed. I'm very concerned for my dad. He's scared right now. He has no symptoms, but his doctor told me to get ready." Emails shared with CBC show residents were informed the facility eased safety measures on Feb. 16, allowing residents to gather in groups of five, though with masks and social distancing. Residents were also allowed to visit with two family members indoors. Four days later, families were informed residents would receive their vaccinations on March 1. On Feb. 26, a resident tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then 32 residents and 4 staff have tested positive with at least 19 of those people infected by a highly contagious variant, the operator Atria said. The patients are being cared for by nurses with Alberta Health Services who are on site. NDP labour critic Christina Gray raised concerns about the mouse infestation at the facility at the news conference. She showed photos taken by a family member of mouse droppings and torn shavings. "We're asking for the government to make sure that the seniors in our community are being cared for, that they are living in hygienic condition [and] getting the support they need during this outbreak," Gray said. Health officials say they have been supporting Churchill Manor since Monday but, as an independent residence, the facility is not contracted to Alberta Health Services. AHS is working with the operator Atria to bring in pest control, the department said.
IQALUIT, Nunavut — COVID-19 infections rose sharply in Arviat on Thursday, but Nunavut's top doctor said there is no sign of uncontrolled spread and numbers are declining overall. The community on the western shore of Hudson Bay tallied 10 new illnesses to bring the active case count to 14. Arviat's population of about 2,800 has been under a strict lockdown since November. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed and travel is restricted. A state of emergency was declared Feb. 24 and there's a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said there is no evidence of community transmission. "If things continue on this way, we can look at working with the hamlet to ease some of the measures next week," he said. Arviat is the only place in the territory where COVID-19 is active. It has had higher numbers than anywhere else in Nunavut since the pandemic began — 325 of 369 total cases. Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is from Arviat, said the overall weekly decline is "still encouraging." Last week, there were 25 cases. "We should expect that case numbers will vary day to day," he said. Two COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been held in Arviat. The second one was dedicated to administering second doses. Patterson said there is no evidence of "vaccine failure" in Arviat. "A failure ... would be getting new COVID (cases) two weeks or more after a vaccination." Health experts say it takes about 14 days for the COVID-19 vaccines to take effect. Patterson said his department is not releasing community-specific vaccination numbers and would not say how many people in Arviat have been vaccinated. To date, 8,628 of Nunavut's 39,000 residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 5,125 have had two shots. The territory has received 26,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine so far. Nunavut's original goal was to have its vaccine rollout completed by the end of March, but Patterson said that will be extended into April. The territory initially faced some delays in vaccine shipments, he said. "As the vaccine supply ramps up, we're now into the stage where that's no longer an issue. Staff will be able to go much faster and much more efficiently starting now." John Main, Arviat's member of the legislature, is urging the government to provide isolation spaces for infected residents who live in overcrowded housing This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — With a federal budget in the offing, premiers are stepping up the pressure on Ottawa to immediately boost health-care funding by at least $28 billion a year.They held a virtual news conference Thursday to reiterate their demand for a big increase in the unconditional transfer payment the federal government sends provinces and territories each year for health care.The federal government this year will transfer to the provinces nearly $42 billion for health care, under an arrangement that sees the amount rise by at least three per cent each year.But the premiers contend that amounts to only 22 per cent of the actual cost of delivering health care and doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent.Starting this year, they want Ottawa to increase its share to 35 per cent and maintain it at that level, which would mean an added $28 billion, rising by roughly another $4 billion in each subsequent year.During a virtual first ministers' meeting in December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told premiers he recognizes the need for the federal government to eventually shoulder a bigger share of health-care costs. But he said that must wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sent the federal deficit on track to exceed an unprecedented $381 billion as Ottawa doles out emergency aid, including at least $1 billion for vaccines and $25 billion in direct funding to the provinces to, among other things, bolster their health systems.Quebec Premier Francois Legault, chair of the premiers' council, stressed Thursday that the pandemic-related expenses Ottawa has incurred are "non-recurring." He pointed to studies that suggest the federal government could quickly eliminate its deficit, and even return to surplus, once the pandemic is over while provinces would be mired in debt.The premiers argued they need stable, predictable, long-term funding for their health systems, which were already under strain before the pandemic hit and will be even more stressed once it's over and they must deal with the backlog of delayed surgeries, tests and other procedures.Manitoba's Brian Pallister said wait times have been a problem for decades and are destined to get worse as Canada's population ages. But he said the pandemic has made "a bad situation much, much worse.""The post-pandemic pileup is coming and it's real and its impact on Canadians and their families and their friends is real too," he warned. "The time is now to address this issue and to address it together."Pallister accused Trudeau of ignoring the problem of wait-times and the real life-threatening impact on people. Five years ago, he said he told Trudeau a