À défaut de ne pouvoir utiliser le site de la station de ski du Mont-Édouard pour des raisons sanitaires, les bénévoles de l’organisme La Montagne en Feu, de L’Anse-Saint-Jean, animeront le village alpin, au cours de la semaine de relâche, afin de faire bouger jeunes et moins jeunes. La présidente de l’organisme sans but lucratif, Marie-Hélène Gagnon, a mentionné que les bénévoles qui ont habitué le public anjeannois à l’organisation des feux d’artifice de la veille du jour de l’An, ont trimé dur pour monter une programmation diversifiée, durant la prochaine relâche. « L’ouverture de la station de ski a été effectuée il y a 30 ans grâce à l’implication de bénévoles. La Montagne en Feu unit des bénévoles passionnés qui souhaitent offrir des activités ludiques divertissantes en développant des partenariats avec des organismes et entreprises », a-t-elle fait valoir. Dès samedi, 30 familles prendront livraison de coffrets scientifiques montés par Techno Science Mauricie Centre-du-Québec et le magazine Les Débrouillards. Trois expériences portant sur l’électricité et le magnétisme pourront être réalisées à l’aide d’une vidéo afin que les jeunes puissent mener des expériences qui les mèneront peut-être un jour à travailler pour la NASA. D’autres auront l’occasion de laisser aller leur créativité puisque l’organisation invite toutes les familles à réaliser une sculpture sur neige, un bonhomme de neige, un château de neige à leur lieu de résidence. Des moules en carton plastifié seront disponibles pour la fabrication des blocs de neige. Les 27 et 28 février, le sculpteur Francis Bourgeois démontrera son art sur des blocs de neige entassés aux intersections des rues de la Canourgue, Vébron et Vébron-Dallaire. Ces trois sculptures seront réalisées pour les commanditaires BMR Saint-Honoré, Meubles Gilles Émond et l’entrepreneur Lauréat Gagné. Ceux qui voudront se balader sur des vélos à pneus surdimensionnés pourront en louer un au coût de 10 $ pour une heure. Il faudra toutefois réserver sa bécane avant d’en prendre possession. Le sentier de raquettes longeant le ruisseau Patrice Fortin, entre l’ancien bistro et le champ d’épuration, sera éclairé avec des lampes solaires afin de permettre aux familles d’effectuer une balade nocturne dans le respect du couvre-feu à partir du 27 février et pour toute la semaine. Le lundi 1er mars, les amateurs de bingo virtuel ont rendez-vous à compter de 18h30 pour la tenue d’une soirée divertissante. Selon Mme Gagnon, plusieurs prix pourront être attribués et livrés à domicile le soir même par l’équipe de bénévoles de La Montagne en feu. Ceux qui s’ennuient du golf pourront pratiquer leur coup roulé le 2 mars puisque l’organisation a loué une structure installée à l’extérieur dans le secteur Genolhac-Villefort. Le Café du quai et la cuisinière Marina Lavoie embarquent dans la fête en offrant des poutines déjeuners qui seront disponibles les 28 février et 5 mars. Le 5 mars, les enfants auront aussi l’occasion de bouger avec des courses de raquettes et de poches de jute dans le petit sentier du village. La tenue d’un rallye extérieur, les 3 et 4 mars, ainsi que l’envolée de lanternes biodégradables, le vendredi 5 mars à 18h30, complètent la programmation. Mme Gagnon a mentionné qu’au plan financier, l’organisation a reçu de l’aide de la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay, de la municipalité et de la Caisse Desjardins de L’Anse-Saint-Jean et de Boréal Management. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
(Submitted by Rukiye Turdush - image credit) The House of Commons' vote declaring China's treatment of the Uighurs a genocide has drawn mixed reaction from two Ontario Uighur Muslims who know of loved ones affected by China's actions. While they appreciate the acknowledgement, they feel Canada needs to take action against China and hold it accountable for its persecution of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang region. The vote took place on Monday and 266 MPs voted in favour and zero opposed. Two MPs formally abstained. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and most of his cabinet colleagues were absent for the vote. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau was the only cabinet minister present. When it was his turn, he said he abstained "on behalf of the Government of Canada." Anwar Abdurahman, a Uighur resident of London, Ont., found this disappointing. "I feel mixed feelings about it. First of all, I am glad all the MPs stood up against the pressure from China, but at the same time, I'm disappointed with our prime minister and cabinet ministers because they decided to abstain," he said, adding that he wished Canada would take action to stop the genocide instead of debating whether it should be deemed as one. Anwar Abdurahman, a Uighur resident of London, Ont., found it disappointing that the Liberal government abstained from voting on Monday. "At least this is a huge step ahead I guess, given the pressure of the Chinese government," he continued. Rukiye Turdush, who lives in St. Catharines, Ont., and is an alumna of the University of Windsor, said she feels supported but agrees that more needs to be done. "I can't say we feel so happy, but we feel satisfied and we feel recognition and we feel that justice is done with us. We feel that we are not alone," she said. "Just saying the word genocide cannot stop the genocide," she continued. "But this is a very important step. It's a starting point." Turdush and Abdurahman urge the Canadian government to impose Magnitsky Act sanctions on Chinese officials in response to human rights violations by the regime. "If they don't stop the genocide, they have to pay a price. They have to know that. They have to let them know the consequences. I think economic sanction and using the Magnitsky Act, punishing the Chinese officials who is implementing [the] genocide," Turdush said, adding that the country should boycott Chinese products and push to relocate next year's Olympic games. Abdurahman said he wants Canada to work with other Western allies and take charge so other countries follow suit. "Give more pressure on China to stop these kind of atrocities," Abdurahman said. "They should be [held] accountable and they should be punished. They should be brought to the International Criminal Court." According to Amnesty International, an estimated one million or more people have been detained in Chinese detention camps — something the Chinese government calls "re-education camps" — since 2017 where they have "endured a litany of human rights violations." 'You don't know if they're alive or dead' Turdush and Abdurahman both believe they have family and friends that are detained. Turdush said she had more than 30 cousins that she knows of who've been arrested. Those that have been released, she said, are afraid to speak out. Abdurahman said it feels "disturbing" not having closure over his loved ones. "I feel like even if you know someone passed away, that you will think, 'OK, he passed away, so rest in peace,' but [it's the] most disturbing [when] you don't know someone you love ... [is] still alive or if they're still in the camp. If they're alive or dead," he said. Label brings hope to community, says Turdush While they hope some change will come of the vote, Turdush said the label brings her and other Uighurs hope during a time where they feel helpless. "I feel like we're not alone in this world. For the first time that I feel in my country, in Canada, I feel like I'm feel alone in this world," she said. "There is [an] ongoing genocide and these people already almost lost hope. So this message is giving them hope and they feel that they are not alone. And still that justice exists in this world."
