Parents out there can totally relate to this!
Parents out there can totally relate to this!
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
HALIFAX — A key member of outgoing Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil's cabinet says she too will leave politics once the next provincial election is called. Finance Minister Karen Casey, who is also deputy premier, made the announcement following a cabinet meeting Thursday, saying that after 15 years representing the riding of Colchester North, she is ready to retire and wants to spend more time with her four grandchildren. Casey said while she had been pondering her future for some time, she only made a final decision over the last week. "Fifteen years, I think, is a good amount of public service to give to my constituents," Casey told reporters. "I'm happy with the work that we (government) have achieved, and it's time to let somebody else represent Colchester North." Casey, a former teacher, also served in the education and health portfolios and was named deputy premier in 2017. Over her time in the education portfolio, she was instrumental in the Liberal government's move to rein in contract demands by the province's teachers — a battle that ultimately saw the imposition of a contract that ended a two-month work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers in February 2017. As finance minister, Casey also played a part in helping the government table five consecutive balanced budgets. "I learned a lot personally in the finance portfolio, but there were challenges there, and I quite like a challenge," she said. McNeil, who is leaving politics next month, said he counts Casey as a personal friend and believes she played an "integral role" in helping return the province to fiscal health. "We have really run a duo operation here in lots of ways," McNeil said. "She is one person that I have always sought counsel of in my most difficult days." Casey was a former interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives and defected to the Liberals in January, 2011 at McNeil's invitation. "That allowed me to join a caucus and a leader ... whose values I thought I shared," said Casey. "What motivated me? It would be knowing that my ideas and those of my constituents and me as a person would be respected." Casey confirmed she would stay on until the next election, which must be called by the spring of 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. The greenhouse gas would be captured from coal-fired power plants, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured gas would instead be pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production from oil fields. In all, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) of federal land for pipeline development through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the plans last Friday, days before leaving office with the rest of President Donald Trump's administration. The approval allows companies to begin submitting pipeline construction proposals. Wyoming officials including Republican Gov. Mark Gordon have promoted carbon capture as a way to boost the state's struggling coal mining industry. Utilities nationwide have been turning away from coal-fired electricity in favour of cheaper and cleaner natural gas and renewable energy. “The ability to have a CO2 delivery system, as made possible by the pipeline corridor initiative, helps make CO2 commercially viable,” Gordon said in a statement Wednesday. Whether a large system of carbon capture for oil production is technically and economically feasible remains to be seen. One of two such systems in North America, the Petra Nova facility in Texas, has been offline since global oil prices plummeted last year. The Petra Nova system moves carbon dioxide 80 miles (130 kilometres) from a power plant to an oil field in southeastern Texas. In southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, near the U.S. border, the Boundary Dam carbon dioxide system connects a power plant with an oil field 40 miles (65 kilometres) away. Energy markets drive development of carbon capture projects for oil development, said Matt Fry, state of Wyoming project manager for the pipeline initiative. “We’re just helping to incentivize and provide some sort of a bridge for folks to help them move forward. Hopefully, this and future federal incentives will help get the ball rolling, and we’ll get some projects on the ground,” Fry said. Environmental groups including the Western Watersheds Project have criticized the pipeline corridor plan, saying the pipelines would cross habitat of sage grouse — brown, chicken-sized birds that spend most of their time on the ground. Sage grouse numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century and much of their habitat in Wyoming carries development restrictions. The Associated Press
Both Burns and the suppers that celebrate him have proven remarkably malleable symbols worldwide of the Scottish nation and Scottish hospitality.