true story about a woman with a lump in her breast who had waited for tests and referral to a specialist, only to be told in the end that it was "too bad we couldn't have caught this sooner.""He looked across the table at me and said, 'I'm not your banker,'" Pallister said."We don't need a banker. We need a partner."Trudeau has offered to give provinces immediate funding for long-term care homes, provided they agree to some national standards. Long-term care facilities have borne the brunt of deaths from COVID-19.But Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Ottawa's latest offer would provide just $2,500 per person in long-term care — a drop in the bucket compared to the $76,000 it costs his province each year for every long-term care resident."The math doesn't work," he said.Legault ruled out conditional transfers for long-term care altogether as an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. He said each province and territory has its own health-care priorities and their "jurisdiction must absolutely be respected."When universal health care was adopted in Canada, British Columbia's John Horgan said the cost was originally shared 50-50 between Ottawa and the provinces. The steadily declining federal share has led to ever more challenges in delivering health care, exacerbated now by the pandemic."Our public health-care system is at risk," Horgan warned."COVID has brought (the challenge) into graphic light. It's stark, it's profound and we need to take action."Saskatchewan's Scott Moe said Canadians deserve a well-funded health system "that is supported by both levels, both orders of government in this nation, not one that is propped up by almost entirely by the provinces and territories."Trudeau's minority Liberal government is poised to table a budget this spring, which could theoretically result in the defeat of his government should opposition parties vote against the budget. Legault said premiers have already talked to opposition parties to solicit their support for their health funding demand. He said the Bloc Quebecois and NDP support the demand, while the Conservatives agree in principle with the need to increase the health transfer but have not specifically agreed to the $28-billion figure.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday: SPAIN Valencia hosts Villarreal in a regional derby amid speculation about the possible sale of the struggling club. Villarreal coach Unai Emery once had Valencia regularly in the top four of the Spanish league when he managed the side almost a decade ago. But owner Peter Lim sold off the team’s top talent last summer, and now there are rumours he could be listening to offers for a buyer. Emery’s Villarreal is in seventh place and with hopes of securing a Europa League berth despite a poor run of seven consecutive rounds without a victory. In 14th place, Valencia’s main concern is staying out of the relegation battle. GERMANY Schalke's fifth coach this season takes charge of the struggling former title contender in a game which is vital to avoiding relegation. Dimitrios Grammozis has never coached in a top-division game before as last-place Schalke faces Mainz, the team one place above. Schalke is already nine points from safety with one league win all season and crushing debt. It fired coach Christian Gross after last week's 5-1 loss to Stuttgart before appointing Grammozis. Mainz has two wins from its last four Bundesliga games and can escape the relegation zone with a win, overtaking Arminia Bielefeld and big-spending Hertha Berlin. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
As far as pioneer settlements go, the village of Perm embodied the rugged de-termination of early settlers in the area. When Hugh Gallaugher arrived in Canada in 1832 with his wife and eventually seven children from their native Ireland, they first landed in Mono Mills. From there they travelled to an area that is now County Road 17 and 5 Line, just west of Mansfield. At the time, there were no roads or even trails leading into the area. There was just virgin land and trees. Mr. Gallaugher and his family cleared the land and built a shelter.Following the Gallaughers’ arrival, more soon followed and by the mid 1850s, the group had bonded to create a small village. Settlers arrived by wagon, carting all their worldly possessions with them and they found land and created their first homes in the new territory which were generally primitive but practical log cab-ins. The Gallaughers were involved in lo-cal politics and administration. Paul Gallaugher served as the first Reeve of Mulmur Township in 1851. Other Gallaughers also held public posts over the years. By 1857, the village completed build-ing a town hall, with the first council meeting being held on May 26, 1858. Over time more buildings were constructed as the town grew.A Methodist Church was built in 1872. Hugh Gallaugher donated $500, a sizable contribution at the time, to get con-struction started. A cemetery was later established at the church. An Orange Lodge was chartered, one of many in the area, that reflected the Irish heritage of many early settlers. Mr. Gallaugher opened a general store in 1868 and added a post office in 1872.Supporting businesses included a blacksmith shop, a shingle mill, and a sawmill. The original school house was a crudely built log structure, but it served its purpose and doubled as a church at times. The school house was replaced by a frame structure in 1884. That building lasted until 1935 when it was destroyed in a fire. The area became busy enough to re-quire a second school house, known as the Lower Perm School.Despite an enterprising start, the village never topped more than 50 resi-dents. The post office closed in 1915 follow-ing the arrival of rural mail delivery. By the time the 20th century rolled around, the village had all but disap-peared, as residents moved to other locations. Buildings were torn down and land re-claimed for other purposes. The church remained until 1925, when it was demolished. These days the only reminder of the town is the cemetery, a memorial stone for the church and the Lower Perm School, which is now a private home. While the village may no longer exist, the remnants of the town are an example of the determination and pioneering spirit of the early settlers in the region. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Thursday was the first day Londoners 80 and older living in the community could get the COVID-19 vaccine. The shots — coming nearly one year since Ontario first announced COVID-19 lockdowns — mark a milestone in the battle against the pandemic. Here’s what some Londoners had to say after getting their first dose: “I feel secure,” he said after the jab. “I was most concerned about my wife,” who got her first dose just hours before. While it’s good news, Loubert knows life won’t be back to normal soon. “My biggest thing is following the health rules . . . Until everyone is vaccinated, we’re not safe.” “I’m relieved . . . I’d been trying for two days to get through” to book an appointment, she said. “I’m glad to get the process started. They’re doing a fantastic job.” “We’ve spent three mornings trying to book,” Maureen said, with the couple finally booking last-minute slots Thursday morning. “We’re really, really pleased. We need it.” As for Gary, how he's feeling was summed up in one word: “good.” “I’m glad. I’m so glad. And to get it so early.” “I was lucky. I saw a couple of blanks this morning (in the booking) and jumped in.” As for after the shot, Friesen said he was "feeling OK." But it's still a mystery what life will look like once he's fully vaccinated. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll have to see what they say.” “I’m relieved. It was a long time coming,” she said. She doesn't expect life to change too much, even after she gets the second dose. “I’ll still keep my mask on and follow the rules.” “I’m delighted, relieved, excited,” he said. Henderson is eagerly awaiting the rest of the world to get inoculated so he can return to one of his favourite pastimes: travel. Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
There were 31 new COVID-19 cases in the Terrace local health area (LHA) between Feb. 21 and Feb. 27, according to the latest data published by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). That is five fewer cases than the week before. There is one more case in the Northern Health region with missing address information. The Terrace (LHA), which includes Kitselas, Thornhill, and Kitsumkalum, continues to have one of the highest average daily rates per 100,000 people in B.C., along with several other LHAs in the northwest. The Nass Valley also has a high rate per 100,000 people, with four new cases. Those BCCDC figures for the Nass Valley may not match numbers self-reported by the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA), due to differences in how the two organizations track cases. There were 73 new cases in the Prince Rupert LHA, 32 on Haida Gwaii, and seven in the Kitimat LHA. The week previous, there were no cases within the Kitimat LHA. All of the LHAs in B.C. with an average daily rate of greater than 20 per 100,000 people are in the northwest except for Merritt, Vancouver - Centre North and Bella Coola Valley. There was a COVID-19 exposure notice issued for Air Canada flight 8240 from Vancouver to Terrace on Feb. 26, according to the BCCDC’s list of flight exposures. Rows eight to 14 were affected. Northern Health has listed a Feb. 19 exposure at Caledonia Secondary School and a Feb. 22 to Feb. 23 exposure at Skeena Middle School on its public exposures and outbreaks webpage. As of Feb. 25, 33 residents and 23 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert. Fourteen residents of the long term care facility have died in association with the outbreak, which was first declared on Jan. 19. According to a Northern Health information bulletin, the outbreak is considered stable, and full outbreak measures remain in place. Officials from Pretivm Resources updated Terrace city council on the COVID-19 outbreak at its Brucejack Mine on March 4. As of that date, seven individuals were in isolation at the mine site, and the last case associated with the outbreak was discovered on Feb. 21 according to Greg Norton, vice president, environmental and regulatory affairs. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
VANCOUVER — A Crown lawyer is urging a B.C. Supreme Court judge to ignore the "geopolitical winds swirling around" Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's extradition case and focus instead on the legal context. Robert Frater told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that Meng's legal team is trying to bring the elephant into the room by introducing arguments centred on comments made by former U.S. president Donald Trump about the case. "With respect, we urge you to focus on the facts and the law and leave the politics to the politicians," Frater said Thursday. He made the comments in response to claims from Meng's legal team that Trump's words 10 days after her arrest at Vancouver's airport in December 2018 represented a threat and poisoned the Canadian proceedings. Trump was asked by media if he would intervene in the case to get a better deal in trade talks with China, and he responded that he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary. Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny. Her lawyers allege Trump's comments constitute an abuse of process and they are asking for a stay of proceedings. It is the first of four branches of abuse of process arguments that the court will hear ahead of the actual extradition or committal hearing in May. "Everyone in this courtroom knows that the elephant in the room in this case has always been the geopolitical winds that swirl around it," Frater told the judge. "We're confident that when you look at the facts and apply the law, you will dismiss this motion." On Wednesday, Meng's team sought to tie her case to a long-brewing technological race between the United States and China. Huawei's success in establishing 5G wireless technology worldwide represents an "existential threat" to the United States and Meng's case is unfolding amid an effort by the U.S. government to "debilitate, if not destroy, Huawei," her lawyer Richard Peck said. Peck noted that in February 2020, then-U. S. attorney general William Barr said the stakes could not be higher and likened the race to the Cold War. Democrat Nancy Pelosi has warned against doing business with Huawei and White House press secretary Jen Psaki has described Huawei as a "threat to the security of the U.S.," Peck said. "This campaign is bipartisan and continues in full vigour today," he said. Frater, representing Canada's attorney general, sought to redirect the judge's attention Thursday. There is a rigorous test to meet the threshold of an abuse of process claim that warrants a stay of proceedings and Meng's argument doesn't pass it, he said. The threshold outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada says there must be prejudice to the accused's