SAN FRANCISCO — Fry's Electronics, the go-to chain for tech tinkerers looking for an obscure part, is closing for good. The company, perhaps even more well known for outlandish themes at some of its stores, from Aztec to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland," said Wednesday in an online posting that the COVID-19 pandemic had made it impossible to continue. Fans immediately took to Twitter to post images and memories (good and bad). The chain was concentrated on the West Coast, but had 31 stores in nine states. It was founded 36 years ago. The pandemic has done heavy damage to retailers, but Fry's was already getting hammered by online competition and a battle between heavy-hitters Best Buy and Amazon.com. Fry's Electronics Inc. said its operations have ceased and the wind-down of locations will begin immediately. Customers with electronics being repaired in-store store are being asked to pick them up. The stores online presence appears largely to have been shut down. The Associated Press
A Turkish court convicted an executive of Turkish jet company MNG and two pilots for migrant smuggling over their role in flying former Nissan Motor Co Ltd Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of Japan during his escape to Lebanon just over a year ago. Two other pilots and a flight attendant were acquitted, while charges were dropped against another flight attendant.
(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit) The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller. The team announced that Dominique Ducharme will serve as interim head coach and Alex Burrows has joined the coaching staff. Luke Richardson and Stéphane Waite retain their respective duties within the coaching group. Julien ends his tenure with the Canadiens with a record of 129-123-35. In his four years with the team, Montreal missed the playoffs twice and lost in the first round the other two years. The Canadiens were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the 24-team post-season last year and then upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round. They then lost in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. "I would like to sincerely thank Claude and Kirk for their contributions to our team over the past five years during which we worked together. I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard," general manager Marc Bergevin wrote in a press release. WATCH | Habs lose 2nd straight game to Senators: "In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group. We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change." Ducharme joined the Canadiens coaching staff in April 2018 after 10 seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He won the Memorial Cup with Halifax in 2012-13 and has twice been Canada's head coach at the world junior championship, winning silver in 2017 and gold in 2018. Bergevin and Ducharme addressed the media Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg. "It's not fun. It's a tough part of my job. To walk into these two men's room this morning, it was not easy," Bergevin said. In a pandemic-shortened 56-game season, Bergevin said he didn't want to wait to make a change behind the bench. "The hard thing to watch is the swing from being a really good hockey team that was playing with pace, was engaged, playing to our identity, which is speed, then going to the other side to a team that's looking for anything," he said. WATCH | Bergevin asserts confidence in Ducharme: "We're chasing our tail, we're chasing the puck, we're not in sync. And that was frustrating for me. "If the message is the same and they're acting differently, then change needs to be made." Bergevin said he wanted to give Julien and Muller an "honest try" to fix things over the squad's recent six-day break. "After that week off, I thought we would really come out flying, refocused, re-energized and back in sync. And I didn't see that," he said. Putting Ducharme in charge gives the players a "different voice," Bergevin said. The Canadiens also promoted Alex Burrows to assistant coach. Burrows, formerly a winger for the Senators and Vancouver Canucks, has been a member of the coaching staff for the Habs' AHL affiliate in Laval, Que., the past two seasons. 'A new model of coach' Ducharme will "100 per cent" remain at the helm for the rest of the season, Bergevin said. "Quarantine or no quarantine, [Ducharme] was my guy from the time I made my decision," the GM said. "The reason why, he's a new model of coach, a young coach that came a long way, had success at the junior level, had success at the world junior level. I feel that a new voice is what the team needs." Ducharme, who will make his debut when Montreal plays Thursday in Winnipeg, said he wants the Canadiens to spend less time in their zone, create more turnovers and give more support to the player who has the puck. Taking on the role of head coach is much like sitting down to take an exam when you know you've studied hard, he said. "I feel comfortable, I feel ready. I'm confident in the group, I'm confident in the guys I'm working with. And I'm ready to go," said the 47-year-old native of Joliette, Que. Still, being appointed to the position came with a range of emotions. "I'm losing two colleagues and two great people. To see them leave, obviously, it's a mixed feelings," Ducharme said. "But I'm proud to be here. It's been a long road for me. I didn't take the highway, I went the side road, but I'm proud of that. And I think it made me grow as a coach. And today I'm ready for it." Julien returned to the Habs for his second go-round as head coach midway through the 2016-17 season. He previously lead the team from January 2003 through January 2006. After being dismissed by Montreal in 2006, he joined the New Jersey Devils for a brief stint, then went on to coach the Bruins from 2007 until 2017, winning a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011. Julien, 60, had to leave the team during the first round of the playoffs last year in Toronto when he had a stent installed in a coronary artery. Muller took over the head coaching duties and the Habs extended the top-seeded Philadelphia Flyers to six games before bowing out. The Habs were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the 24-team post-season last year and then upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round. This season, a tightly contested all-Canadian North Division has heightened the stakes for the seven teams north of the border, said Calgary Flames coach Geoff Ward. "I think really what we're starting to see is that the emotion of the Canadian division is starting to come to the front," he said. "And because of that, the rivalries are ramping up a bit and with the division being so tight, it can sway perspective very easily one way or the other." Ward said he owes Julien "a lot" and sent him a text Wednesday morning when he heard the news. "He'll bounce back, if he wants to and when he wants to. He's a great coach. And somebody else now will benefit from what happened today," he said.
