Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
(Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP - image credit) Two days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden met to set a new tone for Canada-U.S. relations, the Biden administration official whose decisions may affect Canada's economy the most sat for three hours of questioning at her confirmation hearing before the Senate finance committee Thursday. Some cabinet confirmations become partisan wrestling matches. By the end of her appearance, the confirmation of Katherine Tai as the next United States Trade Representative felt more like a collective laying on of hands. The chair, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, called her a "superb choice." All ranking Democrats and Republicans from not only the Senate but also the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee applauded the depth of her skills and experience with a long list of complimentary adjectives. Representative Richard Neal from Massachusetts, appearing as a guest Democratic chair of the House committee, told senators he considers Tai to be like family after her seven years as legal counsel for his committee. Tai played a critical role in crafting and negotiating bipartisan support for endgame revisions that ensured Congressional approval of the revised North American trade agreement by delivering more environmental and labour protections. "There is one issue that all of us in this room agree upon: enforcement, enforcement, enforcement of these trade agreements," Neal said, praising Tai's "understated grit." Biden's pick was endorsed by leaders from the environmental, business and labour communities, Neal said. Tai accompanied Neal on a critical trip to Ottawa in November 2019 to persuade Canada to agree to amend the new NAFTA so it could get through Congress. The Trudeau government had thought its negotiations with the Trump administration were over. Canada's ambassador in Washington, Kirsten Hillman, came to know Tai well as Canada's lead negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. She said she remembers having lunch with her that day and their "vibrant conversation" with the assembled politicians about how international trade can benefit domestic workers — a focus the Biden administration now embraces. Canada's ambassador in Washington, Kirsten Hillman, far right, joined her then-minister Chrystia Freeland as Representative Richard Neal met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Nov. 6, 2019. House Democrats asked Canada to agree to amendments they were making to secure Congressional approval for the renegotiated NAFTA. "I think that's just telling on where some of the priorities may well lie," Hillman told CBC News earlier this winter. "She has specific expertise in that area." Fortunately for the Trudeau government, Tai's vision for "expanding the winner's circle" of beneficiaries of international trade lines up with the beliefs of Canadian Liberals like Chrystia Freeland who have spoken about making deals work for small businesses and middle class workers — not just corporations. Winning with win-wins During Thursday's hearing, Tai said she wants to move away from negotiations that pit one sector's workers against another. It's a sharp contrast with the zero-sum style of the Trump administration, which was more focused on scoring targeted political wins than mutually-beneficial gains. "We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time." - USTR nominee Katherine Tai While that could come as a relief for trading partners like Canada, Tai's hearing also revealed several priorities to watch carefully. For example, will Tai continue Robert Lighthizer's push to "re-shore" as many commodities in as many supply chains as possible, to repatriate jobs for American workers? "There's been a lot of disruption and consternation that have accompanied some of those policies," she said — without specifically calling out Trump administration tactics like using national security grounds to slap tariffs on foreign steel. "I'd want to accomplish similar goals in a more effective, process-driven manner." And what about the critical product shortages the U.S. is facing, especially during the pandemic? President Biden signed an executive order this week to strengthen U.S. supply chains for advanced batteries, pharmaceuticals, critical minerals and semiconductors. "A lot of the assumptions that we have based our trade programs on [have] maximized efficiency without regard for the requirement for resilience," Tai said. Rethinking the China strategy Between 2011-14, Tai was the USTR's chief counsel for trade enforcement with China. On Thursday, she told senators the U.S. needs a "strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its state-directed economics." The government must have "a united front of U.S. allies," she added. "China is simultaneously a rival, a partner and an outsized player whose cooperation we'll also need to address certain global challenges," she said. "We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time." Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, himself a former USTR during the George W. Bush administration, pushed her to explain how the U.S. could compete with the "techno-nationalist" approach China takes on semiconductors — which he said are subsidized by up to 40 per cent, allowing the Communist regime to dominate the global market. "We can't compete by doing the things China does, so we have to figure out how we can compete by marshalling all the tools and resources that we have in the U.S. government," Tai said. Later she described how the Chinese state is able to conduct its economy "almost like a conductor with an orchestra," while Americans trust the "invisible hand" of the free market. The U.S. government may need to revisit this, she said, "knowing the strategy and the ambition that we are up against." Fellow Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown asked Tai whether she'd make it a top priority to crack down on imports that trace back to China's forced labour program, which human rights investigators believe abuses potentially millions from China's minority Uighur and Turkic Muslim population to pick crops like cotton. "Yes," she said. "I think the use of forced labour is probably the crudest example of the race to the bottom." 'Laser-focused' on Huawei Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who also sits on the Senate intelligence committee, urged Tai to form a "coalition of the willing" to compete with the Chinese "authoritarian capitalism" model that's enabled the rise of tech giants like Huawei. Trade negotiations have to protect the security of digital infrastructure, he said, and the U.S. should consider asking trading partners to prohibit certain Chinese technologies. "If we keep Huawei out of American domestic markets but it gets the rest of the world, we're not going to be successful," Warner said. Sen. Tom Carper, left, greets Katherine Tai, Joe Biden's nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, and meets her mother, right, at Tai's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday. Tai agreed with him, and said the U.S. government should be "laser-focused" on this, and not just in trade negotiations. To counter China's influence, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper asked whether it would be a "fool's errand" to rejoin partners like Canada in the Pacific Rim trading bloc — which was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership after the U.S. left it in 2017. Tai said the thinking behind the CPTPP remains a "solid equation" but the world in 2021 is "very different in important ways" to the climate in 2016, when Congress failed to approve the TPP. Carper also asked how trade policy is affected by the Biden administration's renewed multilateral approach to climate change. "The rest of the world is coming up with its own climate solutions, and that means that as other countries and economies begin to regulate in this area, climate and trade policies become a part of our competitive landscape," she said. 'Digging in' on dairy Tai also promised to work closely with senators who raised issues about commodities important to their states — and Canada. But the veteran trade diplomat didn't tip her hand too much on what Canada should expect. Idaho's Mike Crapo was assured she'll work on "longstanding issues" in softwood lumber. She told Iowa's Chuck Grassley she's aware of the "very clear promises" Canada made on dairy as part of concluding the NAFTA negotiations, and how important they were to win the support of some senators. Some of these Canada-U.S. issues "date back to the beginning of time," she said, adding she was looking forward to "digging in" on the enforcement process her predecessor began in December. Several senators pushed for more attention to America's beef, of which Tai said she was a "very happy consumer." South Dakota Sen. John Thune expressed frustration with the World Trade Organization's ruling against the cattle industry's protectionist country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rules, prompting a commitment from Tai to work with livestock producers on a new labelling system that could survive a WTO challenge. One of the toughest questioners Thursday proved to be former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who slammed the lack of transparency in past trade negotiations and told Tai her administration needs to "take a hard line." Warren called for limiting the influence of corporations and industries on advisory committees and releasing more negotiating drafts so the public understands what's being done on their behalf. At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Wyden asked Tai to send her ideas for improving the transparency of trade processes to the committee's bipartisan leadership within 30 days. Katherine Tai bumps elbows with Congressional leaders following her Thursday confirmation hearing on Capital Hill. Throughout the hearing, senators described Tai's confirmation as "historic." She's the first woman of colour and first Asian-American (her parents emigrated from Taiwan) to serve as USTR. Pennsylvania's Bob Casey asked if she'd commit to working on women's economic empowerment and participation in trade laws. She answered with just one word: "Yes."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is struggling to beat back his biggest political challenge in years from a protest movement which began with disgruntled farmers travelling to New Delhi on tractors and is now gaining wider support at home and abroad. Simmering in makeshift camps housing tens of thousands of farmers since last year, the movement has seen a dramatic growth in recent weeks, getting backing from environmental activists, opposition parties and even A-list Western celebrities. At its heart are three new farm laws passed by the government last September, thanks to the majority Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys in the lower house of parliament.