right to a fair trial or to the integrity of the justice system and there must be no alternative remedy. Where there is still uncertainty, the court must balance the interests of the accused and the societal interest in having the case heard, Frater said. In the balancing act, he argued the court should consider that the fraud charges are serious and Meng, the chief financial officer of one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, isn't a "powerless" person. Someone with "the resources to hire a battalion of lawyers, who has the full backing of a powerful state, is in a different position factually than an indigent or vulnerable individual," Frater said. Another lawyer for Meng, Eric Gottardi, countered that Meng's celebrity makes her a "higher value target" for interference, adding that a person's resources shouldn't affect how they are treated by the court. Frater told the court that comments by politicians about the case have not approached the level of threat required to compromise the legal process. And Trump's failure to win re-election has only weakened the argument, he said. "This application, in our submission, was based on the thinnest of evidence. That evidence only got worse over time, there's been material changes in circumstance that have removed the basis for it," Frater said. The political commentary has in no way affected the proceedings, he said. "They've had a hearing which has observed and continues to observe the highest standards of fairness." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
“I want to say something to the three of you today,” Saskatchewan Justice Gerry Allbright told the grieving family members of murder victim Mark Douglas Jonson, 61. “Mark Jonson is not just a name to me. He was a person loved. I have a picture of Mark in front of me,” said Justice Allbright, adding that the victim’s daughter and two sisters brought Mark to life through their compelling victim impact statements. “He was a man who was loved. He was a man who cared about others in society and he cared about those who were down and out,” said Justice Allbright in Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench March 4. “Without you sharing those heartfelt and true comments with me I would not nave been able to see the man behind the photograph and I’m thankful for that and I’m sorry for your loss,” said Justice Allbright. Victim impact statements were read by Jonson’s daughter Lydia Holteniuk, and his sisters Lynette Jonson and Myrnel Williams. The three appeared by phone. Myrnel said her brother Mark Jonson taught her a lot – including his difficulties - during his life. “Sometimes the best teachers are people whose pasts have been a bit flawed because they can understand the human experience.” Lydia spoke about how painful and difficult it was to have her father brutally murdered. The court heard that Jonson was a generous and kind person who would help anyone. Jonson’s family said he struggled but was overcoming the challenges in his life and still had dreams to fulfill. A judge and jury trial for Nicholas Buck was previously scheduled to run Feb. 22 to March 5, 2021, but, instead, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder March 4. In July 2019, twenty-three-year-old Buck was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the death of Jonson. Battlefords RCMP found Jonson deceased in a home on the 1500 block of 100 Street on July 5, 2019. RCMP Major Crime Unit North and North Battleford Forensic Identification Services investigated the murder. They issued a warrant for Buck’s arrest on July 11, 2019. He was arrested two days later. Police also arrested David Keller, 28, on July 11, 2019. Keller’s judge and jury trial is scheduled for October 2021 in Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench. North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Steven Laroque said Jonson died the night of July 2 or the early morning of July 3, 2019. Laroque said there are several aggravating circumstances including the brutal nature of the senior’s murder in his home where he had the right to feel and be safe. For mitigating factors, Laroque said Buck is young and was victimized as a youth. “Gladue applies in this case, which requires special consideration.” Laroque said Buck cooperated with the police and confessed. In addition, by pleading guilty he spared the family from going through a lengthy trial and helped move the case through the court system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Defence Brian Pfefferle reiterated the significant Gladue factors present in Buck’s situation. “He has had a difficult life and was born into tragic circumstances,” said Pfefferle, adding that Buck suffered abuse, poverty and racism. A clean-cut looking Buck appeared by CCTV from the correctional centre wearing grey prison attire. Gone were the dreadlocks in the 2019 police-issued photo. Justice Allbright asked Buck if he had anything to say before sentencing, telling Buck that he is soft-spoken and to speak as loud as he can. Buck held his head slightly down throughout the proceedings but stood up when he delivered an apology to the victim’s family. “I’m not apologizing because I have to, I’m apologizing because I’m sincerely…” Buck said as he struggled to get more words out, many which were inaudible between his audible cries. Justice Allbright acknowledged Buck’s apology before sentencing him. “Buck’s background is a troubled background. The other side is the gravity of the level of violence visited on this poor man. “I sentence you to life without eligibility for parole until you serve at least 12 years,” said Justice Allbright. “In life everyone makes mistakes, some mistakes are very tragic,” added Justice Allbright. “You know well the tragic mistake you made that day when you caused the loss of life of Mr. Jonson. “You have then made some good decisions since then, the lengthy statement to police about your involvement in this matter, you come before the court entering a plea of guilty acknowledging the terrible harm your actions have caused and you have expressed remorse to the family members. I truly hope that your life proceeds in a way that can bring some honour to the memory, in this case, to Mark Jonson. “You have had a difficult upbringing and background,” added Justice Allbright. “That should help you to go forward from here. One of the family members said sometimes the best teachers are people whose pasts have been a bit flawed because they can understand the human experience. You, Mr. Buck, will hopefully follow in that, the very wise words the family member said.” email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74 and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus can begin booking March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of AstraZeneca will available starting March 10. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said while AstraZeneca is just as effective as the others, due to incomplete data it recommends it not be given to those over 64. Shandro says for that reason, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to adults 50 to 64 who don’t have a severe chronic illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