After weeks of closure, the Bruce Public Library and the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre in Southampton have announced both facilities will open for in-person service at the beginning of March. All 17 branches of the library will open on Mar. 1 for regular in-person service. Curbside pickup will still be available to residents who prefer to not enter the building. In keeping with public health regulations, library patrons will be required to wear a face covering and observe the two-metre social distancing recommendations while in the branch. Computers will be available for use, by appointment. The library has launched the grab and go bag, for patrons looking for new reads in a variety of genres. Library staff will pre-bundle a number of fiction reads, including fantasy, thrillers, diversity, and award winning books that can be preordered and picked up by patrons. The library is also making provincial park day passes available on a loanable basis. The vehicle day passes are valid at any Ontario Provincial Park, including in this area, Inverhuron Provincial Park in Tiverton, MacGregor Provincial Park in Port Elgin and Sauble Falls Provincial Park in Sauble Beach. Everyone within the vehicle will receive free admission. The Library suggests contacting the park in advance to ensure its hours of operation and to make a reservation, if necessary. Passes can be reserved in the library’s online catalogue or by contacting the local branch. “Bruce County Public Library continues to find new ways to meet the needs of our communities,” said Brooke McLean, director of library services. “Our grab-and-go bags provide a convenient way to borrow a bundle of books in a socially distant society, and the park passes make it more affordable to spend time in nature at one of our beautiful provincial parks. We appreciate the support of Ontario Parks in providing these passes.” Residents that do not have a library card can visit www.getacard.brucecounty.on.ca, to access the online registration form. The day after Bruce County library branches open, the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre will welcome back visitors. On Mar. 2, the museum will open its doors, keeping the safety of staff and visitors top-of-mind. Protocols set by the province and public health will be strictly followed. It asks that patrons continue to follow the three w’s during visits, including wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping a two-metre distance. As some visitors may not feel comfortable visiting in-person, virtual activities and online programs, will be available. The Museum will be open from Tuesday through Saturday, and close for an hour each day between noon and 1 p.m. to sanitize and clean. As it opens to the public, the museum has announced a number of new displays. “We are very excited to be welcoming back our visitors and members to the Museum again to explore Bruce County history,” said marketing coordinator Stephanie Crilly. “We have new exhibitions that are ready to be discovered.” Trailblazers, created by The Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity (CCGSD), recognizes the lives and work of 12 remarkable individuals who have acted as a voice for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and advocated for equal rights and freedoms in Canada. It is also offering a new permanent exhibit, entitled Earth’s Climate in the Balance. The digital exhibition will answer many questions concerning climate change. The winter programming, including Virtual Adventure Talks and Museum in a Box, are available. Visit www.brucemuseum.ca to learn more about all programs, and to purchase tickets. The rebooted education centre was launched in January 2021. Educators now have the options of taking their classes on virtual field trips and can find resources in one easy-to-navigate place on the museum website. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) is in the process of purchasing a 13.2-hectare (32 acres) parcel of land in Thornbury for $3.45 million, but the future use of the property has yet to be determined. “This piece of property, in the long run, we will be glad that we have it and that it hasn't gone into housing development. This is a real gateway to our community at this end of town,” said TBM Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. TBM town council gave its nod of approval for the purchase of 125 Peel Street in Thornbury at a council meeting held Monday afternoon. “This is the property that basically fronts Grey Road 113, Peel Street and Highway 26,” explained CAO Shawn Everitt. The property consists of two lots – a 10.8-hectare lot that has historically been used as farmland and a second 1.39-hectare lot that hosts a residence that is attached to the farming operation. Town staff said the purchase of the property provides an opportunity for a significant investment of facilities and infrastructure – the likes of which are yet to be determined. “This provides the town, and the community, the ability to have a real strong say in the development along the Highway 26 corridor,” said Everitt. Currently, the town has not made any decisions on the future use of the land. The lots are currently zoned as Special Agricultural and do not have any limitations. “We don't know what the outcome of the property will be, but it's not just a matter of acquiring land. It's part of a plan as we look forward into the future with our growing population,” said Councillor Peter Bordignon. “Regardless of what the outcome of this property is, this is a purchase for the residents of TBM.” The town plans to approach the current land tenant with the proposition of continuing to lease the property until it is in a position to begin development. “It is in the secondary planning area, so this does give us some time to consider what the potential use would be,” Everitt said. A number of possible options for the land were suggested in the staff report to council, which included: In preparation for the purchase, town staff secured a third-party land appraisal, which provided support to purchase the lands at the negotiated and recommended purchase price. According to Everitt, the purchase of the land will be financed by debt. However, he added that once the facility’s future use has been determined, there may be other options for funding. “Our director of finance and senior management team will be looking over the next couple of years to figure out funding sources,” Everitt added. It was suggested that the site may be an ideal location for a community recreation centre, which will be explored through the town’s Leisure Activities Plan. If this location were to be pursued as a recreation complex, town staff estimate that the potential construction of a facility would take place over the next eight to 10 years. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