Astronaut Joshua Kutryk touched down in the gym at Christ the King School this week — not via a spacecraft, but rather a massive video screen. The St. Vital school welcomed Kutryk, who was hired by the Canadian Space Agency in 2016, as a virtual guest speaker for a 45-minute presentation about his career Wednesday. He answered questions about his profession, including what he is most looking forward to when he gets assigned a mission to outer space. “The view back,” said Kutryk, during the videocall broadcast into classrooms of wide-eyed students. “You see nothing but Earth in the void blackness of space, everything that’s ever been human on Earth. That’s when you probably realize, more than anything, how important it is to protect it.” Middle-schoolers won the visit, which was scheduled for the spring and was postponed because of COVID-19, through the Canadian Space Agency’s Junior Astronauts program. Teacher Teresa Edwards’ 2019-20 class of sixth graders was selected, after completing two science projects. They first compared the temperature, humidity and CO2 levels in their classroom to those in the International Space Station. The second project involved participating in a Mars rover simulation during which students communicated with a pretend operator. Given recent announcements about NASA’s Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars last week, and the Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman on the moon by 2024, Edwards said students are extra keen to learn about planetary exploration. “I hope it inspires them to pursue their dreams, whether they be in science or math or engineering or perhaps in other areas, and to stretch their limits,” she said about Kutryk’s visit. Edwards added she learned something new Wednesday: astronaut trainees must go underground for several weeks to simulate the experience of being cut off from the outside world. That was among the anecdotes Kutryk, who is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., shared about his training. “Trying to be an astronaut is really a lifelong endeavour,” he said, speaking from the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. Kutryk’s resume includes four degrees and experience as a test and fighter pilot, engineer and lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He became a certified astronaut following two and a half years of intensive training, including exercises underwater and in jets to mimic the outer space environment. Mo Ogunbodede said she was shocked by how long it took. “The fact they have to go underwater for a long time, that surprised me too,” Mo said. Even though she is not a confident swimmer, the 12-year-old said she isn’t discouraged from pursuing a career in astronomy; Mo simply knows what she’s up against now. Before signing off Wednesday, Kutryk had a simple message for students: “Dream big!” Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg has posted an abysmal score on climate change policy, when compared to its Canadian peers. Climate Reality Project (Canadian arm of the environmental non-governmental organization created by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore) carries out annual rankings of the nation’s municipalities to measure progress on a number of metrics. According to its newly released 2020 National Climate League report, Winnipeg overall ranks middle of the pack at best, and dead last in many categories, in the large city category (more than 600,000 residents). One positive for the city, says Susan Lindsay, who works with Winnipeg not-for-profit Climate Change Connection and is regional manager for Climate Reality Project: there is much room for improvement. “The standings give us like a clear indication of our city’s priorities — that climate and sustainability isn’t one of our city’s priorities,” Lindsay said Wednesday. Transportation is the second-largest contributor to national greenhouse gas emissions (after the oil and gas industry) and there are a number of indicators that consider policy progress towards low-emissions transportation. In the NCL report, Winnipeg ranked last in nearly all of related categories, including kilometres of bike lanes, cyclist and pedestrian safety, number of electric vehicle chargers, number of transit trips, and number of car-share vehicles available to residents. Winnipeg has 307 km of bike lanes, compared to Calgary, which had the most (1,290 km). The city logged 97.7 injuries and deaths of cyclists/pedestrians per 100,000 residents, compared with the second-worst performing large city: Calgary (58.7). Winnipeg has nine EV chargers per 100,000 people, compared to Montreal at 96. Sixty-seven transit trips were logged per capita in Winnipeg, compared with 236 in Montreal. The 2020 report gathered some information on household expenditures on gas and diesel fuels, but statistics were only available for a handful of cities of any size. In Winnipeg, the average household spends $3,102 on fuels per year. Buildings are another key source of emissions in cities, principally from heating them. Winnipeg was in the middle of the pack when it comes to the number of sustainable buildings, with 1.6 that qualify under one of the international sustainability certification programs per 100,000 people. Vancouver topped the large cities at 8.6. The average Winnipegger is responsible for approximately 670 kilograms of garbage going to landfills each year, the report says. The Manitoba capital ranked second worst in this category. Edmonton was last at 680 kg; best in class was Toronto (430 kg). In smog days per year, Winnipeg came in at 18; Calgary was worst-in-class with 69. Winnipeg had previously been tops in the category but fell substantially in the rankings. “Over the last two years, the city of Winnipeg has experienced an increase in number of days with a rating of 4 or over on the Air Quality Health Index. In the (prior) two years, they rarely experienced days where the Air Quality Health Index was above 4. The increase in poor air quality days can be attributed to the increase in frequency and severity of forest fires in the region, and Winnipeg was affected quite harshly in 2019 (the year we last have data for). We can expect to see a decrease in air quality across the entire country as forest fires continue to rage more intensely as the years go on,” the report reads. The report also touches on some seemingly unrelated indicators, such as the cost of housing. It explains the importance of such a measure in reference to climate change by saying: “Affordable housing that is located within urban centres, close to people’s place of work and that incorporates green infrastructure will make more efficient use of land, transportation systems, and energy resources.” On this measure, Winnipeg experienced a 2.47 per cent increase in the average annual increase in the cost of housing. Only Vancouver and Toronto had housing costs rise faster. Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
(Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press - image credit) The outbreak at Joyceville Institution in northeast Kingston, Ont., is over, the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) says. In December, CSC said the medium-security prison was dealing with a serious outbreak that saw dozens of inmates and a handful of staff infected. In an emailed update Thursday night, CSC declared the outbreak over and said all 160 Joyceville inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 have now recovered. CSC also said there are zero active cases at federal institutions in Ontario. The department also said there have not been any deaths from the illness in any of the institutions. "While the current situation is certainly a positive step for our correctional institutions, to continue protecting our staff and inmates, we will maintain the rigorous health measures we've implemented," CSC wrote in the update. CSC says it received help from the Canadian Red Cross at the beginning of the outbreak at Joyceville Institution. At the time, inmates and family members issued a press release saying some prisoners didn't have access to N95 masks and face shields, so some were using makeshift curtains to limit the spread of the virus.