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Julia Letlow, the widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, described herself as “both full of grief while also having hope for the future" as she registered Thursday to compete for the congressional seat her husband was unable to fill because of his death from COVID-19 complications. After filing her paperwork for the March 20 election, Julia Letlow faced reporters at the same podium where she stood with her husband six months earlier when he signed up for his bid to represent northeast and central Louisiana. This time, she stood alone. She pledged to continue Luke Letlow's vision for the 5th District, defended her own accomplishments and talked of the respect for public service she shared with her husband and wanted to pass along to their two young children. “We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose how to respond. Today, I choose to continue to move forward. Today, I choose hope,” said Julia Letlow, 39, a Republican who lives in the small town of Start in Richland Parish. Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41, only weeks after winning a runoff election for the congressional seat and days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said she knows the issues of the poverty-plagued district from travelling with her husband during the campaign and because of Luke Letlow's tenure as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who stepped down after three terms and endorsed Luke Letlow for the job. Abraham now is supporting Julia Letlow for the seat in the special election. “I wouldn’t have done this without his blessing,” Julia Letlow said of Abraham. Julia Letlow has never run for office “besides sixth-grade president" but said she often had conversations with her husband about the possibility. She dismissed suggestions she was riding her husband's political coattails or trying to capitalize off sympathy to get the congressional job, saying she has her own experience to qualify her for the position. “While Luke and I were a dynamo team and I miss him every day, still you’re your own individual person with your own qualifications and accomplishments in life, and I feel like I am very well qualified to run for this 5th Congressional District seat,” Julia Letlow told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “Look at my qualifications. Take a look at my bio. Make your decision there.” She has a career in higher education, with a Ph.D. in communication. She's on leave from her job with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she works as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach. Six other contenders so far are vying for the congressional seat on the March ballot, including two who ran last fall. One of them, Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, said Wednesday he’s worried about Julia Letlow’s two young children. Guillory said if Julia Letlow wins the congressional seat, “those kids could lose two parents.” Julia Letlow responded that she's running because of 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Jacqueline. “I hope to illustrate for them the power of fortitude, resilience and perseverance," she said. Her campaign platform remains similar to her husband's priorities, with a focus on job development, expanded access to broadband internet and support for agriculture industries. She said she intends a bipartisan approach, “while staying true to my conservative ideals and values that I hold dear.” Asked if she thought President Joe Biden was properly elected to the office, Julia Letlow paused. Then, she said she believes Biden “is the legitimate U.S. president." When pressed, she said she does not have the continuing concerns that some Republicans have cited about fraud. She noted those allegations were litigated in many court cases, where no widespread voter fraud was found. “I have faith in our election cycle, I do,” she said. “I have faith in our democracy.” The sprawling 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, including the cities of Alexandria and Monroe. It's one of two congressional seats on the March ballot. Voters also will fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat, which is open after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the position to work for President Joe Biden’s administration. The signup period for both races wraps up Friday. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is drafting legislation around the sale of used police vehicles and equipment, after a man driving a replica RCMP cruiser killed 22 people last April. Justice Minister Mark Furey told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the legislation will regulate how police vehicles are decommissioned, which will include, he said, ensuring they are stripped of equipment and decals. "We are certainly aware of the previous circumstances and the most recent circumstances," Furey said. The minister made the comments a day after the Mounties said a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have driven a vehicle that looked like an unmarked police car and pulled over drivers. The vehicle in question, a white 2013 Ford Taurus, is similar to the car Gabriel Wortman used during his 13-hour, deadly rampage in northern and central Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020. Furey noted that under current law it's illegal to impersonate a police officer. "When it comes to police articles and decommissioned police vehicles there is certainly some work to do to fine-tune that legislation and the ability to mitigate and prevent, as best we can, access to this equipment that is used to mock-up police vehicles." he said. Furey said there are no plans to ban the sale of decommissioned police vehicles despite calls by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives to prohibit those sales. He said RCMP and municipal police services have been consulted and are in support of the government's draft legislation. Furey is recommending the Liberal government table a bill during the next sitting of the legislature. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is at a "tipping point" as health officials try to control the spread of COVID-19, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Thursday. Officials are giving time to see if present health orders are working, she said, adding that they won't hesitate to move the province into another tight lockdown if necessary. "We know that once the doubling time shortens to the point where you're doubling every day, that's exponential growth and we definitely don't want to see that," Russell said. "We definitely are at a tipping point." Russell said the number of new infections in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton zones appear stable after officials moved those regions to the red pandemic-alert level. The Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi zones will remain at the orange level, she said, adding that her biggest concern is the Edmundston region, which shares a border with Quebec. "The situation in (Edmundston) remains gravely concerning," Russell said. "The outbreak has spread into workplaces and adult residential facilities, which is deeply worrying." Health officials reported 32 new cases Thursday, bringing the province's active reported case count to 324. Of the new cases, 19 were identified in the Edmundston area. New Brunswick's case rate is about 132 cases per 100,000 people. Premier Blaine Higgs said the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton zones could move back to the orange level sooner rather than later. "If we continue to focus on protecting each other, we could move these zones to orange in a mater of days, not weeks or months," he said. University of Toronto professor Dr. David Fisman said New Brunswick's current situation is similar to where Manitoba was last fall, right before cases rose sharply after months of relatively few infections. “I have been suggesting to people that New Brunswick is on a knife edge right now and can go either way,” Fisman said in an email Thursday. Manitoba, which once had some of the lowest infection rates in the country, quickly became a cautionary tale as cases rose by several hundred each day by mid-November. Fisman said certain factors have preceded big waves in places that previously had a low case count, including the spread of COVID-19 in schools, meat-packing facilities, long-term care homes and among highly mobile young people. Dalhousie University immunology professor David Kelvin said reducing viral transmission among the young is key to controlling the virus, because cases in youth are often asymptomatic. Kelvin said in an email Thursday that strategies such as pop-up rapid testing may help identify hot spots among young people. He added, however, that more research may be needed to see what lies behind the New Brunswick case increases in order to project where trend is headed. “It could be New Brunswick is in the early stages and will continue on the exponential increase in cases,” he said, though there is also the possibility the numbers have plateaued as social events from the holiday season have subsided, he added. Fisman said he found the province's interventions "lagging," adding that shifting between various pandemic-alert levels isn't ideal when faced with a sharp increase in cases. "I think when you are hanging on to de facto COVID-free status, it is worth pulling out the stops and having a short, hard lockdown … the whole enchilada," Fisman said. "It is significant short-term pain, but as Manitoba showed, the cost of allowing things to spiral is far more painful." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — By Danielle Edwards in Halifax and with files from Michael Tutton. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's auditor general says the provincial government is not retrieving the vast majority of overpayments it makes to doctors. Tyson Shtykalo examined fees that physicians across the province were paid for patient examinations, surgeries and other services over a five-year period. In a report released Thursday, Shtykalo said the Health Department's own auditing branch found $1 million in overbillings submitted by doctors, but only about $11,000 was collected — just over one per cent. The government seems to focus more on educating doctors to avoid future overbillings than retrieving the money, he said. The report says the fee-for-service system is complicated and some mistakes are to be expected when there are billions of dollars in payments over a five-year period. But the Health Department has the authority to withhold future payments as a way to collect money it is owed by physicians. "The (Health Services Insurance Act) provides the department with the authority to offset overpayments against future claims from the physician." Even when the province goes after an overpayment, reimbursements are negotiated, the report says. "We were told that the department starts by asking for 80 per cent of the amount owing and the physician suggests a much smaller amount. Eventually, an agreement is reached, resulting in a repayment lower than the original overbilled amount." The group that represents the province's doctors said it is committed to accurate billing. "The auditor general's report confirms the vast majority of physician billings — over 99.9 per cent — have not been found to be inaccurate or overbilled. Only an average of about $200,000 per year out of almost $1 billion in annual physician services has been flagged as potentially overbilled," Doctors Manitoba said in a written statement. The group also questioned one part of Shtykalo's findings. It said the $1-million figure for overbillings would include suspected cases that were later followed up and deemed correct. "While it's totally legitimate for provincial auditors to flag billing submissions as a potential overpayment, it's important to note that in many cases physicians provide additional documentation that backs up their billing submission and the matter is resolved." Shtykalo confirmed his figures refer to cases as they are initially flagged by Health Department auditors. His report makes six recommendations, including retrieving all overpayments, improving training for health department auditors, and doing