VANCOUVER — Two more units have been added to a COVID-19 outbreak declared at Vancouver General Hospital. A statement from Vancouver Coastal Health says outbreaks are underway on inpatient units T-14-G and T-11-G in the highrise tower of the hospital's Jim Pattison Pavilion. The health authority says the outbreaks are in addition to one declared Sunday in unit T-10-C in the same tower. The statement says, in total, 16 patients and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Visits to all three units have been suspended, except for end-of-life compassionate visits, and the hospital says infection prevention and control protocols are underway to prevent further transmission. Coastal Health says the rest of the hospital, including the emergency room, remain open and operating as usual. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
The company, whose Chief Executive Officer Michael Saylor is one of the most vocal proponents of bitcoin, bought the cryptocurrency in cash at an average price of about $52,765 each. MicroStrategy, the world's largest publicly traded business intelligence company, spent last year steadily amassing bitcoin after making its first investment in August. Bitcoin's price has recently scaled record highs as major firms, such as BNY Mellon, asset manager BlackRock Inc and credit card giant Mastercard Inc, backed certain cryptocurrencies, with Tesla Inc investing $1.5 billion in bitcoin.
The European Commission on Wednesday proposed further cuts to wholesale roaming tariffs paid by telecoms operators to their counterparts, plus a 10-year extension to rules which ended retail mobile roaming charges across the bloc four years ago. Wholesale price caps have pitted telecoms providers in southern European countries with those in northern Europe over who should benefit from tourists making calls home. The former are keen to keep such caps as high as possible so they can invest in networks to accommodate peak demand during the holiday season, while the latter, whose citizens tend to go abroad for holidays, want lower caps to networks in southern destinations.
GENEVA — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday the United States will vie for a seat at the U.N.'s human rights body, which would cement a U.S. return to a Geneva-based body that was shunned by the Trump administration. The top U.S. diplomat said his country will seek a three-year term starting next year at the Human Rights Council, and acknowledged it needs reform, particularly to end its “disproportionate” focus on Israel — the only country whose rights record comes up for scrutiny at every one of its thrice-yearly meetings. In a video message, Blinken raised concerns about countries including Myanmar, which has faced international criticism over a military coup last month, China over its Xinjiang region, and Russia after the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and demonstrators during protests against President Vladimir Putin’s government. “The United States is placing democracy and human rights at the centre of our foreign policy because they’re essential for peace and stability,” Blinken said, adding that "the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022 to 2024 term.” The U.N. General Assembly makes the final choice in a vote that generally takes place in October every year to fill vacant seats at the 47-member-state council. The U.S., which currently has “observer status,” will seek one of three full-member seats left vacant when the current terms of Austria, Denmark and Italy — from the "Western Europe and other states group” — expire at the end of this year. In mid-2018, then President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the council over its excessive focus on Israel, which has received the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country by far, and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by Nikki Haley, the then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. The Trump administration also took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses. Echoing such concerns, Blinken said countries “with the worst human rights record should not be members of this council.” He also repeated U.S. calls for an end to the council's regular agenda item, known as Item 7, that focuses on Israel and the Palestinian territories. He added that Washington would “continue to call out abuses in places like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Iran” and reiterated U.S. calls for the Russian government to “immediately and unconditionally release" Alexei Navalny and other critics of President Vladimir Putin who have been “wrongly detained.” The comments came on the last day of the “high-level segment” of the council session, which lasts until March 23. Other top speakers including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who focused in large part on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights — and took aim at Western countries. He spoke shortly before Blinken. “The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems such as racism and xenophobia and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities," Lavrov said, adding that mass demonstrations in the United States and Europe had exposed "persistent systemic inequalities.” He also called for greater regulation of social media networks, citing what he called increasing concern about their “non-transparent policies” — echoing longstanding Russian criticism of Western social media companies like Facebook and YouTube for they way they handle content by users. Blinken said the United States “does not claim to be perfect, but we strive every day to improve, to hold ourselves accountable, to become a more perfect union.” “We confront our own challenges openly, transparently, for the entire world to see, sometimes as painful, sometimes ugly,” he said. "But we deal with our problems openly and fully.” Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
Which would you prefer? In Serbia, people can select any of four jabs: the one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V and Oxford-Astrazeneca's.View on euronews