Futur dentists, dental hygienists-in-training and instructors of oral medicine in Manitoba are wanted for a new study on the risks associated with COVID-19 infection, transmission and immunity. Ottawa has earmarked $1.4 million through its COVID-19 immunity task force to fund a national study that aims to investigate the effect the novel coronavirus has on people who work in dental clinics, labs and offices on university campuses. The University of Manitoba is among 10 schools recruiting dental and dental hygiene students, as well as residents, faculty, and support staff involved with patient care to take part in the McGill University-led research project. While many university programs have moved online amid the pandemic, dentistry students and staff have continued to do in-person labs to practise procedures on mannequins and patients. “Many of our medical counterparts have transitioned to doing virtual consults with their patients, but it’s a little bit harder to do that with clinical dentistry,” said Dr. Robert Schroth, a professor and clinician scientist at the Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry in Winnipeg. “We’re such a unique population, in that we’re very closely in confined quarters with aerosols.” Despite heightened personal protective equipment, that reality puts dentistry students and staff, theoretically, at a higher risk for acquiring COVID-19, Schroth said, noting aerosol transmission is recognized as one of the main ways the novel coronavirus is transmitted. The Manitoba Dental Association has released guidelines to encourage dentistry professionals to use aerosol-reduction techniques, including using a rubber dam and doing pre-procedural antiviral rinses, when treating patients. Schroth said the research team behind the new study wants to know if existing preventive measures are working or if they need to be adjusted. The researchers plan to secure 800 participants, from dentistry colleges in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Every month for a year, participants are expected to provide a saliva sample and answer a questionnaire. The former will allow researchers to test samples for active SARS-CoV-2 infections, while the latter will allow for sociodemographic, socioeconomic, and health status information to be collected. If an individual tests positive, they will be asked for additional saliva and blood samples so researchers can perform antibody tests to determine if they have any signs of immunity to COVID-19. The research team will also collect data from each dentistry college about their training settings, infection-control protocols, counts of students and staff and total COVID-19 cases. As vaccines roll out, participants who are immunized will be monitored to see what their immune response is like. Manitoba recently broadened COVID-19 immunization criteria to include all health-care professionals who have direct contact with patients in dental offices. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Another O'Gorman Knights product has been recruited for post-secondary basketball, as Abby Couture has signed with Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie. “I'm beyond excited. It's going to be a great experience,” she told The Daily Press. The offer from Algoma U caught Couture off guard. She was surprised when Algoma Thunderbirds head coach Ryan Vetrie texted her to to welcome her to the team. Couture said she is planning on studying in the four-year Law and Justice program. All amateur athletic competitions have been shut down for at least the calendar year, which has posed a challenge for players like Couture, who are in their senior year of high school. However, her creativity and determination have kept her as sharp as possible. “With everything being closed during the first wave, I kind of made my own home workouts. I downloaded this app where you just mimic the screen, and you try to get as many points as you can while you're dribbling. “So I did that a lot, and I was doing home workouts. As soon as the gyms opened up, I've been there working on my fitness, and trying to get ahead of everything,” said Couture. Unfortunately her final season with the Knights has been cancelled, but her three completed seasons have been very fruitful. Couture owns three OFSAA 'A' medals: Two gold and one bronze. She particularly enjoyed the games against bigger, and highly talented teams. “It helped me push myself. Because there's always going to be better players than you, and you always just try to outwork them. It pushed me to do better.” Knights head coach Marcy McCarty was thrilled to hear Couture will be continuing her basketball career. “It's been something she has really wanted, so to see that come true, especially this year, it's great for her.” McCarty believes Algoma is a great fit for Couture. “I would imagine she's going to be getting lots of playing time.” Couture is also a product of the Timmins Selects youth basketball program, which she has been involved with since she was in Grade 7. McCarty saw major talent in her very early on. “First time I met her was in the Selects system, and saw her come up through Grade 8, and develop as a big player in that system, and with me. We pulled her up as an underage to come with us to OFSAA when she wasn't necessarily on the senior team, to get that experience.” Couture had nothing but great things to say about her time with the Selects. “The whole basketball family in Timmins is full of wonderful people. You get to meet a lot of people. The coaches are great, they always push you to reach your full potential.” She took a shine to basketball earlier than many of her peers. “I was always a taller kid, so dance didn't really work out,” said Couture, who was encouraged by one of driving forces behind the Timmins Selects program. “Coach Jamie Lamothe, I saw him at school one day, and he handed me a paper to play in the Steve Nash training league. That's when I started, and at my first practice, I instantly fell in love with the game. “I felt like I belonged. My height wasn't being mocked, or I wasn't being picked on. I just belonged.” Couture will become the seventh player from the McCarty-led Knights in just the last four years to be recruited for post-secondary basketball. Emma Weltz (Queen's University), Arianna Gagnon (Algonquin College), Gabby Schaffner (Laurentian University), Brianna Dodd (Nipissing University), Ally Burke (Lakehead University), and most recently, Jadyn Weltz (Binghamton University, NCAA) have all taken the success they had in Timmins to the next level. Couture said McCarty and Cathy