more reviews of payments to physicians. The Health Department said it agrees with the recommendations. Many of the issues are addressed in a bill currently before the legislature, it said. "Legislative amendments contemplated in Bill 10 are fundamentally aligned with the recommendations made by the (auditor general's office) in its report," the department said in a written response that accompanies Shtykalo's report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Julie Payette resigned as Canada's Governor General Thursday, saying that to protect the integrity of her office and for the good of the country, it was time for her to go. Clouds of controversy have hung over Payette since she took over the post in 2017 but a storm was poised to break out with the imminent release of the results of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. Payette apologized for the tensions at Rideau Hall in the last several months, but in a statement announcing her historic resignation — a first for a Governor General — she also suggested she disagreed with the characterizations of her leadership. "We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions," she said. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my viceregal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed," she continued. "Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times." She also suggested the move was made for personal reasons, citing her father's declining health. "So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation," she wrote. In a terse statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged he had received her resignation. “Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," he said. "Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review." Trudeau had previously defended Payette, even as the Privy Council Office hired a third-party investigator to examine allegations of workplace harassment in the office of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. That came after CBC reports alleged that Payette belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit. Payette had welcomed the review at the time, saying she was deeply concerned about the allegations. Payette, a former astronaut, was named to the position in 2017. Her predecessor David Johnston had been selected by the previous Conservative government using an ad hoc committee that was later turned into an official panel on viceregal appointments. But upon forming government in 2015, Trudeau abandoned that approach and moved the selection process inside his office. Payette's appointment was controversial from the outset. Shortly after she took the job, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charged unfounded, and it has since been expunged. But as details of that incident emerged, so did revelations that she was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both incidents raised immediate questions about how thoroughly she had been vetted for the job, and accusations she wasn't the right fit for it have dogged her ever since. She did not move into the official residence of Rideau Hall when she took the job, and nearly two years in, still wasn't living there, citing privacy concerns linked to ongoing renovations. The cost of those renovations became one of several issues that dogged her, as questions were raised about whether they were necessary or being done out of preference and at too high a cost to the taxpayer. Instead, Payette based herself in her home province of Quebec, where she has also spent a great deal of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. As reports of how she was allegedly treating her staff emerged, Trudeau expressed his confidence in her abilities, dismissing the idea of replacing her. During an interview on RED FM's The Harjinder Thind Show in Vancouver in September he said she was excellent. "I think on top of the COVID crisis, nobody's looking at any constitutional crises," he said. In the event a Governor General can't carry out the job, is removed, or dies, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the office's powers as long as necessary. "A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course, ” Trudeau said. While the Governor General is a largely symbolic position, it does have some constitutional importance, particularly during a minority government such as the one Canada has now. In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper asked then-governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote he was expected to lose — a decision that was controversial at the time but in keeping with constitutional tradition. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan says the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations will start to slow in the province as it marked the deadliest day yet of the pandemic. Health officials said Thursday that 13 more residents have died, nine of whom were 80 and older, for a total of 239 deaths. "Reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day is a somber reminder of the need to reduce the spread of this deadly virus by following all public-health orders and guidelines," Premier Scott Moe said on Twitter. Government data on Dec. 22 shows the province had recorded 125 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Thursday's total represented a 91 per cent increase in the last 30 days. Saskatchewan has a population of about 1.2 million. The Ministry of Health said more than 29,000 shots — 91 per cent of the vaccine doses received to date — have gone into the arms of critical health-care workers, long-term care staff and vulnerable seniors. But the ministry said the vaccine will run short with supplier Pfizer-BioNTech saying no new deliveries will be made to Canada next week. The province said the latest batch of 2,925 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech arrived on Tuesday and went to priority groups in and around Battleford, Lloydminster, Regina and Fort Qu’Appelle A ministry spokeswoman said the province is still figuring out how it's going to adjust its vaccine rollout in light of the supply interruption. Moe stated this week that he believes universal compliance with the current public-health measures can tamp down the spread of the virus, which is hitting the province harder in the second wave than it did last spring. He tweeted Thursday that Saskatchewan's caseload was on its way down. On Thursday, the Ministry of Health reported 227 new infections in the province and 197 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. The seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 286. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The Alberta government is thinking about selling its profitable land titles, corporate and personal properties registries to a private company, according to public documents posted to its online procurement site. Service Alberta issued a request for expressions of interest on Monday. The document said the government would be willing to offer "an exclusive 35-year concession to operate an essential services business in the province." The registries offer potential purchasers a "robust financial profile with highly stable cash flow streams," the document said. Revenues for the three registries totalled $123.6 million in the last fiscal year. The province's objectives, according to the document, include maximizing "sale value and proceeds to the province" and modernizing technology used by the registries. If the province receives enough interest, it plans to issue a formal request for proposals in April. About 130 Alberta government employees work in those departments. Tricia Velthuizen, press secretary for Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, said private sector operations of registry services have worked in other jurisdictions and the government wants to see if it could work for Alberta. "Service Alberta would continue to have legislative authority for these services and oversight of a potential private sector partner," she wrote in an email. "Right now, Service Alberta is looking into options to provide more modern and efficient registry services, and no decisions have been made." The provincial government has retained CIBC Capital Markets to facilitate any proposed sales. Kevin Barry, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said the government on Monday sent the union notice about the start of the formal 90-consultation, as required under the collective agreement. The request for expressions for interest went online shortly afterwards. Barry said privatization could mean higher fees for Albertans accessing these services. He said he can't understand why the government would sell off operations that make money when it has lost so much revenue due to a slump in resource prices. "They're going to give that revenue up to the private sector," Barry said in an interview with CBC News. "It certainly is an odd timing with everything that's been happening of late that they're going to give up revenue or (are) even thinking about giving up revenue." Service Alberta lobbying According to the lobbyist registry, Regina-based Information Services Corporation hired Wellington Advocacy to lobby the Alberta government between July 23, 2019, and Dec.31, 2021. Wellington Advocacy was contracted to convince Service Alberta and other government ministries about the benefits of "alternative service delivery and business models for land registry, corporate registry and personal property registry." The president and founder of Wellington Advocacy is Nick Koolsbergen, who was chief of staff to Premier Jason Kenney when the United Conservative Party was the official opposition. Koolsbergen also ran the UCP's successful provincial election campaign in 2019. ISC was a Crown corporation operated by the Saskatchewan government until 60 per cent of it was sold in 2013, transforming it into a publicly traded business. ISC is listed on the Alberta Purchasing Connection site as one of the vendors that has viewed the Service Alberta bidding documents. Teranet, which operates land registries in Ontario and Manitoba, is also listed. According to the Alberta Lobbyist Registry, Teranet retained Maple Leaf Strategies to lobby Service Alberta and other areas of government between February 2020 and February 2021 on privatizing land, corporate and personal property registries.
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood to a one-year, US$3-million contract. The move, which had been reported earlier this week, adds another arm to the Blue Jays' pitching staff along with 2019 MLB saves leader Kirby Yates, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto on Wednesday. The moves are part of a busy off-season for Toronto that includes an agreement with star outfielder George Springer on a six-year contract worth a reported $150 million, pending a physical. The 31-year-old Chatwood started five games for the Chicago Cubs in 2020, going 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings before getting derailed with various injuries, including a right forearm strain that shut him down for the second half of the season. Chatwood, from Redlands, Calif., is 51-57 with a 4.40 ERA over nine seasons split between Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies and Cubs. He made his debut with the Angels as a 21-year-old in 2011 before getting traded to the Rockies at the end of his only season with the club that drafted him. Chatwood spent the next five seasons in Colorado, before signing a three-year, $38-million deal with Chicago in 2017. Chatwood, who has been a starter for the majority of his career but has served as a reliever when needed, missed most of 2014 and all of 2015 following Tommy John surgery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, head of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution team said on Thursday that over 1.1 million doses of vaccines have been delivered so far to provinces and territories after Pfizer announced their supply to Canada would be reduced by an average of 50 per cent until mid-February.