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge says elders in his region face a "pandemic" of financial and emotional abuse, and in some cases have been ignored when they seek help from social services. He said the issue demands an official position in communities to interview elders with a translator. Bonnetrouge made his comments in the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly Tuesday, and added that social services "refused to assist because they are dealing mostly with child and family services — that is taking children away from families." "We've got nobody there to advocate for seniors in the small communities. This is a serious issue and I would like to have some resources into our communities to assist in interviewing the elders," he said. Health Minister Julie Green says elders are entitled to counselling and social services to help them navigate abusive situations. Health Minister Julie Green said she was "shocked" to hear elders were turned away, and that she would follow up on Bonnetrouge's concerns because social workers' job functions are not limited to child welfare. Green said abuse of older adults is a "real and frightening problem" that is as complex as intimate partner violence. "The victims are often shamed and not willing to come forward to say they've been taken advantage of," she said. "It can be difficult to have victims of violence come forward and say that they are, in fact, victims of violence, let alone reach out for help," she said. Staff are trained to detect signs of senior abuse, but tackling the problem takes an attitude shift, said Green. "It is a set of attitudes that people have toward elders in which they are neglected and exploited," she said. Green Said the department is working with the NWT Seniors' Society to discuss potential regulations to make "real consequences" for failing to protect or for abusing elders. Send outreach to Fort Providence to address elder abuse, says Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge. But Bonnetrouge said he "rarely" sees the organization present in his region and frontline workers in the community "have serious reservations about what anybody is actually doing to help the seniors." "They are facing them almost on a daily basis, they don't know where to go, who to turn to to help them address these issues of elder abuse," he said. "It seems there is no end in sight," he said. National pharmacare bill would benefit N.W.T.: O'Reilly MLA Kevin O'Reilly says a private members bill in Parliament needs the territory's backing because it will benefit the N.W.T. In his turn, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly asked Green whether the N.W.T. government supports a national pharmacare program. Her simple answer: Yes. Asked whether the territory has voiced its support for Bill C-213 — a private member's bill to establish a universal, single-payer pharmacare plan — Green said the legislation "represents a real game changer" for prescriptions in the N.W.T. Only half of the territory's residents have pharmaceutical coverage, Green said. Cabinet supports national pharmacare, said Green, adding she is not aware of what communication the government had with MP Michael McLeod before the bill enters first reading Wednesday. O'Reilly asked Premier Caroline Cochrane to "pick up the phone" and ask McLeod to vote in favour.
(Tori Weldon/CBC - image credit) Another reversal of fortune has provided the Sackville Food Bank with a temporary home less than a week after a flood forced volunteers out of their building and destroyed much of the food bank's stock. The owners of a downtown café stepped up to donate their extra storefront space for as long as the food bank needs it. Heather Patterson woke up to news a week ago that the food bank was covered in two inches of water. She and the other volunteers quickly switched gears and set up a makeshift food bank in Patterson's sun room. While everyone who signed up for food got it last week, Paterson knew her sun room wasn't a long-term solution. Volunteers line up to lug two pallets of food from Food Depot Alimentaire's truck to the food bank's temporary home. Patterson said even at the regular location, the unloading is done by hand. Then one email over the weekend solved many of her problems. "We had local restaurant owners step forward and say, 'Would you guys like our empty storefront? And for as long as you need it,'" said Patterson. The storefront is much more than just empty space. It also has freezers and fridges, which are necessary tools in the food bank business. "It's really great because I don't know what we would have done," said Patterson. On Monday, volunteers moved the non-perishable food from Patterson's house to the new space, and on Tuesday they tackled an extra-large shipment from their main supplier, Food Depot Alimentaire. "They knew we couldn't access most of our food, and so they sent extra this week," Patterson said. "It was a really big load." More food means more work for the 10 volunteers. Even at their regular spot, they unload pallets by hand, passing cases of canned goods and pasta from one person to the next until everything is on a shelf. Not everything fit in the new smaller space, but Patterson said her volunteers are expert problem-solvers and organizers. When the fridges filled up, volunteers pulled up within minutes to load surplus food into their cars where it was whisked away to available fridge space at a private home. Patterson, president of the Sackville Food Bank, does a last bit of paperwork to prepare for the next day's pick-ups and deliveries. The storefront on Bridge Street is much more public than the food bank's normal home, but that also comes with benefits, according to Patterson. Passersby have helped to unload cars and chipped a path through a snowbank to allow for easier access to the building. "I think that is very cool," said Kevin Hicks. He regularly volunteers at the food bank and sometimes uses its services. Hicks said he likes to help out, and it's heartwarming to see the number of people and businesses donating goods and money to the local food bank. It's something he thinks more people should do. Kevin Hicks is a food bank volunteer and also occasional user. He said he likes to help out, and is continually impressed with the amount of donations that come in from local people and businesses. "Anybody who wants to donate to something, this is a worthy cause because maybe someday down the road you'll have to go," said Hicks. The flood Patterson said it will be at least a month before the food bank is back in its old home, which had only recently been renovated. "They had to take up our brand new floor, and they have to take out the walls and the cabinets in our kitchen and our washroom facilities," she said. "We haven't even had a chance to have a grand opening yet because of COVID." But in the meantime, the Sackville Food Bank is in full operation.