Beard have been instrumental in her development as a player. “They are incredible coaches. Every time I stepped on the court, they pushed me to do my best. Even off-court, they're always telling me what I can improve on, and how to improve.” They have also worked very hard to promote and showcase local players to the rest of the province and beyond. “They are getting noticed way before their senior year. They are on the radar. They are talking to coaches. Coaches are coming up to us wherever we go. I put miles and miles on that bus to get them in that situation. To get them recognized, to get them noticed, and to give them that experience,” said McCarty, who has four OFSAA medals to her name as a coach, including two golds. Their annual success at the provincials hasn't gone unnoticed by the basketball community, and any negative preconceived notions about players from the North have continuously been shaken. “They know who we are. We've put our name on the map. But I'd say five years ago, when we started travelling with these girls, we'd walk into the gym, and they'd be like 'we've got this' and surprise, you don't. I think that really started to turn the tables,” said McCarty. “I've met a lot of wonderful people, and I have a lot of mentors now in the basketball world that have really helped us in that regard, and have invited us to tournaments, and made sure that we had those connections, and said, 'Hey these girls can play.' Just because they're from Northern Ontario, doesn't mean they don't know how to play ball. I think that has really changed a lot.” For Couture, it will be the culmination of a goal she has had for a long time to be university student athlete. With the 2020-2021 U-Sports seasons cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming season is still under a cloud of uncertainty. Couture isn't exactly sure when she'll be joining her Thunderbirds teammates, but it will likely be sometime during mid-summer. However, she knows exactly what she'll be working on over the next few months. “A lot of foot work, and a lot of speed work for sure. Improve my cardio. Improve my strength, and my ball-handling skills.” Andrew Autio is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Daily Press. LJI is a federally funded program. Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press - image credit) The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an application for leave to appeal on a long-standing dispute over government funding for Catholic schools in Saskatchewan. Thursday's decision from Canada's highest court ends a 16-year court battle between Public Schools of Saskatchewan — an organization that represents 15 public school boards in the province and advocates for public education — and the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association. The dismissal of the public school organization's application for leave to appeal means that non-Catholic students in the province will continue to receive government funding to attend Catholic schools in Saskatchewan. Tom Fortosky, executive director of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association, says the Supreme Court's decision comes as a relief. "[It's] a very emotional moment.... Really what we want to do now is just get back to doing what we do best, which is educating children," he said. Tom Fortosky says Catholic school board officials are grateful for the government's decision. The saga began in 2003, when the public Good Spirit School Division decided to close the only school in Theodore, Sask. The school had served both Catholic and non-Catholic students. In order to keep their school, local parents decided to start a new one under a separate school board. That new school division bought the existing school in the village and renamed it St. Theodore Roman Catholic School. The majority of students switched to the Catholic school system, despite not being Catholic. The Good Spirit division took the matter to court in 2005, arguing that the constitutional protection of Catholic schools does not include the right for those schools to receive government funding for non–Catholic students. Fortosky says that line of thinking is problematic for families. "From our perspective, this was about parental choice," he said. "If the funding didn't come with the child, there would be a practical barrier for parents who wish to choose a Catholic faith-based education for their children." The court battle launched in 2005 led to a landmark decision in 2017, in which Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donald Layh ruled it was unconstitutional for the province to fund non-Catholic students at Catholic schools. Funding "non-minority faith students" in faith-based schools violated both the Charter of Rights and "the state's duty of religious neutrality," Layh wrote. The case made its way to Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal, which delivered a unanimous decision in March 2020, saying separate schools could receive provincial government funding for students who are not Catholic. The appeal court said the trial judge made "fundamental errors of law," and said considering the matter as one involving funding for non-Catholics in a Catholic school was too narrow. The question should be considered in the context of two publicly funded school systems, the appeal court said. "It is an effect of this parallel public system of education that non-Catholic students may attend public, separate schools, but it is also an effect that Catholic students may attend public, secular schools," the 2020 decision said. Public Schools of Saskatchewan was seeking leave to appeal that decision at the Supreme Court. Dismissal Thursday's dismissal of the application came as a disappointment to Norm Dray, executive director of Public Schools of Saskatchewan. "What's happening is wrong for education in Saskatchewan.... We don't believe that there should be two systems that get government funding for all students," Dray said. Catholic schools are set up to educate Catholic students, he said, "and we have no trouble with with Catholic schools existing for that purpose." "What we don't accept is that they have a mandate to teach all students … [including] non-Catholics. And we don't believe they should get government funding for that." In a statement on Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said his government is pleased with the Supreme Court's decision. "Our government strongly supports parent and student choice in education, including Saskatchewan's public, separate and faith-based schools," said Moe.