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of a nuclear arms treaty that is otherwise set to expire in February, the White House said Thursday. Biden proposed the extension even as he asked the intelligence community to look closely into Russia's cyberattacks, its alleged interference in the 2020 election and other actions, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. Russia has said for some time that it would welcome an extension of the New START treaty, which limits the number of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons. The Trump administration made a late bid to extend the treaty, but its conditions were rejected by Russia. U.S. allies, particularly in Europe, are sure to applaud Biden’s proposal, which also provides an early signal of his intent to pursue arms control, Psaki noted that a five-year extension is permitted by the treaty and it “makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time.” She called the treaty, which is the last remaining arms control pact between Washington and Moscow since the Trump administration withdrew from two others, “an anchor of strategic stability between our two countries.” Despite the extension proposal, Psaki said Biden was committed to holding Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions,” such as its alleged involvement in the Solar Winds hacking event, 2020 election interference, the chemical poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the widely reported allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan was to convey the extension proposal to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, on Thursday afternoon, according to one official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic conversations. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier Thursday called on the United States and Russia to extend the treaty and to later broaden it. “We should not end up in a situation with no limitation on nuclear warheads, and New START will expire within days,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. The treaty expires on Feb. 5. Stoltenberg underlined that “an extension of the New START is not the end, it’s the beginning of our efforts to further strengthen arms control.” The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. Obama won Senate ratification of the treaty with a commitment to move ahead with a vast and enormously expensive recapitalization of the U.S. nuclear force. That program, which some Democrats in Congress call excessive, is likely to be further scrutinized by the Biden administration. At a projected cost exceeding $1 trillion over the next several decades, the plan is to replace each of the three “legs” of the U.S. nuclear triad — ballistic missile submarines, nuclear-capable bomber aircraft and land-based nuclear missiles. President Donald Trump had been highly critical of New START, asserting that it put the United States at a disadvantage. His administration waited until last year to engage Russia in substantive talks on the treaty's future. Trump insisted that China be added to the treaty, but Beijing rejected the idea out of hand. Trump's lead negotiator on New START discussions with the Russians, Marshall S. Billingslea, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that Biden would be making a mistake by quickly agreeing to a five-year extension. “Hope this is not true,” he wrote, referring to news reports of Thursday's proposal. “If so, shows stunning lack of negotiating skill. Took just 24 hours for Biden team to squander most significant leverage we have over Russia.” Robert Soofer, who was the Trump administration's top nuclear policy official at the Pentagon, said in an interview that he sees the Biden decision to accept a five-year extension as a lost opportunity. “The Russians are likely to pocket this extension and walk away from the table,” Soofer said, rather than accede to a longstanding U.S. request that they negotiate limits on other categories of nuclear weapons, such as tactical weapons. Some U.S. officials have been leery of renewing New START without getting a Russian commitment to negotiate limits on new types of strategic weapons, including Moscow's nuclear-capable Avangard hypersonic long-range missile. Biden, who indicated during the campaign that he favoured extending New START, is not proposing any alterations, the U.S. official said. Thus it appeared likely that Moscow would be amenable to an extension. The proposal was reported first by The Washington Post. Matthew Lee And Robert Burns, The Associated Press
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
When the pandemic closed schools in 2020, student Megan Klose nonetheless found herself travelling to the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School parking lot. Online learning proved challenging with their family’s internet quality. To make do, they utilized the school’s WiFi hotspot, with her mother – a teacher – working from the front seat and Klose taking a class from the back. “My family faced significant disadvantages because of our internet connection,” Klose said. County council heard that and other stories of connection problems from a delegation headed by Point in Time Jan. 13. The organization is seeking financial support to help students struggling to learn due to a lack of online connectivity. Point in Time executive director Marg Cox said it is an issue affecting approximately 150 children and youth in the County. She highlighted a survey they conducted with 59 local youth, with only 14 per cent reporting they had reliable internet and 54 per cent reporting having less-than-unlimited data. “We’re really mounting a campaign focused on, are you in for internet in Haliburton County,” Cox said. The group presented two policy goals: long-term solutions to connectivity barriers and short-term solutions for youth in urgent need. For the short-term, they offered ideas like cellular data plans or hubs, increasing community access point alternatives, and meeting the transportation needs of those who cannot get to hotspots. County-born McGill University professor Michael Mackenzie said the issue is impacting many students, but not evenly. “The existing disparities have really widened for those most in need of connection,” MacKenzie said. “Both to educational opportunities and to supportive services during COVID … Being connected is critical for