The Indigenous Activists Networks have put forth a press release calling for action against The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) Bill C-15. The federal Bill C-15 “is a sleight of hand that promises to increase and expand Indigenous rights but actually accomplishes the opposite,” says Truth Before Reconciliation Campaign spokesperson Russell Diabo. This bill states that the UNDRIP will be held under Canadian law, and the whole purpose of this bill was to do exactly the opposite; hold Canadian Law accountable to UNDRIP. Under section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, the Canadian courts have already been adjudicated to give Canada control of Indigenous lands under the Doctrine of Discovery, and places extreme limits on the rights of self-determination. By holding UNDRIP Bill C-15 under Section 35, “the government is taking away all of the rights the declaration was designed to recognize,” Diabo states. Professor Nicole Schabus, who teaches law at Thompson Rivers University, says the central problem is that Bill C-15 attempts to “domesticate” International law into Canadian Law. By holding UNDRIP under Canadian Law, Bill C-15 denies Indigenous Peoples the right to self-determination. UNDRIP is supposed to recognize “the right to self-determination is the main remedy for colonization.” The Indigenous Activists Networks states that Bill C-15 will negatively impact all aspects of the lives of Indigenous Peoples and Nations in Canada for generations to come. The Bill will keep in place the colonial system of the Crown’s (federal, provincial, municipal) centuries old domination through its laws, including the Constitution Act 1867 and the Constitution Act 1982, which are based on the colonial Doctrine of Discovery. A link to the full press release is linked here. Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
After a long hiatus, Mississauga councillors returned to their budget document with a flurry of last minute requests on Monday. During the final budget meeting of the season, a series of ideas were thrown into the mix to reduce the property tax increase in 2021. With each suggestion, staff grew more determined to illustrate the impact cuts could have on Mississauga’s long-term growth. “[It] depends on how quickly and how great... you want to make the city, I suppose,” Jeff Jackson, director of finance and treasurer, told councillors. He was responding to various suggestions, including scrapping a vital two-percent infrastructure levy or cancelling the stormwater charge in its entirety for a year. In the end, councillors passed a budget with only symbolic savings. All twelve members of council agreed to forgo a 1.75-percent salary increase and reduced their car allowance by 33 percent. They pushed ahead with salary increases for non-union staff, citing their hard work during the pandemic. Commissioners in Mississauga earn north of $200,000 per year. In 2019, former City Manager Janice Baker earned $325,864.23. A spokesperson confirmed the move would have “an impact” on the property tax, but said it was not large enough to change the percentage increase of the budget. The City’s 2021 budget will increase 2.7 percent, with a property tax impact of 1 percent once it is blended with the Region of Peel budget and an unchanging provincial education levy. As staff outlined, the increase will equate to a $56 dollar increase on the City’s portion of the property tax for a home assessed at $730,000. The tone for the meeting was set early with a presentation from the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT). Repeating a request he had unsuccessfully made at the Region of Peel 10 days earlier, Brad Butt, MBOT’s vice president of government and stakeholder relations, asked councillors to freeze taxes for the year to offer some relief to small businesses. Unlike his presentation to the Region, where the request was quickly dismissed, councillors sounded more willing. “We’re going to try our best,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie promised, while Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito said she agreed with Butt. “This is a very difficult year,” she said. Then Jackson arrived, armed with a sobering slide deck. The focus of his presentation was the City’s two-percent infrastructure levy. Every year, this budget line feels the pinch when councillors look to cut. Faced with a bleak pandemic picture, elected officials, particularly Karen Ras (Ward 2) and Saito, were keen to explore dropping the levy for a year. In total, the two-percent levy accounts for almost three quarters of the City’s budget increase in 2021. Staff rallied together to discourage the move. Dropping the levy for even one year would cost the City $90 million across the next decade, Jackson warned. Some councillors were not to be deterred. What would happen if the stormwater charge — which taxes residents based on the footprint of their property to pay for drainage infrastructure — was dropped for a year, Saito wondered. “You would basically wipe the reserve out,” Gary Kent, commissioner of corporate services and chief financial officer, said. As councillors, particularly Saito and Ras, looked to find savings, staff warned the financial picture is only going to get worse. Despite brutal losses to transit and recreation revenue, 2021 could be a comparatively rosy memory for the City when the next budget season rolls around. In 2022, City Hall will face the same inflationary and infrastructure replacement-based pressures that have pushed budgets up every year, along with at least two other significant challenges. Next year, Mississauga will feel the impact of reduced passenger volumes at Toronto Pearson Airport. Instead of contributing property tax to the City, the airport is bound by payments in lieu of taxes (PILTs). These take the form of a fee per passenger capped at a five percent increase annually and without a downward limit. (Read more about that story here). Dramatically reduced airline traffic during the pandemic means the City is expecting a hit of at least $22 million next year as PILTs plummet, reflecting grounded planes and cancelled holidays. If the upward cap (which limits PILT increases to five percent per year) was removed, staff believe it would still take five to seven years to return to pre-COVID-19 revenue levels. If, as the Province has indicated, the five percent cap remains in place, it will take Mississauga 35 years to return to pre-COVID-19 revenues from the airport. Staff told councillors the provincial response to their pleas for a more equitable agreement with the airport had been “disappointing” with no changes planned for the upcoming budget at Queen’s Park. The City and airport have been told to work together on a solution. The blow means the 2022 budget will have to account for a $22 million dollar hole, while capital needs pile up in the rapidly developing city. Neglected fire infrastructure, which will likely cost at least $30 million to repair, is on the urgent to-do-list for councillors in the coming months. “It always comes down to pay now or pay more later,” Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla said during the budget discussions, taking a new position. In previous budgets, Damerla has been a keen advocate for low taxes, willing to sacrifice capital needs, but 2021 budget discussions at the City and Region have seen her staunchly defend infrastructure levies. “I don’t think next year will be any easier,” she said. During the discussion, staff repeatedly told councillors that reductions could cost Mississauga its future. In his presentation, Jackson twice alluded to the climate emergency councillors declared in 2019, saying