When the struggling business owners got the call a few weeks ago, it felt like they’d won the lottery. Nearly a year into the pandemic, good news has been hard to come by for both Kings Park Child Care and San Vito Coffee House — especially if it’s something without any strings attached and particularly when it comes to monetary funding. But now, the two Winnipeg businesses are part of only a dozen handpicked to receive $10,000 each, through a partnership between Canada’s leading insurance company and the primary network of commerce. The 12 small firms being awarded the “Business Boost” grant are representative of regional areas and industry sectors across the country, Canada Life and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce exclusively told the Free Press ahead of a wide release today. “Good people coming together is how Canadians have managed this crisis, and this is the very epitome of a good corporate citizen stepping up,” said Chamber president and CEO Perrin Beatty, in an interview. “It’s a business helping other businesses where governments are still behind.” Recipients have been selected from over 4,000 applicants and hope to use the funding to keep their doors open, as thousands of companies face the risk of permanently disappearing. “Truth be told,” said Dawn Forbes, executive director of Kings Park Child Care, “this isn’t just a way to save our bacon. It’s also a boost for our staff to keep doing the important work we’ve been doing as an essential service every single day, throughout all those many shutdowns and closures.” As a facility that supports children and families, especially for kids with autism, Down syndrome and other medical or special needs, Kings Park has had to remain open since the onset of COVID-19. “But we’ve had to do that with barely any enrolment until this January and with most of our staff forced to be let go,” said Forbes. “Everything’s been up in the air and it felt like we were always an afterthought in terms of restrictions and even support — especially from the province,” she said. “If it weren’t for some of the federal government’s support like the rent subsidy, I don’t know if any child-care centres would have even been able to hold their space to operate, let alone do anything else.” For Geordie Wilson, who owns and runs San Vito Coffee House, it’s been a constant shift trying to keep his local eatery and café afloat. When public-health orders and lockdowns first came into effect, Wilson tried to partner with delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and even SkipTheDishes. Fairly quickly, the third-party payouts became far too costly to make ends meet and Wilson started to offer his own free city-wide delivery. “We didn’t really have a choice,” he said. “Our bottom line was being impacted because they were frankly ripping us off. And yes, it felt like being a university student again, but so what? We just had to keep going to survive.” Wilson even started to make videos for social media — something he called “kitchen karaoke,” for which he would sing popular songs but change their lyrics to be more coffee-centric. “We’re not Tim Hortons and we’re not Starbucks, but we are something that represents what makes our city ours,” he said. “I know all our regulars by name and those people we saw every single day who couldn’t come in anymore. That’s why I did everything possible to keep people smiling and just keep trudging along.” Stories like that are “truly the reason behind this kind of grant program,” said Jeff Macoun, president and CEO for Canada Life, in an interview. “It’s the heart of what makes a local business more than just a business to a community. They represent the very cultural fabric of what makes a city or town,” he said. “We wanted to keep seeing that flourishing, especially at our company’s home in Winnipeg. “It’s why we did this small part to help with that.” Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
The Peace River Regional District will issue a letter of support for a plan by Telus to expand LTE connectivity in the region. The company is applying to the federal Universal Broadband Fund and is under the wire after its original Feb. 15 deadline was pushed to March. PRRD directors expressed mixed opinions at their board meeting Thursday, with some saying the company has failed to properly communicate with them. Hudson’s Hope Mayor Dave Heiberg said he was initially skeptical, but was convinced of the benefits after a conversation with Telus’ Northern Alberta and BC Interior General Manager Brian Bettis. "This is what the fibre working group was trying to achieve, to get that last mile,” said Heiberg of PRRD’s connectivity committee. “And if the intent is to provide these areas with service to premise, that is a large part of what our goal was, in my mind.” Telus is proposing to expand connectivity in Bear Flat, Bear Mountain, East Pine, Farmington, Farrell Creek, Fort St John, Goodlow, Moberly Lake, Mount Wabi, Pouce Coupe, Prespatou, Rose Prairie, Septimus, Taylor, and Tupper. Heiberg noted the company is also looking at fibre optic and cellular upgrades around Canyon Drive and a portion of Beryl Prairie in Hudson's Hope. But director Leonard Hiebert says the company has backed out meetings scheduled with electoral area directors about their plans. “Considering they’re a communications company, they don’t communicate very well,” said Hiebert. “I can’t justify supporting this if they’re not going to communicate with us in the areas that they’re trying to do this work in." "They expect us to support them blindly," he said. Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille says the district's questions to Telus about its plans have also gone unanswered. "To this day, I haven’t got a response to what they were going to give us in terms of fibre. I would not support this,” said Courtoreille. Director Dan Rose said Telus is the most likely to complete any cellular upgrades in the region, but said it has not improved its communications with the PRRD. “We met with Brian Bettis when he was first appointed into this new role, and he guaranteed us that we would see a big change in how they communicated. And we have, they’re even worse,” said Rose. “People who adjudicate these applications probably place a fair amount of weight in to what kind of support they’re getting from the community. This is not nearly enough information for me, after the way we’ve been left hanging.” Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman agreed that Telus is the only choice for connectivity, and supported writing a letter of support. “Connectivity is a topic on absolutely every bloody call that we have with every minister, regardless of what their mandate letter contains," Ackerman said. "Putting in this infrastructure is extremely expensive.” Director Karen Goodings noted there are a number of other connectivity initiatives already underway. “We’re getting this again from too many directions, and not being able to ascertain what ones are actually going to be able to support the people,” said Goodings. Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead said connectivity is a problem in rural areas, pointing to areas around Prespatou and Buick Creek. “It’s very spotty in terms of being able to have any access to anything," Bumstead. "This is a good thing if we can increase capacity." Telus representative Bettis said the company is spending $10 million dollars on the plan, and that the federal grant would only cover a portion of its infrastructure costs. He said says some new LTE towers will be installed, while others will be upgraded to enhance existing service. "It's been a particular challenge getting back in front of the PRRD for a proper meeting," he said of the directors' criticisms. "Universal broadband fund is a significant initiative, and we wanted to make sure that every municipality elligible was able to be engaged." Scheduling has been an issue, he said. "With that comes the fact that we're dealing with multiple municipalities across different areas, and trying to co-ordinate meetings. Most councils meet on similiar days," he said, adding he met with directors shortly after Christmas, providing background and maps on the proposed LTE upgrades. Bettis says he's reached out to arrange another meeting with the regional district. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