There seems to be some new residents living along the walking trails in Totten-ham by the Conservation Area. Local hikers have noticed little doorways that enter into secret tiny homes inside the trees along the trails. Some tiny little signs announce that it is a fairy home. While no one has yet to admit to actually seeing a fairy, there is little doubt among trail users that they are there – they’re just very secretive. Local resident and avid hiker Marc Landry first noticed the fairy homes on a recent hike down the trails.An avid bird watcher, he had his cam-era with him and took some photo and posted on them on a local Facebook page. “I’m out there at least once a week,” Mr. Landry explained. “I do a lot of birding on that trail so, for me, it’s a lot of observation. They crossed my eyesight a couple of times and decided to have a look at them. They’re pretty easy to find once you start looking for them. About two weeks ago I took all the pictures. For me it’s all about the observation of nature. If I find something, well good.” He started quite the buzz when he posted his photos. People wanted to know where the little fairy homes were coming from. At first it was a secret, but a local resi-dent had the inside scoop and let it slip. It turns out local artist Becky Crawford and her husband Tom MacDonald, have been secretly fixing the fairy doors to trees along the trail. They did it just to give other people some joy in their life. “I usually work in stained glass,” Becky explained. “We weren’t sure anyone would even notice. We started doing it a few months ago. They’re not too spread out so you can easily find them. We thought it was something that would just bring a smile to someone’s face. Times are so tough right now, we thought if we could do something light and fun, maybe someone would like it.” Becky started making the fairy doors with a friend when their children were small, and they would put them in the yard. Although she usually works in glass, it would not be the right medium for attaching to a tree so she switched to wood. “In Europe a lot of people put them around their baseboards at home,” Becky said. “Even some big businesses with have a little fairy door – it’s a tradi-tion. It’s a little bit of magic and a little fun. I wanted to put them where people were walking because that’s pretty much all you could do during the lock-down. Me and my husband make them. He cuts the wood and sands the doors down and I go from there.” Becky usually sells her stained glass at local artisans’ markets, so venturing out and putting her work on the local trail was a little different. Children love the fairy doors and make a game of trying to find them all. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
The sun had not yet crested the horizon on a cold Tuesday morning when a group of women from Six Nations crossed into a Caledonia construction site and set up a teepee. The occupation of the planned Douglas Creek Estates subdivision on Argyle Street started a chain reaction that would lead 15 years later to the ongoing standoff at 1492 Land Back Lane. “Some parts of it are like déjà vu,” said Dawn Smith, who stepped onto DCE on Feb. 28, 2006, and became a public face of the movement asserting Haudenosaunee land rights along the Grand River. “They experience what we experienced, but they’ve been there a lot longer than we were,” Smith said of land defenders who have held the McKenzie Meadows construction site since July, indefinitely delaying a 229-unit subdivision planned by Foxgate Developments while blocking key roadways in response to clashes with police. Within four months of Smith and her compatriots occupying DCE, after violent clashes and failed negotiations, the province bought the land from local developers to hold in trust, essentially surrendering the 99-acre property to Six Nations members who control it to this day as an unofficial extension of the reserve. How the occupation on McKenzie Road will end remains anyone’s guess, but a look back to 2006 may offer some clues. Origins of a conflict It’s easiest to start with what hasn’t changed. In July 2020, much like 2006 and two centuries before that, who owns the land along the Grand River remains an open question. Land defenders point to the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 as the justification for their claims of sovereignty over the DCE and McKenzie sites. Governor Frederick Haldimand granted approximately 10 kilometres along either side of the entire length of the Grand River — just shy of one million square kilometres in all — to the Haudenosaunee in gratitude for their allyship during the American Revolutionary War. Depending on who tells the story, the Haldimand Tract land was then legally surrendered by Haudenosaunee chiefs or “stolen fair and square” by corrupt colonial authorities, said Rick Monture, a Mohawk from Six Nations and professor of Indigenous studies at McMaster University. A land claims lawsuit launched by Six Nations Elected Council in 1995 to settle the question inches toward a November 2022 court date. In the meantime, developers of the Douglas Creek and McKenzie Meadows projects thought they were in the clear since the lawsuit seeks financial compensation and not the return of privately held land. Monture said the builders, and the governments who approved the land sales, should have known better. “I can’t believe they would even try to negotiate a land deal in an area that’s hotly contested. That makes no sense,” he said. The Douglas Creek occupation followed a pattern that has repeated itself at Land Back Lane — builders sought a court injunction to oust the occupiers, who refused to leave, and police tried different approaches to enforce the court order. “By April 20, the police came in and it was a full-scale raid,” said Smith, recalling the 2006 predawn clash between OPP officers and hundreds of land defenders and supporters