significant funding would be required to see the elected officials deliver on that promise. He also offered the ambitious waterfront transformation and rapid transit expansion plans as other promises that could be at risk if cuts took place. “We have $3 billion in unfunded capital over the next 15 to 20 years,” City Manager Paul Mitcham said, voicing his own concern. It was a typical display – many councillors concerned about the impact of a tax increase on voters, and staff reminding them that city building is impossible without required revenues to make good on council’s own promises. In the end, two motions to reduce costs were brought forward. Saito and Ras combined to put both on the floor. The first, unanimously approved, froze councillors' salaries and reduced their car allowance of $17,304 by a third. “We have made a symbolic gesture,” Crombie said after, suggesting the move showed council’s support for residents. The second motion asked to drop the infrastructure levy by 0.5 percent, despite the grave warnings of staff. The move failed, with only Ras, Chris Fonseca (Ward 3) and Saito in support. Ward 1 Councillor Stephen Dasko complained about the motions, saying they were “not well thought through” and pushed back against “last minute bartering”. Ward 11 Councillor and Mississauga veteran George Carlson agreed. “We sure as hell can’t do this on the eve of a budget being approved,” he said. The finalized budget, with most staff recommendations left intact, will be approved at a special council meeting Wednesday morning. In the background, staff have already begun work on the unenviable task of absorbing a $22 million loss from the airport and continuing to run a city in the middle of a pandemic. “I've been around long enough in the municipal world to know that these low increases, ultimately, are reflected in service levels or larger tax increases in the future,” Jackson said, referring to zero percent budget increases passed in nearby cities including Brampton. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
President Joe Biden proposed multiple “free college” measures while on the campaign trail. Do any of them have a real shot? Some experts think so. “The issue is bipartisan in its appeal, economically effective and supported by the leadership in today’s Congress and administration — that’s (a) pretty good triple play,” says Morley Winograd, president of The Campaign for Free College Tuition. Others are skeptical now is the time to move forward on free college. “I have a really hard time seeing any sort of four-year free college program passing at this point,” says Douglas Webber, associate professor of economics at Temple University. The first glimpse of a formal proposal will most likely be in Biden’s upcoming budget, experts say. Here’s what to look for. TUITION-FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS MOST LIKELY “Free college” really means free tuition. Students would still have to pay for room and board, along with other costs of attendance such as transportation, books and supplies. The average cost for room and board is $11,386 at a four-year school and $7,636 at a two-year school, according to federal data. President Biden’s free college proposals include: —Four years tuition-free at public colleges for those whose family income is under $125,000. —Two years of free tuition for low- and middle-income students attending minority-serving institutions. —Tuition-free public community colleges. That last one is the easiest sell, experts say. “We’ve seen how much free community college has become more popular,” says Wesley Whistle, senior advisor for policy and strategy with the Education Policy program at New America, a public policy think-tank . “It became a drum and you hear it and that helps it pick up over time.” The primary blocker for any tuition-free program is the cost, experts say, as any such program would likely be funded through a federal-state partnership. Community college is the cheaper bill to foot: The cost to fund tuition at public two-year schools is around $8.8 billion compared with about $72.5 billion at four-year public schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. HOW ‘FREE’ COLLEGE MIGHT WORK There’s already a blueprint for tuition-free programs: Currently 15 states have a program in place, while several others have extensive scholarship programs. Some cities do, too. Most state programs, such as Tennessee Promise and the Excelsior Scholarship in New York, which both offer four years of tuition-free public college, are last-dollar. That means students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and accept all need-based federal and state aid before the tuition-free benefit kicks in. Most experts say a federally enacted program would likely be first-dollar, covering tuition costs before any other aid is applied. That could increase the per-student impact of scholarships and state funding, says Edward Conroy, associate director of institutional transformation for the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. “If we get a federal program that says we’re going to make tuition free and you can still receive any state or federal grants on top of that, that would be a robust program,” Conroy says. In that case, additional aid could go toward paying for additional expenses. PELL GRANT EXPANSION MAY BE EASIER There’s another path toward tuition-free college, though it doesn’t have “free” in the name: the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant program provides students who have demonstrated need with free aid; for 2021-22, it’s up to $6,495. Though the Pell was meant to cover most college costs, it hasn’t kept up — the average tuition and fees at four-year public schools is $9,212, according to the most recent federal data. Most experts say doubling the maximum Pell Grant would effectively create free tuition and in some cases cover additional expenses. Biden has called for this, along with expanding eligibility to cover more middle-income students. Robert Kelchen, associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, says expanded Pell would be easier to pass than tuition-free college since the grant program already exists. Free college proposals are simultaneously blasted for not being generous enough and being too generous to students without demonstrated need, experts say. These criticisms make it more difficult to attain approval among both lawmakers and the public. Expanding the existing Pell Grant program could work to provide free tuition, but it lacks the appeal of a new and “free” program. “From a messaging perspective, saying the Pell (Grant amount) is going up by, say, $2,000 might not have the same impact on students as ‘Your tuition is covered,’” Kelchen says. HOW STUDENTS CAN CUT COSTS Tuition-free college policy could take a long time to pass through Congress — if it can at all — so students and parents may not see this benefit for many months or years. But there are a few existing strategies for getting a degree at a lower cost: —Find out if your state already has a tuition-free program. —Consider a public college unless a private school offers you more aid. —Attend a two-year school, then make a plan to transfer credits and complete a four-year degree. —Compare college cost, graduation rates and typical student loan payments using the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. —Submit the FAFSA and accept all need-based federal and state aid. —Find scholarships using search tools. The U.S. Department of Labor has one. —If your family’s finances have changed, request a professional judgment to appeal your aid award. ________________________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Anna Helhoski is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski. RELATED LINKS: NerdWallet: States with Free College Programs http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-free-college U.S. Department of Labor: CareerOneStop Scholarship Finder https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Training/find-scholarships.aspx U.S. Department of Education: College Scorecard https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/ Anna Helhoski Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