The province reported on Tuesday that a resident of the North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, has had the B1.351 SA (South Africa) COVID-19 variant detected in their test. The individual was tested at the end of January and Public Health’s investigation is ongoing. During a press availability on Thursday, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab explained that deaths and hospitalizations are trending down but we are still seeing hospitalizations and that we should continue to stay the course with following health measures. “Especially because we have seen over the last week that we have found increased isolations of variants of concern not just linked to international travel but showing some initial start of community transmission events of them as well,” Shahab said. The B1.1.7 UK (United Kingdom) variant has also been detected in two residents in the Regina zone. These individuals were tested at the end of January. Based on the contact investigation to date, there is no link to travel at this time but public health's investigation is ongoing. There is also a presumptive case of B1.1.7 UK in one individual in the Saskatoon zone. The individual was transferred from out of province to Saskatoon for acute care. Whole genome sequencing will need to be completed to confirm the results and health's contact investigation is ongoing. The province’s own documents have indicated that Saskatchewan is on track to reduce its cases to a point where health restrictions can be lifted only if people rigidly follow public health orders and no virus variants of concern pop up. Saskatchewan Health Association CEO Scott Livingstone also addressed the caution around the variants being in the province. “While there have been lower case numbers at time in recent weeks the existence of variants of concern is very concerning. This may fuel exponential growth of cases as Dr. Shahab has said. So in the days ahead we are going to need to maintain our diligence, vigilance and moderate these trends very closely,” Livingstone said Shahab explained that COVID-19 testing was just one measure along with things such as physical distancing and mask use. “Testing is an important layer because by testing we know what our status is and if COVID positive we can, for the most part, safely isolate at home for 10 days. For many people it is a milder illness. We can also immediately notify our close contacts so they can isolate for 14 days. And that really is essential to break the chain of transmission.” According to Shahab some people in the province have delayed testing after having symptoms for a few days resulting in outbreaks at workplaces and to make sure you get tested. “You can get tested right away at the onset of symptoms now but if your test is negative and your symptoms are continuing, do get tested again just to make sure that your are COVID negative. I think testing will be an important layer in an ongoing fashion along with easier access to many varieties of testing that will really increase our ability to show a downward trend,” Shahab said. Livingstone also noted the need to follow health orders to continue this downward trend. “We are not out of the woods yet and we can’t take our foot off the gas with respect to adhering to public health orders and insuring that we keep everyone safe as we move through the vaccination program,” he explained. According to Shahab, people should remain vigilant of the most vulnerable as that group continues to be vaccinated “Older age groups are so close to getting vaccinated over the next few weeks and months and I think we should do everything we can to shield the people who are older, who are more vulnerable so that they can successfully get vaccinated. And as you have seen even from our observations, a vaccination is an important step to reduce your chance of getting seriously ill and hopefully over the next few weeks and months that will show in declining hospitalizations and declining deaths,” Shahab said. Both Shahab and Livingstone sent their condolences to the family and friends of the four individuals who passed away due to COVID-19 since Tuesday moving the number who have died since the beginning of the pandemic to 380. “This high number of deaths from COVID in the last couple of months is having a large emotional toll not just on families and friends of those loved ones who passed away but on healthcare workers who work and do everything they can to insure they save lives and protect those individuals across the province from COVID,” Livingstone said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The Alberta government's latest budget is far from the "fiscal reckoning" Premier Jason Kenney had long promised. Instead, there are very few cuts and lots of debt — a situation the province blames on the pandemic and shrinking oil revenue.
New Zealand's government said on Friday that it was backing a new project that uses drone technology to understand and protect the endangered Māui dolphins in the country. Maui dolphins live in a small stretch of ocean off the west coast of New Zealand's North Island and current estimates suggest that only 63 dolphins older than one year remain, raising concerns that they may soon become extinct. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is capable of finding and tracking Māui dolphins using artificial intelligence.
LANSING, Mich. — A former U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar killed himself Thursday, hours after being charged with turning his Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train and then abusing them. John Geddert faced 24 charges that could have carried years in prison had he been convicted. He was supposed to appear in an Eaton County court, near Lansing, but his body was found at a rest area along Interstate 96, according to state police. "This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. Nessel earlier announced that Geddert was charged with a bushel of crimes, including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise. The charges were the latest fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor now in prison. Geddert, 63, wasn't arrested and transported to court. Rather, Nessel's office allowed him to show up on his own. “We had no indication that Geddert intended to flee or hurt himself or others. We had been in contact with his attorney and were assured of his co-operation,” Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said. Calls seeking comment from attorney Chris Bergstrom weren't immediately returned. Geddert was head coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal. He was long associated with Nassar, who was the Olympic team’s doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert’s Lansing-area gym. Among the charges, Geddert was accused of lying to investigators in 2016 when he denied ever hearing complaints about Nassar. But the bulk of the case against him involved his gym in Dimondale and how he treated the young athletes whose families paid to have them train under him. The charges against Geddert had “very little to do” with Nassar, said Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark. Geddert was charged with using his strong reputation in gymnastics to commit a form of human trafficking by making money through the forced labour of young athletes. “The victims suffer from disordered eating,” Nessel said, “including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and attempts at self harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault. “Many of these victims still carry these scars from this behaviour to this day,” the attorney general said. Nessel acknowledged that the case might not fit the common understanding of human trafficking. “We think of it predominantly as affecting people of colour or those without means to protect themselves ... but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” she said. “Young impressionable women may at times be vulnerable and open to trafficking crimes, regardless of their stature in the community or the financial well-being of their families.” Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics during the Nassar scandal. He told families in 2018 that he was retiring. USA Gymnastics said in a statement late Thursday that news about the charges against Geddert would “lead to justice through the legal process.” “With the news of his death by suicide, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they grapple with the complex emotions of today’s events,” the organization said. On his LinkedIn page, Geddert described himself as the “most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history.” He said his Twistars teams won 130 club championships. But Geddert was often portrayed in unflattering ways when Nassar’s victims spoke during court hearings in 2018. Some insisted he was aware of the doctor's abuse. Sarah Klein, a gymnast who trained under Geddert for more than 10 years and was assaulted by Nassar, said the coach's death was an “escape from justice” and “traumatizing beyond words.” “His suicide is an admission of guilt that the entire world can now see,” said Klein, a lawyer. Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in 2016, said she was proud of the women who stepped forward against Geddert. “So much pain and grief for everyone," she said on Twitter after his death. “To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you.” ___ White reported from Detroit. Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Anna Liz Nichols And Ed White, The Associated Press