who rushed to Douglas Creek. In response, demonstrators set up roadblocks and lit tire fires on the roads, just as happened after smaller-scale skirmishes between the OPP and those occupying McKenzie Meadows. “Where it sits right now — the precariousness of the situation, how it’s been this way for how long now — they’re experiencing a lot more than we did,” Smith said of the ongoing stalemate at Land Back Lane. Skyler Williams of Six Nations was 23 when he fought police on the ground at DCE. Now the spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane, Williams says he turns to people like Smith for guidance. Smith said Williams and others in the camp share her motivation for defending the land. “It’s my job as a woman to protect Mother Earth for the seven generations that are coming,” she said. “I feel that if more people sat and spoke with these young men and women, they would get a different understanding. They’re not there just to tear up roads and instigate riots. They’re there for a reason, and that reason I tuck into bed every night.” Passing the buck Things moved quickly after Smith and her compatriots stopped work at DCE, which her group calls Kanonhstaton, “the protected place” in Mohawk. Hundreds of residents and home buyers massed at the barricades to demand an end to the occupation and protest police inaction. Thus began what Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has described as “15 years of anarchy” in Caledonia. After the failed police attempt to clear the site, Ottawa and Queen’s Park started negotiating with Six Nations elected and hereditary leaders — a first for the area. Soon afterward, the province declared an indefinite moratorium on construction on the DCE land. This time, there have been no federal talks, and Premier Doug Ford has taken a hard line against the occupation. “What I’m hearing from residents is exactly what I heard 15 years ago,” said Barrett, a Conservative politician who at the time was also the provincial representative for Six Nations. “One thing has changed. They know it’s a different government now.” When news of the Douglas Creek occupation reached Queen’s Park, Barrett said he immediately crossed the floor to confer with the Liberal minister in charge of Indigenous affairs. The next day, he visited the site and met with clan mothers and some Confederacy chiefs, who asked for his help to liaise with elected council, the OPP and the federal government. “There is a bit of a formula here that’s followed,” Barrett said of the land defenders’ strategy of seeking nation-to-nation negotiations. “The messaging about rights and in this case land back, and the talk about, ‘It’s federal, and we want to meet with the governor general.’ I heard all this in 2006. That stuff just endlessly gets dragged out.” That’s exactly the problem, Monture said. No leader wants to solve the underlying issue. “It’s just this endless cycle of punting the ball to the province, the feds, First Nations, back and forth,” he said. “Meantime, our people grow more and more frustrated with it, and our neighbours grow more and more frustrated with us. So it works out in the best interest of Canada to let it simmer, since you let the next political party deal with it.” Monture worries what could happen “when that frustration boils over.” “They have to get serious about it soon,” he said. “We are a peaceful people. We’ve tried and tried and tried to put forward our complaints and our story. We’re just asking for some justice here.” Growing awareness, lingering frustration What was a conflagration in 2006 has been a slow burn this time around. Aside from minor clashes, the McKenzie Meadows occupation has not been marked by widespread violence. Still, there are those in Caledonia virulently opposed to what they consider a kind of urban warfare being waged against their community. Residents decry the vandalism in angry Facebook comments and invective-filled letters to the editor, saying if Canadians tore up roads and rail lines, they would be carted off to jail. Williams shrugs off such criticism. “We’re the nicest terrorists you’re ever going to meet,” he says with a laugh, referring to a since-retracted statement from Haldimand’s police services board calling the land defenders domestic terrorists. Williams said public sentiment feels different now than it did in 2006. Back then, Caledonia residents marched to the barricades with confrontation on their mind, whether with land defenders or police. This time around, residents organized a protest with Six Nations members, pushing the federal government for action on the land claim file. “The climate is way different. Way different,” Williams said. “We got people from town here walking across the police line to bring us food and love, and to come sit by the fire and talk and laugh. Gary McHale (a leader of the anti-Indigenous protests at DCE) wasn’t coming across the (barricade).” Canadians today are better educated about Indigenous issues, he added. “In 2021, the atrocities that have been committed against Indigenous people across the country aren’t secrets anymore. It is common knowledge now,” Williams said, listing off residential schools, the over-incarceration of Indigenous people, and murdered and missing Indigenous women as examples. “The government has said, yes, we are guilty of all those things, and so we need to reconcile with Indigenous people on a nation-to-nation basis.” Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt said opinion regarding Land Back Lane is “mixed” among his constituents, with many upset at seeing quiet detour routes clogged with traffic and having their tax dollars repeatedly go to repair damaged roads. “They’re frustrated that, once again, the community is the whipping stick of an ongoing dispute between the federal government and Six Nations,” Hewitt said. “They do not like the idea that if people in Caledonia choose to take a different position on this protest or other protests, that it could result in further closure of roads.” In 2006, Hewitt was a financial services adviser who headed the Caledonia Citizens’ Alliance, a group that lobbied the province to help the town during the crisis. “The federal government — whether it was today, 10 years or 100 years ago — has always known that there was a collision course that’s been set between First Nations people and our government,” Hewitt said. “There’s many opportunities along the way that that collision could’ve been avoided. Yet here we are, having the same conversations over and over again.” Hewitt contends the DCE occupation “was fully supported by many, if not the majority of those on the territory,” while in his view, the McKenzie standoff is not as broadly popular on Six Nations. “Fundamentally, they certainly do support a resolution of these outstanding claims that exist within the Haldimand Tract,” Hewitt said. “But to close roads to and destroy property, those efforts are not supported by most members of Six Nations.” Monture was quick to point out that he could not speak for the entire community — indeed, the diversity of opinion on the reserve is often cited as a complicating factor in talks with the federal government — but his sense is most residents are “quietly supportive” of the Land Back movement. “I think most of it is, ‘Here we go again, unfortunately,’” he said. “The mood in the community is, ‘Can’t we just resolve this and move forward?’” Monture has noticed a sea change in attitudes toward Indigenous grievances among Caledonians, even as the bypass and two key thoroughfares have been closed more often than not since July. “It’s tricky, because unfortunately the only way we can call attention to these things is when we make those stands that aren’t wildly popular,” he said. “There are friends and acquaintances of mine (in Caledonia) who kind of silently cheer us on, but they don’t want to do that (publicly) because they’re going to look bad to their white neighbours in town.” But that sympathy is not universal. Several Caledonia residents told The Spectator they are wary of publicly criticizing the current occupation because they fear retribution from land defenders and their allies. Some cited the violence and property damage carried out against residents living near DCE in 2006 — and the lack of police response — as the reason they are staying silent this time. But Bill Stoneman, who has lived in Caledonia for 65 years, said the McKenzie occupation feels less tense. Stoneman said while the roadblocks are “annoying,” he does not feel personally threatened. “It’s calmer. In ’06, they were terrorizing the town. It’s a lot calmer now,” he said. “It’s a safe area. They’re not antagonizing. In ’06, it was unsafe back in that area. This time they’re trying to stick to the issues.” Tension on the ground As the political wheels spin, the reality on the ground is dictated by land defenders and the police, who are tasked with enforcing a pair of Superior Court injunctions ordering the roads cleared and the McKenzie site returned to Foxgate Developments. The altercation between OPP officers and land defenders on the night of Oct. 22 — which saw a failed arrest attempt at the back entrance to 1492 Land Back Lane lead to supporters pelting a police cruiser with rocks and officers deploying a Taser and shooting rubber bullets — brought reinforcements to the scene near Kanonhstaton, Smith among them. “There’s quite a few people down there I care for a great deal, and I had to make sure everybody was OK,” she said. “The feeling down there that night, it was exactly the same as when it happened in 2006. It wasn’t the numbers that came out, but the numbers that were needed showed up.” Barrett has repeatedly encouraged the police to enforce the injunctions, while making it clear governments “do not interfere or direct operational decisions” of the OPP. “If I’ve been asked once, I’ve been asked several thousand times to tell the police to go in there and clear it,” he said. “The first reaction is, yes, this has to be nipped in the bud. Because, you know, reinforcements gradually arrive. Then it settles into something much more insidious for people who are living right next door.” Haldimand OPP Const. Rod LeClair said police “take no position” in land disputes and instead seek “open and peaceful dialogue” with demonstrators, an approached codified by the OPP Framework that guides the force’s reaction to “critical Indigenous incidents.” Williams said in practice, officers seek to “exploit divisions” within Indigenous communities while laying “nuisance charges” to deter supporters. “This is something that is playing out exactly the same today as it did 15 years ago,” he said. Police services board chair Brian Haggith — a retired Haldimand OPP officer who policed the DCE occupation — says the OPP’s Framework is flawed. “When lawlessness starts, it just doesn’t seem to be able to control it,” he said. Residents in 2006 criticized the OPP for letting Six Nations members wantonly break the law in plain sight, and Haggith said officers again stood by last fall as streets were torn up using stolen construction equipment. “Police officers in uniform are watching this occur, and no attempt to stop it. People just don’t understand,” he said. “When the circumstances change — when the protesters or demonstrators are no longer peaceful — it’s incumbent upon the OPP to change strategies in order to restore order and preserve public safety.” Ga’nogae, a Seneca chief from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, said officers are rightly showing more restraint this time. “(The government) kept the cattle prod to the OPP’s butt and said, ‘Come on, get those people off that land. Get those roads open,’” the chief said. “And the OPP, they learned from Ipperwash. They’re handling this with kid gloves, as they should be.” Split attention Beverly Jacobs, a Mohawk lawyer from Six Nations and associate dean of the University of Windsor law faculty, says the onus is on the government to avoid another standoff. She noted that Queen’s Park committed to “reconciling” Haudenosaunee land claims after the Douglas Creek standoff, but no progress was made, while more than 800 Caledonia residents and business owners wrung a $20-million settlement out of the province to compensate for their losses. Caledonia lawyer Peter Murray was involved in paying out that class-action lawsuit, and in November, his firm took the lead on organizing another legal action against the province and the OPP, prompted by roadblocks again cutting off access to town. “It’s fair to say that it’s less confrontational between the residents of Caledonia and the protesters than it was in 2006,” Murray said. “I’m not seeing the gatherings up at the Canadian Tire parking lot that we saw in 2006 — marching with the Canadian flag, that kind of stuff. It could be social media playing more of a role today. A lot of people are expressing their thoughts on social media as opposed to physically going there. But as far as the businesses are concerned, I’m afraid it could be very similar if it’s not resolved.” One problem with getting action from Ottawa is the Caledonia