ROME — Italy on Wednesday pressed the United Nations for answers about the attack on a U.N. food aid convoy in Congo that left a young ambassador and his paramilitary police bodyguard dead. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told lawmakers in Rome that Italy has asked both the U.N. and the U.N. World Food Program to open an investigation into the security arrangements for convoy, which was attacked two days earlier. The minister said Italy also will spare no effort to determine the truth behind the killing of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci. A WFP Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, was also killed in the attack. “We have formally asked the WFP and the U.N. to open an inquest that clarifies what happened, the motivations for the security arrangements employed and who was responsible for these decisions,” Di Maio said. The trip was undertaken at the U.N.’s invitation, according to Di Maio. The two Italians had “entrusted themselves to the protocol of the United Nations,” which flew them on a U.N. plane from Kinshasha to Goma, 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) away, Di Maio said. The Italian embassy in Kinshasha, Di Maio noted, has two armoured vehicles at the ambassador's disposal for moving around the city and the country. But for Monday's mission, to visit a WFP school food project in Rutshuri in eastern Congo, Attanasio was travelling in U.N. vehicles. Only hours earlier, Di Maio, flanked by Premier Mario Draghi, met the arrival of the bodies of the two Italians at a Rome military airport. Autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday and a state funeral for both men was set for Thursday in Rome. A special team of Carabinieri investigators, dispatched by Rome prosecutors, arrived Tuesday in Congo on what Di Maio said would likely be multiple missions to determine what happened. Attanasio, 43, who leaves a widow involved in volunteer projects in Congo and three young children, "was in love with his profession, with Africa and his family,'' Di Maio said. He noted that the Carabiniere was nearing the end of his security detail in Congo and was soon due back in Rome. The World Food Program, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for its efforts to feed refugees and other malnourished people worldwide, is headquartered in Rome. "For this reason, I immediately asked WFP in Rome and the United Nations, involving directing the Secretary General (Antonio) Guterres, to supply a detailed report on the attack on the convoy,'' Di Maio said. WFP has said the road had been previously cleared for travel without security escorts. U.N. security officials based in Congo usually determine road safety. On Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York that the U.N. had launched an internal review concerning the “security around the incident.” Di Maio said the attackers numbered six, had light arms and apparently spread obstacles on the road and fired shots in the air to stop the convoy. “The noise of the shooting alerted soldiers of the Congolese Armed Forces and the rangers of Virunga park, less than a kilometre (half-mile) away, headed to the place of the incident.” Di Maio quoted the local governor as saying that to force the victims to go into the bush, they killed the WFP driver. When the ranger patrol arrived, Di Maio said, citing the Congolese interior minister’s account, the attackers “fired upon the Carabiniere, killing him, and at the ambassador, gravely wounding him.? Attanasio died of his wounds shortly afterward. Italy will reinforce its commitments to aid Africa, Di Maio said, calling that the “best way to honour the memory? of the two slain Italians. "A policy that puts Africa at the centre of Italian diplomatic, European and international attention, this is the commitment Luca believed in and in which we believe in,'' the foreign minister said. Frances D'Emilio, The Associated Press
SUDBURY, Ont. — Public health officials in Sudbury, Ont., have dismissed students and staff from two schools following five confirmed cases of COVID-19. Lasalle Secondary School and Cyril Varney Public School were closed today. All five cases have been identified by Public Health Sudbury & Districts as variants of concern. The afternoon route of elementary bus N100 is also affected. "These measures were taken as a precaution to protect the school communities and to reduce the spread of the virus," said a statement from Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Staff and students at the two schools and on the bus route are being advised by public health officials to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. Officials say there is no evidence the virus was acquired or spread within the school communities, so no outbreak has been declared. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
BANGKOK — Three Cabinet ministers in Thailand were forced to leave their posts Wednesday after a court found them guilty of sedition for taking part in sometimes-violent protests in 2013-2014 against the government then in power. The Criminal Court in Bangkok found Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam guilty along with about two dozen other defendants in a case that was launched in 2018. The verdicts can be appealed to a higher court but under the law the Cabinet ministers must relinquish their jobs immediately. Another prominent person convicted Wednesday was Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who helped found the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which led the demonstrations against the elected government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Instability caused by the street protests led to the Thai army staging a coup in 2014 and keeping power until 2019. Suthep and the Cabinet ministers each received prison sentences ranging from five to about seven years. “We are prepared. Whatever happens, will happen,” Suthep said outside the court. "But I have to assure you that the protest leaders and those who share our same belief, that we are fighting for our country and our land. We firmly believe in responsibility in our actions and not violating the law.” The protests marked the tail end of almost a decade of intense political contention in Thailand that began in 2006 after then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by a coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin is Yingluck's brother, and they are both currently in exile. Thaksin’s ouster set off years of sometimes violent conflict between his supporters and opponents, both of which engaged in aggressive street protests against governments led by the other’s faction. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee was in the anti-Thaksin camp, which in an earlier incarnation as the People’s Alliance for Democracy occupied the prime minister’s offices and Bangkok’s international airport for about a week in 2008. Thaksin’s supporters were known as the Red Shirts, and in 2010 wreaked havoc by occupying part of central Bangkok. Their protest was suppressed by the army with armed force in violence over several weeks that took almost 100 lives. The Associated Press