Mélanie Joly compte sur l’immersion française pour soutenir la relève francophone. Dans son livre blanc sur la modernisation sur les langues officielles, Mélanie Joly mise sur l’immersion pour assurer la vitalité du français, hors Québec. Entre pénurie d’enseignants et sous financement chronique, l’Alberta n’a pas forcément les moyens de ses ambitions. Dans son énoncé d’intention, intitulé « Français et Anglais : Vers une égalité réelle des langues officielles au Canada », la ministre du Développement économique et des Langues officielles, Mélanie Joly, souhaite mettre l’accent sur les écoles d’immersion pour renforcer le bilinguisme au pays. Selon elle, cette solution mettrait fin à la liste d’attente de parents anglophones qui souhaitent inscrire leurs enfants dans ces établissements. Cependant, en Alberta, globalement, « il n’y a pas assez d’enseignants qui parlent le français dans les deux systèmes scolaires, celui des écoles d’immersion et le système francophone », explique Michael Tryon, directeur général de Canadian Parents For French, en Alberta, un collectif de parents qui milite pour la promotion du français en milieu scolaire. Selon lui, les chiffres sont encore flous pour dresser un portrait exhaustif concernant les besoins du nombre d’enseignants en français, car chaque conseil scolaire de la province ne donne pas toujours l’heure juste à l’Alberta teacher’s association (ATA). Parmi les 62 conseils scolaires de la province, 42 offrent l’immersion française et chacun est indépendant. L’Association canadienne des professionnels de l’immersion a lancé, voilà quelques jours, une enquête pour sonder cette réalité. À défaut de chiffres, le manque de professeurs se fait sentir, « les baby-boomers partent à la retraite et avec la pandémie les conseils scolaires n’ont pas assez d’enseignants pour enseigner que ce soit en ligne ou en classe », décrit Michael Tryon. Actuellement, l’Alberta compte environ 47 000 étudiants en programme d’immersion française et 147 000 jeunes qui ont le français comme langue seconde, à l’instar des cours d’anglais enseignés au Québec comme langue minoritaire. Dans ce cas-ci, la fréquence de cours est de deux fois par semaine, d’environ 45 minutes chaque. Cependant, la politique de la province ne rend pas obligatoire l’enseignement du français dans tous les conseils scolaires de l’Alberta, ce que déplore le directeur de Canadian Parents For French. « Il n’y a pas de standards minimums en Alberta, j’aimerais que tous les étudiants de la province puissent apprendre le français, mais maintenant ce n’est pas possible », regrette-t-il. La demande en enseignants reste forte, mais l’offre ne suit pas. « On a vraiment besoin d’un coup de pouce, car dans certains coins de la province, c’est difficile de trouver suffisamment d’enseignants », témoigne aussi de son côté, la directrice générale de la Fédération des conseils scolaires francophones de l’Alberta (FCSFA), Anne-Marie Boucher. Selon elle, l’immigration serait un pas supplémentaire pour remédier au manque chronique d’enseignants dans la province. « S’il y avait plus d’immigrations francophones, cela pourrait aider », explique-t-elle. Depuis des années, la cible des 4 % fixée par le gouvernement fédéral pour garder le même taux de francophones dans les provinces n’est toujours pas atteinte, notamment en Alberta qui se situerait autour de 2 %. En attendant, selon Marianne Jacquet, professeur en éducation dans le programme de formation des maîtres, au Campus Saint-Jean, la relève est bien présente avec « l’immigration internationale qui est un allié pour la francophonie et les jeunes issus de l’immersion », dit-elle. « Entre 60 et 65 % des étudiants qui sont au Campus Saint-Jean viennent des écoles d’immersion », précise Michael Tryon. Aujourd’hui, s’il y a pénurie des enseignants, « il y a aussi un grand intérêt de la part des familles, il faut capitaliser sur cet intérêt », fait remarquer la professeure en éducation. Cependant, « pour que cette modernisation devienne réalité, il faut qu’elle soit accompagnée de ressources et de financements afin qu’elle soit vraiment réaliste », met-elle en avant. Bien que le Campus Saint-Jean souffre toujours d’un sou financement important, il ouvrira, en septembre prochain, un programme d’éducation en français à Red Deer, Calgary et Grande Prairie, financé dans le cadre de l’Entente Canada-Alberta. « L’avenir du Canada réside dans la dualité linguistique. Il s’agit de voir ce qui sera mis en place dans le livre blanc. C’est important, car je pense que l’avenir du pays en dépend », déclare Pierre-Yves Mocquet, doyen du Campus Saint-Jean. En effet, dans le livre blanc de Mélanie Joly, le recensement de 2016 indique que le taux de bilinguisme dans la majorité anglophone stagne sous la barre des 10 %. Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says he assumes security authorities signed off on an arrangement to allow a company owned by a Chinese police force to run Canada's visa application centre in Beijing. Blair says he can only make assumptions because the arrangement was put in place in 2008, under the previous Conservative government. Still, he says he's been assured by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that the personal information provided by visa applicants is secure. He says the information is handled according to Canada's privacy laws, that no application or biometrically collected data is stored at the centre and that all databases containing personal information are located in Canada. Questions have been raised about the centre since The Globe and Mail reported earlier this month that its operation has been subcontracted to Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company, which is owned by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Opposition MPs questioned Blair about the possibility that visa applicants' personal information could be relayed to the Chinese government and cause negative repercussions, particularly for dissidents trying to flee the country's repressive Communist regime. Bloc Quebecois MP Stephane Bergeron and New Democrat MP Jack Harris pressed Blair to explain which of Canada's national security agencies signed off on the subcontract to the Chinese police. "I have some difficulty frankly answering your question Mr. Harris about the origins of this contract," Blair told the special committee on Canada-China relations Thursday. "It was signed in 2008. So it's been in place for 12 years now and so its origin and who actually authorized this contract predates me or my government and frankly my knowledge." Blair said there are "normal procurement processes" in place for contracting out services and he assumes they were followed in this case. "I want to make sure that it's clear. I'm only able to make an assumption that those processes were in fact followed because it did take place 12 years ago." "That's not much comfort, I have to say," Harris responded. Blair acknowledged that IRCC is not a security agency but he said it does have an information technology specialist department that has provided assurances that the visa information is secure. He said inspections and audits are regularly conducted to ensure there is no privacy breach of sensitive information and there has been no evidence of a problem. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A headline on a previous version said Bill Blair testified a Conservative government authorized the contracting-out of visa services in Beijing specifically to a company owned by Chinese police.