disputes, while disruptive locally, can’t compete for national attention with higher-profile conflicts such as the burning of Mi’kmaq fishing boats in Nova Scotia or Wet’suwet’en pipeline protests out west. “This isn’t that important to the majority of people in the country, which is why these steps these people are taking are counterproductive,” Hewitt said. “It’s not achieving the goals. Look at ’06. Show me the success as the result of that protest. Sure, you stopped a development, but that land — nothing’s happened, nothing’s changed.” That criticism misses the point, Williams said. “The way we live is quite a bit different than covering everything in concrete and asphalt and calling that progress,” he said. “To let the wildlife come back here, for the earth here to regrow and heal itself — that’s what progress is for us. To let Mother Nature do her bit, and let her take this land back.” Some residents have questioned the timing of the McKenzie Meadows occupation, wondering why land defenders let contractors clear the former farmland and install sewer lines before moving in. Williams blamed the pandemic, saying his group was ready to go in when work started in the spring, but that coincided with the arrival of COVID-19 to Six Nations. “Our entire community was locked down for those three months,” Williams said. “We were very concerned about (the virus) and wanted to make sure that everybody was going to be safe.” The pandemic didn’t stop some Six Nations members from blockading the Highway 6 bypass and the CN rail line from Feb. 24 to March 19, in solidarity with Wetʼsuwetʼen resistance to the pipeline. The protesters eventually retreated to Kanonhstaton, which has been a safe zone for land defenders throughout the McKenzie occupation. Monture suspects politicians are too busy managing the pandemic to pay much attention to a relatively low-priority land dispute in rural Ontario. “I don’t think people have the mental or emotional, or even the physical stamina now to put a lot of good thinking toward this,” he said. “We need to get through the pandemic first, and then go at it.” Sharing the land Things have not always been this tense in Caledonia. Locals remember decades, if not centuries, of neighbourly relations between Haldimand County and Six Nations, with residents intermarrying and intermingling at schools, shops, and social events. Some contend the DCE occupation soured that closeness and created divisions between the two communities. “The relationships were good. They worked for each other, helped each other out. It was a friendly camaraderie amongst people back then,” said Monture, whose father and grandfather were farmers on the reserve. They told him that in the 1940s and 1950s, their non-Indigenous neighbours knew the history and understood that the land along Plank Road — better known today as Highway 6 — was Haudenosaunee. He suspects the residents who massed at the barricades in 2006, some waving Confederate flags, were ignorant of the underlying issues at play. “I was shocked at the amount of animosity that was hurled at our people from folks in Caledonia,” Monture said. “Not so much this time — maybe it’s online more — but there was a palpable anger and mob mindset happening around Douglas Creek.” What’s next? With the occupation of McKenzie Meadows well into its eighth month and the trenches blocking the roads now repaired, the question of when the police will move in hangs over the camp. Williams knows McKenzie Road could yet become a battlefield. But, he says, they won in 2006. They may win again. “The amount of support across the country for our stand here has been amazing,” he said. “We know that resistance movements from Indigenous communities are growing. Our ally networks are massive and far-reaching across all Turtle Island. I think all of us have a shared struggle.” Smith sees an emotional parallel to DCE in what is happening on the ground in Caledonia today. “The way everybody’s come together as a family, that’s the way it was back in 2006,” she said. “Blood is blood. Whether we’re related by family or just we’re all Onkwehonwe. Just to know that this fight has been happening since day one. From 1492 — or the way our stories go, before that — we have fought to hold onto our way of life.” To Hewitt’s mind, protests at DCE did not spur political action on land claims, and this time will be no different if violent confrontation is the result. “What I’ve seen in the last 15 years is we’re more likely to see success for both communities by working together to find common ground than we are working opposed to each other, as we have been,” he said. “Sitting here blocking a road into a small town of 10,000 people isn’t getting the attention of Ottawa. It’s not getting the attention of Toronto. All it’s done is fan some flames of anger.” Thus far, Ford has given no indication he plans to follow former premier Dalton McGuinty’s lead and buy out the developers as a way out of the standoff. Rather than politicians simply waiting out the land defenders, Monture would like to see “a fair and sincere effort” to address land claims. “True leadership and courage — that’s what it’s going to take,” Monture said. Barrett said the answer must come from Six Nations, where elected and hereditary leaders have begun to smooth over decades of mistrust — created, Monture noted, by Ottawa supplanting the Confederacy with the band council — in order to negotiate with Ottawa as a united front. “The question I’ve been asking for 15 years — do you know who’s in charge?” Barrett said. “It’s really not the role of the provincial or federal government to step into that kind of argument. That’s internal to the community.” With occupations allowed to continue virtually unchallenged, Barrett sees the rule of law weakening. “It’s chaos. I really resent the intimidation that’s used to generate fear,” he said. “That’s not how we operate in Ontario or Canada.” To Smith, each land reclamation moves First Nations peoples one step forward to self-determination. “My passion is to see my governments sit at the table with your governments — face to face, heart to heart — and really try to come to a compassionate understanding that will benefit everybody,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
A number of COVID-19 scams are cropping up across Canada, targeting people and telling them they can jump to the front of the vaccination line if they pay. Miranda Anthistle spoke with security and financial experts about how to protect one’s self and others from falling victim to one of these scams.