the development, health and wellbeing of youth.” Coun. Andrea Roberts praised the presentation and asked about the Ministry of Education’s responsibility to address the issue. Cox said the group is interested in working with all levels of government. “We’re very concerned that if we wait for provincial intervention that the youth in our County will be losing credits,” Cox said. “We concur that we feel that we’d really like to see the Ministry of Education stepping up here. But in lieu of that, we feel we still need to move forward.” Cox said public hotspots are important, but there are hurdles such as ensuring they are robust enough to handle an increased load and they do not lead to people gathering too much for public health protocols. Council did not pass any specific motion to address the issue but agreed to advocate to upper levels of government and consider financial support in the 2021 budget. “Our community deserves and needs equitable access to the necessities and in the world that we’re living in, internet is a necessity,” Klose said. “It’s something we all need and it’s not fair to the students that can’t get that access.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Members of the P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Co-operative put forward a detailed plan Thursday to increase and manage irrigation on Island farms. Appearing before the province's Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the group said P.E.I.'s ongoing moratorium on new high-capacity wells for irrigation — implemented in 2002 — hasn't achieved the goal of safeguarding the province's fresh water supply. And the group's research co-ordinator Karen Murchison said the ongoing debate around whether to lift the moratorium has "really distracted I think from the bigger conversation that we really need to be having about how we value, protect and manage our very precious resource, which is water on this Island." The group's presentation comes more than three years after MLAs passed new legislation, the Water Act, meant to manage the province's water supply. But that legislation still has not been enacted by government, pending another draft of regulations as the province looks for a way to provide the irrigation that farmers say they require, while at the same time satisfying those who worry that allowing more water for agriculture could leave streams or household wells without enough. Urgent need for water cited Until now, the case put forward on behalf of producers has primarily been voiced by some of the biggest players tied to P.E.I.'s potato industry, including the P.E.I. Potato Board and processor Cavendish Farms. The last few years, it seems like the heat and the wind have turned up even more. - Matt Ramsay Just like those other industry players, organic farmers described an urgent need to allow farmers access to more water to grow their crops. Matt Ramsay, whose farm includes traditional and organic production, said rainfall in 18 of the last 20 years has been below the level needed to produce an optimal crop on P.E.I. "The last few years, it seems like the heat and the wind have turned up even more," Ramsay said. "We need to consider at what point we can't reverse the effects of this… Once farms go under, there's no coming back. And we are at a point where the rainfall we've been seeing is not enough to at least stabilize crop yields." The co-op's plan proposes making drinking water the top priority for water usage on P.E.I., with water for food production the second priority. That would make farmers a higher priority than other industrial users of water, such as golf courses and car washes. Proponents of the agriculture industry have frequently pointed out the moratorium doesn't include wells to supply those other industrial users. The co-op is urging government develop a specific management plan for water used in agriculture, though. Representatives suggest that plan should require farmers to follow certain management practices around tillage and crop rotations to maximize water retention before they are allowed to irrigate. Their water usage would be metered, and the co-op suggested there be a discussion around requiring farmers to pay for the water. The group also said water levels would have to be closely monitored throughout the growing season in every watershed, with the ability to turn off irrigation taps if levels drop too far. "I do think there's going to be a lot of situations where we're just not going to be able to meet everyone's water demands, because we'll start seeing those upstream ecosystems suffer," said Ramsay. Moratorium has failed, group says Co-op chair Brian MacKay said the moratorium isn't serving to protect the water supply because the agriculture industry has found a work-around, with some farmers installing multiple low-capacity wells and using those to fill holding ponds. The net result to our groundwater? It's a wild west right now. - Brian MacKay "The net result to our groundwater? It's a wild west right now," said MacKay, noting that even more holding ponds and wells are being dug in his area for next season. "The moratorium has not restricted water. It's restricted the deepwater well, and that's all." Government officials have said they're working on a second draft of water extraction regulations after the first draft was presented in July 2019, but the target date to deliver the regulations has been pushed back numerous times. The King government has also said it needs the new regulations in place before the Water Act can be proclaimed into law. It is required to present the regulations to committee 90 days before they're adopted by cabinet. Committee chair Cory Deagle said he didn't know when the regulations might be put forward, and there was no immediate response from the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change on a request for a timeline. While waiting, the committee has been providing further recommendations on the Water Act. In November, it recommended that the government immediately proclaim the legislation, and expand the moratorium to include all new high-capacity wells except those for residential use. More from CBC P.E.I.