“We must do everything we can,” Dr. Shahab said, in trying to and make sure that transmissions of the variants of concern is minimalized. Two individuals in Regina who tested positive for the variant B117, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, could not be linked to any personal travel.As seen in other jurisdictions, the first cases of the new variants could all be linked to travel and then it shows up as community transmission. The presence of these variants is cause for concern, because they present as having a higher rate of transmission. Samples of tests from Regina are going to be sent off for further testing since Regina is presently seeing an uptick in cases while the rest of the province is trending downward. Dr. Shahab reiterated the importance of people staying home at the first sign of any symptoms and seek a test. More importantly perhaps, is to continue to stay home even if the test results are negative but symptoms continue. People need to not assume that they are free of the virus, a second test should be done to confirm that in cases where symptoms persist. SHA CEO, Scott Livingstone, admitted at the Thursday, February 25, 2021 press conference that the present system of contacting people is not effective. The lists that are being generated through eHealth and vital statistics are not necessarily finding all those individuals in the 70+ age group to put on the list in the first place and utilizing public health personnel to man the phones is not an effective use of manpower. The online appointment booking system and telephone call-in centre which were originally planned to be utilized once Phase 2 vaccinations began will now be utilized for those individuals 70 years of age and over and thereby reducing the stress and concern expressed by those who have not received a telephone call when there was a clinic in their vicinity. These should be up and running within roughly ten days. This will also serve as a bit of a trial run for the Phase 2 rollout. The limited amount of vaccine is also compounding the problems with the vaccine rollout. Dr. Shahab expressed the hope that once vaccine supplies become stabilized there will be a large uptake of the opportunity to be vaccinated and this will take the sharp edge off the pandemic. Those at high risk are still awaiting vaccination and therefore it remains crucial for the rest of the population to stay vigilant in mitigating the spread to protect them. It comes back again to testing. More people need to get tested sooner. Some people still appear to be waiting to get tested and this could get the province into a bad situation quickly with the variants of concern in the province. Last summer Premier Moe set a goal of 4000 COVID-19 tests being done every day, yesterday about 2100 were processed and about 3100 today. Also included in the announcements today was the distribution of 700,000 rapid point-of-care tests. Until now the Medical Laboratory Licensing Regulations required a laboratory license for any site collecting specimens or conducting testing. Health Minister Merriman stated earlier today that the Regulations have been amended to exempt point-of-care COVID-19 specimen collection and testing sites which now allows these so-called rapid tests to be used in more sites around the province. Merriman said, “We know that testing plays a crucial role in helping curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and now with the variants of concern surfacing in our province it is more important than ever that testing is expanded to make it easier, quicker and more convenient to access.” The rapid tests will be available ambulance, fire, police, dental offices, schools, shelters, detox facilities, and group homes as well as at long-term and personal care homes and participating pharmacies. Scott Livingstone stated that since some of these may not have the capacity to use the tests on their own, the SHA and the Ministry of Health are working on a tendering process for third-party providers to deliver testing at these locations and ensure that training and support is in place to “use these testing resources to their full potential.” Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Privacy concerns about government-acquired tracking devices are being raised in light of Ontario's $2.5 million purchase.
WINNIPEG — Kyle Connor scored two goals and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled the debut of the Montreal Canadiens' new head coach Dominique Ducharme with a 6-3 win on Thursday. Nate Thompson scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, while Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist. Blake Wheeler also scored and added two assists for the Jets (12-6-1), who've won three in a row. Joel Armia scored twice for the Canadiens (9-6-4), who've lost four straight. Tomas Tatar scored the Habs other goal while Jeff Petry had two assists. The Canadiens fired head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller on Wednesday, promoting Ducharme to interim head coach. The move came on the heels of Montreal's 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa the previous night. Ducharme originally joined the Canadiens coaching staff in 2018 after 10 seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. After lofty pre-season expectations and a hot start to the season, the Habs have struggled, plummeting to fourth in the North Division. The misery continued despite the coaching change, and raised more questions about struggling goalie Carey Price, with Habs fans calling for backup Jake Allen. Price allowed five goals on 29 shots, while Winnipeg netminder Connor Hellebuyck only had to make 18 saves for the win. Armia got Montreal on the scoreboard in the first period with his third goal of the season, firing a shot through the legs of Hellebuyck at 13:45. Armia notched No. 4 at 17:29 with the Canadiens in transition again. After a gesture from Jonathan Drouin to head for the net, Armia redirected Drouin's pass past Hellebuyck. Connor sliced the difference in half on the power play with his ninth goal of the season at 5:37 of a second period that saw three Jets goals, poking in the puck past Price in a scramble in front of the net. The Habs answered with their own power-play goal from Tatar at 7:33 of the second, but Connor cut the lead to a goal once again, finishing a tic-tac-toe passing play at 11:50. Wheeler scored at 14:31 to tie the game 3-3- heading into the third period. Mason Appleton slid the puck to Thompson, who scored through Price's legs for the go-ahead at 6:37 of the third. Dubois padded the Jets lead at 12:37, and Sheifele had an empty-netter at 18:22. Montreal lost forward Josh Anderson to an injury in the first period. Anderson collided with Jets defenceman Dylan DeMelo. He finished his shift but then headed to the locker-room, and was ultimately ruled out. The Habs and Jets meet again on Saturday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — A judge has sentenced a man with a benign brain tumour, who lost consciousness while driving and killed a Calgary woman, to 27 months in prison. James Beagrie, 48, was originally charged with criminal negligence causing death after his truck hit Anjna Sharma, a mother of three, who had been on a walk during a work break in May 2017. Beagrie pleaded guilty last fall to a lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death. Court heard he had been told by his doctor not to drive and, three months before killing Sharma, blacked out and got into a single-vehicle crash. "I would describe this offence in two words -- tragic and senseless," Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Neufeld said in his sentencing decision Thursday. "Mr. Beagrie ignored all of those warnings and drove anyway, and he will live with that for the rest of his life. It's exactly that type of behaviour that must be denounced and deterred so other lives can be saved." Neufeld said Beagrie deserved a sentence of 30 months, but he lowered it to 27 months because of the man's "precarious medical condition." "In my view, justice without compassion is not justice at all ... he is on borrowed time himself. A sentence of 2 1/2 years may turn out to be a life sentence," said Neufeld. The Crown had asked that Beagrie serve 2 1/2 years in prison. His defence lawyer suggested two years. The judge also ordered Beagrie be banned from driving for 7 1/2 years after his release. "If you do recover, as I hope you will, you will have served your debt to society and will deserve a chance after a period of time to return to normalcy," Neufeld said. "This ordeal does not need to define the rest of your life, just as I truly hope that it will not define the rest of the lives and happiness of the Sharma family in the years to come." On Monday, Beagrie apologized in court and promised not to drive when he get out of prison, unless it's a matter of "life and limb.'' This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. -- Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press